Date: May 20, 2017
Start Location: Colorado Springs, CO
End Location: Roswell, NM
Miles Travelled: 503 mi
First, let us give you a little background and expectations for this adventure. The plan is to drive South from Colorado Springs to Dell City, TX on paved roads to the start of the New Mexico Backcountry Discovery Route NMBDR that will be dirt roads and trails in a northern direction through the Rocky Mountains. You can see a detailed route if you go to the MAPS link on the webpage. Our standard practice is to stop and camp each night where we eat and of course write in our blog. Sometimes there is something exciting to tell, sometimes it’s just boring stuff. We don’t like to make up too much of our stories; however, we have been known to exaggerate on true stories. Keep in mind that we can only upload the blog when we have internet service or cellular service, which we do not have too often. This is deep in no man’s country. This year Keith has developed a means to upload photos and video as well, when we have service. Anyways, if you don’t see anything new on the blog, keep checking back. It can appear at any time. The SPOT Connect keeps track of where we are at about every 15 minutes, so it is live (without the need for internet or cellular service). SPOT can be found under the LIVE link on our webpage. The SPOT Connect also allows us to send out an emergency SOS if someone gets hurt. Keep all of this in mind and enjoy.
The So Ed flies to Colorado Springs on Wednesday. Wednesday night it snows three inches. Not to worry, they don’t plan on leaving for the trip until Friday morning; however, Friday comes and still frigid temperatures and snow. Amy Conger says the New Yorkers always bring snow to Colorado!! New start day is Saturday. Ed and Keith get up at 8am sharp. Sun is shining, it looks gorgeous. Walk outside and it’s a bone chilling 38 degrees. The boys decide that it’s still a go, just going to dress warmer. Oh, by the way, Keith has a brand new BMW GS1200, three weeks old. All Ed got was a new GoPro style camera to mount to the front of his bike. It’s not even a real GoPro, it’s a knockoff for forty nine dollah, make you hollah. Anyway, Keith will cry harder when he drops his new bike the first time, Ed wil not if he breaks his new camera. By the way, this is Ed’s third camera, they don’t seem to last long, can’t figure out why...crashes? So off they go at about 10am into the frozen tundra, heading South on route 25. And they travel for miles and miles and miles and miles. traveling through Trinidad, Raton, Las Vegas (Las Vegas, NM not NV). Not really too much viewing excitement. Saw the Spanish Peaks and a few other mountain ranges. A lot of flat land and desert. They had a slight gas miscalculation and had to take a 30 minute detour to Santa Rosa. Thirty minutes they’ll never get back!! All gassed up in Santa Rosa and heading to Roswell, NM. After a long day they finally get to Roswell, ya know where Area 51 is! Well, wouldn’t you know that an alien runs out in front of Ed and he crashes. Headlights smashed, windshield cracked, beak smashed, shock shield damaged and wouldn’t you know, camera damaged. Ed did cry a little tear. The alien of course couldn’t speak any English so Ed and Keith went to Walmart to assess the damages. You can decide what kind of alien...it is Roswell don’t ya know. Donald Trump can’t fix this alien shit fast enough, just sayin’!!!! So that’s the story Ed is telling about his crash. The video tells a different story, buts it’s just fake news, don’t ya know. Looks like nothing vital, so after a roll of duct tape, the Triumph 800 is back in operation, just a little uglier. A gentlemen in a (I swear to God) 1960’s RV stopped and offered to give us a hand or tools. Nope, Ed and Keith had it all taken care of, except for the camera. It looks like a new cable is in order. Keith called the only two camp grounds in or near Roswell. One was full and no answer at the second one, so they headed there. they would get a campsite first, then come back to Roswell for food. Driving through Roswell they saw the usual tourist stuff, flying saucer cafe, alien souvenirs, etc. They get to the Bottomless Lakes State Park. It was a lot further than they thought and it was getting late, so they decided to break into their emergency food rather than going back to Roswell. So they set up camp and took a look at the Bottomless Lakes. Very unusual site, like huge sink holes with mountains falling into them. And there were so many. Ed and Keith watched the sun set and low and behold they saw something unexplainable. Keith actually got a picture of it, whatever it was. Take a look at the photos and get a special prize if you can see it and explain it. So anyways, dinner was freeze dried veggies and water. Yummy. Ed had said he wanted to lose 10 pounds on this trip like he does every year on these adventures. This is a good start. Bed at 11pm, temperature was very comfortable at least. The boys are still starving.
