Thursday, May 16, 2013

Day 9

Well, I've put some adventure in my sport-touring adventure today. But, let me start from the beginning.

All my clothes washed late last night, I'm reluctantly leaving the magnificent land of Kit Carson and Billy the Kid. Not before I say a proper goodbye though.

So, I went on the 150km loop around Taos mountains. Taos Canyon was taken at a very brisk pace because it's scenery wasn't distracting enough but the road well made and twisty. I took the advice from the ski resort billboards: Carve it, shred it!

Passed by Eagle Lake and back up the mountain through the forest again. Over the 9000+ft Bobcat pass and back down to Taos. There I passed the sheriff while I was going 80 in the 50 zone. He didn't even turn on the cherries. As I said before, cops in US have generally much better things to do than to chase speeders.

A mountaing is being strip-mined in the middle of the National Forest. A terrible sight, I don't know who and how let them do that.

Rio Grande Gorge State Park was quite a treat. A narrow curvy road without guardrails hugging a winding river in a deep canyon. So it went until I hit the bridge after which the road became a narrow, twisty and steep gravel one. I was a bit reluctant because I had no idea what the road looks like but the beginning didn't look good. If I drop he bike here I won't be able to pick it up by myself and the area looked pretty deserted. Faced with the prospect of having to go around quite a bit, I said to myself "I've been through worse" and started up the steep cliff side. It turned out quite manageable and offered some impressive scenery.

Once out of the canyon it was flat desert and straight road again. Very good pavement, no other traffic, so I opted to let Suzi stretch her valves. Moved as far forward in the seat to give her good traction in the front, tucked down a bit and opened her up. Rock solid all the way up to 200km/h where she started her usual gentle wobble. We know each other well, this bike and I, so I didn't push her over her limit (or mine). Just when the long straight was coming to an end, the "normal" front end "floating" turned into the whole bike wobble, front and end. Still not alarmingly erratic or a tank slapper (she stayed more-less in line the whole time), but very unusual. I let her do her dance while gently rolling off the throttle to avoid further upsetting the fragile balance (I know better than to do anything harsh in such situations, like brake for example). Came to a stop right at the crossroads and realized my rear tire was completely flat. Hooray, my first flat over 200 and I'm still standing.

I have everything I need so I took my time finding and plugging the hole. A pretty big and irregularly shaped one, right in the center of the thread. Whatever made it was long gone. Chatted with some people that came to get water from the community well (long story, these folks really live "off the grid") and was on my way to check out the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Simply gorgeous (pun intended), both the elegant metal arch bridge and the deep gorge dug out by the river that looks so tiny from above.

Kept heading west on 64 went over a pretty high mountain (10500ft). While temperatures at Rio Grande were in mid thirties, just an hour ride from there it went all the way down to 9. And then it started to rain. I went through the familiar rain preparation song and dance and continued on. It was quite miserable for a while, but it didn't last. I was back down the mountain and in balmy twenties in no time.

Entering Colorado the scenery changed like someone flipped a switch. No more arid desert or desert-like landscape, but thick forests and green fields all over. Rockies.

I encountered the 65 speed limit several times today. It's very significant because we are talking about mountain roads that are curvy by nature. Not a road you'd put a typical highway speed limit on. To me, it reads "you can do any turn on this road comfortably at 90-100. So I did, and it was a symphony of smoothness and coordination. No jerking, no twitching, no harshness of any kind - just smooth flow of asphalt under ever tilting horizon.

Dropped in Apache reservation for gas. A couple of Indian kids cute as a button ask how come I have all those boxes on the bike. I tell them because I travel on the bike and that's how I carry my stuff. "Wow!" :)

Went to see Navajo Lake SP. The lake is almost dry, it's level deep below what used to be the shore line. It's pretty anyway, I hope it will recover.

In Durango for the night. Had a ood meal and finally some fine local beer. Will figure out where to next in the morning.

Yesterday I forgot to mention how many crosses I saw on the High Road to Taos. They were on almost every turn, many of them fresh. I was wondering why so many local people die on what is so obviously a road that doesn't tolerate mistakes. A guy I met today in the gorge told me that it's a very poor area with the highest percentage of heroin addicts in the country. Such a shame that people strougle like that in a land as beautiful as this :(