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2016 Continental Divide Ride, New Mexico

Jun 9, 2008
Austin, TX
2016 Motorcycle Continental Divide Ride, New Mexico, July 3rd – 8th.
2014 BMW F800GS

The Continental Divide route (CDR) was originally developed by hikers and bicyclist not unlike the Apalachian and Pacific Coast Trails. The route spans 3100 miles across the middle of the USA from Canada (Rooseville, Montana,) to Mexico (Antelope Wells, New Mexico), through some of the best wild country the US has to offer. From baking desert to alpine forest, vast grass prairie to gorges and valleys to mountain peaks, this route has it all. Bicyclist race the CDR each year, going from border to border in just 3 weeks, covering as much as 200 miles a day on average carrying everything they need with them except water and food which they source enroute. They are hearty souls indeed.

The motorcycle route can’t exactly follow the same route at the hikers and bicyclist because some of it is on private land, or restricted to non-motorized travel on public land, or is otherwise just too rugged narrow and dangerous for motor vehicles of any kind. The motorcycle CDR is approximately 2700 miles in length and follows all manner of tracks and forest roads, county roads, and as little highway as possible to remain as close to the hike and bike CDR as is feasible.

I chose to ride the New Mexican segment of the route partly because I live in Texas and logistically, New Mexico is the closest part of the CDR to Texas. More importantly though, based on all the stories I’ve read of other Adventure riders’ CDR trips, New Mexico has consistently been a bit of a pleasant surprise. New Mexico has a little bit of all the features of other segments of the CDR. While other states may be defined by one or two natural features that a rider might experience along the entire route, New Mexico seemingly has nearly all the features of the entire CDR in one state. The New Mexican features may not be the absolute best examples of the highest rockiest mountains, or biggest rivers, or most vast grass prairie, etc., But New Mexico seemingly has all those features in perfectly adequate awe-inspiring proportions. The New Mexico segment of the CDR also has some of the most technically challenging riding of the entire CDR.

It struck me that New Mexico segment of CDR is not at all unlike the Adventure dual sport motorcycle I would be riding along the route.
Dual Sport/Adventure motorcycles are by definition not the absolute best street bike, or best dirt bike, but a perfectly good blend of all motorcycling capabilities that provide all the enjoyment of any kind of riding I may choose to do.

Speaking of Dual Sport motorcycles, mine is a 2014 BMW F800GS. Loaded for travel it weighs-in at nearly 550 pounds.


This is my former-KLR-rider solution to mounting GPS on a BMW without spending $1,000 on bespoke powered bracketry and a ZUMO. Hey don’t laugh, it worked just fine, and if vibration were to break my NUVI, I can buy 5 more NUVI’s for what one ZUMO costs.


The fuel tank on the BMW F800GS only holds 4 usable gallons, and it’s anyone’s guess how far that will take me on any given ride because average fuel mileage can fluctuate between 60 and 40 mpg depending on wind, and altitude, and the type of riding I may do doing. That results in a bit of fuel range anxiety when riding unfamiliar territory where known fuel stops are few and far between.
175 miles seems to be the practical limit of my fuel range but can be as little as 150 miles depending on riding conditions. I prefer to refuel at 120-130 miles because I don’t like to run a fuel injected bike so low on fuel that the fuel light comes on. I have it in my mind that the electric fuel pump, which is cooled by the fuel in the tank, may be adversely affected by low fuel levels in the tank, shortening the lifespan of the fuel pump, especially when bouncing through rough terrain.
I was very anxious about fuel range on this trip because I’d be riding to the outer limits of the F800’s range between Carlsbad and Cloudcroft (170 miles), and between San Lorenzo (near Silver City) and Quemado, New Mexico (160 miles), not knowing exactly what kind of fuel mileage I could achieve riding in unknown conditions. I carried an additional 28 ounces of fuel with me just in case I needed it, or for some other poor soul who may have run out of fuel along my route.

