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Old 12-18-2011, 04:12 PM   #1
selaznog OP
Avoiding pavement
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Joined: Aug 2007
Location: Rt 66 & The Rio Grande
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Albuquerque to Ouray, the (mostly) dirty way

Note: I wrote this in August, right after the ride. There was much riding left do do before it got cold, so this RR was relegated to the B list until now.

A couple of years ago, or maybe last year, Dirtdad invited me on a multi-day DS ride in Northern New Mexico. Growing up Santa Fe, I spent many, many days and nights enjoying the area, but one thing I never did was a multi-day DS tour of this beautiful place I had enjoyed since my youth. I couldn't make that ride. Judging from the photos that followed, the FFs who did make it were up to their eyeballs with mud. When it rains, the New Mexico mud will stop you cold.

What a difference a year makes. I got the invite again, but unfortunately drought conditions closed the forests and I needed a backup plan. My family had a planned vacation in the Purgatory area starting on a Sunday, and I had already taken Thursday and Frday off, so all I needed was a new journey. This was also the weekend of RMAR. Some good folks tried convincing me to go to RMAR, but that just didn't work with my then frame of mind. There was therefore only one choice: head to the San Juans on dirt on Thursday, camp, and ride like hell until the family arrived late Sunday.

As the sun rose, my trusty steed, a 2007 KTM 525 EXC, was as eager as I. In long haul, solo camping mode.

The plan was to go from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Ouray, Colorado in one day, on as much dirt as possible. I picked up dirt about 10 miles from home, in Rio Rancho. This is where the real adventure began.

I rode what we locals call Pipeline Road for a good ways. Here is the descent into the Rio Puerco valley.

Cabezon Peak is a favorite feature of this area.

As I approached Cabezon Peak, the usually well traveled dirt road was a victim of the recent monsoons. I didn't get any pics of the plentiful mud and ruts, but they made the "boring" stretch of the trip a lot more interesting. I was the first to give it a go after what must have been severe flooding.

Anyone familiar with the area knows that 10-15 minutes of rain can make the area impassable. This road can turn to thick, slick mud in a hurry. Last year, MontyCarlo and I both ruined clutches on this stretch by trying to ride through the mud. I can only imagine what is was like with the amount of water necessary to do the above.

There was afternoon rain expected, so I wanted to get some good mileage in before noon. Still, the rains bring interesting things into view, and it was a pleasure ride, after all. A geode in the road.

Some wild horses on a quick section of tarmac north of Torreon.

More dirt southeast of US 550. The sandstone formations are everywhere, and I could have spent hours taking them in.

This part of the journey is in area at the edge, fault line, border, whatever you want to call it, between Spanish settlements to the east and the Indian Country to the west. For some people, there is still plenty of tension. I just wish the tit for tat in the below picture was confined to a bathroom wall instead of a sandstone formation. (center of photo; note that the first word was the last one painted)

After a couple of wrong turns, I made it into Counselor for a fill up. There is a tiny store that doubles as the local post office.

A local confirmed that the next leg of my planned route, north through Largo Canyon, would be well worth my time. Thankfully it was. I rode slowly, my eyes transfixed on the canyon walls above me.

I took a quick detour into Crow Canyon to take in some archaeology. I've taken an interest in petroglyphs in the last couple of years (see my
petroglyph thread), so I knew Crow Canyon would be worth the time.

My knee was in bad shape (one of the other reasons I skipped RMAR) so I didn't hike very far into Crow Canyon. Still, near the parking area there were a few interesting petroglyphs and the remains of a Navajo defensive position from a long ago conflict.

I'm sure I missed the best parts, but the advil was wearing off and I had a long way to go before nightfall. The route I had planned included a "river crossing" that unfortunately had been closed. A little down the road was a bridge, though.

I took a right at the bridge instead of the left I was supposed to take, but was rewarded with some nice views looking south down Largo Canyon.

Ancient dwellings.

Another fuel stop at Abe's, one of the most famous flyfishng shops there is.

Then it was on to Durango via tarmac. A view of the marina Navajo Lake. Not big by marina standards, but it seems out of place in the high desert.

There were storms in the distance in the direction I was headed. If you've ever been to Southern Colorado in August, you know the weather an change at a moment's notice. I ended up quite lucky, having to don the rain gear only a half hour or so between Albuquerque and Ouray.
I mounted the camera to the bike for some shots of the Million Dollar Highway, but only one came out (sort of).

After 12 hours of traveling, a nice brown reward at the Ouray brewery.

The next couple of days were spend riding the majestic San Juan Mountains. I can't even remember all the places I rode. If you've never been there, it's a bucket list kind of place for a dirt motorcyclist, jeeper, and anyone who enjoys views. I'll do my best to match the pictures with the correct names.

Lower Engineer.

Engineer. I can't believe I did this on a fully loaded KTM 950 Adv a few years ago. A thumper is definitely the way to go.

More to come.

selaznog screwed with this post 01-13-2012 at 01:49 PM
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Old 12-18-2011, 04:21 PM   #2
Paloma Paul
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Like the fat man said at the Dairy Queen when the gal was making him an oreo bizzard. "More Please"
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Old 12-18-2011, 04:45 PM   #3
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Thanks for sharing. The NM/CO border is packed with great scenery.
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Old 12-18-2011, 05:30 PM   #4
Hey! Watch this.
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I love that area of the US.
Ride hard, you might be dead this time tomorrow!
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Old 12-18-2011, 05:41 PM   #5
just passin' through
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What's next? More action!
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Old 12-18-2011, 05:54 PM   #6
Gnarly Adventurer
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Thanks for the report and pictures, I enjoyed them.
Sometimes it takes a whole tank of fuel before you can think straight!
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Old 12-18-2011, 06:08 PM   #7
The Pre-Banned Version
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Location: socorro NM 505-five five zero-2583
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you actually expect people to take responsibility for their actions in today's society?!

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Old 12-18-2011, 07:10 PM   #8
Beastly Adventurer
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Neat stuff, good to see some of my rides again.
Your pix are actually much better.
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:25 PM   #9
Beastly Adventurer
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Nice write up Steve!
You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy....we must be cautious.
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:36 PM   #10
Joined: Nov 2011
Location: Front Range of Colorado
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Engineer Pass

My childhood home! Thanks for the pics!
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Old 12-19-2011, 12:45 PM   #11
Gnarly Adventurer
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Joined: Mar 2011
Location: Albuquerque, NM
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Very cool. do you happen to have a GPS or google maps of the route you took? I just got a Tiger 800 and I'm looking to get into the dirt a little more than I had on my previous road bikes. Some of those areas around Albuquerque/Rio Rancho look like they'd be great day trips.
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Old 12-19-2011, 06:17 PM   #12
Chile Eater
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Nice pics. Looks like a fun time. Keep the story coming...

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Old 12-19-2011, 06:23 PM   #13
(Negativus Supersonicus)
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You take great pics and did a great RR.

Thank you!
"System change is not for the conceptually or interpersonally fainthearted." - Sarason
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Old 12-19-2011, 07:35 PM   #14
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We can handle it....We're Canadian
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Old 12-19-2011, 07:47 PM   #15
Joined: May 2011
Location: Taos Ski Valley, N.M.
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Great ride report.I have criss-crossed some of the country in your ride. Nice pics. Look me up when in Taos. Pat
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