Matthew Lee checkin' in from El Rito

Racer update about:
Hey TD Racer Matthew Lee here. 9:45, Sunday the 29th. I’m in El Rito. I knocked out the Brazos yesterday. But not without a lot of hiking. I got caught up in a storm. Seems to have been a pretty wide spread storm reached all the way down here it looks like. At least it is cool today for the time being. The trail is soft and but its not so hot. Trade-offs, I suppose. Anyway, I’m moving on to Cuba today and see how far I can get on the ByPass to Grants in the evening hours. Cheers, bye. (recorder time: 2008-06-29 08:28:59 EST)


keep on keepin' on! We're

keep on keepin' on! We're cheerin for you in Hyrum. xoxo Croshaw Crew

Raining in Cuba

I just happened to drive through Cuba NM about an hour ago. I had no idea Matthew was this close.

It was raining in Cuba and there was a big thunderstorm right about where he is (over the mountain east of Cuba).

The wind was blowing at least 25 mph out of the east (downdrafts out of the thunderstorm).

I hope he was able to find some shelter. He's most certainly getting rained on right now.


Looks like he's hunkered down somewhere in Cuba.
He mentioned using the Torreon bypass. Rain out by Cabezon will make the route dangerous to flash flooding and turn it into a mud-fest.


I'm confused.

Is this is part of a planned thing for the racers?

I completely understand the need to be smart and safe on the route, but, by-passing a section of the trail?

Are there other sanctioned by-passes?

It appears that Mathew is using the by-pass now [ 13:55 cst ].

I'm still impressed as all get-out with the racers and their race!

'Sounds like I don't understand the race route & rule situation as well as I thought.


There are 2 permitted alternates

Look at the Race description. Matthew is on the lst alternative Cuba to Grants.

Sherry O.

GDMBR Conditions in New Mexico

Although the main route from Cuba, NM to Grants, NM is geologically very interesting and in my opinion quite beautiful, it can be quite deadly in a flash flood situation to be caught in one of the many deep arroyos along that stretch. It can be clear and sunny at the crossing and a flash flood can blow through at 20 mph from a rain shower 40 miles away several hours ago. The way those arroyos twist and turn you may not see or hear the wall of water coming when you are down in bottom. So even though it may seem fine to take the main dirt route from Cuba to Grants, Matthew is being very prudent.

Based on the clouds and downpours that we have started receiving it seems that our monsoon season has started a little early this year. In fact, as I type, the National Weather Service office in Albuquerque has issued a severe thunderstorm and flash flood Warning Alert for that area for today (Monday, June 30, 2008).

To see what this terrain looks like you can check out the pictures from my GDMBR tour through there about 3 weeks ago at If you click on the "Grants to Ojo Frio" Picasa Photo Album in the left sidebar, then you can see what the situation is when it is dry.

When it is wet it is impassible. The locals will tell you that when it is wet you can only travel by foot or by horseback. You cannot even ride 10 feet on a bike before that sticky mud completely jams every moving part. With a little effort you can even pull your derailleur into your spokes. Matthew made the right choice. Even on the paved road alternate between Cuba and Grants he can get stopped by flash floods at the bottom of the hills, downbursts, lightening, and large hail.

Incidentally, if you want to see some pictures of "the Brazos" that Matthew mentioned in his call in yesterday, then check out the "Lagunitas to Apache Creek" Picasa Photo Album at the same location as above. A wind gust literally picked me, my bike, trailer and load (almost 300 lbs total) and thrown 10 feet off the road on June 12th on Brazos Ridge in northern New Mexico. The Forest Service roads up to Brazos Ridge were creek beds from the melting snow. So when Matthew says that he had to do some "hiking" he may also have had to do a little swimming too. These guys are incredible!!!

Matthew mentions that the trail was "soft." Loosely translated that means mud up to your yin-yang. He did not even mention the miles of deep ruts from the logging trucks from just south of Vallencitos to about half-way to El Rito. Nor did he mention the steep, deeply rutted, rocky stretch in the Jemez Mountains that makes the so-called officially (on the ACA maps) half mile "unrideable" section near the top of Brazos Ridge seem like a cake-walk. I met a fellow in a Land Rover as he was coming off that section in the Jemez when I went through on my GDMBR tour. He never rolled down his window to say hello, which was a little unusual for when you meet someone in the middle of nowhere. After I got through there myself I figured out that he probably crapped in his pants and did not want me to smell it, or attract any flies. It is really rough and steep.

In any case, Matthew has understated the conditions out there this year. With that said, there is really only one little 10-12 mile stretch which is a little bit south of Elk Springs (south of Collins Park) that is freshly graded and soft silt. Everything else from where he is now to Antelope Wells is terra firma. Even the section to Pie Town from NM 117 is packed and fast. The past couple of years this section was very sandy. South of Pie Town I was ready to get sand trapped at the bottom of the arroyos like I did last year, but it was packed and fast all the way through there too. Unless he is overtaken with exhaustion or gets “monsooned” out, then the rest of the ride to the border is going to be much quicker than what he experienced up north. He may even make up a little time.

Good Luck Matthew! You are simply amazing!!!

Confused - no more...

Thanks for the write up!

In following the blogs and podcasts, I've gathered that the route is extremely demanding and to attempt to 'race' it is astounding.

This helps me appreciate the racers even more.

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