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Old 10-02-2010, 08:24 AM   #16
CBAT OP
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About 15 miles east of El Paso we turned left on the dirt road that is the beginning of the Shadow of the Rockies trail and headed north.



Long straight dirt roads. I actually measured one at 10 miles without a turn.









This type of sign always make the ride interesting. We were in the north east corner of Ft. Bliss. I had an alternate bypass planned in case they had closed this section.



It took over an hour to get to the foothills south of Timberon and the mountains that make up the area around Cloudcroft.



The road dropped into this riverbed for a couple hundred yards at a time then would climb out on the same intervals. You better do well in rocks for this section.



As we went further we started getting into a series of creek crossings. Nothing challenging just fun for a change of pace.



And we met some of the local residents. They were curious for sure.



We climbed higher in elevation and the cooler temperatures were welcome. The clouds were building and provided shade to make things even cooler. North of Timberon we stopped a the indicated intersection an took a short break. Perry had to get his head wet. Refreshing.



Nice to see this sign on a dirt road.



We followed the route until we came to this sign.



Time for another reroute. This would be a good time to talk about a couple issue with routing. First, the map database is not always the most up to date accurate resource. You have to use your brain when you get to a section that doesn't look right. Zoom out to a level where you can see a way around and use a little common sense. Here is how I got around the closed and gated section.



The purple line is the planned route, the blue our actual track. You can see the actual road is not on the map. This area had not been updated since the closure and rerouting of the road. What you see as camp view was a spot with a fire ring that had a great view and would make a nice camp.



The issue with the routing is when you get a route that looks like this.



I think this happens when you use waypoints from someone else. They can get out of order and try to take you back and forth. The straight lines were made with a gps in off-road mode. Just follow the road until you get past the waypoints and it all straightens out. Again you have to use common sense and not follow blindly. GPS routing is a suggestion, not an order.

OK, back to the ride. It was around 6:00 when we got to Cloudcroft and decided to push on to Ruidoso. The official route took us out of downtown on a trail that was gated but had a bypass for two wheel vehicles. I assumed that included motos. This is the backside of the gate. You can see the gap on the right of the photo.



This was nice single track right up until we got to the locked gate with one of the two turn bypasses that will not a motorcycle through. :



We spotted a very new trail up the side of the hill and Perry said, "you first" thinking I would not take the bait because he didn't want to go up. So, I said 'Why not" and took off up the hill. It was steeper than it looks in the video. It's always steeper than it looks.



I climbed into an area of fresh logging slash. It was slow going and the basic trail petered out and disappeared. For the first time on the trip the fan on my DRZ came on since I was barely moving. I shut the motor off to see if I could hear Perry. I could not hear him in the thick forest but shortly he came rolling up to the top. I took off in the general direction of the fresh cuts and spotted a warehouse type building and figure we could get out there. It turned out to be a County Maintenance Yard so we took the road out only to end up at a locked gate. That rarely stops us, especially when we are inside the gate, so we took a path around the uphill end of the gate and got out.



The only problem was this wasted some time. The sun was down behind the trees and we still wanted to make Ruidoso. The route took us off HWY 244 and into the Mescalero Apache Reservation and since I wasn't sure about the rules out there I didn't want to get stuck out there after dark. So, we stayed on 244 and made a run to Ruidoso. Perry got some video. Notice the herd of forest rats, aka deer, at about 35 seconds into the video.



It was just about dark when we hit Ruidoso. We checked at a RV park and they wanted $30 dollars to tent camp. No thanks. We opted for Motel 6 since there was a 40% chance of rain. For $60 we got a room. I think there were only 3 rooms rented for that night. The off season between summer and snow had the town pretty dead. The manager at the hotel was super nice. We asked if we could park the bikes under the portico and he directed us to the front porch, next to the door.



And best of all, we had access to this.....



Indoor hot tub and pool. 104' felt real good. I slept like a log that night.

Next: Captian Gap and the NM prairie.
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Old 10-02-2010, 08:25 AM   #17
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Tracks for day 5

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Old 10-02-2010, 08:29 AM   #18
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It's harder to wake up early from a motel bed but we didn't sleep too late. We got breakfast at our favorite place in Ruidoso, Chef Lupe's Cafe. Across the street the building had dogs on the roof parking at passers by. Funny.



Fueled and fed we left to the north riding by the airport. We could see our next challenge in the distance; Capitan Gap. The notch in this range.



