The Almost Virgin New Mexico BDR

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by bigmo, Apr 30, 2016.

  1. TroyWolf

    TroyWolf Student in the art of less

    Joined:
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    Overland Park, KS
    So here is my F800GS with all the crap I started out with. This is from day one of riding on the track Sean built from Tucumcari down to Carrizozo--our NMBDR starting point.
    [​IMG]

    Sean and I rode the COBDR in 2014, so I thought I had learned a lot and could pare down to essentials. The problem was that I left my corporate job to start my own thing--I'm now a self-employed web application developer. This is a good thing, but it means I really can't go off the grid 100% for an entire week--and I needed a laptop along.

    I loathed having to bring a laptop. I purchased a rugged little 11.6" Solid-State Thinkpad. I figured I would have to wear the laptop in a backpack to provide the necessary shock absorption--thinking it would not survive the beating it would endure if packed on the tail.

    So I bought a VERY nice, expensive backpack through MotorcycleCloseouts.com. The American Kargo Trooper backpack comes with a lifetime warranty and is seriously high-quality. It carries 2 2L bladders for 4L of water capacity. It also has excellent tool storage for tire irons, etc., a special fleece-lined pocket for goggles, phone, whatever, and a designated laptop pocket. PERFECT.....or so I thought.

    Problem was, it was simply too big and too heavy to be on my shoulders and back for 240 miles a day. So in the photo above, you can see I decided to strap it onto the back of the bike. If you normally wear a heavy backpack, you'd probably love this backpack.

    By day 3, I figured out I simply did not need this backpack. The pack itself must weigh 15 lbs! So in Grants, NM--the only night we didn't camp, I bought a $20 hydration pack at Walmart, moved the stuff from the backpack to the other bags (I had plenty of room in those other 2 bags), and shipped the backpack home! (It was sitting on my porch when I got home.) If you are interested in buying this slightly used backpack, shoot me an offer!

    If you somehow find yourself needing to ship something from Grants, NM, the great folks at Habiger Service will help you with a smile. They open at 9 am.

    My 2 bags are:
    1. Giant Loop Great Basin - an almost ridiculously expensive bag, but it is such an excellent system. If I were re-designing it, I'd actually make the bag larger across the top section as it seems just a tad to small to get all your camping gear in. This bag has survived several mini-epic rides without any damage.
    2. Helen Twowheels Waterproof Roll Top Sack (Large) - This thing is awesome. Simple and sturdy and economical. This also has survived multiple trips well.
    The Twowheels bag held my tent, sleeping bag, liner, pillow, rain gear...and my laptop stuffed carefully in the middle. The Giant Loop held everything else -- tools, tubes, chain oil, trail saw, Jetboil, Teva sandals, Mountain House food, and clothes. We THANKFULLY never had to touch a tool--not even a flat tire--except about 20 miles in the nut that holds my clutch tension came loose. The bike had just come back from service that included replacing the entire head--so I suspect the mechanics forgot to lock it.

    Sean & I both used Rokstraps--these things are awesome. We had zero issues with bags coming loose and needing to readjust.

    You can also see that I have both a 1G gas and water Rotopax installed on the tail. We used that water every night and morning at camp. However, I never had to use that gas, so that was 6 lbs I carried for no reason. Sean's 500 CBX could go a lot more miles than my F800GS on a tank of gas. Next time I will just bring a simple siphon.

    Those Mountain House dried meals are light but take up a lot of space in your pack. Next time, I think I will forego the breakfast meals opting instead for instant oatmeal on the trail. (Anything cooked in camp or over a campfire is gourmet.)

    For the COBDR, I carried one of those bulky Thermarest pads rolled up and strapped onto the back. Worked fine. This time, I purchased an REI AirRail sleeping pad. It packs up small and I really liked it--better than the Thermarest for me.

    I used almost everything I brought. I'm getting a tiny bit better at this.
    #21
  2. Britome

    Britome Get Free

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    Great. Can't wait tons this one. Sounds like spring or fall are the options given summer heat.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #22
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  3. Frosty8

    Frosty8 Been here awhile

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    The sign about anglers is that the funding for the wildlife area came from the Pittman -Roberson act passed many years ago with the support of fishermen and hunters. It collects a tax (15 - 20%?) on fishing and hunting gear to support wildlife game management and lands.
    #23
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  4. road_apple