Date: May 21, 2017
Start Location: Colorado Springs, CO
End Location: Lincoln National Forest, NM
Miles Travelled: 260 mi
Ed and Keith got up at about 8am. It got pretty cold last night but the sun is quickly starting heating things up. Coffee and oatmeal for breakfast, then a shower. It may be the last for awhile. They packed up camp and started heading West to Dell City, TX. by about 10am. They stopped at the first Walmart they found and purchased more duct tape (just in case) and a new cable for Ed’s camera. Gassed up and back on the road again (song by WN). So they get to Dell City, A Growing City! The only thing they saw growing in Dell City were tumbleweeds. Anyway, this is where they needed to get food and gas. They stopped at the only grocery store in Dell City. It was no bigger than a small trailer and had limited food. No fresh meat so no famous Keith ribeyes tonight. They asked a local young man about gas stations. The young man says that there’s only two. One is closed on Sunday and the other is a self serve that requires some special card to unlock the pump. He said the minister has a card and he would run over to the church to see if the minister would help out. He came back and said that church was almost out and would be glad to help them out. He said he would wait for the minister and bring him back when he was ready. Keith and Ed decided to have a burger at the Two TS grocery store while they waited. Snack done, they picked up a six pack of beer, kielbasa, baked beans and chips for dinner. Loaded the beer and kielbasa into a cooler, threw in some ice and strapped it on top of a pannier. Well the young man came back and told Keith and Ed to head back to the gas station and the minister would be over as soon as he could. Ed gave the young man a twenty for his trouble, he seemed very appreciative. They HAD to get gas because the next station was 153 miles away and they were close to empty already. They didn’t want to get stuck in Dell City until Monday. So off to the gas station where they waited. Then Keith decided to try his credit card and low and behold, it worked. They gassed up, waited awhile and then left. Never saw the minister. Let’s see, was this a backwoods scam of some sort? First they stopped at Walmart and picked up a new camera cable and some more duct tape. The boys then stopped to view the tallest mountain in Texas, Guadalupe Peak. Ed then attached the new cable for his camera..back in business. You just never know. Soon came the end of pavement and the beginning of the dirt trail. The boys travelled for miles and miles and miles (another song) well into the desert. The temperatures were getting warmer every mile. After some time they stopped for a rest, only to find that the cooler had fallen off. The ROK straps they had praised so highly on previous trips had failed. Then it came to them. This is what happens when you fill a soft sided cooler with ice and drive through a desert. The ice melts and the cooler collapses. Not much left for dinner tonight. Beans and chips. They traveled a couple more hours and found a nice camping spot with lots of wood to burn. There is, however cow dung all over the place. You have to pay attention where you step. They started a fire, heated up the beans and had dinner? Losing 10 pounds is going to be a lot easier than Ed thought. Ed suddenly felt something bite him in the gonads. He dropped his drawers and found some sort of bug, not a tick, but was very ominous. That’s when Ed discovered he had put his underwear on backwards. Senility we think. Okay, enough writing, the boys are very tired and it’s to bed.
Date: May 22, 2017
Start Location: Lincoln National Forest
End Location: Northeast of La Luze
Miles Travelled: 272 miles
Keith gets up at about 6:30am. Ed slept until 7:30am. It got very cold last night and sleeping was difficult, to say the least. The boys had oatmeal and coffee for breakfast. They quickly packed and headed down the trail. Miles and miles of backwoods, seeing amazing views of the valley and mountain ranges. The trail was a mixture of ruts (Ed’s favorite. In 2013 a rut ended the Colorado trip by breaking his ankle) and rocks. Some portions of the trail were freshly graded which pulls up rocks that were embedded. No fun for a motorcycle and made travelling very difficult. They gassed up in Weed, NM (wonder what grows there) where they decided to have some lunch since they had very little to eat so far. Well, well, the only diner in Weed is closed on Mondays. WTF. Back on the trail for a few more hours. It was getting hot so Keith stopped to remove some clothing. Ed parked his bike and when he disembarked, his pant leg gets caught on the kick stand. Ed’s bike falls over into Keith’s brand new BMW and knocks it over. Just like a scene from the Three Stooges except there was only two. Okay, Keith wasn’t anywhere near the bikes at the time. Cosmetic damage to Keith’s bike and more windshield damage to Ed’s. More duct tape and they are back on the road. They will need more duct tape!! Ed feels so bad about putting the first mark on the BMW. It is inevitable but… They finally get to Cloudcroft to gas up and have a Snicker, trail mix and something to drink. They think now they will be able to get to Ruidoso where we can get some good food. Back on the trail and after a few miles Keith hits some loose rocks and dives his bike into the rock bank. A few more scratches but everything is okay. A few more miles down the trail and they run into bad ruts again. This is Ed’s biggest fear. He very briefly glances at a rut (worst thing you can do on a bike) and down he goes hard. He gets on his Chatterbox to let Keith know that a Man’s Down. The tank bag is torn off, pannier torn off and windshield totally off now. Ed twisted his RIGHT ankle this time and hit his chin into the ground but all seems okay. The bike is not looking good. A quick assessment and Ed starts the repairs after they lift the bike upright. They will definitely need a lot of duct tape. Keith starts setting up camp since it’s getting late and repairs will take awhile. They are in the middle of nowhere! Tie wired things back together and all is good except for the windshield. They’ll carry that on the back of the bike until they get more DUCT TAPE! Dinner? They had a small summer sausage and some trail mix. We think Ed has already lost the ten pounds. Nice campfire and a few Swisher backwoods cigars is all they have to enjoy. it was definitely a bad day for the bikes. Early bedtime tonight and hopefully a better day tomorrow.
