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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Tragic Overlander, May 17, 2016.
Looking great so far. Excellent photo documentation, Dave. Makes me want to ride it tomorrow!
I have been working a bit on my photography. Still not anywhere near your skill level, but slowly improving each day. BTW- you would love this ride.
NMBDR Day 5 – Coal Creek Campground to Rio Chama (Abiquiu Dam): 179 miles
It seems that the large Christian group decided that they were the only ones at the camp ground, as I was awoken at 6am by banging, clattering, shouting, and much worse…….children being happy Oh well, if you can’t beat the living crap out of them, join them. I rolled out of my tent and got some coffee going My mood improved with the caffeine, and its hard not to be happy when you hear kids laughter After all, here I am in a beautiful location, perfect weather and doing what I love – riding motorcycles
After packing up, I rolled out of camp around 8.15am and headed up into the mountains.
I guess people are getting sick of me telling them how pretty the scenery is. Well sorry, but nearly every minute of this ride has included pretty scenery This morning offered views down into the valley towards Grants to the south, and then over north across the high desert.
I noticed a different noise coming from Hildebeast – in addition to the horrible clattering and clanking of the chain which I was doing my best to regularly mitigate. I stopped a couple of times to find the source of this mysterious noise and eventually found that one of the clamps for my Kriega luggage was coming loose – glad I found it now, as I was able to quickly tighten it This prompted me to do a thorough inspection of the rest of the bike. Nothing loose, but I was missing my GoPro which used to be mounted on the right side crash guard. Shit. It could have come off anywhere in the last couple of days, as I very rarely use it and don’t remember noticing it It’s probably somewhere in the rocks between Winston and Reserve. Oh well, if somebody finds it, I would really love to have it back
The roads up in the San Mateo Mountains were loose and corrugated, but good fun. A liberal helping of gravel had obviously recently been applied. We eventually cruised down a very long and twisty road surrounded by huge rock outcroppings. The further we went down, the color of the rocks changed from grey granite to red sand stone. The tree’s also thinned out, and the temperature started to rise a little.
This next section into Cuba is publicized a little more dramatically than what I experienced. Yes, it is remote. Yes, there are some sections that have sand. For me, this was an absolute hoot Most of this section is the same as the CDR route which I have ridden a couple of times, so I suppose I knew what to expect. The temperature was in the low 70’s. It was dry, and the scenery is incredible.
Around every corner there is another spectacular sight. The sand areas were firm and wind packed, and didn’t warrant even a change in speed.
What is alarming though is what this area would be like if there was even a hint of moisture. Absolute nightmare scenario The whole section was covered in deep and hard mud ruts which were just scary enough to make me pay attention. I tried to ride this area a couple of weeks before and decided I could not get through because of the mud and snow. I don’t know if it has rained since then, but the tracks through here now are evidence just how much of a mess this would have been
Lots of gates, and lots of gully washes – some of which required a 270 degree turn for the approach.
Eventually the roads improved as we moved up into the BLM land, and then cruised into Cuba for gas and lunch.
Bigmo and TroyWolf had raved about El Bruno’s in Cuba – a really nice authentic Mexican restaurant on the main highway.
After their report, I just had to check it out. Unbelievable! Real, huge menu, homemade and very tasty food, excellent service The best Mexican food I have had since Baja!
More than satisfied, I left town on the way to Abiquiu. Nice and smooth dirt roads up through the San Pedro Mountains.
The highlight of this little section was a stop at Tea Kettle Rock.
Then a short pavement ride to Abiquiu Lake. There is a nice campground overlooking the lake just past where the track turns off down the switchbacks behind the dam wall to the Rio Chama I had stayed here a few weeks ago and enjoyed it, but today it looked like there was a storm rolling in, and the wind was blowing hard and I thought the CG would be pretty exposed.
So I decided to follow the track down the switch backs and see what I could find. Only a mile or two from the dam wall there is a nice picnic area alongside the river. Perfect. It was relatively sheltered from the wind, had fire rings, tables and shades. Apparently there is no camping here, but I am not sure why
I pulled in and made a cuppa and thought I would just wait until dark and set up.
While I was thoroughly enjoying my relaxation, a couple of fisherman stopped by to chat. It turns out these guys (Max and John) were actors based in Albuquerque and were escaping the real world for a couple of days to drink, camp and fish - in no particular order They were hilarious, and doing a pretty good impersonation of an Aussie accent. We spent a couple of hours laughing and they had me show them how to catch snakes and crack them like a stock whip, ride a Kangaroo, explain the rules of Cricket etc They asked where I was going to camp because apparently there was a sign somewhere here that says NO CAMPING. I of course mentioned that everything is upside down here and therefore I couldn’t read any signs
Another great night, after another great day of riding – although just as I was crawling into my sleeping bag, it began to lightly rain Ruh Roh. Tomorrow might be interesting.........
Fantastic stuff - thanks for the CCC reference at the camp spot by Reserve. My dad was in the CCC in the late '30s and actually was in that part of NM. Enjoying every mile and picture, thanks!
No worries. I was pretty interested in how all these parks and roads etc came about and stumbled on a bit about the CCC. Those guys and gals did some good things all around the country
NMBDR Day 6 – Rio Chama picnic area to Home: 402 miles
Well, it rained off and on throughout the night. Never heavy, but enough to soak into the clay soils. Up until this point I had had perfect weather for the whole ride, but I have to say that I was a little concerned about the trail conditions for the last 100 miles to Antonito I can’t complain, this is one of the risks of riding in the mountains this time of year.
