Going For It!

Snow & Fog

Snow & Fog

By morning the snow had all but melted. The ground was clear, and the clouds were gone leaving a bright blue sky with a spattering of snow on the trees and shrubs. This looked like the beginnings of a beautiful day, I wasn’t going to let a little bit of snow and cold in the morning prevent me from enjoying a nice day down the hill and delay my overdue maintenance yet another week. It should be just a bit cool until I pass La Bajada Hill, then I’ll be through the worst of it right…?

Continue reading Going For It!

More Snow

More Snow

More Snow

Been nice all week untill today and then… MORE SNOW!  I’m beginning to think theres a higher power at work to prevent me from getting any work done on the bike two weekends in a row.

April Snowers?

So much for doing that oil change today.  Wind was blowing rain so hard last night I couldnt get to sleep till 4am and when my alarm went off a few hours later it was starting to sleet and snow. Not something I care to ride through if I dont have to, a quick look on Weather Underground showed it was only going to get worse.  Oh well, looks like I’ll get to do my taxes one day early.

V Star vs. the hurricane

Second funeral in less than a month prompted another trip to Ruidoso this weekend. They say things happen in threes, I wonder whats next.

The weather was much warmer this week, no more stopping every 50 miles to warm up my hands and chisel my feet off the boards. Perfect weekend for a relaxing ride or so I thought. As I rode the wind progressively got worse and worse as the day warmed up until I was leaned over at a 45 degree angle to go straight down the road and the sudden gusts would blow me onto the shoulder or into the other lane. The wind gusts were like getting hit by a truck, luckily I was out in the middle of nowhere and wasn’t worried about meeting any oncoming traffic.

The wind noise was fairly bad, I’d learned from the Point Blank Trip to use ear plugs to save my hearing from the wind noise (I still have a ringing in my right ear 5 weeks later from that but its slowly getting less noticeable). Even with the plugs the wind noise was bad and by Corona my ears were hurting, now I know why others say they cut them in half first. The noise was as bad as any other windy day I’d been through in my new helmet and didn’t think they were working too well and stopped in Corona to take them out. Less than a mile down the road I pulled over AGAIN to put them back in. Without them the roar was so bad I couldn’t hear myself think.

The funeral was nice, it was the first time in 15+ years that the whole family had been together. They didn’t agree if I was still the tallest cousin or not but I did get the longest hair award. Also found out I had a few relatives in Albuquerque just down the road I didn’t know about and got some phone numbers for the big trip in July.

I wished I could have come earlier or stayed longer to visit more but the winds were supposed to only get worse through the weekend and pick up later in the day. According to Weather Underground the wind would be west to east until the afternoon and gradually shift north to south in the afternoon, great just perfect for me to have a headwind the whole way if I went through Socorro or cross winds the whole way through the narrow rough road through Corona. Having fought crosswinds the whole way yesterday I decided to go with the headwinds, looking back this was a terrible idea.

Oh my poor, poor bike, with its measly 33 horsepower… I was barely making 65mph at WOT pushing all that wind and periodically the clutch would slip and I’d drop to 55 in the blink of an eye like I’d hit a brick wall. The bike would rev like crazy then catch again and struggle back to 65. Those Barnett Clutch Springs upgrade are starting to look like a real good idea.

About that time I passed the still smouldering ruins of a Chevette on the side of the road smelling like burnt rubber and asphalt. The hood had been ripped off the hinges and smashed into the windshield when they’d tried to put out the fire. Suddenly my problems with the bike struggling against so much wind didn’t seem so bad. With all the dozens of burnt spots on the shoulder of I-25, especially on La Bajada Hill, is this many car fires a New Mexico thing? or is it a common occurrence in other states too? Even my Taurus was smote by the car gods on I-25 outside Belen with a freak electrical fire.

Usually I hit reserve at 135 miles commuting to work to 170 miles on nonstop trips. “I can make the 100 miles to Socorro easy, even with the wind…” I thought in the back of my head. When I hit reserve at a new record low of 88 miles still out in the boonies I really started panicking. Oh Crap! I caught up to an RV and tailed it to San Antonio and some how I managed to make it to Socorro on fumes and to not bust my ass trying to park in hurricane force winds.

Socorro Springs

Socorro Springs

I stopped at the new Socorro Springs restaurant to rest my aching neck and shoulder. A 10 inch wood fired pizza and a micro brew for $12 not bad. The pizza wasn’t as good as I remembered from my college days but easily as good as Il Vicino and hands down better than any chain pizza joint. I wasn’t the only one with the idea, I talked with a couple on a teal and grey Road King a while and we kicked back and waited for a break in the wind. Good company, they were on their way to Michigan, wow. The guy said he was exhausted after fighting the wind the whole day and they’d got a hotel room up the road to call it a day already at noon.