Date: May 23, 2017
Start Location: La Luz, NM
End Location: Elephant Butte, NM
Miles Travelled: 223 mi
Keith got up first at about 8:30am with Ed following shortly after. The boys had a tough night. It was brutally cold last night and no matter how many layers they added, sleeping soundly was nearly impossible. Ed had tried a little white noise to no avail. Both got very little sleep. They had a choice for breakfast, either coffee or oatmeal, but not both. Due to th unplanned stop deep in the wilderness, they had very little water left. So oatmeal was it. They took down the tent and packed up the gear. Ed’s bike was patched together and ready to go, windshield pieces strapped to the back of the bike. Ed was not looking forward to entering the rutted trail again but there was no turning back now. They only had about 10 miles to go until they hit route on the way to Ruidoso. It was a VERY difficult ride through washed out creek beds with numerous ruts and boulders. One section was down a steep incline and was completely washed out, even though there was not a drop of water to be found. Keith ended up dropping the BMW again trying to get down. While Ed waited for him another group of five riders came along. Riding big KTM bikes and one Yamaha Teniere they almost had a perfect run down this difficult section. The Teniere dumped in the same place as Keith. Ed made it also with help from Keith. Good to see that short section done. Just three more miles to the highway. The boys talked to the other riders for awhile and discussed a section of desert sand that was thirteen miles long. Motorcycles and sand do not mix well and typically requires pushing the bikes through the sand in very high temperatures. The group of five riders were still debating that section when the left. These guys were very achieved riders and questioned whether it would be wise to travel the Jornada Del Muerto Desert. Keith and Ed, on the other hand knew their limitations and decided to go around the desert. So off they went to Ruidoso Downs where they gassed up and had lunch… real food! First real food in several days. After lunch they got back on the road to Elephant Butte where they checked into the Elephant Butte State Park. They needed to take a shower and change clothes, but first they would get groceries and firewood for the night. Finally they will have Keith’s famous wood fired ribeyes adding some fresh radishes and cheese. The boys set up camp and took a stroll down to the lake. It was the first sign of water in four or five days. Then off to take a shower and fresh clothes. Nicccce. They then did some maintenance on the bikes. Keith fixed some signal lights and Ed duct taped his windshield back on.Keith cooked the steaks and Ed cleaned the radishes. The evening was the perfect temperature. Most of the ride from Ruidoso was cold because of the elevation, but in Elephant Butte it was a hot 90 degrees, but felt food. Dry heat, right? After dinner the boys went promptly to bed. I forgot to mention that Ed picked up a better sleeping bag because of the cold temperatures. Not so sure he will need it tonight, but higher elevations are coming. I did want to mention that photos are downloaded to the website when internet service is available but videos get added after we get back. The files are just too big. So check back later. That’s all for now.