    road_apple Hit the Trail

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    The cut down tree that you sat on and couldn't figure out why. It looks to be a pine bark beetle tree. Looks like it's full of tiny holes from woodpeckers looking for larval bettles. Other symptoms are brown trees in a forest of green trees, blueish sap plugs that the tree produces to close the holes after infestation, and a superfine sawdust at the base of the tree. Cutting down these trees seems to be the only wholesale way to prevent spread of bettles by eliminating the fresh cambium layer to feed on preventing adult development. The trees can be logged a year later off the ground, or collected after cutting in central areas to be chipped and burned. Firewood import/export bans. There is a spray treatment that's expensive on a large scale but used on 'signiture' trees. It's sad to see large areas infected, and clear cut to prevent further spread. Some say long dry conditions are to blame, more mature trees, tree stress. The mature beetle is almost similiar looking to a large wasp without the stinger and flys to a new host tree usually in the fall. The 'Big Burn' has been replaced by the 'Big Chew.'
    #24
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  5. bigmo

    bigmo The Great White North

    Joined:
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    Excellent prediction! Here we go...
    #25
  6. bigmo

    bigmo The Great White North

    Joined:
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    Ok. Now it’s cold. So far, I have loved all of our camping…but waking up to super cold temps can be tough to enjoy! Luckily, the fire lit almost immediately and we started warming gear by the fire. Mountain weather can be so fickle… Thank God the previous camper left so much firewood. We needed it!

    While we were eating our eggs and sipping on coffee, a weird batch of snow rolled in from the north. Great. These were little snowflakes…almost like super delicate sleet that was pure white like snow. Everything was cold and it started to stick.

    [​IMG]

    We had already started breaking down camp, and we both agreed this was better than rain. Glass half full! After about 15 minutes, the north snow came to an end and the sun came out. Yahoo! 15 minutes later, a weird south front moved in, temps dropped even more, and new snow came. This time, old school snow with big flakes. By this time, we were ready to roll. We start today with temps around 27 and real snow. I put my heated grips on high (or level 5). I wondered why they went that high…now I know. I am literally freezing and I am walking around in camp next to a fire. Today may suck. Yes, that's snow. A bunch of it.

    [​IMG]

    I won’t beat around the bush, I didn’t really like this section. It did, however, leave a few lasting impressions. This is the section where we traverse some really large reservations. I am rather ignorant of our native nations, but I believe most of this ride is on the Zuni and Navajo Nations. If anything, I am going to use this experience to learn more. I took a filler class in college called the Great Tribes of the Americas and loved it. Time to fix that part of my life.

    I don’t want to divert this from a ride report – but man, we really screwed these nations. I wish I would have captured it, but the second we left the forest (Gila I think) heading north, we entered the Zuni Nation. Literally the second that happened, the land turned from vibrant, alive, and productive to an inhospitable wasteland that looked utterly useless. Just after passing the sign indicating the Zuni Nation, I noticed the dead land in front and the green forest in my mirrors. I was saddened by this.

    On the same topic, we rode through a couple of urban centers – not sure town or city is the right word. Simply put, it was depressing and felt more like a concentration camp than a place to live. No signs of real living and high security fences. I didn’t photograph this because I was embarrassed that this is part of the US. I know this is a complex subject, but I have simply never seen real life on the reservation before. Not sure how to put that behind me… I joked with Troy (not that this is a joking matter) that maybe some future technology will demand a yet undiscovered element that only exists on some native nations. Maybe payback will naturally occur...or we'll just take it. Who knows.

    Ok. Back the ride. Bottom line, I would have skipped this whole section and did pavement had I known how little there was to see. That’s not a poor reflection of the BDR, it’s simply the geography here is SO big. There is a pretty cool highlight on the way. The Zuni Salt Lake is a really cool stop. I lived in Djibouti for a while and they have a very similar maar salt lake and I explained the identical salt mining operation to Troy. He was either truly interested or just being polite and acting as if he was interested. Talk about some tough work! I am not sure of the saline content here, but in Djibouti, it was almost 40%. You could ALMOST walk on the water. Not Jesus-style, but you could just wade in and not sink. I am sure this is a treasured place for the Zuni, but it is an awesome sensation. The downside is, if you have any cuts - look out!

    [​IMG]

    Ok, the roads here are basically LONG stretches of fast gravel. Think Kansas with some mountains in the distance. To add to the joy here, the temps were hovering right around freezing and the wind was kicking up to 40+. If we caught a crosswind, the wind would continually scoot you toward the shoulder until you had to reset. The freshly graded and gravel roads were a bit of a bear. Gravel on hard pack = almost zero real contact with the ground. I’m smiling here, but barely… This is first road type the TKC80s felt not up to the task. That being said, I don't think any tire is ideal on these freshly graded and treated roads.

