Thanks to our late evening final push on day 1, day 2 started at the very top of a ridge-line with a technical descent from the high point campsite into a dried river valley below. This was the first indication that in NM, there are lots of cows. In the dried river bed below there were hundreds of them. It was on the pretty significant climb on a gravel road out of the valley that Andy realized he may in fact be getting sick. The climb was longer than anything easily found on the east coast, but only a taste of what was to come. We found a running well pumping into a cattle tank at the top of the pass for water replenishment, which a passing rancher was kind enough to keep running for us while we filled up. We were treated to a long, fast, ripping descent out of the Organ Mountains/Desert Peaks park and down to the Rio. The morning of day 2 definitely felt like true mountain biking and we saw some cow bones and the like, which made for what i always imagined pretty classic arid desert riding to be.
We arrived via road into the town of Hatch for lunch, and ate a great meal at the Pepper Pot, and resupplied at a grocery and counter service diner. After refilling water we took the paved route to the nearby town of Rincon. The plan was to jump onto a rail right-of-way in Rincon, but access was behind a shut gate plastered with no trespassing signs. We examined the map and concluded there was really no other way to get where we were going other than this service road, trespassing signs be damned. We expected a smooth and flat road, but in fact the road was tough going, with steep arroyos crossings, degraded road surface, and a passing train that had us hiding behind cliff faces to avoid detection.
Any sort of concerns or reservations I had about my fitness for the route melted away with the descent into Hatch. That section might have been the most fun I have had on a bike to date... but if some of the events of day 1 had me on edge, the rail right-of-way really set it off. We could have been nabbed by rail security easily. It's really unfortunate that this section is so critical to making this route work. Thankfully, when I have the fear of god in me I tend to ride a lot faster which despite my ever worsening illness meant we made really good time and got about 10 miles ahead of schedule by the time we made it to camp. Camp was a relief, and the location we chose was only describable as "wild." Though harrowing at times, I firmly believe shit that scares you is good for you. I would never take day 2 back.
The original plan had us camping within the right of way, but given the stern warnings on the signed we knew we needed to push extra miles and get out before security found us. Thanks to some spirited riding, we made it out of the rail right of way and into BLM land before dark where we camped in the big wide open underneath high tension wires. The coyotes were active and vocal in the night, and we were treated to great stars.
The day's low point - fear of detection on rail right of way
High point - the descent from the desert peaks into hatch was like nothing we had ever experienced: pedal free descending for an hour? Are you kidding!?.