Date: May 24, 2017
Start Location: Elephant Butte, NM
End Location: Manzano Mountains State Park
Miles Travelled: 186 mi
Today Ed gets up before Keith at around 6:30am. Temperature was more favorable for both boys and the new sleeping bag Ed got is much warmer. Ed started the gasoline stove to heat up water and soon Keith was up also. Coffee and oatmeal again for breakfast. They can’t wait to run out of the oatmeal. After breakfast, the boys took a close look at the next section of the trail and the condition of Ed’s bike. The trail section next is the much more remote than any other section and that’s saying a lot, since every trail is deep into the backcountry. A breakdown of any kind there would be disastrous and an injury could be catastrophic. After careful review of Ed’s bike shows signs of imminent failure. The right pannier is held on with tie wire as a result of the last crash and the right pannier has all but one rivet remaining on the mounting bracket caused by the pounding of 14000 miles of backcountry trails and roads on their previous trips. His front tire is also showing signs of excessive wear. It’s also apparent that the entire trip cannot be completed in the allotted time frame. After much discussion, they decide to make a route correction that allows them to see more of New Mexico’s sights without the grind of the backcountry dried up streams, rutted logging roads and mountain passes. So the plan is to travel today to Mountainair, NM and camp at the Manzano Mountain State Park. The ride there was pretty uneventful but they saw a lot of the New Mexico desert and crossed the Rio Grande. The temperature was in the 90s but it was okay as long as they kept moving. Once in Mountainair a quick lunch at the one and only diner and off to refuel. They ran into another biker that mentioned some local sights. The boys headed to the campsite after which they visited the Abo at Salinas Pueblo missions National monument. They took lots of pictures that should be showing on the website soon. Then off to Quarai at Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. This site was even more impressive. BTW, dry town so no beer tonight. Back to the campsite where they set up the tent and readied for a dinner of summer sausage and cheese. All in all a good day, no crashes or injuries. They need to leave early in the morning to make their next stop which will be Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks, Jemez Hot Springs, Bandelier National Monument and then Valles Caldera (volcanic) National Preserve. That’s all for now.
Date: May 25, 2017
Start Location: Manzano Mountains State Park
End Location: Fenton Lake State Park
Miles Travelled: 255 mi
Early start this morning. Ed gets up around 6:30am and starts the MSR stove and Keith is up very soon after. Coffee and oatmeal once again. Good news is that it’s the last of the oatmeal. The boys quickly get the tent broken down and everything packed on the bikes. After a quick wash up an teeth brushing, they are back on the road at abot 7:45am. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. These rocks were somehow formed between volcanic activity and erosion. The sight was absolutely amazing and well worth the stop. Keith and Ed ended up hiking the trails around and up the mountain to see all the strange formations. They spent 2-3 hours viewing this natural formation. The picture they took should be amazing but not sure they will do it justice. Simply amazing!!! They then travelled to an indian reservation and had a much needed meal. Unfortunately the roads to get to the next locations required them to travel way around, so stopping at Jemez Springs was not an option. They travelled directly to the Fenton Lake State Park and was able to get the last camping site. All other area camping sites were full. So it ends up that Bandalier National monument is too far for today. Once they dropped off their gear at the campsite, they headed to the only local store. No beer or meat. Beer was another 10 miles away. They drove the ten miles and got the beer since Keith’s friend was on the way to the park. This place had no groceries at all. On the way back they stopped again at the store and picked up some firewood, chips, ice, pop tarts and chips, Another night without any substantial food, but at least they’ll have something for breakfast. While they waited for Keith’s friend, they set up camp. It’s now 8:30pm and no buddy yet. He had texted Keith at 4:00pm and said he was crossing into New Mexico, so he should be here. The boys have not had cellular service for most of the day and certainly not at Fenton Park. They are perplexed. They were hoping he was bringing some food. Good thing they have lot’s of beer. Keith took a lot of interesting photos today, which should upload when we get a decent signal. Signing off for now. Good night all.
Date: May 26, 2017
Start Location: Fenton Lake State Park
End Location: Navajo Lake State Park
Miles Travelled: 252 mi
The boys slept in a little this morning. Not in any hurry. Still trying to figure out what happened to Keith’s friend, Jake. Pop tarts and coffee this morning for breakfast. The boys were planning to drive until they had cellular service so they could call Jake. But at around 11am they hear the sound of a motorcycle and sure enough Jake rolls in. Jake had stopped at 8:30pm at a hotel, since he had another two hours to get to us. They all decided they would visit the Chaco Culture National Historical Park. It’s the ruins of a civilization located in the Chaco Mesa. Amazing structures and magnificent rock structures. Again, lots of photo opportunities. Soon they would head northerly to the Navajo Lake State Park where they would set up camp. Off to Abe’s for some dinner and good conversation. Picked up some beer and firewood, returned to the campsite. Of course no showers, so the boys just sat up by the campfire told stories and drank their beer until 2am. Time for bed!!!