Then we came upon Ft. Stanton which is well known for it's role in the tale of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War of the 1800's. Next to the fort was a cemetery dedicated to Merchant Marines which I found a little odd. They had their version of Forest Gump mowing the grass.




Ft Stanton from the road. We visited the museum on a road trip to the area a few years ago.



This was all on pavement since Ruidoso. After a few more miles we were on dirt and closer to the gap.



Once in the gap the trail became more rocky and slower going. With no breeze it soon became rather warm since most of this section was 1st and 2nd gear.





We came to a section that had numerous streams running across and along the road. Our first real section of any kind of mud. Nice for a change.







Then a section that had seen a forest fire. It's always a little surreal riding in these areas.



The trail followed the elevation around the mountain for at least 5 miles then dropped toward the plain. The horizon was calling us to the next part of our adventure.



But first we had to get out. Another gate. This one built from retire rails from the railroad. Sturdy for sure.





On the prairie it was wide open spaces. Rolling hills so the vistas weren't going on for miles but I thought more beautiful than the desert east of El Paso.





These guys were friendly enough. They are there to watch over the sheep.





We mostly traveled well maintained roads interspersed with pieces of roads that used to be. I stayed to the route as much as possible. It took us through some seldom used gates.





This storm was chasing for a while but never caught us.





After riding through the back yard, past the house and down the front entrance we got out of the gate.



A rail crossing in the middle of nowhere, NM.



We rode past Ft. Sumner Reservoir....





and into Ft. Sumner for food and fuel. We at this joint.



I had New Mexican chicken fried steak. That's real steak, cream gravy, green chile, and cheese on top. Oh man let me tell you that was awesome.

Next: to Logan, NM for the night.
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Old 10-02-2010, 08:34 AM   #19
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After the late lunch we continue heading east and north along the prescribed route. Fast roads that soon started to get chocked down with grass and tall weeds. One particular sections had tall sunflowers on either side that were loaded with birds. As I flew through they would take to wing to flee my screaming machine. A least a couple bounced of me. One of my face shield and another off my thigh. I'm sure they didn't survive since they hit so hard. Had I not had a face shield in the lowered position I would have taken a hit as well. By the time Perry rode through all the birds had fled.



We came to yet another gate, also unlocked. The route went that way so onward we went.



The road led us to a row of wind generators and turned into the service road for them.





Then the route separated from the road and headed across a pasture. I could barely see the two tracks in the grass so I followed. It led to a gate that we could open then approached the back of a house. The area was full of cattle but there was not gate at the road. We had to go nearly to the back door of the house where I found a gate to let ourselves out. This was the only time I felt uncomfortable about where we were riding. It was just too close to the house and I expected the owner to come out at any minute but never did. No harm done.

We followed the route across a few more miles of abandoned ranch land and abandoned housed. This piece of Quay County is gridded with roads called Quay Roads. The ones running north/south are lettered and the ones running east/west are numbered. A lot of them are well used and some are not even visible as a road. It made for interesting navigation.

We came to an intersection with NM 252 and it was decision time. We were running out of daylight and still had over 100 miles on the route to get to the next known camp site. After a brief discussion the joint decision was to bail and take the asphalt directly to the camp in the fastest route provided by the gps. This took us almost due north toward Tucumcari on NM 209. This saved us 60 miles over the defined route.



We got fuel in Tucumcari and made it to Ute Lake State Park outside of Logan, NM just at sunset. Perfect. Our tracks for the day.....

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Old 10-02-2010, 08:55 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by CBAT
We rolled into the store at Hachita at 5:45; the store closes at 6. Good timing. There are no card readers on the pumps so if the store is closed, "NO GAS FOR YOU!" We topped of our tanks and fuel concerns disappeared.

Great ride! Great report! Looks like you guys had a blast and some great weather.

Nice to see the gas pump is in at Hachita. That will take the fuel strain off for some people for the last segment with a down and back to the border.
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Old 10-02-2010, 09:10 AM   #21
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Up early we broke camp and went in to Logan looking for breakfast. We found this local joint and gave it a whirl. Not disappointing at all.



More locals started showing up. We saw this rig out front when we were leaving. Anyone know what is going on here? Looks to me like he was using the bike to charge battery packs for something.





The sky was gloomy so it gave the roads a different feel.



You'll see some strange sights on trips like this. Mostly someone with an idea that didn't quite work.



Supposed to go here. (lousy photo)



Not too far along we came up on a real western cattle drive. I stopped with plenty of space to not spook them.



