I started to pack everything and up ride the two humans that I'd be looking at for the next 2.5 weeks-Ron on his 1150GS (land yacht) and Steve on his KTM 990adv (hooligan death ride). We said our quick hellos, and I meet Steve for the first time. Like my buddy Ron, he does underwater welding/construction and is a solid dude. I caught them up to speed on my misadventures so far..they couldn't believe all that had happened since Thursday night.
We hit the road after a fuel stop in Lordsburg. After exiting Interstate 10 we head south to the border crossing at Antelope Wells, NM. I really enjoy this type of landscape. It seems to go on for ever, with the horizon twisting and turning in the distance. I can't tell if the mountains around me are 1 mile or 20 miles away. It's very disorienting and strangely cool.
First crossing of the Divide!
I find out later that night in conversation with Ron (who has a relative or friend who works for the border patrol in that area) that while the Antelope Wells border crossing looks innocent enough, it is far from sedate once the sun goes down. Apparently, it's a very active location for firefights between the cartels and Border Patrol agents. Mental note, always cross in the morning should you so desire to enter Mexico at this location.
We reach the border after the 90 mile pavement jaunt from Lordsburg. I've crossed into Mexico at Tijuana countless times and this is the complete opposite- "sleepy" doesn't do this location justice.
As we coast to the border, we notice a couple of motorcycles pulled over just before the border control area. We pull over near them and dismount. We find two 70+ year old Canucks who have just arrived at the border 20 minutes before we arrived. Turns out they started in BC and rode down the CDR and were now finished!
I inspected their bikes (newer KLR's) and wondered what they looked like at the beginning of their long journey.
They were completely pleasant fellows and proceeded to tell is about every recent development on the trail- "watch out for this crossing, a farmer put a fence across this trail, etc."
It was really fun to think about these two geezers having just finished the ride that we were just about to start. What a trip.
We stayed and chatted for about a half hour, told them to keep the rubber side down, and headed north. The interesting thing to think about (retroactively) was that we would be headed pretty much ONLY north for the next two weeks.
We retraced our steps back up to Interstate 10 and exited the freeway at the trailhead. Those of you with the GPS tracks will know waaay more than I will about exact locations of things, as I was just following the bike in front of me.
As we approached the trailhead I became pretty nervous about what lied ahead for me and my airhead. I glanced over at the KTM 990 next to me and thought about all the technology contained therein. I thought about all the ride reports I've read where people rode "older" bikes on the trail. "If they can do it, I can do it" I thought.
First pic of the trail!
We started motoring up the trail and settled into a nice pace. This was my first real foray into off road motorcycling. I know it's a ridiculous way to start, but I have years of mountain bike racing under my belt, and I hoped that would translate into some level of competence. My goal was to not crash every hundred feet and slow down the group...little did I know...
The first crash came when Ron had a little "traction" issue on his aircraft carrier. It was a sandy wash (first of many) and he got a bit squirrelly, low siding his bike.
Turns out his Jesse box popped right off its mount and we began our first trailside fix. This would prove to be one of the many themes of the trip. I was always packing and unpacking my bags, Ron was always fixing/rigging his Jesse's, and Steve was always working on his Rotopax (story to follow).
We continued up the trail and encountered our first "obstacle".
It was a sandy wash about 70' across followed by a 3.5' ledge up out of the wash and back onto the trail. The sandy wash was just that-70' of deep sandbox sand. Upstream, downstream it made no difference. It was 70' across as far as we could see.
We decided that a direct attack was the best approach and tried to figure out a plan of attack for the ledge at the end of our sandtrap. Ron and Steve lamented their independent decisions to not bring their folding shovels. I don't even own one, so I had nothing to regret.The ledge, while 3.5' high, was made of crumbly dirt, sand, and rocks. I looked around and there was a perfect spade shaped rock. I made quick work of the ledge and we were soon paddling our way across the sandy wash, then heave ho-ing our way up the ramp we had constructed on the berm.
It might sound cheesy to say this, but I felt like I was actually having an ADV experience..I was getting pelted in the face with sand and rocks as I helped push the 1150 and the 990 up the berm...I was ecstatic.