The logistics of this trip all seemed manageable otherwise, so to quote Jerry Reed, “…I’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there.”

Day 1: Austin TX to Carlsbad NM to the Guadalupe Rim Rd, 534 miles in 11:36 hrs.

I only need two words to describe the 500 mile ride across west Texas; hot and boring. OK, I need to add a third word, ‘windy’, as in ‘headwind’.

It’s hot and it doesn’t help that I’m wearing a black ¾ length Tourmaster jacket, and it does not seem to matter whether the vents on the jacket are opened or closed. I debated whether or not to wear a mesh jacket, however reading the weather forecasts for the various areas I’d be riding throughout the trip indicated that I’d be spending more time riding at tolerable temperatures than I would in the heat, and the Tourmaster is water proof. If I wore a mesh jacket I’d have to also bring the liner and rain gear, but with the Tourmaster I’d only need rain pants, so Tourmaster won out, but it was very hot at times.

I refueled every 80-120 miles, when I also lubed the chain.
The temperature was nearly 90 when I left Austin at 8 am, and topped-out at 104 by lunch time in Big Spring TX.

I have a rule when traveling to always eat at local establishments, but this being the 4th of July holiday weekend, nothing much was open for lunch in Big Spring TX, so I ate at Dairy Queen. I sat in the air conditioned comfort of Dairy Queen and drank copious amounts of water until stirred to push-on.

I reached Carlsbad NM by 4:50 PM CDST (3:50 pm their time). I ate dinner at a Blake’s LotaBurger, which is not at all unlike WhataBurger. Again I sat in AC and drank lots of water.

I ventured out into the 104 degree heat to refuel at the last gas station I could find on my way out of town enroute to Queen NM. The BMW can display MPG on the fly, which I would try to keep above 50, so I could make it to Cloudcroft 170 miles away.

Highway 137 southwest to Queen NM is a narrow paved highway that bobs and weaves across the desert hills, steadily gaining altitude to 5,000 ft, and thankfully loosing temperature along the way. It was 85 degrees in Queen; nice!

I found unpaved road FR 67 (413 on Google Maps) and headed northwest along the Guadalupe Rim, overlooking the vast expansive trough below. The road is caliche and limestone rocks, a little loose, but otherwise in good shape.

Along the way I spook a group of turkey vulture buzzards, one of which decided to take flight with a mouth full of meat, probably rabbit. Our proximity to one another reached a critical distance, and the buzzard decided it would be wise to drop his feast in order to make his getaway a more likely outcome. The partially chewed rabbit meat dropped from the birds mouth and landed on me; yuck! It was Nice of the buzzard to share his dinner with me.


Along the way the terrain transitions from arid llano grass and juniper trees to softer grass and larger trees at high elevation 6,300 ft. where a lot of cattle graze.









I am looking for a camping spot I used more than a decade ago. I never found it, and because of the fuel situation, I could not double back to a spot nicer than where I wound up. My camping spot turned out to be drier and more sparsely dotted with crunchy grass that I’d like, but it was wonderfully remote.


I used an old pup-tent on this trip mainly because it packed small and was much lighter than my usual dome tent. The tent I used has a foot print of 4’x7’, but is only 3’ tall. Getting into the tent is a challenge, but once inside there is plenty of room for me and my gear, as long as I am lying flat. I can sit up but when I do my head is against the top of the tent.

I hadn’t encountered another person since leaving the highway 30 miles way, and there was not a sound to be heard overnight, aside from the birds. The night sky was chocked full of stars. Overnight temperature was around 68 degrees.

Day 2: Guadalupe Rim Rd to CDR segment 1 Mimbres NM, 303 miles in 8:00 hrs.

The next morning I pack-up and continue along the Guadalupe Rim, around the top of the National Forest boundary.







I ride west on gravel roads toward Hwy 24 and then I roll into Pinon NM.
Low and behold, the tiny town of Pinon has gas at the Pinon Store, and they are open on the fourth of July.