Date: May 27, 2017
Start Location: Navajo Lake State Park
End Location: Palisade Park
Miles Travelled: 160 mi
The boys got up around ?? (who knows), had some coffee and then broke down the tents. Before packing up they went to the the other side of the park where they had showers and then returned to the camp. Bikes all packed up and headed back to Abe’s for breakfast. After a quick refueling, they headed north to Pagosa Springs where they decided to have a little R&R at the hot springs. Cool air and hot mineral water made for a very relaxing stay for the afternoon. Bones and muscles all healed, they decided to grab dinner at a Cajun restaurant. Ed decided to get some beignets for breakfast. After an early dinner, they were back on the road to start the long journey back to Colorado Springs. Along the way, they picked up some beer and ice. Palisades Park seemed a good midway stop, so they set up camp and started a fire. The boys sat for hours with great conversation, lots of laughter and good beverages. And it’s a late bedtime again.
Date: May 28, 2017
Start Location: Palisade Park
End Location: Colorado Springs
Miles Travelled: 277 mi
The boys were up around 10am. It was a chilling night. Even the cooler was frozen to the picnic table. Then the pump for the stove quit working, so no coffee to go with the beignets, bummer. Just not the same without coffee. They packed up their gear and continued in a northeast direction. The elevations were rising to the point that there was snow everywhere and with that came very cold temperatures. Layer up, layer downs was the words of the day. They stopped midway at Poncha Springs for some lunch. Back on the road towards Colorado Springs. Jake peeled off at some point to head in a more northerly direction since he lived in Denver. Keith and Ed continued their journey until reaching Keith’s home at around 6pm. Not much to say about today except it’s good to be back!!!
Ed’s Final Comments: We originally chose the New Mexico Backcountry Discovery Route because it was described as somewhat easier than the Colorado trail. While it may be easier, I found that it was still a very difficult and dangerous trail. Our adventures into the wilderness of Canada were difficult and there was always the possibility of injury, but on the Backcountry Routes a technical riding error could result in severe injury and very easily, death. These routes have it all, deep ruts, rocks, washed out streams, washed out trails, extreme heights, steep mountains, no water and deep wilderness. Have I ever said I hated ruts. There’s just something about them. I know how to ride them (focussing on a point way ahead) but I can’t stop from glancing at the rut near my tires. That fraction of a second glance is all it takes to trap your tires and send you for a loop. It’s amazing how your body always turns your bike in the direction that you look. My right ankle is still swollen as I write these comments. Fortunately, there’s no pain and all is well.
With that said, I regretfully announce my retirement from extreme offroad adventures. I guess I have too much to live for. Not to say there are plenty of other adventures that use maintained gravel roads and paved roads. Keith and I have talked about additional adventures to Alaska, Mexico, Pacific coast, etc.
This was another great adventure with Keith that I wouldn’t trade for anything. No one was hurt, but the bikes took a real beating, especially mine and especially the panniers. My bike has over 15000 miles of very rough backcountry and wilderness roads. It has run like a champ and I have absolutely no complaints about it. Over the next year, I’ll be rebuilding the Triumph 800 XC back to it’s original glory. I’m sure there’s more adventures in line for the old Triumph.
Keith’s Final Comments: Another great trip with my father! Although we didn’t finish the trail, it was still amazing to see the backroads and history of New Mexico. There is so much history and sites to see; Chaco Canyon, Valley of Fire and Tent Rocks are a must.
As always our gear tweaks continued for this trip. The new 2017 Rallye was great on and off road, Enduro Pro mode made the bike feel completely different on the dirt. We also used the BMW Nav6 GPS for Navigation instead of my phone. This turned out much easier to deal with than the phone. It was readable in even the brightest sun and easy to control. I also like how the electrified tank bag worked out on the new bike. Other gear changes worked out well too. We ditched the laptop, charger and inverter. Instead we used our phones, small Bluetooth keyboard and a Mobilite. I was also able to consolidate our diagnostic hardware from two separate devices to a single small device that would work with my phone.
I should be receiving a pair of Beartooth radios within the next month. I hope these units with help improve and simplify our bike to bike communications for our next trip. Jake also introduced us two a couple new products that should reduce space and increase comfort for us. We’ll be looking into these as well.
I too have retired from riding big bikes on BDRs. Maybe after a Rawhyde class and getting a smaller bike I’ll revisit them. Thanks again to my wife for understanding how important these trips are for me.