Monday, September 10, 2012

The Sipapu Weekend

In all, just a bit over 700 miles of riding total, but it would end up seeming like a much longer trip.

The "Land of Enchantment" BMW Riders Club was hosting their annual rally in the New Mexico Ski Resort: Sipapu.  It's quite the regional event and several fellow Uralisti had gone to previous years' events and had a good time.  This was my year to join them, and I and a fellow uralista, Dan K would be riding our respective Ural Rigs there.

I left after work on Thursday, September 6 and elected to ride down the I-25 slab from Colorado Springs.  I had taken CO83 from the house to the Springs but after that time dictated the use of the highway.  The traffic was light once I cleared the Springs so it was no big deal to cruise along at 60 MPH on a highway with a posted limit of 75 MPH in areas.

The setting sun highlighted the mountain near which the town of Trinidad, CO
is located.  Trinidad is also known as the sex change capital of the US, but I was
only passing through on my way to Raton, New Mexico.

I crossed Raton Pass, the border into New Mexico in the dark after sunset, so didn't stop for pictures of the big yellow signs welcoming folks into the "Land of Enchantment".

Raton, which stands for Large Rat in Spanish, is a small waystation of a town located just south of the border with Colorado on I-25.  It must have been in between tourist event seasons as every single motel/hotel that I cruised by had empty parking lots for the most part.  Lots of businesses with that "closed for business" shuttered look, and not too many folks walking about in the evening.  

I eventually found my motel, the Colt Motel and checked into my room.  It was and old motel from the 1950s and which dated, was clean and cheap.  A neat feature I'd not seen elsewhere in my travels, is the provision for a covered parking space for one's vehicle next to one's room!

Valencia's resting place on Thursday night, my room
is just to the left where you see the window.  

Friday, I worked in the room till the checkout time of 11:00AM and then displaced to the small front porch located next to the registration office of the motel so I could remain connected to the Internet via WIFI.  

I worked the insanely boring, soul-crushing, and unrewarding IT job that is mine.  To paraphrase Willie Nelson: "Momma, don't let your babies grow up to be network engineers...." till 1:37PM and finally cut myself off from the inanity of it all.

I was soon tearing down, well moseying down, NM State Highway 64 heading south and west towards Taos, New Mexico.  The Sipapu Ski Resort is located about 20 miles SE of Taos so it's a nice big waypoint to shoot for when you don't know the roads.

I got rained on sporadically on the way down, it felt good though it did slow me down a bit while transiting the Cimarron Canyon area.  Nice twisty roads through there by the way, with thick forest almost to the edge of the road hiding who knows how many deer and critters.  Lots of roadkill on the roads so just keep your eyes open.,

 I arrived at Palo Flechado Pass after a very nicely curving and twisting 
road up.  The way down was somewhat interesting as well as the
rain started to come down in earnest after the above picture was taken.

The Palisades, in Cimarron Canyon.

I got to Taos without incident and the weather cleared up a bit while I was in town.  I switched to the phone's GPS which got me without fuss to the rally site.  It was early evening by then and there was no mistaking the site as it had many motorcycles, mostly BMWs, parked in the parking lots.  Lots of folks walking about in brightly colored riding gear, vendors hawking their farkles and a bunch of folks staring at me wondering what that bright orange colored sidecar rig was doing there.

I messaged my fellow Uralisti and they happily arrived to guide me to the camping spot already picked out by Dan K.  There followed, after setting up my tent, happy reunions with fellow Uralisti, a light dinner of great green chili and much catching up with friends and meeting of new friends and acquaintances.  We would all retired around 9:30 or so as everyone had ridden there from other places.  

 Nice Looking Airhead

 The only other GS Sidecar Rig, with a Hannigan Sidecar,
besides Dana's that showed up at the Rally I think.

 We met fellow Uralisti Cary and Dan from Espagnola, NM
Check out their 70th Anniversary M70 Rig.

 Dana and Cookie admire a nicely restored Slash2 Beemer
I think Dana was pointing out the sidecar mounting points that
these motorcycles came with by default.

A Lovely Vincent

Dan K and I spotted the arrival of a dark green Ural Patrol and accosted the driver and monkey before they even had a chance to take their riding gear off!  They were Richard and Cindy from Grand Junction and had just finished a nine hour ride from there.

That night, I would discover the cheap sleeping bad I'd bought on the way down (forgot to pack my good Army sleeping bag) had the flimsiest of zippers.  It would make for a restless night of very little sleep.


We woke to a "briskly" cool air temperatures, my restless night led to me being up at the crack of 05:30 and I used the quiet time to wander about the resort and trying to connect to the Internet to no avail.  Cell coverage was non-existent as well and it would not be fixed until Saturday afternoon apparently.  

As the other riders stirred and woke, we all met to eat breakfast at the resort's restaurant.  A hearty breakfast out of the way, we wandered about chatting with people, admiring motorcycles until 10:30 when Dan K, Dick Paschen and I departed for a loop ride that would encompass Mora, Angelfire, Red  River and back to Taos to look at the "Gorge".

Dick Paschen is the fellow who hosts an airhead tech day every year at his home in the Denver Tech Center and he wason his trusty '72 airhead with a toaster tank while Dan K and I rode our Ural rigs.  The ride started in cold overhead skies, rode though fog and clouds on NM434's twisting narrow road and would end in sunshine back at the resort.  Good Ride.

 Above: after our ride "through the clouds"
The thick fog would slow us down a bit as visibility was barely 
50 feet at points.

Near Mora, NM, I think, Dick patiently waiting for both Dan K
and I to get our picture fixes.