    [​IMG]

    Finally, the mountains start to scoot closer…amen. I am simply tired of county gravel roads! About 25-30 miles from Grants, the forest envelops us once again, and the desert gives way to junipers and pinions. Pine replaces salt and New Mexico has totally transformed before our eyes once again. I was simply ready to be done with today. Then Zuni Canyon Road happens. It’s stunning. GREAT big bike riding…huge aged granite outcroppings all over. Killer two track that meanders through a beautiful pinion forest. I kept thinking that we were literally just 50 miles away from desert “tundra” that seemed so lifeless…and now this. Amazing state. Remember me not knowing anything about geology? Well, if this isn't granite, please let me know. Here in the Ozarks, we have lots of big granite outcrops like this. Our most famous is famous - Elephant Rocks. Those are Precambrian granite and this looked and felt the same. The road builders did an amazing job flowing from outcropping to outcropping. It makes me think that there may have been small-scale mining at one point. I saw some cut marks on some of the faces. Hand cut too. More hard work...

    [​IMG]

    This area started out semi-residential with great homes on 5-10 acre tracts. Soon the power lines vanished and the roads worsened into what we like to see. The roads here are stunning and seem to go on forever. The temps stayed low, but standing on the pegs and working the bike around finally allowed me to forget I was cold and miserable. I even turned my grips down to “2”. I lifted my face shield to take in the pine small. All is good.

    [​IMG]

    Speaking of marks...or Marks. We knew Big Dog and his Dog Pound (I just made that up actually) - or that was Snoop Dog??? had just been through. We knew they were a few days in front of us. We were puzzled after the tree(s) incident as we knew noone bypassed the trees. In total hindsight, we now know that Bill Dragoo and his crew - or Dr-crew (funny no?) DID make it through the trees. Bill is am absolute motorcycle god, however, and manned their GSAs over the root ball. Bill has joined us on a few rides int he Ozarks and rides like Taddy Blazusiak sans the Polish accent. So that doesn't count. Troy and I were clearly the first mortals to complete the tree(s) section. NOW we see Big Dog's "mark". Look closely. We were evidently three days behind.

    [​IMG]


    I knew after a full day of shivering that Grants may be a night to hotel it. When we punched out of Zuni Canyon Road, we were basically in Grants proper. Grants was larger than I thought, and being an “Interstate town” there were lots of hotel and restaurant choices. We did some quick cel searches and settled on the Super 8. It was $61, clean, and had a hot tub. Oh my, a hot tub! Good hotel and they didn’t balk at us dragging our nasty campfire and sweat smelly selves through the lobby. The room was clean and the hot tub was hot. This was my first shower since Friday…and it’s now Wednesday. Troy used the opportunity to plan some new packing strategy to lighten his load on his 800. I actually had some nagging work to get done (like real work that followed me to New Mexico), so we used the opportunity to refresh, catch up on calls to the wife and kids. We ate some mediocre Mexican food in town at El Cafecito – it was just a solid C+. Consider looking elsewhere for food. A great night sleep was had by both. The Super 8 bed, linen, and temperature control felt better than our pack mattresses and super low temps.

    Tomorrow we knew the ride would be grand. This is where New Mexico gets uber remote and leaves civilization totally behind. Troy planned on shipping his backpack home, so we had a leisurely breakfast at the Super 8 (I had a waffle – yum!), then rode over to Habiger’s Printing in town. They are a cool local mom & pop printing company that doubles as a FedEx location and triples as a shaved ice restaurant! Seriously. Super nice folks too. If it's hot, try the shaved ice. We heard it is awesome.

    [​IMG]

    I noticed this in Habiger’s while Troy was conversating with the ladies there. Someone has minor OCD. Yet, I loved it.

    [​IMG]

    I am saddened that the "Distance to Destination" on my Garmin is getting quite small. We are running out of BDR. Most of New Mexico is now behind us.

    Now we aim once again for the desert and say goodbye to Interstates, cars, people – well, everything…
    #26
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  7. bigmo

    bigmo The Great White North

    Joined:
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    I didn't want to obsess about the bike on this topic, but the CBX was awesome! I too thought the rims might be an issue, but nada. I have already gone through the bike post-ride and the rims are perfect. Not so much as a scratch. The size was really not an issue. First, the size TKC80 makes the outside diameter similar to a 19" rim. Is a 21" better? Sure, but it sure didn't hold us back.

    Like you said, my CBX has low cost mods that make it an ideal adventure platform. The suspension was "fixed" by a St. Louis shock tuner (Shock Zone). It worked great. The extra 2" in height make adventuring possible on the CBX. The drivetrain is bone stock. The Honda 500 twin is godlike. It is buttery smooth and the power is linear electric. Zero (really) vibes make highway sections borderline enjoyable. The low CG makes the mountain twisties an absolute hoot.

    I don't want to put words in his mouth, but Troy mentioned how impressed he was with the CBX several times. He even mentioned Honda getting a hold of this ride documentation. This bike was made for adventure riding...it just needs a little DIY TLC.

