NM 434 as it snakes its narrow way toward Mora Valley:
Musings from the road, to New Mexico and then back home:
When I left town on the Wednesday night before the rally, it was 108° F. I was wearing a textile jacket, not a mesh one, and I was comfortable. The heat doesn’t usually get to me unless I am fed up with it, but this time I suppose my mind was already on the road, and I don’t complain about too many things when I am on the road since it is my paradise. Soon, I was out of town, up in elevation, and before you know it, I was riding in temperatures in the 60s F. I was still comfortable, and I was so happy to be on the trip.
I was surprised how long it took me this year to physically get back into riding the long day (day 2) to Taos. My shoulders hurt really badly when I got off the bike the second day. I wish we’d done some long road trips over the summer instead of just jumping on the bikes for this trip and expecting to do 400+ mile days. I still felt tight in my shoulders through the whole trip and I wondered if I was losing my ability to ride for long distances. But, by the time the trip was over I was back to being “in shape” for riding long distances. Darn, I’ll just have to go again.
I also watched Hal ride my 2006 F650GS, and was thinking long and hard about if I really want to sell it. I probably don’t need four bikes (when I get the DR that I want) but the GS is almost new mechanically now. I think I will be less assertive about selling it, and see what happens.
I wish I had been “in the moment” more on this trip. I kept thinking of other things, like work. Every year it gets more and more difficult. Teaching is an impossible job in the current political climate. Am I making a difference? I don’t know anymore. It has become more and more like trying to roll a boulder uphill in the mud. Working with kids all day is very tiring, despite what people outside education think, and I never, ever get a break during any day. It wears on me after a while.
When we got to Farmington, after the dullness of Gallup, and the 491 to Shiprock, I was pleasantly surprised how the town center of Farmington was actually quite charming. I loved riding NM64 to Dulce, and after that, the twisties. The closer we got to Taos, the happier I was.
I wanted to enjoy NM 64 between Tierra Amarilla and Tres Piedras because it is twisty, and deserted. However, since we had seen a buck (deer) standing at the very edge of the road before we even started the turns, we had to be completely on alert the whole time. It was good that we’d slowed down because another deer leaped right across the road in front of Hal. I so wanted to go faster and ride with abandon on that stretch of road, but I couldn’t, for safety reasons. Plus, by that time on Thursday I was tired and wanted to already be in Taos. I did enjoy it, though, I couldn’t help it. There is a long right hander on the way down the mountain that is so fun to just set the bike into it, leave it alone, and lean it all the way around. Wonderful!
One of the most magical things of the trip was the storm that blew into Taos just as we were returning there on Saturday night. After stopping to shoot photos of the amazing sunset, we realized that we were also looking at an advancing wall of rain. The wind got very wild for a few minutes and we just barely got to the hotel, got the bikes covered, and then the rain began to fall heavily. That is one of those memories that we’ll think of later, things that on future trips we’ll say “remember that time we came into Taos and arrived at the same time as a storm?” Of course we will remember! It was an exciting moment.
One thing I will say for myself is that no matter how tired I am, I can always ride. I am always able to be alert, keep my eyes moving, and not do anything stupid. I am able to handle my bike. On the first day that we were in Taos, for example, we rode NM434, a very narrow road with many hazards (but lots of fun!). Also, on the way home, it was a challenge to get through the heavy surface street traffic of Albuquerque (due to the closure of part of I-25 through town). A woman in an SUV almost cut me off, almost turned right into my motorcycle. I am always able to see things like that before they become a problem. As is usual with these drivers, she acted like it was my fault, she was so annoyed that I was “there.” Nice.
In the blink of an eye, the weekend was gone, as I knew it would be. As we walked to dinner at Red Onion in Heber on the last night, I closed my eyes briefly, and thought, I must remember this moment. This is our trip we look forward to all year, and it’s already almost gone.
The drama wasn’t over yet, though, because the last morning of the trip, the extra day off that I had so looked forward to, was not what I had envisioned. It started out with text messages advising us to “be safe” on the way home, and when we turned on the news, we found out why: Phoenix had been hit with heavy rain, a record amount, and it had nearly brought the city to a standstill. My husband texted me that Hal and I should wait a little longer to come home, have an extra cup of coffee, and maybe the rain would be over. It was, in Phoenix, but then it started where we were. That was okay, it was a pleasant cool ride home in the rain for at least part of the way. I actually love riding in the rain, and I wish it had lasted longer, if not all the way home.
Another year is over, another trip to Taos over too quickly. Even though we keep saying we want to come back and stay longer at another time during the year, as Hal said, “If we came (to Taos) at any other time of year, I expect the trip would have a whole different feel.” The solution will be when we finally get to retire, soon, we hope, and get to stay for maybe a week or so on either side of the rally, so we can take our time and fully enjoy it. I would really like to be lucky enough to be there when the trees are in their full autumn glory. I absolutely love autumn!
Hal and I consider this the “end” of our riding year, and now a new one is beginning. There is a trip north to see fall color, a group ride, a dual sport ride to Young, and other rides being planned. It’s going to be a great fall and winter season, our best, I hope. We have so many miles yet to ride.