This is Roy and his horse, Grace. Super nice guy rode back to check us out. We talked for about 10 minutes. He couldn't believe anyone would want to come out in the middle of nowhere on vacation. When explained we spent all of our working time in the city he immediately understood. He and his daughter were driving the herd. He prefers horses to bikes because of the terrain. He never could get used to 4 wheelers.



He directed to stay to one side of the road and if we went slow it would be fine. So we said our adios and pushed through.






More fast roads.....






then I came upon what I called the gate of death. I could barley see it across the road. In the center of the road you can see where I came skidding to a stop in time.



The route took us onto some more seldom used roads. Find me in this shot:



Nobody home.



Just to show we were really on the road.



After a brief stop in Clayton for lunch we stopped here to top off fuel tanks. My son's name is Clayton Taylor so this is his store.



Another interesting sight in Clayton is this dragon along the highway.



Just west of Clayton we head north toward Colorado. Paved for about 15 miles than turning to dirt. Eventually we would find ourselves at a major crossroads. This is where the Shadow of the Rockies intersects with the Trans America Trail.



We took the TAT west and came upon a paved stretch that led down into a valley. Perry had a great idea. He set up at this spot to catch a shot of me making the corner. Look for my white helmet in the trees before the curve. I ruined his plans by stopping to take a picture of the valley. : His shot...



And mine.....



The road would change back and forth from paved to dirt for a while than stayed paved. Karen directed me to take a side road which led to a gate. Through the gate the road all but disappeared. We crossed a set of train tracks and the road then disappeared except for a purple line on the gps. We were on a ridge and heard a strange sound then saw the train winding it's way up the valley. Pretty cool.



We decided there was no road here so headed back to the highway. Perry got some video of this "road". I was following it as best as I could.






Next: Into Colorado
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Old 10-02-2010, 09:17 AM   #22
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We crossed the state line with the required sign shot.



Just across the border is the small burg of Branson. Famous for this well preserved jail.



It's in a prominent place in town with it's own porta potty. Too many adventure riders stopping here I suppose.



The route goes almost due west from here towards Trinidad. Those gloomy skies were becoming dark and threatening.



Finally, about 2 miles from Trinidad we surrendered to the elements and had to don rain gear.



Perry's monkey, our mascot, was not pleased but he hung on.



I had planned to stop in Trinidad for fuel and to visit my nephew who is in gunsmith school, but with the rain I was concentrating on riding and completely missed the turn into town and took a bypass. This put us on a wide spot in the road along the Interstate about 12 miles north of town. The placed was called Ludlow.



The rain had let up where we were but we could see it was coming down hard to the south in Trinidad. I turned on the phone and I had a message from Leslie saying my nephew was in his machinist class so couldn't have met up with us anyway and with the rain it's just as well that we missed Trinidad. We had a slight problem though, low fuel and I wasn't sure where the next station was. While standing around the local Barney Fife officer pulled up so we asked him about fuel. We heard a whimper coming from the seat and saw a baby in a car seat. Perry said, "Those perps always cry when you stick 'em in the back seat". He laughed. Yes, there is fuel in La Veta and we can make that so we press on.

We were dodging rain and trying to make time to get to town before dark so no photos. We rolled into the gas station downtown as the operator was turning off the lights. He stayed open for us to fill up our tanks and gave us a recommendation on a place to eat. We found out later that a new gas station/store down the road is open 24/7. We ate and started looking for a place to camp. Perry was looking for another roof to cover us in our tents. It was dark so we rode into the park downtown and set up in the picnic pavilion.



It seemed like a good idea at the time. At around 0100 the yard sprinklers came on. The first cycle was OK; it came in under one end but not all teh way to where we were. The second was no problem but the third came in under the roof and was hitting the end of my tent. Who knew I would have to put on my rain fly under a roof. At 0400 a freight train came rolling through blowing his crossing horns. We were about 100 yards from the tracks. At 0500 the sprinklers came on again! Then another train at 0600. Like I said it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Our tracks for day 7

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Old 10-02-2010, 09:21 AM   #23
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Day 8; Colorado, The home stretch

This is the wake up call provided to us by the Rio Grande RR.





We packed our gear for the last time with the yard sprinklers still hitting the front of our bikes.



We rode around town looking for options for breakfast and found this joint at the far end of Main. We instantly knew we had found the spot.



