Been There, Done That

Justin Philipson’s HW3 rally had been canned due to the ongoing pandemic.  Riders still wanted to ride, including me…  Peter Green came up with an idea to keep us on the bikes, ride a rally and still maintain social distancing with no start or finish gatherings.  Justin offered up his previous HW3 boni with locations scattered about the wide open West.  Gary Huff was the rally scoremaster.  We would ride within the start and finish times with documentation/boni photos sent via email to Gary for validation and scoring.

August 13, 2020

I rolled out of my garage early on Thursday to head west to Ruidoso for an overnight stay.  The Big Money Rally was still going on, so random stops were made to collect airport theme, creeks and other boni.

The temperature in the desert near Artesia was ridiculous.  I made a conscious effort to drink water every 15 minutes or so while I was passing through the 106-plus degrees.  Once I neared Riudoso, the elevation of the mountains dropped the temps into very comfortable 80’s.  It was nice being in the tall pines where my family from Abilene used to hang out.  I found a grill near my hotel with a large outdoor patio to have dinner.

August 13, 2020

The temperature Friday morning was in the 50’s, a welcome change from the typical hot Texas August days.  I headed north out of Ruidoso to gather a few more BMR boni for the scenic byways and airport themes.  Riding through the Valley of Fires was a bit surreal, with lava all about me.

My route to Santa Fe took me east of Sandia Peak and through the small mining town of Madrid.  The burger and beer on the patio at the Mine Shaft Tavern was a nice mid-afternoon treat.

I rolled into Santa Fe late in the day and scoped out a few boni in town and a location for my start time documentation for the rally.  Dinner was at the Santa Fe Brewing taproom patio with the Bang Bite food truck serving up a very tasty fish and chips.

August 14, 2020

Morning came early for the BTDT ride.  I left my hotel around 5:30 to position the bike for a fuel-up as close to 6:00 AM as possible to maximize time on the bike for riding.

I collected a few boni inside and near Santa Fe and rode south through Albuquerque and the Very Large Array nearing the Arizona border.

My route took me through the Navajo Nation reservation and north through Chinle and Canyon de Chelly National Monument.  I continued to run across closed areas due to the pandemic where I had to document my stop with a GPS coordinate instead of the required location according to the rally packet.

Riding through Monument Valley was spectacular as always.  I continued through Mexican Hat and north to Moab for a rest bonus documented by a partial fuel-up at a gas station near my motel.  I could claim time up to 4 hours, but spent around 8 hours in Moab since I was in this rally for fun instead of attempting some kind of a top placing for the finish.  Sleep was nice…

August 15, 2020

I arose at 5:30 and ate the remainder of my breakfast burrito that I picked up the previous night from a grill near the motel.  My rest bonus end was documented at the same gas station I had hit the night before.

The ride north out of Moab was nice with a very colorful sunrise in the east.  I would find out soon why that sunrise was so vivid.  The historical plaque for the Si-08 bonus at the Sego Canyon Petroglyphs was missing, so another GPS photo was needed to document the stop.

As I approached the Colorado border, the reason for the brilliant sunrise in Utah became obvious.  There were two massive wildfires in Colorado, and both of my planned routes were closed.  Highway 139 north out of Grand Junction was closed due to the Pine Gulch Fire and I-70 was closed between Gypsum and Glenwood Springs due to the Grizzly Creek Fire.  Instead of heading up 139, I made routing changes on the fly and continued east to Rifle to turn north.  The smoke got thicker and thicker until I was nearing Meeker, where the typical beautiful Colorado blue sky appeared again.

My lack of attention to the GPS as I rode north out of Meeker caused me to miss the turn onto Hwy 15 which would have turned into a relatively nice gravel road to the Milk Creek Battlefield bonus.  Once I figured out my error, the 10 miles back would have cost time.  I saw the small road 30 that cut over to 15.  It started out fairly nice, but quickly turned into a goat trail with some steep descents.

My route from the Milk Creek Battlefield took me a bit further north to Craig.  I did a bit of math in Craig and determined I could ride a little further north to pick up the RS-006 Fortification Rocks bonus and still be in a town well ahead of the 14:00 finish deadline.  Once I was in Steamboat Springs, I got the last bonus and pulled into a gas station to document the finish time.  I filled up my tank, pressed the receipt key on the pump and nothing came out…  I looked over to the store, and it was totally locked up.  I remounted the bike and rode down to the next station to try to cram in a bit more fuel for the all-important finish time on a receipt.  This time receiving the receipt was successful.  I finished up my log sheet documentation and sent the photos off to Gary for scoring.  The rest of the day would be a leisurely ride to Leadville for an overnight stay.

Leadville is high, 10,152 feet of highness…  I checked into my motel and walked downtown for a dinner on the patio of the Tennessee Pass Cafe.  On the walk back up the hill to my motel, the temperature was dropping quickly and I was getting very winded in the high elevation.  I settled into my room and slept well.

August 16, 2020

This day’s ride was to be a leisurely 204 miles to Trinidad.  As I rode south out of Leadville, I came across a sign showing Weston Pass off of Hwy 24.  I stopped to take a photo of the sign for my son Weston, and continued on south.  After a few miles, I decided to turn back and ride up the road to Weston Pass.

At first, the road was paved and then turned to gravel.  After a few more miles, it changed into a high-clearance road with some nasty rocks scattered about.  It was not too bad, but I had to pay attention to the track I was choosing.  At the pass, I shot a few photos and descended back to Hwy 24 to keep riding south.

Once I was finished with Weston Pass, I decided to hit the other passes along my route to Trinidad.  Independence Pass was next.  While I was stopped, a group of riders from Texas converged.  We talked for a while, and I turned back down the road to continue on.

The road to Cottonwood Pass had light traffic, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I was shooting my photo at the top of the pass, and I looked back down the road and noticed a lot of motos coming up.  Once they arrived, I saw they were dual sport riders.  I took some photos for them and found out they were locals for the most part.  I asked if they knew Keith Smith from Dallas, whose parents live in Buena Vista.  Of course they know Keith Smith…

By the time I was riding through Westcliffe, my stomach was growling and I had my mind set on a burger and beer at the Dog Bar in Cuchara.  I took the gravel road 520 from Hwy 69 to 160 and then turned onto Hwy 12 for the climb up into the Spanish Peaks.  But the Dog Bar was closed…  I spoke with a local who said the reason is attributed to COVID-19 and the fact their business is down requiring a single crew of staff.  They have to take some time off each week, and Monday/Tuesday is it.  Dang…  On to Trinidad.

While I was having dinner on the patio of Tequila’s Mexican restaurant in Trinidad, I saw a message from Peter showing the results of the rally.  I placed 6th out of the small contingent of riders, but the fun I had was off the scale.  Thanks Peter and Gary for pulling off this very socially-distanced rally, and thanks Justin for providing the boni list for me to visit some very interesting places on the moto!


Tracklog Rally Route

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