Who’d a thunk… my fuel anxiety is relieved. A friendly women and her three young daughters are tending the store. She was glad to point out that they have fuel and they are open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Now that I do not need to travel the shortest distance to Cloudcroft, I elect to ride through Timberon NM, because I’ve never been there, and then up to Cloudcroft. The road to Timberon is gravel and winds along the contour of the foot hills below Cloudcroft. Timberon itself is an array of mostly unpaved roads cut into the oak trees of the foothills to form acreage home sites, but it appears the idea never really caught on, so there is not much to see. I head up Sacramento Canyon Rd which becomes the wonderfully curvy smooth Sunspot highway through alpine forest, past meadows and farms before reaching Cloudcroft. Of course the speed limit on Sunspot highway is something ridiculous like 30 MPH. I was riding a tad bit quicker than that and loving it.

In Cloudcroft I refuel, lube the chain and ask for a recommendation for lunch. I am directed to Dave’s Place in the Stump Mall, which is not really a mall by any stretch of the imagination. Cloudcroft consists of a highway interchange, along which are numerous businesses that cater to vacationers. Running parallel to, and one block north of the highway is Burro Avenue which is designed to look like an old western town façade with a wooden plank sidewalk in front of shops and hotel and restaurants. One of the store fronts is the Stump Mall which consists of Dave’s place and a build-a bear store; that’s it. Dave’s placed turns out to be a good call though. Good food.

Not anxious to ride down out of the mountains toward Las Cruces and the heat, I sit at Dave’s drinking iced tea and checking in with my wife. Eventually though I head out knowing I have 200 miles to ride before reaching my start of the Continental Divide route in Mimbres NM.

The view from the mountains down into Alamagordo and White Sands.





The temperature hits 104 degrees soon enough in Alamogordo NM, through White Sands, down to Las Cruces.



I wound up on IH25 north out of Las Cruces, but soon crossed over to the old highway 185 at Radium Springs along the Rio Grande River, though agricultural terrain parallel to IH25. Here it was 107 degrees as I rolled into Hatch NM. I continued north parallel to IH25 until reaching Caballo NM adjacent to Caballo Reservoir. I refueled at a little mom & Pop store in Caballo, which has long since passed its prime, and sat a while in the AC drinking water and chatting with the proprietor.
From Caballo I head west on Hwy 152, and it actually rained on me ever so briefly. It rained just enough to clean some of the bugs off my windscreen and visor. Hwy 152 turned out to be a real gem. 35+ miles of tight 2nd and 3rd gear twists and turns on perfectly good pavement. Just one turn after another after another; nary a single straight of way for 35 miles. I wore all the little nipples off the outer edges of my new tires and even dragged the pegs a time or two.
Upon reaching San Lorenzo on Hwy 35 I refueled at the last available station, well actually it's the only gas station, until I reach Quemado 160 miles away.

Hwy 35 is more like a paved county road past rural homes, farms and pastures until I reach N. Star road, aka NF150. NF150 is a gravel road traversing exactly the kind of forested foothill terrain that made all that slogging across west Texas and Las Cruces worthwhile. This is the CDR and this is what I came all this way to experience.








Note the road I am riding continues on the far side of this canyon


Here’s a closer look.


And closer still.


36 miles from San Lorenzo I reach Lower Black Canyon Camp Ground. Its 6:30 pm CDST (5:30 local time). The shadows are long, and this seems to be a perfectly good place to camp for the night. I have the place to myself, or so I thought. While I was setting up camp, a Jeep rolled by slowly, blaring Tejano music. I’m fine with Tejano music, but there is a time and a place for everything, and right now in the middle of a remote national forest is neither the time nor the place for it. I prayed that they would move on, and they did.



Peace and quiet restored, I walked a ½ mile or so to the far end of the camp ground, where one other camper was minding his own business. The camp ground road crosses a creek where I take a few pictures.





