Two Tigers go to Big Bend

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by gregdee, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. gregdee

    gregdee Motocampist

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Oddometer:
    514
    Location:
    Tijeras, NM
    We’ve got a week off from work and we’re going on a ride. Being late February it seems prudent to head south looking for warmer weather. For this trip we’re heading to Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas. According to Google maps it will be at least a 7 hour drive to get there if we take the super slab so I suppose it will take a whole lot longer than that taking the back roads.
    We don’t actually plan our trips. Rather we prefer to just have a general idea of where we’re headed and figure it out as we go. This is supposed to be a vacation so no sense in stressing out trying to stick to a bunch of plans made beforehand. You never know what sorta crazy stuff’s gonna happen on a bike trip. The dog was sent to the ranch, the thermostat was set to 50 F, the bikes are loaded, and we’re off.

    A shot of Kerry and her fancy new Tiger 800XC all farkled and loaded up for the trip.

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    And a peek at my rig.
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    A shot of the temps at home. Yup, 35 degrees out. And did you notice the snow at the side of our driveway in the first shot?
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    Here’s hoping for warmer temps in the days to follow. We climb up another 1500-2000 feet leaving our place heading south through the Manzano mountains. I recall it getting down to 27 F at one point. A few more shots of our ride south towards Mountainair, NM.

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    The goal for the day is to get to Pecos, TX. The planned route is to head south through Carrizozo, or Cherryzozo as I like to call it as that is where they make the best cherry cider ever, and then head up through Ruidoso and Cloudcroft if the weather cooperates.

    As we ride south from Mountainair the winds pick up and it stays cold despite losing just a hair over 1000 feet of elevation. The roads were mostly straight with grand vistas off in the distance. It is the grand views of endless sight that I really enjoy most about New Mexico. They always seem to draw me in, making me wonder what view lies over the next rise in the landscape.

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    Some perceive this place as burnt, brown, nothingness but I derive great solace from these horizons that are ever so far away.

    We’d gassed up in Mountainair so we were plenty good on fuel for another couple of hours. We rolled through Carrizozo and quickly approach the turn off to climb up to Ruidoso via route 37. I clicked on the Sena SR10 communicators we’d recently picked up and we discussed the options. We agreed we were “adventuring” so we’d better take the high road. So off we went up into the mountains.

    Fortunately the weather in the mountains was fabulous. We stopped at the Log Cabin restaurant for a break and some lunch. The food was acceptable but can’t say that I would recommend going out of your way to eat at this place. Leaving Ruidoso we turned off on to a much smaller road, 244, that would take us to Cloudcroft. I spied a potential dirt route cutting through the Mescalero Apache reservation that appeared to cut out a significant portion of highway according to the NM High Roads map. Here’s a couple of shots of us traveling down our first segment of dirt. Woohoo!

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    After about 9 miles we ran into a local resident, an Apache fellow who was working on some sort of irrigation system when we rolled up. We chatted a bit and he told us that a local land owner down the road a bit further had recently put up gates and locked them to keep out the hunters. He doubted we could get through but he urged us to try. Alas we soon came to a locked gate forcing us to turn around. On the way out he laughed at us as his half a dozen or so horses were either spooked or just being territorial and they swooped in around us as we rode slowly back passed his place. Fun times indeed. This was a memorable detour despite it not working out. On the Benchmark maps this road is shown as 2 down Elk Creek and is indeed blocked by a gate.

    We were soon back on the paved road 244 and the remainder up to Cloudcroft was a fantastic bit of twisty goodness. At Cloudcroft we picked up route 82 and headed down and east towards Artesia. The first 30 or 40 miles of this road was super fun. The turns were effortless as we flowed down alongside of river or stream for quite a while. Nice road I’d definitely do again some day.

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    Eventually the road flattened and straightened out, and the winds picked up. We fought a strong cross wind for the last 30 miles into Artesia. It was strong enough that our necks were quite sore by the time we headed south again. The hour was getting late as we rolled through town. Artesia looks like it might be a decent place to grab a steak for dinner and crash for the night. Perhaps on another trip.

