Day 9 – how do you define “may be impassable” ?
We started day 9 in Farmington, NM. I’d hoped to arrive in time Saturday night to make it Four Corners Harley-Davidson to stop in and pick up a tee shirt for Dave J. But we got town just after 5 p.m. I was disappointed, but not as disappointed as I was going to be.
We had decided to turn and head east back toward Texas but Gregg wanted to “hit” Cuba and ride NM 126. As we turned onto 126 I could hear him via Scala in my helmet saying, “That’s strange, GPS does NOT want us to turn here.” And as we headed up a few miles I started to notice signs that read, “8 miles ahead road is impassable for semis, house and horse trailers.” And then “Road is impassable inclement weather.” Again thru my comm I heard Gregg’s voice, “Damn good thing today’s not an inclement day!” I had made note of the mileage and replied back, “Next time we pass one of those impassable signs I want to pull over – will you take a picture of me by it?”
I am going to simply call this the BEFORE picture. (The internet connection here is too bad to load any more right now – but I promise I’ll post the rest, including the AFTER picture. But here’s a link: http://gbolton.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/2013-Trip-out-West/32303760_3MWb9d#!i=2864843509&k=jjLJXRC)
Eights miles came and went and I was thinking to myself, “I like NM’s idea of unimproved roads.” And then …. I cross a cattle guard onto dirt. It wasn’t so bad.
Gregg was behind me, coaching me – “Light on the front brake” “Just relax” and then up ahead I could see mud, real mud and lots of it in a shady section of the road. Frost still on the left and then … what’s that they say? I had an “Oh shit” moment.
LESSON # 19: When GPS wants you to turn OFF a road – chances are it’s for excellent reasons.
It sort of happened in slow motion – the front wheel just washed out to the left and Margarita and I went right. And boom – it was as though the bike suddenly had a narcoleptic fit and just dozed off. Went from proceeding upright and slowly to hard on her side. Wheels up and on top of me. I kept my feet on the pegs and dove in with my shoulder. Margarita on the other hand dove in with her right blinker and right hard case. Without crash guards the bottom of the hard case cracked. And the blinker lens cover was in pieces in the mud but somehow the bulb was still in tact.
LESSON #20: Good riding gear keeps the body protected when you need it most.
Gregg is such a gentleman that nanoseconds after I went down his front tire also washed out and in about 2 seconds both bikes were napping in the greasy as whale snot New Mexico red clay. And there were we – both bikes lying flat on their sides. Me – covered in mud on my right side and helmet and visor. I slid about 10 feet and was fairly well coated. Those who know me well know I like to eat my fried chicken and ribs with a fork and knife. I do NOT like to get dirty. I was really dirty. http://gbolton.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/2013-Trip-out-West/32303760_3MWb9d#!i=2864842254&k=3QvPkDh
Oh yeah – did I mention that Gregg had the GoPro helmet cam running? Yup – that’s right. All on video. Two things of interest in reviewing the video (we have looked at it about five or six times) was #1 – how fast I got up on my feet and out of the muck and #2 – Gregg laughing his ass off as he climbed out from under his bike. I’m just sort of standing there – possibly slightly stunned – staring at Margarita in full “nap” mode.
A pair of napping bikes: http://gbolton.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/2013-Trip-out-West/32303760_3MWb9d#!i=2864840169&k=KxSRLdZ and http://gbolton.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/2013-Trip-out-West/32303760_3MWb9d#!i=2864840194&k=qN95XwN.
As I’ve said before – Gregg is 6’5″ and 275+ lbs and strong as an ox. What does that mean? That means that he was able to lift both bikes to their full upright and locked positions without having to unload them. I was a little shaken still and wasn’t ready to ride out of the slop down to the drier dirt so Gregg moved the bikes down. As he was walking back up to get the Zebra a car approached from the other direction. They wanted to make sure I was okay. I asked how much further the unimproved roads continued and was told that it as about 15 more miles and further ahead it was worse and there was a washed out area on a long up hill. By the time Gregg got his bike down we’d decided to head back to Hwy 550. So I walked thru the muck while he rode both bikes back up toward the improved section. I was very happy to ride on dry dirt and then cross the cattle guard back on to the paved road.
As we rode back down to Cuba there were cows on the road – http://gbolton.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/2013-Trip-out-West/32303760_3MWb9d#!i=2864845118&k=3hdbPgK.
We took time and pulled into a gas station. I wanted to wash off the camera (that had been outside my jacket when I went down) and my visor. Turns out my visor is badly scratched (thank you Bill H. for buying me that plastic polish – it helped quiet a bit, but there’s a new Scorpion EXO visor in my future).
After calming down and Gregg just laughing as he removed and straightened his homemade highway pegs and remounted them we headed out for Amarillo. We didn’t quite make it and instead stopped just after sunset in Tucumari, NM.
End of Day 9: 25,216 only 378 miles.