The mileage between Abiquiu to Cuba is not far in distance but the ride was perhaps the toughest two days on the divide. The first day was a long steady and sometimes steep climb to Polvadera Mesa. The roads at first were nicely maintained hard packed gravel but soon gave way to unmaintained rocky roads and digressed even further to unmaintained water eroded roads exposing lava and rocks. According to the Divide book “the route is the toughest climb of the Divide by many riders”. Looking at the map and the grade of the climb I underestimated the two days before the ride and I am firmly in the “toughest climb” camp.
We rode only 20 miles the first day due to an afternoon thunder shower and the after effects of food poisoning. We camped at a great spot underneath trees near the top of the Mesa. It was a quiet peaceful place to sleep and rest after the tough day of climbing.
The next day brough 8 more miles of tough climbing to reach the top of the mesa which took 3 hours. At the top we were happy and looking forward to the rolling terrain and downhill but we were quickly disappointed. The same tough roads conditions we rode up were the same going down. Rain rutted rocky roads made for difficult riding for most of the remainder of the ride. It was slow going and took a lot of concentration to focus on the road and chosing a clean line.
Usually the Forrest Service and BLM roads are maintained and are in better condition than county roads. However in this case it was the opposite. As soon as we reached the county roads the roads improved and we were able to relax and enjoy the ride.