    Big picture...we were never waiting on me and the CBX.
    #27
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  8. Offhook

    Offhook n00b

    Joined:
    May 1, 2016
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    Location:
    Grapevine, Texas
    Great Information Thanks. My brother and I are headed that way in 4 weeks. Excited!
    #28
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  9. TroyWolf

    TroyWolf Student in the art of less

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2005
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    491
    Location:
    Overland Park, KS
    Yes, the CBX is a cool bike. Sean & I swapped bikes for a few miles. It doesn't give you any whiplash when you twist the throttle, but the power is so smooth. It is a really comfortable machine.

    When Sean & I rode the COBDR, we both felt that while there is not any perfect bike--all are a compromise one way or another--the KTM 690 would be near perfect. Keep in mind Sean & I both prefer the rough stuff! We kind of went into the NMBDR figuring the same thing, and the 690 would definitely be a great machine for the route. However, I REALLY like my F800GS--and more with every mile I put on it. The NMBDR is an easy route really--a big 1200 would be wonderful on this route. UNLESS it is muddy, in which case no bike is going to work---you will be camping until it dries!

    You could do this route on about any bike that you don't mind getting dirty! It's just a matter of how fast you want to hit the bumps! I'm pretty sure people rode motorcycles through these parts long before $25,000 bikes with awesome suspension and 100+ HP existed. :)
    #29
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  10. kojack06

    kojack06 Long timer

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    TX
    Many thanks for the ride report!
    #30
  11. TroyWolf

    TroyWolf Student in the art of less

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    Overland Park, KS
    Sean says he didn't really like this section, but the day had some great sections for sure. The Apache Forest is such a beautiful part of this route. Like Sean points out, though, as soon as you get out of the forest and hit total desolation....Indian Reservation. That can't be an accident.

    The pure dirt roads and rock formations in the reservation held my interest enough. it was the straight, flat, gravel roads after that (or was that still reservation land?) that got really dull. As Sean said, I might just opt to hit some pavement to cut through that part of the world---and it's not like me to opt for pavement.

    I would not portray my ride or the camping as chilly as Sean does. We definitely got cold a few times, but I felt we were appropriately prepared for it. Breaking down camp outside of Luna was concerning as the temperature dropped more than 10 degrees instantly and the snow started to collect on our gear. But almost as quickly as it started, the sun came back out and it warmed back up a bit. Still needed the balaclavas and heated grips (like real men do), but not bad at all!

    It did make my lips chapped, though. Luckily I had my McLiney & Company chapstick!
    #31
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  12. bigmo

    bigmo The Great White North

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    That's some fine camera work!
    #32
  13. Shawnee Bill

    Shawnee Bill Long timer Supporter

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    I'm reading about all this cold riding knowing it will be summer before I can make this ride, so my question is, will it be too hot to ride NMBDR in June? How about if I have to wait until August?
    #33
  14. bigmo

    bigmo The Great White North

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    I mentioned earlier that we were clearly early. That being said, our trip was awesome...just a little cold. The good news is that we were never really hot!

    Check out this thread:

    http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/next-in-the-b-d-r-series-nmbdr.1022082/

    There are several locals in it and it seems that May/June and then September/October are ideal. Can July and August be done? Sure...it will just be hot when you are below 8000 feet. There is a real summer monsoon to be aware of, however. Weather can really impact any BDR, but it can really impact the New Mexico BDR. Trying to plan one's trip around weather, however, is very tough.

    IMO, aim for early June if that works for you.
    #34
  15. Shawnee Bill

    Shawnee Bill Long timer Supporter

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    Thanks, I'm hoping I can get several days free before the end of May, then my wife would like me to talk someone into riding with me. I love New Mexico.
    #35
  16. Tragic Overlander

    Tragic Overlander Adventurer

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    Rocky Mountains
    Thanks guys for a great RR so far. I am planning to start the NMBDR next week, and this gives me a good idea of what to expect.

    Thanks again. Carry on......

    Dave
    #36
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  17. Sl33p3

    Sl33p3 still waking up... Supporter

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    I about spit coffee on my monitor... Thanks!

    Thanks for sharing guys! Your experience will no doubt be helpful. 4 more days of work need to go by...
    #37
  18. Bob

    Bob Formerly H20Pumper

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    Location:
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    Nice report, lots of great stuff in NM!
    #38
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  19. refokus

    refokus Hmmmmmm

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    Jun 7, 2007
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    Location:
    Arizona
    Nice Ride Report and awesome pictures from the both of you..............Great Job! I love NM and what it all has to offer. Most people just don't understand it truly is "The Land of Enchantment".
    #39
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  20. Eskofire

    Eskofire n00b

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    Feb 2, 2016
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    New Mexico
    Nice report! I look forward to checking out this route from home base in Alamogordo. Big Dog made a good point: White Sands Missile Range jams GPS from time to time, so be prepared when you get close to the range.
    #40
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