Today I woke up in Taos. I lay there, thinking I was in my version of heaven, relaxed, warm, comfortable. Last year, I felt like I left something here, like maybe a fragment of a dream, or maybe just a deeper longing to stay out on the road. On that rainy, cold morning, I was reluctant to get out of bed, not wanting to think about the long riding day ahead of me, reluctant to leave that moment and that place, but there was no way to escape the inevitable. Today, a year later, I thought maybe I at least partially filled that empty place.
But it’s always that way with me, that reluctance to come in off the road. I live a double life; when I’m home I go to work, do my job, fit into the tidy little slot of working class tool. But deep inside there is that tight little vortex of turmoil, where I burn with the constant longing to be on the road, to be free, and when I am here on the road, it’s never long enough.
We rode out to the rally site this morning after a nice breakfast. The sky was like a vault overhead, so blue, the trees so green, and the road was perfect. I shot video of NM 518 as it twists through the 20 miles from Taos to Sipapu Lodge.
Once there, we went to an informal talk by a couple of riders who have logged many miles on BMWs over the years and recently rode in New Zealand, and in Hawaii. It was interesting hearing their stories. After that, we walked around the vendor area, the camping area, and reconnected with friends and acquaintances that we’ve met over the years at different rallies. After a while, I’d had enough and we got on the road.
NM 518 past the rally site toward Holman, and Mora rises and falls its serpentine way through the mountains. The bike felt great in my hands, and the road was talking to me again after the stony silence of yesterday. Up on top of 64, I’d had to shape my own road magic, my body stiff from the 500 miles I’d done the day before, reluctant, the product of too many days without the rhythm of riding long hours. Yesterday I’d managed to put together a good ride anyway, but today, it flowed effortlessly, the subtle shifts of my body helped Pearl find perfect lines through the turns. It felt again like I was made for this, which I was. After about 80 miles, we settled for a short riding day and went back to Taos to bask in the afternoon sun for a while, such a contrast from last year’s bleak stormy sky. It was quiet and peaceful in the sun-washed courtyard where we were staying, and I dreamed again of endless riding and its accompanying peace. Soon, though, it crept in that I was going to be leaving tomorrow, and that dark thought colored the rest of the day.
Hal and I rode two-up back to the rally site for dinner, hung out for a while, drank too much coffee, didn’t win any door prizes, and after the sun went down, it was cold standing around, even indoors. It was time to go. We geared up, set up the video camera for an experiment of shooting video as we rode the dark road, and I plugged in my Gerbings. I dialed it way up because I was shivering. I had on plenty of layers, I was just that cold. Soon I could “feel the love,” as the warmth made me content (think of wearing a heating pad around your whole upper body). The darkness was infinite and complete. I know we passed a small campground near a stream, but it was completely black. A thin sliver of moon glowed from behind a mountain peak, and rose shyly, surrounded by a halo of blur.
We rode through the tunnel of night, and the road was completely changed. The turns were even better in the dark, but soon we caught up with a group of riders that was riding more slowly. So, we backed off and hoped that the camera would see the red dots of their taillights and it would be easier to trace the road. Maybe they couldn’t see very well in the dark, or maybe they were afraid of deer leaping out of the black, dense forest on both sides of the road. I suppose I ought to think more about that, maybe even worry like I should.
The last grains of sand are in the top glass; the last full day of the rally is over. I only get one full day here and it’s gone in the blink of an eye. It seems unbelievable, as I’ve been counting down the days for so long. As it ends, so it begins, the fall riding season is nearly here as I see the approach of autumn in the treetops that are starting to be tipped with gold. I am standing at the threshold of a new, cooler riding season, and all the adventures it holds. When I get home, I hope it will feel like I’ve brought some of that coolness with me, and with it comes the hope of more great rides to come.