Inside was decorated in 50's and 60's memorabilia and was small but cozy. One other customer had beaten us to the table and was sipping coffee in the corner.



Great service with a kind smile. Perry had his omelet and I chose the Cowboy Special; two eggs, bacon, fried taters, homemade corned beef hash, and the best biscuit I've had in quite a while. :eat: Very good.

La Veta is off the beaten path but a very nice town worthy of a visit in cage or on two wheels. The main road to town is paved.



The sun was shining but the clouds were hanging on top of the mountains. This is often an indicator of still unstable atmosphere and could bring more rain. No matter it makes for nice photos.



Perry caught me snapping this one. Kinda neat with all our shadows.



The road was fast and straight at first but we soon turned of onto the next leg that wound it's way along the front of the Sangre de Christo range.



This old church is a common photo seen among many ride reports for folks riding the Trans America Trail (TAT).



Eventually we head down into the valley to cross over HWY 69 and head north.

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Old 10-02-2010, 09:36 AM   #24
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After crossing CO 69 west of Gardner we began to gain altitude heading north on Greenhorn Mountain Rd. Before long we came to where the rain had fallen overnight and the road had not yet soaked up the fresh liquid. It was a mix of mud and goop. We slowed because there is no other way to handle long stretches of mud. Try to follow a rut or find a drier path. Then while following a rut the rut splits as cars move around and you find your tires trying to follow different ruts. This induces what is commonly called a low speed tank slapper as the bike flops back and forth between your thighs. Just hang on and try to get a handle on it. Both of us had this fun and managed to keep the bikes upright. After about 10 miles of this fun we began to gain enough altitude that the road was less goopy and more solid. There was an area that had just been subject to a prescribed burn by the forest service. This removes underbrush but doesn't harm the larger trees. It prevents a small ground fire from jumping into the canopy and destroying the larger trees. The smell of wet burnout reminded both of us of the many wild-land fires we had fought together.



We climbed higher and higher into the San Isabel National Forest and were treated to some beautiful views of the aspens in their fall colors. Amazing!

















The clouds got thicker and the wind was stronger and colder. Coming down from the pass I started to get drops on my face shield and thought we were gonna get wet again. We soon found ourselves on the Greenhorn Hwy, CO 165.



We rode a few of the sweeping corners and the rain came along with us. I gave up and stopped to get my rain jacket.



The rain didn't last long, or we got far enough north to get out of it. We rode HWY 96 east for a while. Lots of curves. I need to come back on the street machine and catch these two roads.



There was a mix of paved and dirt roads that took us across US 50 east of Canon City and put us on CO 67; Phantom Canyon Rd.



Another road that was originally served the Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad, Phantom Canyon road is designated a Back-country Byway. Since this was narrow gauge the cuts are tighter and the blind corners more hazardous. The road surface was excellent and all the cars we came up on were able to find a spot to pull over and let us past. This unique steel trestle bridge is the only remaining of the original six bridges along the route.



One more stop for a photo before arriving in Victor for lunch.

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Old 10-02-2010, 09:39 AM   #25
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We arrived in Victor to sunshine and a crisp cool breeze. Victor and Cripple Creek is the richest gold camp in history. Today the two towns, separated by less than 10 miles, have a completely different feel to them. Victor is more rustic while Cripple Creek is restored and bustling with tourism. We chose Victor for lunch and ended up choosing a joint called The Lucky Buck. Your basic grill and bar.



Inside the decor was definitely to our liking. The owner had his "I love me" wall and he was a firefighter.



He had the requisite dead heads present.



And some cool murals on the walls.



Hidden back in the corner was the old pizza oven, perfect.



We got a large supreme and I washed it down with a Tommyknocker micro-brew which was appropriate for the situation. Tommyknockers are miners who have been trapped in cave-ins and pound on the rocks for rescue. It is believed that the ghosts of these miners go on knocking in the mine shafts long after the victims have died. Stephen King got it all wrong.

The buildings across the street from The Lucky Buck.



From here it was east on Gold Camp Rd and one more chance to enjoy the aspens.





Before long we were on Old Stage Rd. overlooking CO Springs.



And after enduring the traffic we arrived back at the start point. We had made it.



2285 miles in 8 days.