Further up the creek I find a couple of informational kiosks that explain the plight of the yellow trout, and why it was necessary to spend millions of dollars to build a small dam to create a pond in an effort to avoid extinction of the species. Unfortunately the pond promptly silted in and is grown over, looking not at all unlike it did before the government needlessly spent millions of dollars.

Overnight I hear a large animal breaking twigs as it walked through the forest on the opposite side of the creek. I have no idea what it was, and it did not bother me, so I went back to sleep.

Day 3: Continuing CDR segment 1 from Lower Black Canyon Camp Ground to Quemado NM (130 miles), to Grants NM (97 miles), and half way to Cuba NM (70 miles). 300 miles in 8:00 hrs.

The next morning I pack-up and start the bike only to be greeted with a yellow triangle exclamation point! The bike tells me there’s a problem. Not what I want to be told here 35 miles from nowhere.


Turns out the fault is a burned out “Lamp”. But which one. I do a quick visual check and find the low beam is out. All other lights appear to be fine. I pull the low beam bulb and sure enough the filament is broken. I’m embarrassed to say I did not have an extra bulb with me, so I reinstalled the bad bulb, and thereafter used the high beam to maintain a load on the electrical system. If I am not mistaken, both high and low beams use the same bulb, so I could switch them out if I wind up riding in the dark before I can get replacement bulb.

With the bulb issue sorted I continue north on NF150 (Rd. No.61 on Google Maps) toward Wall Lake. As the road skirts the north side of Lower Black Canyon CG, I get a bird’s eye view of my camping spot right down there.


A little closer look and you can see the million dollars dam at the left edge of the frame.


About this time I realize I am not wearing my sun glasses. I took them off to deal with the “Lamp” issue, placing them on my top box. They’re not there anymore. I double back a ¼ mile and find them laying in the road near the campground, unscathed. From here on I get into the habit of poking myself between the eyes to be sure I am wearing my sun glasses.


I originally intended to camp at Wall Lake, but I am glad I stopped at Lower Black Canyon instead because not only was Wall Lake quite a bit further up the road than I’d thought it be, time-wise, but I’m not sure there is public camping there anymore. There were posts and cabling along the road and sign stating that the area was private property.



Nonetheless, there were some very content cows, belly deep in Wall Lake munching on grass. Throw in a bevy of heifers and you’ve got cow heaven.


A few miles later I reach the interchange with roads 61 and 59 (on Google Maps). This area is identified as Beaverhead. There is a Ranger station and heliport here, but not much else. The terrain becomes less hilly and forested giving way to more grass meadows and prairie.











A few miles on and I reach road 159, which I follow to Bursum road (No.94 on Google Maps). Right on Bursum and I’m back in sparse pine forest with little to no undergrowth, and I’ve gained altitude.



I reach another intersection where I turn right toward Long Canyon. Here the two roads run parallel for a 1,000’ or so, one on a forested hillside above the other.
After clearing the intersection I check my GPS to ensure I am on the right path, when I look up I see a mountain lion crossing the road 200’ ahead of me. The lion walked from right-to-left, off of the uphill right hand side of the road, across the road and then over the downhill edge of the road on the left.
Without thinking I readied my camera and proceeded forward to where the lion had crossed, carefully looking through the trees to my left down the hillside a short distance toward the other road running parallel. I did not see the lion continue down the hill. This meant that the lion was either holed up behind a pile of logs beside the road I was on, or ran along the same direction as the road I was on.
I was a little ambiguous about what I should be doing at this point because I know that there is a mountain lion nearby and I’m ready to take a picture if the opportunity presented itself, but I was also ready to ride like the wind to stay away from said lion if need be. In the end I had to settle for taking a picture of the logs behind which I believed the mountain lion was hiding.


I certainly wasn’t going to get off my motorcycle for a closer look. I just wish I’d been paying closer attention, camera ready when I first spotted the lion.

