Enjoying the Ride
Joined: Sep 2007
2011 Continental Divide Trail Ride (Part II)
2011 Continental Divide Ride
The next day we had an approximate 90-mile ride south through the Playas Valley to Antelope Wells where we officially began out the CDT ride. Here we are at the US port of entry. The border official there was very talkative, and he kindly took our picture. Evidently this border crossing gets very little daily traffic, and so we were the high light of his day.
Despite the inactivity at this border crossing, our government is building a $15 million new port of entry shown here all for an average of 8 vehicles passing through per day. On a busy day they have up to 12 vehicles.
About 40 miles north of Antelope Wells is the community of Hachita where we did find gas available, although at about $5.50 per gallon. The Saint Catherine of Siena Catholic Church was originally built in the 1930’s by the WPA as a schoolhouse. The bell tower was added much later, and in 1982 it was dedicated by Bishop Ramirez. (http://www.southernnewmexico.com/Articles/Southwest/Hildago/HachitasSaintCatherineofS.html ).
Our destination on the first official day of our route was Silver City, NM. There was a light rain as we pulled into town and found our hotel in the mid afternoon. We spent the next couple hours changing the dual sport tires on our bikes with the knobby off-road tires we had carried from Boise with us. I brought both a front (Dunlop 606) and rear (Dunlop 908) knobby to replace my nearly worn out Pirelli Scorpions while Jim brought only a front knobby. On second thought, Jim decided to replace his rear with a knobby which he purchased the next morning from the local KTM dealer. Lowell brought both a front and rear knobby with him, but his current knobby tires were still in good condition. He ended up carrying his new knobby tires the entire trip without needing to change them.
Not far out of Silver City, NM, is Fort Bayard established in 1866 to protect the gold and silver mining communities of Pinos Altos and Silver City, NM. In 1976 its post cemetery was designated as a National Cemetery that continues to be used ( http://www.southernnewmexico.com/Articles/Southwest/Grant/AbriefhistoryofFortBayard.html ).
A short distance east of Fort Bayard on FR 73 is the ghost town of Georgetown (http://www.georgetowncabins.com/history.aspx ) well worth a visit.
North of Silver City on FR 150 I had my first mishap in a switch back when my front wheel washed in loose dirt. No harm was done.
Not 20 miles further on the same road I had my second mishap – a flat rear tire from a pin hole friction rub at a fold in the inner tube that resulted from not overinflating the heavy duty tube to about 60 PSI to properly seat the tube when I had changed the rear tire the previous day. I had only inflated the inner tube to 40 PSI prior to lowering it to 30-32 PSI to run dirt. In the heavy duty Moose inner tube this left a small fold in the tube that gradually wore a pin hole as the tube rubbed upon itself.
Not long after the Beaverhead Work Center on FR 551 we encountered this large herd of elk grazing in a meadow. Note the abundance of the white poppy flowers that was prevalent in this area.
At an elevation of 6,970 feet, the town of Quemado is named for the Spanish word for “burned.” When Jose Antonio Padilla settled by a creek east of the present town in 1880, he found that the Indians had burned the surrounding brush, so he named it Rito Quemado. This town with a population of about 250 is unincorporated and functions as the primary service center for the ranchers and town residents in the area ( http://www.swproperties.com/new-mexico-info.html ). It was our destination at the end of day two of our official route. We stayed at the Alegre Motel, one of only two in town.
At this point in our trip, Lowell was not feeling comfortable keeping up with Jim and me on the dirt, a pace needed to keep on schedule with our motel reservations; so he opted to ride an alternate paved route, and he met up with us each evening at our motel. He ended up traveling greater distances each day than we did, and he saw more and different scenery than we did.
The next morning we had pie of course at the Pie Town Café in Pie Town, NM, about 20 miles east of Quemado on US Hwy 60. Pie Town sits just east of the continental divide at an elevation of nearly 8,000 feet. It is a favorite of those doing the CDT, and has an interesting history worth reading ( http://www.pietowncouncil.com/pie_town_history.html ; http://www.pietown.com/ ).
Traveling along in Zuni Canyon (FR 49) just south of Grants, NM, we passed this wooden fence, which stretched for nearly a mile.
Northeast of Grants on coming of FR 239 we encountered our first closed but not locked gate. It appeared to be the private entrance into a ranch. It was not marked “no trespassing,” but rather than deal with the owners, we made a short 1.5-2 mile detour around via CR-75 and then back onto the CDT route at CR-19 (FR 556 on the Benchmark map). Shortly after turning onto CR-19, Cerro Alesna (elevation 8,064 feet) came into view. This unusual volcanic peak sits on private land owned by the Lee Ranch Coal Company ( http://www.summitpost.org/cerro-alesna/468945 ).