    We hit 285 and rolled on south to Carlsbad. By now it was way past dark but we still had 80 or so miles to go to get to Pecos, TX. As we gassed up I ran into the store and scored us a couple of energy drinks – Starbuck’s Mocha Frappucino’s from the refrigerator case – to get us through the final leg of riding for the day. The road to Pecos was dark, straight, and boring as hell, but fortunately the speed limit was 75 mph so we knocked this out in about an hour. We had booked a room at the local prefered camp site known as Hampton Inn, and didn’t even need to bring our own tent. We were knackered and after inhaling a quick dinner of chicken fried steak (when in Texas…) we had a good solid snooze.
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    #1
  2. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    20,850
    Location:
    SE Wisconsin
    This looks interesting. Looking forward to reading about your experiences! :thumb
    #2
  3. Saso

    Saso chronically restless

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2005
    Oddometer:
    896
    Location:
    Northern California
    :lurk
    #3
  4. Cliff-77

    Cliff-77 Lost Adventurer

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    Jan 7, 2010
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    Miss,
    :lurkIn
    #4
  5. Comrade Art

    Comrade Art Working stiff

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    611
    Location:
    Oregon
    You mentioned Kerry and her Tiger 800XC. Are you riding the 1200 Explorer?
    #5
  6. Fasttrak

    Fasttrak Captain Crash

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Oddometer:
    419
    Location:
    Nor Cal
    Two tigers on a romp, I'm in.


    Fasttrak
    #6
  7. GarrettRB

    GarrettRB Bike Nerd

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Oddometer:
    227
    Location:
    South Shore of MA
    How do you know when the radar detector is going off? Did you attach a blinking light or louder buzzer to it?
    #7
  8. gregdee

    gregdee Motocampist

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Oddometer:
    514
    Location:
    Tijeras, NM
    Cannonshot - I certainly drew from your RR. Your picture from the 1810 road was one of the reasons I really wanted to get down there. That road was amazing, especially hitting it at the end of the day.
    #8
  9. gregdee

    gregdee Motocampist

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Oddometer:
    514
    Location:
    Tijeras, NM
    Yessir. And a black one looks pretty good with a fine coat of dust on it. :D
    #9
  10. gregdee

    gregdee Motocampist

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Oddometer:
    514
    Location:
    Tijeras, NM
    Nope. I use the Sena Bluetooth hub to transmit the audio signal. The button you see above the instrument cluster is the mute button. The aux output jack from the radar detector, or anything else such as an iPod, can be plugged into the hub. The hub then broadcasts via Bluetooth to the the headset. The lag is slight but after using the detector for several years in vehicles I understand how to read the alarms and react accordingly. The reality is that if a cop is using their end correctly then you have little chance of doing much other than slowing down a bit before they get a lock on you. In reality, it keeps me in check when rolling through small towns where you have to slow down to 25 mph for a mile or two. Mostly I just know where the cops are and act accordingly.
    #10
  11. Big Jon

    Big Jon Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2012
    Oddometer:
    380
    Location:
    SW Iowa
    Looks like a great trip Greg. You got some beautiful pics and it sounds like you had a fun time together.

    How did the K60's perform for you?
    #11
  12. Dubl-A

    Dubl-A SuckerDucker

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,813
    Location:
    505
    Great report so far! The wife and I were just through those parts. Did you guys happen to stop by the Valley Of Fires? If not try to swing through on your way back :thumbup
    #12
  13. gregdee

    gregdee Motocampist

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Tijeras, NM
    We're already back. This trip happened last week. Where's the Valley of Fires?
    #13
  14. akaDigger

    akaDigger Amateur Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    549
    Location:
    Evansville, Indiana
    Fellow Triumph owner watching.
    #14
  15. sandsman

    sandsman I ride more than some and less than others.

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
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    542
    Location:
    Greenville, Tx
    The Valley of Fires is a National Park land 5 miles northwest of Carrizozo , NM on highway 380. The wife and I camped there last August, very beautiful valley.
    #15
  16. gregdee

    gregdee Motocampist

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Oddometer:
    514
    Location:
    Tijeras, NM
    Sunday morning was nice. We stopped for some obligatory pics at the town sign. Our horses are way cooler :D.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And then we headed south on 17 towards the park and our destination for the day. We rolled right on through Balmorhea and then I heard a comment in my headset stating we’d better go back and take pictures because the little town we’d just been through looked interesting. So we spun it around and when back to check out the locals.
    Most were cowboy types
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    A few were packing heat.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    But there was one hot chic! :evil
    [​IMG]

    and she roped our bikes....
    [​IMG]


    We continued south on 17 which was a fabulous road with nice twists and turns and good scenery to boot.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We didn’t linger too much even in Ft. Davis. The winds were starting to kick up and we were anxious to get into the park. We grabbed a quick lunch in Alpine and then rolled through Marathon to pick up 385 which would get us to the park headquarters at Panther Junction. Looks like Marathon might have had a few more interesting options for lunch – next time.