This mountain lion was 5’ nose to tail, and the tail was another 3’ which the animal held in a “U” shape. It was the color of the greyish-tan colored grass that was common in the area. More than likely the lion ran in the opposite direction of my approach.

I wasn’t really worried about being attacked in open country like this. The motorcycle and I appear too formidable, and given the chance, most wild animals will run rather than confront a person in a chance meeting such as this. Oh well, it was exciting for me, even if I didn’t get a picture.

Long Canyon Road emerges from the forest to a vast grassland prairie up to Hwy 12. I do a quick right-left jog on Hwy 12 and continue north on Mangas Road (No.93 on Google Maps), up the grade alongside Mangas Mountain and down the north side of the mountain.




At this point I reach an intersection where I must make a decision. Based on my fuel mileage to this point, I either following the Continental Divide route proper to Pie Town, and then another 22 miles from Pie Town to either Quemado or Datil on Hwy 60. That’s either 42 miles one way, through Pie Town, or 22 miles directly to Quemado. I’ve done 140 miles to this point, and I don’t think it wise to do another 42 miles through Pie Town, so I opt to continue up Mangas Road (214 in Google Maps), to Hwy 60, then 9 miles to Quemado on Hwy 60.

Along the way I see the ruins of a community at San Jose Spring.




It turns out that my fuel consumption was less than expected on the trail because of the altitude, but once I was on Hwy 60 my mileage dropped as I rode into a headwind all the way to Quemado with 158 miles on that tank. From this point to the end of the trip I have no fuel range anxiety as there will be fuel readily available well within my fuel range for the rest of the trip.


I refueled at the nice new convenience store where the proprietor was trying to open a Chrysler minivan with the keys locked inside. I buy more water and get a recommendation for lunch. Apparently there aren’t many restaurant choices in Quemado, so the recommendation was no brainer.
After lunch I roll east on Hwy 60 to Pie Town.

It is tradition to eat pie in Pie Town while on the Continental Divide ride. I had chocolate Pie, but not at the Pie-O-Neer; it was closed. There were other purveyors of pie in Pie Town who were open for business.


The dirt highway north from Pie Town is nothing special and I pass only a few cars on the road. Upon reaching paved Hwy 117 I ride north toward IH40 and Route 66 into Grants.

There are several points of interest along Hwy 117, one of which is the La Ventana natural stone arch.


Note the little roundish standing rock in the bottom right of this frame.




Once in Grants NM, my first order of business to locate a replacement light bulb for my headlight. About all I can find is an Autozone. They have the bulb I need at an exorbitant price, so I buy a pair, just in case the vibration and sustained high speed riding claim another bulb before I get home.

Next task in Grants was to get something to eat, so I searched for the Uranium Café noted in Big Dogs ride report, but I could not locate the establishment. I guess the Uranium Café has gone the way of most of the businesses along this stretch of Route 66; a bygone era.

I stop instead at the National Forest Service headquarters to inquire about road 239 to 239a to BLM 1103 over the top of mountain enroute to San Luis and Hwy 550, rather than the desert route around the northwest edge of the mountain.

According to the NFS, their transportation plan calls for closure of ‘the’ gate on 239. The route over the mountain was officially closed July 1st, I guess after the official end of the CDR bicycle race. Glad I asked. I hate dead ends.

I resigned myself to more hot riding through what can only be described as the ‘badlands’; dry dirt and sand, no trees, lots of erosion as far as the eye can see.

It’s 5:30 CDST (4:30 their time) when I ride up Hwy 547 north out of Grants which becomes miles and miles of wash-boarded gravel road gaining elevation through forest. Eventually the road becomes a more conventional single lane shelf road winding its way around the mountain side. I top out at 9,000 feet of elevation before dropping down to the Badlands route. Upon reaching road 334 a right turn is the mountain route that is closed at some unknown point, and a left turn is the badlands route I must take.

