Joined: Jun 2008
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Day 7: Beaver Dunes SP (OK) to Trinidad, CO (307 miles)
We set out the next morning with Trinidad Colorado as the goal. The remainder of Oklahoma was rather pleasant, although we were at this point yearning for roads that were anything but straight.
Somewhere around here, I had a rather odd experience. Cruising down a road quite like the one pictured above, a small bird burst out of the roadside brush and flew across the roadway; before I had a chance to respond, I felt a solid “thump!” on my left boot, and saw a little bob spirial into the road out of the corner of my eye. I was so incredulous at what had just happened that I slid to a stop, turned around and went back, where I confirmed that I had, indeed, just kicked a bird to death.
For those of you who are mechanical geeks, we came across quite a curiosity out in the middle of nowhere, Oklahoma. Like all agricultural land, this land needs a source of water, in order for the crop to grow. However, being this far from civilization, there is no source of electricity, or any other motive power; somebody had to improvise:
This solution was surprisingly high-tech. They had taken a standard automotive engine, a run-of-the-mill gasoline V8, and converted it to run on propane (or perhaps natural gas?), which was piped in underground. We went by several of these over the course of our travels, and they were cranking at full steam, pumping water out to the fields.
We were in New Mexico for only a short period of time, but in that time I certainly came to like it quite a bit. The geography was unique and interesting, the roads were fun again, and it was absolutely desolate. I’d love to make a trip out west, and just ride more of this terrific state.
At the end of the day, we made it to Trinidad, Colorado, just as the rains started to roll in. On the way into camp, we stopped at a real grocery store, and a real liquor store, and had a feast of rice, beans, cheese, and a great porter. The plan was to take the next day off to do bike maintenance, resupply, and prepare for the journey ahead.
Day 8: Trinidad CO to Ophir Creek, CO (140 miles)
We set out the next morning to run to the grocery store and the motorcycle parts store. However, just outside of the campsite, Owen’s rear tire went flat. After 5 minutes of frantic pumping, we actually looked at the tire, and found a big nail stuck in it. We decided that I would continue on to the grocery store for supplies, and then go to Valcom Motorsports, the friendly local bike shop, while Owen would ride back to camp and start stripping his bike down. About 2 hours later, I returned to camp wearing a new tire around my head and carrying a bag full of food.
Owen replaced his punctured tube and tire, we both cleaned our air filters and lubricated our chains, and then we filled up with water and set out. On the way out of town we went back through Valcom, where they let us use some space in the back to change our oil; if you ride the TAT, I would highly recommend this shop for your resupply needs.
The ride out of Trinidad started out well. We were on the roads that we had ridden all this way for, rapidly climbing in altitude, and seeing the sights that would become familiar over the next few days.
However, at La Veta, the weather started to look ugly:
And, soon enough, it was coming down by the bucketful, bringing strong winds and lightning with it:
(note that this picture is not in any way modified; the weather was so nasty, the camera didn’t even know what to do).
At this point, we were at the point of no return. We were riding at 10,000 feet and higher, with lightning coming down on all sides, in a torrential downpour, with the light quickly fading. The day soon left us behind, but the storm did not, hammering incessantly as we picked our way through narrow switchbacks and muddy roads with death-inducing drops on both sides, by only the light of our (sub-par) headlights. The roads were so twisty, and we were traveling so slowly, that it took an hour to reduce the (GPS-indicated) straight-line distance to our campground waypoint by a few miles. When we finally did arrive, we found that the campground was closed, with a gate across the road. Not willing to continue on at this point, we rode under the gate and set up under a tree at the best looking campsite we could find, and fell asleep in wet gear, in wet tents and bags, shivering through the cold night.
The next morning, we awoke to find frost on the bikes and ice on the picnic table.
Because all of our gear was so wet, we started a fire and spent a few hours drying everything off.
This was a sad morning for me, as I lost my beloved lexan spork while washing our dishes after a hearty meal. I was later able to track down some new plastic cutlery, but I am still yet to find a replacement for my spork.
By late morning we were ready to depart, and headed off in the direction of Salida.