Some of the highlights of the ride, NM434's narrow and twisty curves, heavily forested masking oncoming traffic and making things interesting as the road is narrow and there's no center line marking.  Sharp curves with decreasing radius make things interesting as well.

Lunch in Eagle Nest at the Calamity Jane restaurant was a chance for us to refuel and talk about our times in Germany while we were in the service.

 Views of the Gorge, from the bridge, it's a rather striking scene when one
first comes upon it while riding on the bridge.

The city of Taos lies between it and the cloud-capped mountains in the distance

Back at the Ski Resort, dinner was a tasty steak fajita with trimmings and conversations about the day's riding.  Several hours of beer, story telling and now working cellphone access led to us all going to bed around 9:30PM, to the sounds of the music band still playing strong.

Dinner on Saturday, al fresco....


Again, I was up before dawn after another night of somewhat better sleep.  Folks began packing up their camping gear and lashing them onto their respective motorcycles.  Dan K and I had planned for a 08:00 departure as we had about nine hours of riding ahead of us at Ural Speed.

A group photo before we departed.  The GS's on the left belong to
John and Cookie with the GS rig belonging to Dana.  Dan K is to my left and Richard
and Cindy from Grand Junction are near Valencia's front wheel.
Dana and Rich are to my right.

The group photo above would be the last time that Sunday that things went accordingly to plan.  As Dan K and I rode north towards Fort Garland, CO, he pulled over by the side of the road after a couple of miles of me watching him taking constant looks down at his rig's engine.

His rig was bogging down on the upper end of the torque range for third gear and was barely making 30 MPH when going up inclines.  The usual suspects were looked at, air filter, spark plugs, carbs and such but no to avail.  We must have been there about two maybe three hours troubleshooting, had many BMW riders ride by and not stop, a couple did, to include famed Matt Parkhouse who tried to help.

We finally gave up and continued motoring onwards as we had miles to go and a max speed of maybe 45 mph achievable in the straightaways.  I stayed with Dan K as I wanted to make sure he got home.  We stayed on back roads all the way to the Denver Metro area.

We did some more troubleshooting in the small town of San Luis, CO, still no luck.  A dirt road that led us to Westcliffe, CO caused some more delay when the pusher tire on Valencia managed to find a nail on the road which led to a flat tire.  I almost went off the side of the road when that happened, quite interesting how rig fishtailed as I was moving at about 30 MPH on very loose gravelly dirt at the time.

Replacing the tire with the spare took about 40 minutes which we really didn't have.  The rest of the ride was a haze of slow uphill climbs, lines of cagers piling up behind us on two lane roads until we could find a spot to pull over and then things got interesting after we reached Woodland Park, CO.

You see, it was night time then, and we were riding on CO67 towards Deckers, CO in pitch darkness, in highly forested areas, with Dan K's rig's in front with his GearUP's spotlight angled towards the thick forest to the right of the road.  We didn't spot any deer, that I recall, until we we took the dirt road bypass from CO67 towards Sprucewood.  

This portion of CO67 was a series of steep hills, loose gravel and dust, lots and lots of dust.  Picture driving in a fog of dust, fighting to keep your rig in control when going through heavily washboarded sections that bounced it around, and looking for deer at the same time.  Dan did managed to spot and slow for about 3-4 large deer which darted across the trail.

Finally back on pavement at Sprucewood, it just more motoring through twisty and hilly canyon roads, in pitch darkness with only the lights from our rigs to show the way.  We made it to the town of Sedalia, CO where we then got onto northbound US85 aka the Santa FeTrail.  Dan's rig seemed to be running a little better so we parted ways near the junction of US85 and C470 slab.

I motored home and received a call near 11:00PM from Dan announcing his safe arrival to his house in Gilpin County, near Blackhawk, CO in the mountains.  The rig is sitll having issues, and he's going to trailer it to the dealer in Fort Collins this coming weekend for repairs.  For me, it was almost 14 hours in the saddle at less than normal Ural Speed, add another 90 minutes at least for Dan K on an ailing rig and you can see it was a long Sunday of riding for both of us.

So that was the Sipapu Weekend.  High points and low points, still overall a pretty good weekend.  Valencia, my 2011 Ural Patrol Sidecar Rig did very well, and now she's due for some maintenance as she's reached over the 12,500 KM mark.  She'll also be getting three new tires for the coming fall/winter riding.

Update: Monday, 10SEP12, a picture of my air filter after having been behind Dan K's rig through two dusty trails.


Spat said...

C6, we were all glad to see you made it to Sipapu, It's always a good time and knew you'd enjoy yourself.
Ahh - that last picture looks all too familiar

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

Now this is what I cal an exciting ride! Great pictures! Who makes a GS sidecar rig? I find these fascinating. The shot of the Vincent was cool too. I have a friend who was in Colorado that week with a Vincent, but this wasn't him.

Are the tires on the Ural tubeless? If so, would it have been easier to plug the tire as opposed to changing it?

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

redlegsrides said...

Yep, so dusty riding behind Dan.....and I had already given him my spare air filter earlier!

redlegsrides said...

Hi Jack

Dauntless makes the subframe and sidecar, so does a guy named Claude over in your neck of the woods...

As to the Ural tires, they require inner tubes....

Thanks for writing in.

Dan Kearney said...

Nice write-up Dom.


Dan K.

BeemerGirl said...

Dom, I'm so behind in my reading. This looked like a great, and daunting, ride. I love the little "garage" that you had in the motel. So cute!

The camping seemed quite cold, but entertaining and great with some friends.

The ride home was fearless!! I'm so glad you both made it home safely. But that is one long and stressful day. Blowing the tire on the hack, I would never have imagined it would have been that squirrelly.