334 becomes 456 which I follow to paved road 75/556. Almost immediately the road exits the National Forest boundary and there is a sign prohibiting all but AUTHORIZED PERSONELL. There are no alternate routes in the area so I take it on faith that this is a public right-of-way to the county roads further north. The surrounding property is own by a coal mining operation, and ranchers.

The paved road gives way to graded dirt, and I have to turn this way and that at various intersections to stay on my GPS track. I pass through numerous gates, leaving them as I found them.




I follow CR75 to CR19 Eventually I find CR 25. Soon thereafter I reach El Dado Spring where I find the remains of an old coral and stable, which appears to still be used. A few pictures later and I am on my way through yet another gate.







A little further on and I see the rock face bearing some graffiti dating back to 1927.



From here on the terrain fluctuates between barren nothingness to grass and scrub brush with the mountain ever looming in the background.





The road surface is thankfully dry, but with the sun getting low behind me it is difficult to read the surface as compact or loose. I am increasingly finding myself having little ‘OOPS’ moments when I round a curve to find loose sand devoid of any traction.


The terrain appears flat, but there are numerous washes cut deeply into the soil, with a labyrinth of underground tunnels beside and beneath the road that drain into the washes. I have to keep a close eye out for odd looking depression in the road surface or outright holes in the road, especially where the road has been cut down one side and back up the other embankment of the washes that are crossed.





I met a young women on a bicycle riding the CDR with her father, who was a ¼ mile behind. They were from New Zealand. They declined my offer of water. They planned to stop for the night at a stock tank spring a short distance ahead of them.

As I continued on the elevation of the high desert badlands began to drop and the terrain became more sand stone rocky with more grass and scrub brush.









I too decided to stop for the night at about 6,500 feet in elevation.



I rode a ¼ mile down a double-rut track until I found a spot large enough for tent in the juniper trees and cactus. The ground was crusted over sand that provided just enough traction until I broke through the crust. Then it was 6 inches of sand with the rear wheel spinning until I reach a parking spot where I could prop the kick stand on a rock.


This spot is at a point where the road starts to drop into a shallow valley surrounded by short sandstone cliff face, nicely lit by the setting sun. I had a nice view from campsite.





The wind blew all night causing the tent to flap noisily, so I did not get much sleep. The overnight temperature was a pleasant 65 degrees or so.
I was up with the sunrise and captured a few pictures of the horizon just before the sun peaked over the edge of the mountain range in the distance.


The road from my campsite started out going up and down and twisting left and right as it followed the contour of the edge of the valley eventually intersecting BL1103 where I would have emerged from the mountain route if it were open. From here I proceed on to San Luis. In retrospect, I wish I would have turned north toward Hwy 197 to the Torreon Mission, and then followed 197 to Cuba, rather than riding directly to Hwy 550 north to Cuba.
Once in Cuba I refueled, lubed the chain, bought water and grabbed breakfast at the McDonalds adjoined with the gas station/convenience store.

From Cuba I head east on Hwy 126 a few miles, make a wrong turn into a little residential area, back out on the highway and up the road a little further to FR70 up to Clear Creek. The road is a nice compacted gravel through thick forest with a nice view south toward the Valles Caldera Preserve area.


















I follow FR70 to FR103 north a couple miles to FR315 east toward Dunlap Spring. FR315 runs east a few miles to FR144 where I turn north, and the road begins to deteriorate, become more dirt track. Narrower and rocky.






A couple of miles further up and I reach some of the most technical riding of the trip. There are a few short climbs up mild grades through embedded boulder fields with no clear track. The rocks range in size from softballs to basketballs with a few larger boulders here and there. I clean the first two weaving back and forth between and around the big stuff at or about my minimum engagement speed of 12 mph.

