BMW Paonia Rally Colorado and Santa Fe Return
July 18-19, 2007
Debbie and I decided to make a long vacation out of the Top of the Rockies Rally by meeting up with our good friends Troy and Susan at Paonia, and then drifting down to Santa Fe later. We were going to be gone for a while and Deb does not care for sitting on the back of the bike all day long (which I can understand), so we trailered the K75S for a good portion of the trip. We drove Wednesday up to Raton, NM for the first night and stayed at the retro-looking Melody Lane Motel along with many of New Mexico’s finest, who were meeting in the area for a law enforcement conference. It was comfortable knowing that the law was right next door if we needed them.
After a quick breakfast Thursday morning at our elegant motel (just kidding, the Melody Lane Motel was nice), we headed over Raton Pass at the border and turned off I-25 at Walsenburg in Colorado. Hwy 69 was a winding 2-lane that just cried for a ride to fully enjoy it. I was driving along and mentioned in passing to Deb that this would be a great bike road. She said, “Fine – ride”. I guess I did not think she truly meant that and I drove on. So another 10 miles or so passes, and I asked her if she was serious. She said she was expecting this and for me to unload the bike and ride. I spent no more time talking this over and found a wide spot in the road near the Buffalo warning signs. The weather was great and the roads just challenging enough, but not to the point that I couldn’t enjoy the mountains on each side of the valley we were traveling through.
We passed by Blue Mesa Reservoir and turned onto Highway 92 on the north rim of The Black Canyon of the Gunnison. What a ride! There were so many turns in short order, it was difficult to take in the scenery for fear of running right off the road.
We went up into the wine country northwest of Hotchkiss to the Leroux Creek Inn, a bed and breakfast on a vineyard. We met Troy and Susan after their drive down from Ft. Collins and had dinner later in Hotchkiss.
Deb followed me for 270 miles to near Hotchkiss where we met Troy and Susan at the Leroux Creek Inn. This 4-room adobe inn was on a working vineyard 8 miles up the hills toward Grand Mesa. Troy had already unloaded his K100RS and had run over with Susan to the rally site to check in. They drove up very soon after we arrived. We exchanged hugs and smiles and took in the warm evening sunlight bathing the vines outside of the inn while sipping our favorite drinks.
The inn had some very laid-back dogs that kept Debbie company.
Photos Jul 18-19 https://photos.app.goo.gl/vrL5pAvELjZELKtg8
July 20, 2007
Yvon, our French innkeeper host, kept us both entertained and well-fed. Friday morning, Yvon fixed us a great breakfast which we enjoyed overlooking the valley.
Shortly afterwards Troy, Deb and I mounted our bikes for a ride around the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. I dropped Debbie off at the park so she could hike with Susan along the Canyon rim. Troy and I continued along Hwy 50 through Cimmarron and some nice sweepers on to the Blue Mesa Reservoir. After a brief stop at the dam, we carefully negotiated the very twisty Hwy 92 along the north rim of the canyon. We stopped at Smuggler’s Rest for water and a snack and took in the spectacular view. The descent took us back towards Paonia via the back roads to the rally site.
We headed on north down 92 through some of the most spectacular scenery and twisties that I have seen. The rally grounds was a sea of tents scattered throughout the tall shady trees of the city park. I picked up my registration packet and we then started the difficult decisions as to which prize buckets to drop our tickets in.
Later our host Yvon, prepared a fantastic duck dinner back at the Inn. We rejoined with the girls to hear their stories of hiking the canyon and later driving up to Crested Butte. Troy and I tried to describe the wonderful twisties that we had experienced earlier, but the words did not do the roads justice.
Wine and Tequila later at the inn was a great way to end the day with very fine friends.
Photos Jul 20 https://photos.app.goo.gl/16Z5R7MZv93HKXQ2A
July 21, 2007
Saturday morning brought another beautiful day to explore roads on two wheels. Bill and Glenn were getting ready to do a 400-miler down towards Red Mountain and out west through Gateway. Our plan for the day was to ride over Grand Mesa to DeBeque and make a great circle passing to the south of Aspen. We took some very narrow roads that Yvon recommended to get us to the climb up Grand Mesa. The forest thickened and the temperature dropped as we topped the mesa. When we started the descent on the west side of Grand Mesa, the dramatic change in the vegetation was very obvious. In 15 miles, what was lush and green turned to desert dry scrub. It was still very pleasing to look at, and the twisty narrow road to DeBeque demanded attention, but was great fun. The superslab from DeBeque to Glenwood Springs wasn’t near as much fun, but it got us back to the 2-lane mountain roads that we wanted.
