August 13, 2023
The mountains called me. They said the temperature was much nicer in high elevations than down in Texas which is very near the Sun in some solar system graphics. I took the bait…
A relatively short ride into the Panhandle for an overnight stay in McLean was in order considering the sweltering heat. Along the way there were Motorcycle Grand Tour of Texas stops in Quanah, Shamrock and McLean. Wes and Rachel’s cooling cloth they gave me for Fathers Day worked well to help with the 104-degree ride. I doused it often with water from my tank bag. Route 66 appeared after I rode a very sandy section of road where the pavement and Hwy 680 ends. The Red River is just damp sand here where Hollis Road crosses into Oklahoma. Refreshing storm clouds formed right over the Cactus Inn just after I checked in.
The rain continued overnight and ended just before I was ready to ride. Perfect timing!
Heat was no longer an issue after the storms passed through. At Texline on the New Mexico border, I had a typical road breakfast of egg and Hatch chile. I made a few stops for Rob Carlo’s AULDR rally at the border along with a historic marker at Capulin Volcano.
There is a 911 memorial at the flag pole on Goat Hill above Raton. The road leading up is a bit sketchy with gravel and rocks over old asphalt. Once there, the view is pretty nice. I’ve always enjoyed traveling through northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. The skies go on forever with very pleasant landscapes.
After a few stops to document some AULDR criteria, I rode out of Walsenburg northwest on Hwy 69. The Sangre de Cristos were entertaining me as I continued to Hwy 50 to turn west.
Poncha Springs was my overnight stop. A group of riders was converging here from around the country for some mountain riding. We visited for a bit and exchanged stories from the road. The flight of beers from Elevation Beer tasting room was great. I had dinner and walked back to The Lodge at Poncha Springs.
The Sun was shining and 48 degrees felt great. It would be an enjoyable day of riding.
As I rode Hwy 285 south of Fairplay, I saw the road to Weston Pass. On my way back from the Been There Done That rally in 2020, I rode up to Weston Pass after leaving Leadville. That ascent was unplanned in 2020 where I had time, but on this ride I needed to get to Fort Collins in plenty of time to visit Troy and Susan. I rode a bit towards Weston Pass and then turned back to continue my journey through the mountains.
Guanella Pass Road was an absolute blast! This is a narrow county road that is now totally paved over the 11,657 foot pass. I caught up with a rider on a new V-Strom 1050 during the descent. We had a great ride on the tight switchbacks and finally met up in Georgetown for some moto-related discussion. Slade Putman lives close by in Colorado.
I made my way on the Peak to Peak Byway past Longs Peak and through Estes Park to ride down Big Thompson Canyon to Loveland and Fort Collins. I would take the next day off for a visit with our longtime friends, Troy and Susan.
My visit with Toy and Susan was wonderful! We chilled in the mild Fort Collins weather and dropped by the Old Elk tasting room for some Colorado whiskey. We said our goodbyes and I headed out of Fort Collins up Poudre Canyon Road for some more mountain riding.
Riding through central Colorado is very enjoyable with light traffic and wide landscapes. At my stop in Walden, I met Mike who is a V-Strom rider currently living in Thailand. We compared notes on our motos and mods and I headed south on Hwy 14.
After a short stint on I-70, I turned south out of Glenwood Springs and headed towards McClure Pass. A bit of rain finally caught up with me as I approached Paonia. It was all good and lasted maybe around 15 minutes.
Paonia is a quaint mountain town. The margarita and dinner at Rio Bravo was a tasty treat!
Today’s ride would take me out of Paonia and over Red Mountain Pass into New Mexico.
Storm clouds were forming west of Silverton but did not look to be much of a concern.
I made a quick stop in Silverton and continued through the remarkable scenery. Hwy 550 where the Million Dollar Highway is carved can be very busy with traffic, both tourist and logging trucks. Pulling over often is advised to take in the views and time the ride to avoid traffic on the enjoyable twisties.
I met Chance at Mola Pass. He is another American living in Thailand and was riding an African Twin without much of a plan. Meeting two Americans living in Thailand on a single ride is out of the norm, but almost anything can be experienced during a moto adventure.
After working my way through Durango, I took Hwy 511 into New Mexico and over the Navajo Dam. The last time I was on this road was during the HW3 rally in 2015. It was near 11:00 at night in a heavy downpour. That was yet another time in a rally I said to myself I was not going to do any more rallies. I guess I was wrong…
Chama would be my stop for the night. This is a small town in the beautiful northern New Mexico mountains known for its historic steam locomotive that runs through the storybook Cumbres Pass to Antonito, Colorado. I had a hard time finding dinner in Chama since many places closed early. I wound up getting some pizza to go and ate at the hotel.
The weather looked good for my ride south out of Chama. After spending almost a week in the mountains, it was a bit of a bummer to leave the twisties for long and straight roads through New Mexico and into Texas. But even with the straight roads, it’s still enjoyable riding lonely roads on a moto.
I made a stop in Santa Fe for the AULDR rally and at Clines Corners where I had a green chile and egg burrito for breakfast. I rode the very lonely Hwy 60 through Encino, Vaughn and Yeso, where Deb and I stopped for an infrared black and white photo shoot in the early 80’s.
Hotel Texan in Seagraves was my stop for the night on the Texas and New Mexico border. I made my way through the street fair, documented my MCGTTX stop at the hotel and went inside to meet Gareth Denham. He has done a great job renovating the hotel that was built in 1917. It is the oldest building in Seagraves and once again has its original name. Gareth told me that many of the hotel’s furnishings are original from the early 1900’s. My hamburger for dinner next door at Main St Pizza (uh huh…) was very good!
The ride home was hot! Really hot! Official temperatures showed 109 degrees and my dash thermometer indicated 114 above the road surface at times. I stopped often for cool drinks and poured cold water down my sleeves and back. It was not an enjoyable ride, but the price moto riders pay living in Texas. I thought back on all of the great roads and cool temperatures and my very enjoyable visit with Troy and Susan. It was all good!