Dangerous flash flooding in the Gila National Forest last weekend forced the Gila Monster Gran Fondo in New Mexico, USA to first delay, then cancel the event planned on Saturday 8 October. But that did not stop two intrepid gran fondo riders who rode (and waded through) the epic 80 mile route with 9700 feet of climbing.
Gran fondo riders Ken Clarke and Erich Schwieson made the 6+ hour drive to southern New Mexico from Colorado and were not about to let a little rain spoil there ride, so they took off around noon to tackle the gran fondo course made famous in the pro Tour of the Gila race.
Halfway through the soggy ride they came across a previous dry arroyo (creek) that was now a 50 foot wide river about 2 feet deep. Cars were stopped and not attempting to cross the raging torrent.
Ken and Erich only had two options: 1) wait hours for the water to receed or 2) wade through the river.
They decided to wade across – carefully.
Watch the full video HERE
A few hours later they finished the gran fondo (were not sure who was 1st) and stopped in the Buckhorn Saloon & Opera House for a beer – or three – and told their story to the perfectly dry cyclists at the Not-After-Ride Party. Upon learning of the dynamic duo’s epic accomplishment everyone at the bar gave Kevin and Erich a standing ovation.
Afterwards, local news reported that flash flooding in the area was so severe that sixteen boys and nine adults from a Texas Boy Scout troop needed to be rescued by National Guard helicopter due to high water along the Gila Monster Gran Fondo route.
Media: Ken Clarke and Erich Schwieson, Gila Monster Gran Fondo