It was threatening rain, so I pulled over to stash the camera in the saddlebag. The rain started slowly as we left the interstate, and it let up quickly so we could take in Aspen-area peaks in the afternoon light.
The road up to Marble was twisty and followed a mountain stream lined with Aspens. Out front of the general store, a weaver was putting together a rug. It was serene until the 4 Harleys fired up their motors and broke the mountain silence. After the silence returned once again, another sound caught our attention – Thunder. We finished our drinks quickly and started heading down to the main road.
Riding up McClure Pass was technical, and thank goodness the roads were still dry at this point. But on the eastern side, the deluge hit. We stopped to put on rain gear, and continued our way down the mountain in driving rain. It was still beautiful riding even with the rain, but I would have preferred a dry sunny Colorado afternoon sky. Once Troy sensed we were close to the inn, he was like a horse heading for the barn. I think he had his fill of wet riding for the day. We met back up with the girls and headed over to the rally for a BBQ dinner.
We went to the rally grounds later that evening, which was quite a tent city. Troy found he had won a massage and quickly took advantage of that. Nice…
Photos Jul 21 https://photos.app.goo.gl/DaVsaCLKFXWMBH9V6
July 22, 2007
We departed Sunday morning from Hotchkiss after a wonderful breakfast including singing by Victoria. We loaded Troy’s K in his truck and I readied mine for a ride through the Million Dollar Highway over Red Mountain Pass.
Deb was OK again with driving the car so I could experience the mountain roads out of Colorado. Did I mention she’s a great wife? The
ride outside of Ouray was very technical with 10 mph switchbacks and breathtaking views. I came across several bicyclists that were working very hard on the climbs. I respect their effort, but I have found that it is definitely easier twisting the throttle. I’ve been trying to convince the rest of my System E cycling team of that, but they won’t listen. Once in Durango, I loaded the bike on the trailer to give Debbie a break from driving, although the roads still beaconed for two wheels.
We drove east across the Colorado/New Mexico border and turned south towards Chama. This is a mystical part of Northern New Mexico with plenty of rain that keeps the area lush. The drive into Santa Fe was typical southwest summer landscape with sweeping panoramas and towering thunderclouds. The afternoon sun was spilling through the clouds as rays of light illuminating select areas of the high desert.
Deb and I walked around Santa Fe through the evening and took in the art that was evident everywhere we looked.
Photos Jul 22 https://photos.app.goo.gl/rjzoJUaro3b9jYk5A
July 23, 2007
The next morning, we took the bike on a ride over the High Road to Taos, which follows along the foothills of the Sangre de Cristos through some very small villages. The weather was once again great, and the company of my wife on the ride making it that more enjoyable.
After dinner we made our way up to relax in a secluded hot tub at Ten Thousand Waves. This foothills oasis is on the way up the ski road near Hyde State Park. When the sky is clear, the view of the stars is wonderful. This night, however, was filled with the remnants of afternoon thunderclouds. The storms and late afternoon rain shafts made for some great sunset images that looked like paintings.
Tuesday morning, we reluctantly packed up and made our way back home. I always look forward to returning back to this region, and wonder if I ought to make a home here, but the technology-driven career that I have ties me to the large cities. Whine, whine…
This trio in Santa Fe were obviously good friends.
Photos Jul 23 https://photos.app.goo.gl/Aoh81CMYCiegJ4Ed9
July 24, 2007
The trip up into Colorado and back through New Mexico was very relaxing and exciting at the same time with the twisty mountain rides on my K that performed flawlessly. It was fun spending time again with Troy and Susan in Colorado. Deb and I had some quality time wandering around Santa Fe. Can’t wait to do it all again!
Photos July 24 https://photos.app.goo.gl/QepZKe5k4ZKQkd12A