BMW rally at Sipapu, 2016
The adventure of our riding lives continued in September. After a month of dehumanization and browbeating at work, I became aware that Labor Day weekend was fast approaching. Happily, the following weekend Hal and I would be on the road to Taos again, this time for our annual trip to the BMW rally held at nearby Sipapu ski area. When the Wednesday after Labor Day arrived, we left the heat of Phoenix as soon as we could escape from our workplaces. It was an uncharacteristically “cool” day, and I was grateful for the uncommon overcast. I was on Kat, my 2009 F650GS, ready for another wonderful trip.
We rode to Heber, knocking off the first 110 miles, arriving in the dark. We walked to the Red Onion restaurant and had dinner there, a tradition that we started nine years ago. How could it be that long ago? we asked ourselves. The years have really flown by and yet we are no closer to our goal of being able to ride almost all the time.
Thursday morning we got on the road earlier than we usually do, probably because we were both longing to hear the road singing beneath our wheels. We rode across the high grassy plain that runs along the 273 toward Holbrook. I had the same sensation of freedom that I had felt the last time I did this (in July), although for as much as I had anticipated this trip and wanted to GO, now that I was on the trip I didn’t feel the overwhelming joy as I should have.
Maybe that was just because of the stress of work, that “thing” that always hangs out there like an ominous brown cloud. I am never free of it until summer, yet that is my most hated season because of the heat and sun. It would be so nice to travel in September for a couple of months, or maybe not have to come “home” at all.
The weather was cool and sunny, no trace of the comforting clouds of the day before. I was even deliciously cold riding into Heber last night, dressed only in a thin short-sleeve t-shirt and perforated leather jacket on top, mesh pants on the bottom. I knew the day ahead of me would get to be hot so I didn’t add any layers.
Next, there was the interstate part of the journey, which would last most of the day. We stopped at a different gas stop than the usual “Pilot” truck stop because it’s now called something else, and we flew on by before we knew we had. Instead, we got off at an exit near Grants, NM that had a Love’s Travel Stop and a Chevron station.
At the Chevron, there was also a Chaco Canyon museum that was interesting, but we didn’t have time to stay too long. It was much easier to get in and out of that place, and it was … Chevron! We fueled up, drank coffee, ate Clif bars, and continued our journey.
Near Albuquerque, I felt myself getting super tired. NO! I told myself. I had to get through Albuquerque safely, and I made myself wake up. The traffic wasn’t too bad, and I found myself thinking about the 1975 trip to Albuquerque when I went to the Arabian horse Nationals. I remembered us going on the tram to Sandia Crest. There was nothing around it back then, it was not as “developed,” a questionable term if there ever was one. I was talking to Hal on the intercom, mostly to keep myself alert, and he said some guy he knew described Albuquerque as “… like living on the moon, but with wind.” Accurate, I guess, but I still have some fondness for the town because of my first trip in 1975. I certainly never dreamed then that I would be back, much less so often, and on a motorcycle, no less.
At Bernalillo, we fueled up again. Then we were near Santa Fe. We took 599 to 285 through Española and all the crowded places that led up to it. It wasn’t as hot as last year, but it was tedious having to stop at all the traffic lights.
Hal and I were both tired by then. We hardly looked at the beauty of the Rio Grande Gorge as we rode through it for the last few miles into Taos. We’d hardly ridden since we got home from our last big trip in July, and riding long days does require “staying in shape” for it.
Right at the edge of Taos, Hal’s F800GS started acting strangely – it stalled, and he said it wasn’t responding to the throttle properly. We limped to our hotel, and Hal was very worried about it. I thought it might be a fuel issue. Kat, on the other hand, was a pleasure to ride all day, but I was still glad to have arrived safely in Taos.
After a wonderful dinner that tasted all the better for being in Taos, we watched Game 1, Week 1 of the NFL football season! At last! It’s funny how when these things that I love so much finally happen I can hardly believe it. I don’t know why I love football so much, I think I just like all the excitement and drama. The season started the way it ended with the same two teams – Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, and it ended the same way with Denver winning. The only thing I like about the Broncos is their mascot, a beautiful Arabian horse. It’s a strange choice, I always think, because a beautiful, refined Arabian is about as far away from a “bronco” as a horse can get.
Well, we’re here. It’s been a nice start to a traditionally great trip. I hope the brief respite from my real life doesn’t go by too fast!
Next: Day 2 of the rally trip