The route through this area crosses some ranches and community cattle grazing land with cattle-guards and unlocked gates that should be left as they are found (i.e. left open or left closed after passing through). Shortly after Cerro Alesna Peak, we came to this old homestead with rock building and some rock walls.
The road is predominately dirt and winds back and forth through numerous arroyos, the majority of which are dry, but a few have standing water in them. It was turning down into one of the dry ones that I had my third incident – another tip over when my front wheel again washed out in the soft deep dirt. I broke my right mirror and front turn signal in the landing (sorry, no pictures of the crash). The latter was easily fixed, and I relied on my left mirror thereafter. We concluded that this section of the trail would be treacherous, if not completely impassible, during or after a rainstorm.
Coming out of one of these arroyos you will find this signature rock dating to 1894 and signed by Gorge Archuleta.
Cuba, NM, was our destination for day 3 of our CDT ride, and we stayed at the Cuban Lodge Motel where we met up with Lowell again.
Prior to leaving on this trip, we had been concerned about road closures east of Cuba along the CDT due to the Las Conchas forest fire near Los Alamos, which started June 26th when an aspen tree fell during stong winds into a power line causing the lines to arc (
http://nmfireinfo.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/investigators-determine-cause-of-las-conchas-fire/ ). Approximately a 40-mile segment of the CDT was closed for several weeks beginning east of Cuba on state Hwy 26 to country road 189 south of Abiquiu, NM. This turned out to be the largest fire in New Mexico’s history, and burned over 156,000 acres of land before it was finally contained on August 2nd ( http://www.kasa.com/dpps/weather/wildfires/las-conchas-fire-fully-contained_3900999 ).
Because of the road closures along the CDT, we diverted around on state Hwy 96 to US Hwy 84 into Abiquiu, NM, where we picked up the CDT again. Along Hwy 96 we passed our first of many bicyclists doing the CDT (about 12 in this group, some of whom were pulling bobs, going north to south). Near the junction of state Hwy 96 and US Hwy 84 we came upon Abiquiu Reservoir, which was a refreshing oasis in a very dry surrounding.
In Abiquiu we took a break to enjoy some ice cream at this little stand just off the main highway.
Just north of El Rito on CR-247 we encountered our first group of motorcyclists doing the CDT. They were originally a group of about 7 riders on smaller bikes coming north to south. On about the 2nd day of their ride, one in their group went down and broke his leg thus ending his ride. I believe another had to leave their group early due to prior commitments, thus they were down to 5 riders. We talked for several minutes exchanging stories and advice about what to expect up ahead, but we failed to get any pictures of them. In our entire route on the CDT we only encountered three other groups (two in Colorado and one in Wyoming very near the Idaho border just south of Yellowstone National Park) doing the CDT on motorcycles. We both thought there would be more riders doing this trail.
Further north on FR 91B just south of US Hwy 64 we came upon this quaint abandoned homestead in a picturesque narrow mountain valley at an elevation of about 9,000 feet. I can imagine the winters were hard to bare, and that may explain in part why it was abandoned.
The section of the CDT north of US Hwy 64 and the Colorado-New Mexico border proved to the most technical and difficult for us in New Mexico if not on the entire trip. There were two steep, rocky downhill segments from 1/8th to ¼th mile each (uphill if you are going north to south) that were a real handful on a fully loaded big dual-sport bike. Sorry, we did not get any pictures; we were too busy keeping from crashing.
Between these two rocky segments, Jim had his second incident, a slow speed tip over when his engine killed going through a water bar. The first was on US Hwy 191 in Apache and Sitgreaves National Forest when he stopped on unlevel ground by the side of the road to put his kickstand down, and his foot did not reach the ground. We have all been there and done that.
The northern section of the New Mexico portion of the CDT empties out just north of Cumbres Pass (elevation 10,020 feet) on state Hwy 17 in Colorado. Since our destination for day 4 was Chama, NM, we headed south and took these pictures of the old Cumbres Pass Station House ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumbres_Pass ).
In Chama we met up again with Lowell at the Elk Horn Lodge, and had dinner that evening and breakfast the next morning at the Elk Horn Café.
(Antelope Wells, NM to Chama, NM)
coolsen screwed with this post 10-18-2011 at 12:46 PM
Reason: Picture was left out.