The next section though was steeper, longer and no gaps between the rocks to weave through. I had to ride slower, using the clutch to ride slower than 12 mph. I started out OK, but got bumped off my line and from then on it was just a matter of hanging on and maintaining momentum. At one point I grazed a large boulder at the edge of the road, lost momentum and came to a stop almost falling to my right. You don’t get a 550 lb. motorcycle very far off center keel before you just have to let go and get out of the way. Fortunately I managed to keep the bike from falling coming to rest with my left saddle back against the big boulder I grazed on the way by. Now I had to get going again up this incline and over another 30 feet of embedded boulders. I get to the top without any further incidents. It wasn’t pretty, but I got the job done. No damage except for a scrape on the left crash bar where it grazed the big boulder.





I ran into a couple more difficult climbs but though a combination learning to ride them better, and conditions not as difficult as the previous one, I managed to clean the rough sections without going down.

The road on top of this area is a pretty basic double rut punctuated by rock and downed trees, stumps and grass. Nothing difficult and actually almost gave a sense of there being no road at times, just riding at will through the forest.






Further along now riding down the ridge west of Polvadera Peak the road consists of sandstone ledges and slabs with large gaps and cracks, and between them the double rut road is often fill with sand. This section of road was not difficult, just rough and tedious. I met another bicyclist coming up the hill. He commented that he’d only been riding this sand stone section for a mile and he was beat.
The last segment into Abiquiu was lower elevation farm and ranch land.



It was warm on the Abiquiu side of the mountain as I continued down Polvadera Rd into Abiquiu where I refueled, lubed the chain and bought more water.

From Abiquiu, I ride Hwy 84 east to Hwy 554 north to El Rito. El Rito consists of a few ramshackle buildings situated very close to the highway.



On the way in to town I raise my visor only to have a bug fly into the side of my helmet and sting me on my left temple. I immediately pull over and flip open my helmet to find a Hornet or Yellow Jacket resting inside the chin area. I promptly shew the Hornet away and continue into El Rito. I spot a little hole in the wall Mexican restaurant surrounded by parked vehicles and decided that this must be the place to eat in El Rito.


I park across the street and walk into the 20’-30’ building to the usual stares of locals wonder who is this alien in our midst. I give a friendly smile and a‘howdy’ or two before finding an available seat. I Order Green Chili Enchiladas, and then drink copious amounts of iced tea while waiting for my lunch. I actually had cell service in El Rito so let my wife know that she won’t be cashing in the life insurance policy so far, but I did have a couple moments of peaked interest. The food was good, and I was off again out of El Rito toward Lake Hopewell.
Just on the edge of town I hit dirt CR247. I get about half way to Vallecitos when I smell and see lots of smoke. I round a curve and find some neon pink plastic tape laid across the road and some more strung up in a tree next to the road. I don’t know what this means, if I’m allowed to pass or not. There are no signs or notices posted so I proceed on a short distance and find a forest service vehicle with an empty ATV trailer parked off the road. I stop, look around, see no one, and take some pictures.





Then a helicopter flies low at a 300-400 feet overhead. I am really not sure if I’m supposed to be here, but I proceed on. Another half mile up the road the presumed driver of the forest service truck is sitting on an ATV at the side of the road talking on a hand held radio. I ask if it’s ok for me to pass through. Yes it is. I learn that the fire was deliberately maliciously set and they were in the process of recon and directing firefighters and equipment to the scene. That is what the tape on the road was for. I continue on my way and soon enough I am out of the smoke plume and arrive at Vallecitos on Hwy 111.
I can see smoke from the fire in the distance behind me.




I ride north on Hwy 111 a short distance, shorter than I was supposed to, and turn off on the wrong road. As luck would have it though the road I am on goes to the same place as the correct route, and the two routes are less than a mile apart.


Half way between Hwy 111 and Lake Hopewell I find the ruins of a log cabin and coral amongst the Aspen trees in an idyllic spot where someone lived out they lives at least 100 years ago.









Lake Hopewell is a campground and day use park on a 10 acre lake full of people fishing and kayaking and hiking.



