Day 23 – Shadow of the Rockies, Part 3

Corona, NM – Logan, NM

275 miles

Today I got up 6:15am to get an early start to make the big push to Logan, NM. As I crawled out of my tent in a remote corner of the town park of Corona, I felt a little like a homeless person with a cool bike. Throughout the night, I could hear freight trains passing through the center of town.

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In this age of FedEx and email, train transport seems almost antiquated, but it was cool to see that this part of American history was still being utilized (despite keeping me awake in my little hovel). I drove back to the gas station I visited last night, fueled up and strapped water to every conceivable point on my bike. I was in no mood to run out water like yesterday. I had my biggest day of off roading ahead and I wanted to make sure I was prepared.

I headed 30 miles east of Corona to find the trailhead to get me back on route. However, one problem with following the Shadow of the Rockies Trail is that rest stops and towns are far and few in between.

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At one point when I was about 5 miles back on the trail, a pickup truck started heading towards me. Bear in mind, this is the FIRST time I’ve seen another vehicle on the roads I’ve been riding. The driver stopped and I stopped, bracing for a lecture that I had somehow wandered upon private land (I get lectured a lot). The driver was nothing else but friendly and confirmed that I was indeed riding on county roads, not private.

Pick-Up Truck Driver: You know where you’re going?

Me: Surprisingly, I actually do. I’m trying to get to Logan today riding off road.

Pick-Up Truck Driver: Hmmm…not much between here and Logan.

Me: Yeahh…I made sure to fill up on gas and water.

Pick-Up Truck Driver: Well, good luck to you.

I continued on, passing many horse and cattle ranches. Long roads of gravel and dirt stretched out along straight trajectories taking me deeper into the prairie. The temperature didn’t seem as oppressive as the last few days, but I’m still riding in the high 90s.

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After the drama from yesterday, I’m feeling a little hesitant to be off road. I hated the reality of being trapped behind a fence with no way out (a situation entirely of my own making). Yesterday, I just got lucky. Today, I made the decision to turn around if I encountered any closed fences.

For the most part, the riding was very mellow, mainly following country dirt roads that bordered ranches. I seem to have left the high desert area and am now entering the Great Plains region (I’m only a few miles from the Oklahoma border).

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I was pleased to be riding at a more subdued pace, and I was slowly getting my mojo back after dropping the bike yesterday.

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Then things went very bad, very fast. I was riding along a ranch road that had a single strand of barbed wire running across the cattle crossing. It had a few plastic bags tied at the ends that allowed me to see it at all. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it until it was too late. I jammed hard on the brakes and my front tire washed out in the loose dirt, sending me over the handlebars and the bike crashing into the ground. Again, I’m fine (always ride with protection people!), but the bike took it’s hardest hit yet.

I didn’t even have time to take a macabre photo as fuel was already leaking out (the gas cap popped open). Fuel is a precious commodity out here so I stumbled over quickly to get the bike back upright. The windshield was cracked and 3 out the 4 auxiliary lights got pretty mangled. Pretty damn shitty because of a single wire gate. I was (and still am) pissed.

Luckily, the bike started up (I had already began calculations as to how far I’d have to hike out). These BMWs are built like goddamn tanks.

Yeah, no kidding…

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Sadly, that last fall really put damper on the rest of the day. Riding through the remote plains was beginning to feel monotonous. Controlled burns were going on everywhere and the high winds were kicking up massive soot clouds. It was hard to see at times and my eyes were tearing nonstop.  You can see the scorched earth in this photo.  Really sort of eerie driving through it.

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I met these guys along the way, and stopped to tell them how low I was feeling. They seemed to sympathize or at least faked it pretty well.

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I took it slower again, and the roads were still pretty mellow. I was just a bit shaken, and the fear of getting caught with mechanical issues this far out was starting to gnaw at me.

The best thing happened all day when I crossed 1-40 and found the glorious Russell’s Truck Stop. Man, it felt like Disneyland inside these massive traveller centers. I felt like Templeton the Rat from Charlotte’s Web, basking in the air conditioned splendor and running around trying to sample and look at everything. It had an entire grocery store inside along with maps, gifts, beer, sandwiches, a full service diner and…an antique car museum. I know – WTF? But there weren’t just shleppy cars from a junkyard. This truck stop has some serious wheels.

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It was nice to get a little bit of (I cringe as I type)…culture at the truck stop. I feel like the last several days have been so much about riding and making miles that I’m not interacting with my surroundings other than enjoying breathtaking scenery.  Maybe I’m just not drinking enough water…

I made it to Logan. So damn thrilled. I debated getting a motel, but ended up at Lake Ute State Park. I’ll splurge on a hotel when I head west to Santa Fe tomorrow after finishing the New Mexico leg of the Shadow Of The Rockies trail.

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WHAT HAVE I LEARNED / DISCOVERED TODAY: No such thing as riding too slow. Having the bike fail in a remote region is dangerous and potentially a trip-ender. Also, I’m considering taking my next rest day exclusively at a truck stop. I’d get to meet interesting people, eat and drink well and catch up on my straight to DVD backlog of titles.

Comments

  1. I’m so glad you made it!!! xoxo

  2. leo huang says:

    it’s amazing how wide open the rest of the US is versus the density of East Coast. You are experiencing some amazing natural landscapes… and remoteness. Safe travels buddy.

    leo

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