Taos, Day 2


This morning in Durango when I woke up, the temperatures were in the 40s! My riding partner and I walked over to City Market for cheap but good breakfast in the deli, and as we left the store, the first train to Silverton left town. What perfect timing, and I was thrilled! My favorite engine, the 480, was at the front, pulling up the incline, shooting soot-filled steam into the air, as she left Durango. Oh, what a beautiful sight!

The 480 leaving town

As we geared up, I zipped all my liners in my jacket and pants, and plugged in my heated jacket liner. It was in the low 50s by then, and sunny. We headed east toward Pagosa Springs, and found the road not too crowded, which was a bonus. About halfway there, the scenery starts to become really beautiful, true to Colorado. Every day I can ride in Colorado is a plus. Each day I ride in Colorado there is a different, spectacular, scenic, winding road on which to play.

We turned south on 84 toward Chama, NM, and found the road wide open, nearly empty of all traffic. We let the bikes run a little, enjoying the road. We stopped for a break in Chama, and soon we were turning east toward Taos on NM 64. Have I written about the 64 from Tierra Amarilla to just outside Taos, extolling the virtues of yet another curving road? This one is a sport bikers paradise, and lots of them came past us going the opposite way, finishing the best part of their rides. I stopped at that section and attached the little video camera to the front of the bike. I tried to capture this ride on video last year, but it was raining and the camera lens fogged up!

At first I was so distracted by watching the camera (afraid it was going to fall off for some reason) and not paying a lot of attention to what I was doing (not cool when you’re sending a motorbike into tight turns at speed). Then I hit a bump, the camera stayed on, and I ignored it for the rest of the ride.

I started to get into the rhythm of the turns, and some were tight switchbacks. Up on top, above the tree line in the high meadows, the wind was blowing like hell, as usual. As I went into a right hand sweeper, I had to slow down; I couldn’t lean the bike far enough over to make the turn because the wind was pushing against it so hard. Then there was the little sign that freaks me out the most when I’m doing this kind of work, “loose gravel,” but I never saw any. Coming down the other side of the mountain, it felt like flying; Pearl’s silver wheels spun with joy, and it was over way too soon.

We rode the rest of the way into Taos, about 30 more miles, and it started to heat up. I still was plugged in, and even after I turned the controller for the jacket off, I was getting hot. We took the shortcut through town to avoid the heavy gallery traffic, and soon arrived at our hotel. After unloading, we rode two-up out to the rally site at Sipapu ski resort.

We always stay in Taos for two reasons: the road out to the rally site, NM 518 from Taos,  is so much fun being the first, and main, reason. During tonight’s ride my riding partner went into a few of the turns really hot, and we leaned the bike over hard. He never usually rides like that, and I think we deserved to have some (more) fun. We ride the road a couple of times a day while the rally is going on, either two up or each on our own bikes. The second reason is it is usually too cold to be comfortable camping at the ski resort. Last year during the cold rain people were being flooded out of their tents. I can think of nothing worse than being cold and wet with no place to go to be warm, dry and cozy, cup of coffee in hand. I like camping, but not in those conditions.

At the rally site, we found friends from Colorado as well as from Arizona, and we hung out for a while, catching up, looking at bikes. Tomorrow, more riding is planned through the surrounding area. I haven’t quite decided on a route; it’s like looking at the food in the deli case, too many delicious choices from which to choose. We’ve been on many of the roads, all are great, but it would be nice to explore some new ones. There is also the choice of going back out to the 64 and riding that fun stretch again.

I am looking forward to it because the weather forecast shows sunny and clear, so tomorrow’s ride should be great!

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