Monday, October 18th, we got on the road around 11 a.m. and headed straight West for New Mexico... 90MPH.
I packed my camera away in Austin and didn't take it out until I got back to Denver, using my video cam most of the way home. Tore out of Austin on hwy 290, passing Luckenbach again on our way to Interstate 10. After replacing the intake manifold gaskets the day before, my bike was running and handling well - so once we got onto 10, I opened up on the throttle.
West Texas isn't as bad as people make it out to be, it wasn't until we got closer to New Mexico when the surroundings got flat. The wind was pounding us from the front at about 30 mph, so our gas mileage went to shit. Made it 106 miles to Fort Stockton/hwy 285 and the chop started sputtering on the off-ramp to get gas. Luckily, I made it to the gas station and that was our longest stretch of the day.
Once on hwy 285, things flattened out... a lot. Oil rigs, tumbleweed, and more torn up semi tires scattering the highway than any other stretch of road I've experienced. Caught a great sunset on our way into Carlsbad, gassed up, and rode back into the night, destination - Roswell.
We had crossed most of Texas that day and had roughly 70 miles left until Roswell. The rigid had taken its toll on my lower back by this point, but that only encouraged me to speed up. 20 miles left and lightning covered the sky in front of us. It was an amazing light show, I just didn't want to get caught in the middle of what it was throwing down from the sky. Fortunately, the storm was heading North of town and we only hit about 5 minutes of light rain pulling into Roswell - finding a Motel on the North end of town.
After a long day, with constant high speeds and vibrations, I've learned to check my bike over at almost every stop. I noticed what seemed to be a crack in my front pipe when I arrived in Arlington earlier in the week on my way to Austin. The fracture in my pipe hadn't gotten any worse up until this point... up until this point. With no support on my bird-shooter pipes from the axle-mount up, the high speeds, vibrations, and bumps in the road deliver a beating on the weld creases. With no warning, my rear pipe was torn nearly all of the way off and my front pipe wasn't too far behind it. So, I tore my rear pipe off at the crack, leaving my front pipe to continue cracking until it was easier to tear off as well.
Even though I felt like laying down in the parking lot, I hadn't eaten all day - so, we got some food and a couple beers across the street at some hot rod bar and grill and then I called it a night.
Tuesday, October 19th, we packed the bikes and headed to the nearest Auto Zone so I could top-off my oil tank.
We made it to our next gas stop - Vaughn, 90 miles down the road, which is where I tore off my front pipe. In honor of Texas, I strapped the two torn pipes on my headlight hood - like longhorns on a Caddy grill. From there, we crossed over to hwy 84 North on our way to Las Vegas, NM. If you're ever in Southeast New Mexico on a motorcycle, try and hit this stretch of highway. Highway 84, from Pastura to Las Vegas is a great road for riding.
We never really slowed down for the first part of the day, gassing up when needed, then ripping on to the next stop. Before we knew it, we had made it over 300 miles in less than 4 hours.
Our stretch up to Raton, NM at the New Mexico/Colorado border was 108 miles. Averaging around 95 mph that stretch, I ran out of gas about 1/2 mile away from the exit. Tipped my bike to the side to run any existing gasoline into my petcock, started it up and gunned it as fast as I could - holding in the clutch once the bike started sputtering again, coasting as far as possible. Repeated this again, getting me to the off-ramp where I saw a sign - gas station 1.6 miles. Fuck. So, I started pushing my bike. A trooper flew by me on the ramp, not even slowing down, fucking prick. Finally, a mexican guy and his kid pulled over, took some cash from me and went to get some gas. Once in town, I needed to get some food in me, so I split off from Charlie(who had to get home to his wife) and made it a solo trip from there on.
My gas stops and trips in general are more enjoyable when I get to take my time and not travel on someone else's schedule. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy riding with my boys, but at the ass-end of a long trip, sometimes I just need to ride back on my own. So, finishing the trip alone was something I needed mentally - no distractions.
My chopper is exactly that - a rigid riding, violently vibrating, shit loosening up or falling off chopper. It holds up great and handles even better, but most of the guys I ride with are on soft-tails - shit just aint the same, and explaining it to someone who's never ridden a hard-tail is like teaching a monkey how to read.
I made it back into Denver when the sun was setting and the traffic was jamming. At this point, I really didn't care about breaking the law, whether it was speeding or splitting lanes - I was almost home. Finally home, my dog Bo was waiting to greet me.
Trips like this are good for your soul and it makes friendships even stronger than before, especially if you share in the entire trip with someone who enjoys it just as much as you do.
You might bitch and argue with one another, but in the end, you learn a lot about not only good friends, but also yourself.
Leaving on these trips always brings out the kid in me - but getting back home always makes me feel like a beat-up old man...
3 months ago