    The roads continued to be fun with great scenery.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Notice the twists and turns going over the hills in the distance. Good stuff:clap
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Eventually Kerry decided it was getting too warm and she needed to shed a layer or two. It was pushing past 80 F at this point. Just what we'd come for.
    [​IMG]

    And finally we made it to the park entrance so we stopped for the obligatory sign pic.
    [​IMG]

    While sitting there I noticed something not so good. “Hey Kerry, your front tire looks to be a bit square on the bottom, no?”

    [​IMG]

    I had heard the Tiger required an odd-ball tool to get the front wheel off but decided not to worry about getting one since front flats are so rare (this is her second one in 3 trips). We tried stuffing an assortment of objects into the 17 mm Allen head bolt on axle but nothing would give us enough purchase to break it loose. Without another choice I decided to patch the tube while it stayed on the bike.

    [​IMG]

    This worked – the fourth time. What a pain. Seriously considering a product like Ride-on. I switched to tubeless tires on my mountain bike years ago and now only have problems when I rip a tire open. Motorcycle tires obviously require a bit more work.

    Anyway, got it fixed and we were finally on our way once again. A few shots as we approached the Chisos Mountains.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We stopped in at park headquarters to inquire about back country camping options. My last visit to the park had been back in the early 90’s and I vaguely remember camping along the river road somewhere in some random spot.:norton

    Things have changed in 20 years – they now have lots of rules. I don’t much care for rules but I gave them the courtesy of at least listening as my wife was giving me that “quit being such an :asshat” look.
    Rules for backcountry camping in the park:pope
    · you must camp in a designated spot
    · you must reserve the spot ahead of time
    · you must put all food in the bear box
    · you must pack out all trash
    · you must not burn anything
    · you must not pee on the cactus
    · you must not bring your guns
    · you must not shoot at the animals
    · you must not ride cross country
    · if you managed to stuff you pet dog in your pannier box you cannot bring him into the park
    · and probably 10 others I can’t remember. :deal

    I prefer to select my spot from the open landscape of the national forests and wilderness areas throughout the mountain states but in this instance I conceded to just play along. A trusted friend had suggested we camp down at Glen Springs since we could get water from the spring there. The parks people didn’t really like that idea :nono and insisted we fill up from their spigot and haul what we’d need in with us. Fine.
    We selected a spot, paid our $10, filled our water containers and headed out. Glen Springs road up to the camp was a mostly boring gravel road with a few twists and turns. We passed one other camper in the first spot and headed on up to the 4<sup>th</sup> spot. We were finally there.

    [​IMG]

    Spot 2 looked great and 3 was OK. Spot 4 kinda sucked as it was slopped through its’ entirety and the bed surface was gravel. Not my idea of good camping. We were centered in the mouth of a large wind tunnel rolling off the eastern slopes of the Chisos. The view was nice.
    [​IMG]

    We set up camp and darkness soon set in. We cooked dinner and then sat around for a bit when the winds started to blow – hard. We crawled into the tent and cocooned ourselves in our down 0-degree bags. The winds got stronger, and stronger, and stronger. The winds were so strong that I became nervous that the bikes would blow over as the roof of the tent was about an inch above my face. I said, “hey Kerry, you awake?” She replied, “Uh, yeah”. And so went the rest of the night. We’ve camped out hundreds of nights in our lives and this is the worst night in a tent I have ever had. I seriously was too scared to get out to check on the bikes for fear of the tent blowing away without me in it. I thought for sure that the winds would die as the sun came up but no such luck. We finally crawled out of bed and braved the winds. They had died down some but were still at the severe nuisance level. Packing up the tent was an exercise in futility as it blew every which way as I tried to tame it. I attempted to roll it up and stuff it into its' sack bu it wouldn't fit in such a state. We then worked together and managed to get it somewhat folded. I suppose the only positive thing about the sand was that it was easy to clean the half inch of sand out by just holding it up in the air. Same for the sleeping bags[FONT=&quot]. [/FONT]
    Guess it was a good thing we hadn't opted to visit the Texas panhandle as I understand this wind was from the same storm that blew through there in late February.<!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves/> <w:TrackFormatting/> <w:punctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF/> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>X-NONE</w:LidThemeAsian> <w:LidThemeComplexScript>X-NONE</w:LidThemeComplexScript> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> <w:SplitPgBreakAndParaMark/> <w:EnableOpenTypeKerning/> <w:DontFlipMirrorIndents/> <w:OverrideTableStyleHps/> </w:Compatibility> <m:mathPr> <m:mathFont m:val="Cambria Math"/> <m:brkBin m:val="before"/> 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    #16
  17. RideFreak

    RideFreak Torque Junkie

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Oddometer:
    6,537
    Location:
    Out in the NM Dez somewhere
    Great report Greg :thumb

    Subscribed.
    #17
  18. BlazerRalph

    BlazerRalph n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    8
    Location:
    Nevada, Tx
    Great report Greg :thumb

    Subscribed.
    #18
  19. gregdee

    gregdee Motocampist

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Oddometer:
    514
    Location:
    Tijeras, NM
    The weather was too crapy to stick around and have breakfast so we just packed up and left. We headed from camp back down to Glen Springs Road and headed downhill on that towards the River Road. We had been warned that the River Road was quite sandy in spots making us a bit apprehensive but we were at least willing to test the waters. No real plan for the day other than to just ride around and check out the park. We had booked a room up at the Chisos Mountain Lodge for that night so we knew where we needed to be at the end of the day.