The blowing sands through Los Lunas and Belen were so thick it was riding through a blizzard with 30 ft of visibility. I now know what it must have been like during the Dust Bowl. Remind me to rewax everything, theres also a slight haze etched into the windshield now, I hope I can buff that out eventually.

I collapsed into a coma on the couch as soon as I walked in my door and woke up a few hours later to the Emergency Broadcast thing going off on the TV warning of Severe Wind, a little late don’t ya think? The news later that night said there was 72 mph wind gusts measured through where I’d ridden, just shy of a category 1 hurricane. No freaking wonder that sucked so bad! If I ever have to experience wind like that again it’ll be too soon.

Prez Day Ride

Just posting a ADV style ride report for those who are getting stir crazy and suffering from cabin fever and Parked Motorcycle Syndrome, and to show why you should always be prepared for weather changes lol.
We had a beautiful 3 day Valentines/Prez day weekend and by Monday it had warmed up to 65 degrees. I decided to take the girl home the long way round and we left with plenty of time for sight seeing and pictures. The route we took went along the rim of the Valles Grande volcano caldera crater, one of only a handful of super volcanoes the only other in the US being Yellowstone, here it is on Google. The fingers are sheer rock canyons 100’s of feet deep, making Los Alamos a natural fortress.
I figured it would be maybe 10-15 degrees cooler through the mountains 1500 ft higher, boy was I wrong, heres what we found.
This is overlooking the rim, note the sign they werent kidding, this whole area used to be fenced off as a 400 square mile private hunting ranch with a 5000 head elk herd where independently wealthy outdoorsmen could pay to come bag an elk guaranteed. Its now owned by the state as a preserve. Distances are deceptive, it doesnt look far but its takes a strong spotting scope to see anything across the valley. The mountains in the background are the ones in the center on google and growing several inches a yr for the next eruption, luckily I wont be around then, they expect the shockwave to flatten everything for 400 miles and the ash cloud to bury everything else all the way to Florida, actually that would be cool to see from good distance heh.
The snow just kept getting deeper and deeper as we went, by now my hands were frozen to the grips with my double layers of gloves. I stopped warm up, we’d been riding an hour to this point but it was so cold I could touch the fins of the engine and the pipes with my bare hands they were barely luke warm. So much for that idea lol.
We were headed downhill by now and it was further to go back than keep going, we had to be through the worst right? We passed about a dozen more ICE! warnings and WATCH FOR SNOWPLOWS signs but the road surface was completely white with salt and dry, those signs had to have been up since the last storm… Further on the way down the sharp switchbacks and curves, every corner the snow had been melting and running across the road leaving narrow strips of ice on EVERY turn, exactly where you dont want it. A few were a bit squirely but the ice was only a few inches wide at a time and dry pavement after so it wasnt so bad. The ice kept getting worse and worse the further down we went till we hit some steep walled canyons and sections of the road lined with fir trees where the sun never shines, the road progressed from a solid sheet of ice to several inches of solid snow pack. I’m usually fearless and I’ve ridden through these conditions before, but never while 2 up with this much weight on the bike, it was nerve racking. Some of the stretches were very scary, worrying about dumping the bike with her back there. Sorry no pics I sure as hell wasnt going to stop.
Then Just a mere 30 mins later we ended up here, and it felt like 70 out.
I wanted to check out a road for Patrick and we took a detour down a rickety bridge and narrow 1/2 lane paved road, about wide enough for a golf cart.
Awesome! I cant believe I’ve never found this before.
These 3 tunnels were cut by a logging company for a narrow gauge railway that never got built, very cool.
You might recognize this from the cover of Ron Ayres Against the Wind, my best at duplicating the shot.
Further up the road was barricaded and closed for the winter, it looked impassable past there hopefully it’ll be cleared and the snow melted by mid summer.
Overall we just went 170 miles ish and it took 4 hours to do it. I went home the easy way, 70 miles by super slab lol. And after all I’d just been through the way back was my closest to getting flattened yet. The “hill” on the interstate is about 3 miles long with 1000 ft climb, and my bike chose to hit reserve right there. In all the times I’ve ridden this its never happened in that spot, and as luck would have it I had just passed a Dodge dually truck pulling a big horse trailer. I dropped from 80mph to 50 in the blink of an eye, like a full blown emergency stop, it felt like I was going to go over the bars Wholly Shit! I could hear the truck behind me lock up the trailer brakes slowing down, there was a whole 3 inches of shoulder with barricade to stop falling rocks, nowhere to go to let him by. I did switch to reserve in under a second, but damn… I’m very thankful that driver wasnt on the cell phone and was paying attention at that second.
Be safe out there, hope spring comes to everyone soon.