Next: We take on the Mountain
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Old 10-02-2010, 09:43 AM   #26
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Before taking the bikes up Pike's Peak I'd like to extend my thanks to some of the guys on ADVRider that have contributed to my adventures. Big Dog for providing inspiration for us over the hill gang and for sharing his gps data. Gaspipe; I love his riding style and always enjoy his web reports. And the many others who have gone before and shared their stories to provide ideas for us to adapt into out own adventure. And for Sam Carrero for laying out some cool rides like the TAT and the SOR. Thanks y'all.
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Old 10-02-2010, 09:57 AM   #27
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We enjoyed a great night's sleep in soft beds. Leslie had made us some breakfast tacos with egg, potato, and chorizo and left it in the pan for us whenever we woke up. Awesome! We had stripped most of the baggage off the bike that made them top heavy and went out to take on the mountain. She loomed high over us as we topped off our tanks for the day.



I had plugged in our destination on the Zumo so we had no trouble finding our way. Of course a destination like this is pretty easy to find. Lots of signs along the way as you head west from CO Springs on US 24. First thing on the Pike's Peak HWY is to pay the troll, er ah toll. $12 per bike and worth every penny. I pulled over in the parking area to remove the dirty filter skin to let the bike breath better. It was needed as it had been on for half the trip. And we were off on the route of the famous Pike's Peak Hill Climb. The road is curvy and smooth with a speed limit that varies from 20 mph to 35 mph. OK, it's set up for cars that are sightseeing. We like seeing these signs.



I didn't stop for many photos on the way up it was that fun. First asphalt then dirt for a few miles and back to asphalt above treeline. Everyone pulled off to let us past. It was a hoot right up until the ranger came around the switchback turn and came at me head on in my lane in a blocking move. : I grabbed the binders and came to a stop and before I could turn down the music coming from the Zumo he had pulled up next to me and was yelling something. Perry had stopped between me and the pickup truck and heard all that he said. It went something like this: "The speed limit is 20." Me, "what?" Ranger, "Two, zero." Perry, "OK, we'll be good." Yeah, I'll be a good boy. OK, we had been doing between 40 and 50, we slowed down for the sharper corners.

Then, we were at the summit.





14,110 feet.



The cog railway was at the top so the gift shop was full enough. We got our donuts and went out to take a look around.



They had some snow with the front passing a couple days ago.



You can see Kansas from up here.



Looking west you can easily pick out the Victor and CC mine and the town of Cripple Creek. The lake are drinking water reservoirs for CO Springs and most are off limits to recreation.



Out in the middle of the looping drive at the summit is a pile of rocks that is the highest point. Perry added a rock to the top and claimed his honors.



Tourism all done it was time to make our descent. We took it a little slower and stopped for photos along the way. Watch for the fist pump around 45 seconds from the passing car as he sees my one handed riding technique.







At a wide switchback in the dirt section there was group of beemers with a mix of GS types and I spotted at least one 800GS parked along side the road. Must have been a dozen or so. C'mon guys, you stopped in the most fun part of the climb.



Funny story from this last overlook. A guy and his wife were stopped here on a nice Road King. She was sitting on the bike facing away and he came up to talk to me. He said they had been traveling for 8 days and had gone 1600 miles; she corrected him with the number 1400. She said "those bike look like fun" without turning around to look at us. I said that we had just done 2300 miles of dirt roads in the last 8 days. He spun on his heel and stomped back to the bike. She said "WOW, that's quite a trip" still without turning around. He fired up the Harley and left without another word. When we got down to the parking area they had stopped and she was walking toward the trash can facing us with her back to the Harley. We got the biggest smile and one of those low waves so her husband couldn't see. True story.

We rode through Manitou Springs, a nice town that looks like it's straight out of Disney park and on to Garden of the Gods. I'll post the photos since there isn't much story except riding through the park.











It was afternoon and it was getting warm and we were getting hungry so we rode into Old Colorado City to a place in my personal favorites list.



Lunch



Desert, raspberry chip and blueberry cheescake



A great day and to finish it off, dinner at the Phantom Canyon Grill and Brew Pub. Perfect





A long report for a long ride. Thanks for taking the time to share it with us.
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Old 10-02-2010, 10:02 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cannonshot
Great ride! Great report! Looks like you guys had a blast and some great weather.

Nice to see the gas pump is in at Hachita. That will take the fuel strain off for some people for the last segment with a down and back to the border.
Thanks. Yeah, I had extra gas for that leg just in case but the stop made it easy. If they only had newer pumps with CC readers. Maybe enough bikers will ride through they can upgrade. Everyone: BUY GAS IN HACHITA SO THEY CAN GET MORE MODERN PUMPS.
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