    On route down to the River Road we played leap-frog with a fella in a jeep. We stopped, he passed. He stopped, we passed. In the picture below you can see part of the road we just came down. Great scenery.

    [​IMG]

    Once on the River Road we decided it was time for coffee since we had missed our coffee fix earlier. It was still a bit chilly though it must have been close to 11:00 already.

    [​IMG]

    As we were waiting for the water to boil the guy in the jeep rolled by so we chatted a bit. He mentioned something about getting a flat the last time he had traveled that road. We said we knew all about fixing flats.
    As soon as he left I looked over and Kerry’s front tire was flat again! WTF? We were now running low on patches with only one big one left. I cut it into several smaller pieces and went to work on the tube once again. We got it inflated and headed out.

    [​IMG]

    We were taking the shorter route out towards the Rio Grand Village as we needed gas and there was a store there. I looked for a patch kit but no luck. While at the village I spied this cool Overland truck. Sweet rig and the visor above the windshield is really cool.

    [​IMG]

    I talked to a fella in the parking lot and he mentioned some dual sport rental trailer in Terlingua and that the proprietor there would be able to direct me to the local motorcycle shop as apparently it is quite difficult to find. We headed back across the park taking the main paved road. It would be about 20 miles up to Panther Junction and then another 29 or so into Terlingua. At this point Kerry’s tire needed to be pumped up every 15 minutes or so. Fortunately we had picked up some air compressors at Cycle Gear at 50% for $19.99 each. These came in handy and they plug right into our battery tender connections.

    [​IMG]

    After about 3 pit stops to air up along the way we finally got out there. Somehow it was already after 4:00 p.m.

    We quickly spotted the DS bike rental trailer. There were a few fellas handing around inside and it looked like they were working on some front wheel bearings on a WR two-fitty. We got to chatting about our square tire situation and the guy handed me a bolt with a nut on the end that he said fit in the axle of his Tiger. Didn’t quite fit so I filed down the small burrs I had created the previous day attempting to break the axle loose using other objects. Still didn’t fit and we were out of ideas.
    Next best option was to go with some Slime so I ran up the street to the hardware store and picked up a bottle. When I got back the shop guy had now found a bolt with a 14 mm head on it and a 17 mm nut. After threading on the nut a few turns he proceeded to beat the shit out of it using a sledge hammer and a spare trailer hitch he had lying in the back of his truck. I stuck this in the axle and after a bit of spinning the nut caught on the smashed up threads and the axle started to come loose. Phew. That was the most expensive nut and bolt I ever bought - $5. This one’s staying in my tool kit.

    [​IMG]

    Here's a shot of the trailer.

    [​IMG]

    These guys have loads of appropriately sized DS bikes that I would ride anywhere in this area. Decent prices too at something like $150/day for the big GS bike and closer to $130 for DR/KLX/WR type bikes.

    It was now closing time and being situated right next to the RV park riders started to roll in. We met a few nice folks that afternoon. One in particular was quite helpful and gave us some great pointers for rides we best not miss out on while in the area. He goes by the name of Waldo. Super friendly and I hope I catch up with him again someday. He told us to make sure and ride out to Boquillas Canyon Overlook and to do the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive down to Castolon and the Cottonwood Campground.

    It was now time to head back into the park and get up to the lodge. The hour was getting late and the light was getting just right.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Once up at the lodge we checked in and then promptly took showers to wash all of last nights sand out of ......
    [​IMG]
    We briefly took in the view on the patio by the restraunt. This would be a great place to sip a margerita in the warmer months. Nice place. Diner at the lodge was nice and we certainly slept a lot better than the previous night.

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    #19
  20. Bustyrucket

    Bustyrucket Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2012
    Oddometer:
    50
    Location:
    Dallas
    I recall my buddy and I sitting and eating at that restaurant after being in the back country for a week riding, hiking, camping, not showering, etc. The looks that those people, the patrons, gave us was absolutely hilarious! :clap
    #20