I stuffed away my sleeping pad and bag, and loaded up Hildebeast while enjoying a coffee I departed the picnic area around 7.30am just as a Ranger drove in and gave me a friendly wave
A short stroll along the river into Abiquiu where I topped off with gas and then headed back out on the highway to the west to tackle the “Alternate Difficult Route” to El Rito.
I have since found out that according to the NMBDR website, this section was apparently closed the day after I went through. Not sure why, but it could have had something to do with the storm that chased me through
The track starts off with a nice little climb up onto the ridge above Canon del Cobre. I saw one other motorcycle track up here and little other evidence that anyone had been up here in a while. The track feels very remote, and at times was a little difficult to follow.
Once again, the views overlooking the canyon were breathtaking
The trail continues and was pretty rocky in some places. Many of the uphill climbs were also pretty washed out and eroded which made it more imperitive to just pick a line and keep moving forward.
There was one pretty nasty little uphill section with a couple of small step ups. I got off the bike to take a closer look and decided that with a bit of momentum the big girl could make it up Sure enough, we popped up at the top with no drama.
I really enjoyed this section – probably my favorite of the whole trip. Despite the overnight rain, the soil was reasonably dry and I was getting good traction on the rocks. There were a lot of areas that were severely washed out and a couple of little climbs that needed a bit of momentum.
Soon the track transformed into a smooth graded road down towards El Rito.
From here though the rain had made things very slippery. The Track winds up into the Mountains in the Carson National Forest, and unfortunately, a few vehicles had driven through here already this morning and began to plow up the mud. I climbed through some really pretty alpine meadows and forward momentum was difficult at times. Of course, it also started to rain quite heavily while I was up here.
We came down to Vallecitos, passed by “Assholes Garage” and then backup into the mountains. This was really difficult mud riding. It doesn't look too bad in the pics, but it was like riding on glass covered with lithium grease.
I was now in a full blown thunder storm with lightning bolts and huge cracks of thunder very close by. The rain AND HAIL was coming down so hard that I stopped in a copse of thick tree’s to sit it out for about an hour.
Eventually I slogged on and we came to Highway 64.
Covered in mud, soaking wet, and a bit tired it was time to call it. As much as I wanted to finish the whole route, these conditions were now stupid and dangerous. I decided to take 64 east and then 285 north for the short run into Antonito.
I was a little bummed at missing the last 45 miles, but my vantage point from the east showed the storm I had been riding in, and I was relieved to be out of it in one piece.
I rolled into Antonito just as the storm hit town. I scrambled to get a pic by the Cumbers & Toltec Railroad and then found an awning to shelter under at the Senior Citizens Center
Another hour passed before I put on all my gear and high tailed it home – another 290 miles. I made it home safely around 8.30pm and thankfully my tires and chain survived.
What a great ride Nearly all of it was thoroughly enjoyable. What blew me away was the dramatic transformation of scenery and track conditions – almost hourly. I was also astonished by how much of the route went through high and cool forests, as well as the amount and variety of animals.
I got my wish and had seven great nights of camping, and met some great people along the way What sets this route apart from the others is the distance and remoteness. A lot less hotels and services. I highly recommend this ride for others, but would caution that it would be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to do if rain is anywhere in the forecast.
This might just be my favorite BDR yet It definitely lives up to its moniker as enchanted.
Thank you for following along.
Enjoyed the read and pics. Thanks for sharing. Makes me want to go do it now!
Great tales! Will you be up here in polar bear land anytime? B
Great report Dave, brought back a few memories. Hope to catch up soon.
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Awesome report! I love NM. I've done hundreds of miles backpacking in the Gila Wilderness. I look forward to riding some NM roads in the near future.
another great ride report Tragic O., this route is on my to do list based on your recommendation.
Thanks BJBVC. Yes, the plan is to head up to Canuckistan and Alaska mid June for 30 days. I haven't planned the route yet, but probably something similar to our route in 2011 - see sig line. Not sure where you are, but always good to catch up with friendly beer drinkers along the way
Really great R.R. & pictures,thanks for sharing.Have to add that one on to the "list".
Thanks all for the positive comments Stay tuned, there will hopefully be a lot more to come. I'm planning on starting one of my favorite rides tomorrow - the Heart of the West The RR from our trip in 2013 is in my sig line. With any luck, I will have just as much fun as I did back then.
Just super stuff!! Almost, I say almost like being there. This is why I ride.
Plenty of riding this rear - quit your job too and come riding
Yikes! What a terrific chronicle of this route, T'O'lander! With such skillful use of photos, videos, maps and story telling, this RR will be the definitive, go-to reference for everyone who contemplates riding this route. Thanks for putting so much work into this!
I think you could be voted "Rider Of The Year"----awesome !!!!
When you get ready to go to Alaska I have a dirt route there and back that I'd be glad to give you. My stuff is always free.
Me and Dingweeds did it---maybe 7,000 miles worth of tracks ????
I think it took us 27 days---and we started at the Canada border and returned there.
So you'll need that much time if you do it.
We didn't ride the Alaska highway.
But-------I've bet you've got your own route planned---just thought I'd throw that out to you.
I'd be scared to death to ride what we did alone---------but your tougher than we are
and on another level.
For years after reading Alaska ride reports----nothing interested me and I decide I wouldn't even go---until we came up with this route.
BigDog ... Is that the route with no mosquitoes?