I jump on Hwy 64 which borders the lake. I’ve only ridden 58 miles since Abiquiu where I last refueled. The riding from Abiquiu has been pleasant and easy. A steady rise in elevation means I’m now in alpine forests and meadows as I proceed to along Hwy 64 about 5 miles to FR133, which I follow to FR87.

The road starts out as compacted gravel, then turns to rutted dirt. It’s apparent that it rained here in the last week or so, as the road is badly rutted in places and there are numerous pools of water on or near the road. Consistently around 10,000 feet in elevation now, the scenery is just incredible and I stop frequently to take pictures.


Can you see the bicyclist in the road? This guy was from Germany, here to ride the CDR


While I have observed tracks on the trail laid by other motorcycles, especially through the ‘badlands’(reassuring), I had not actually met any motorcyclist on the trail until spotting these two guys taking a break beside the road. They were riding in the opposite direction on heavily modified pre-’08 KLRs loaded down with large paniers and bags.



While we chatted about the route ahead of us two more motorcycles rode by in the same direction I was traveling. They were both BMW F800GS. They waved at us but did not stop, and I waited a while for them to ride a good distance ahead so that I may continue to enjoy the solitude.

I am all alone up here riding my motorcycle through some of the finest terrain imaginable, and loving every minute of it. I take my time and soak it all in. I worked hard to get here and it was worth the effort.














It’s getting late in the day, around 5:30 CSDT (4:30 local time). I don’t have any plans for where I’ll camp tonight. I just camp where ever I happen to be when I decide to stop for the day. Usually I prefer to camp below 8500 feet in elevation to avoid cold overnight temperatures, but that doesn’t seem likely tonight. I make my way to Lagunitas camp ground at 10,300 feet. There is an upper camp ground perched atop a hill overlooking the lower campground beside the Lagunitas lakes. I choose the lower campground… It will be at least 100 feet in elevation warmer overnight.








I had the campground to myself aside from a couple in an old airstream-type trailer from the mid-sixties (It wasn’t an Airstream, but looked very similar, glad in polished metal). The man was wearing a Colt 45 automatic on his hip, mainly because of bears. We spoke for a while and explained that there were lots of bear scratch marks on the trees in and around the campground.
The couple asked me to join them for hot dogs chili and beer; didn’t have ask twice. They were a very nice couple just shy of 60 years old.
The man explained that he’d been coming to this campground since he was a kid. He said until recently, the last 10 years, you could easily drive a car to this campground. Now it can only be driven by four wheel drive high clearance vehicles or ATV’s. I guess I’ll have my work cut out for me tomorrow on my final ride from Lagunitas CG to Hwy 17.

Day 4: Lagunitas Camp Ground to Finish the New Mexico CDR in Antonito CO, and then to Lubbock TX. 500 miles 12 hours.

It was cool overnight but not really cold; maybe 45 degrees. I was packed-up and on my way shortly after sun-up to ride 20 miles to Hwy 17, but the trail was not going to finish easily.

Along the way I encountered some rocky hill climbs, bad ruts, mud puddles, and downed trees.









As I rode along, a big dog ran up to ‘greet’ me, and then another, and then a third. Shortly thereafter a scraggly looking figure of man showed up looking not unlike Tom Hanks in the movie “Survivor”. He spoke no English, but talked nonstop. He was friendly but I couldn’t understand a word he said. I gathered he was a sheep herder, and these were his dogs and flock of sheep. I guess the sheep herders live on the mountain during the summer season.



I managed to go up over through and around all obstacles but one.
There was a large puddle of water in the middle of the road in a depression. The right side of the road was a steep embankment at least 4 feet high. The left side of the road was a drop-off into a boggy grass meadow with a steep incline to it. The path other vehicles had taken was along the right edge of the road where there was a rut two feet wide and just as deep, filled with mud and water. At the far end of the rut was a bog of mud and water. The only way to get past this was to cross this rut at a nearly parallel angle. Easier said than done with a 550 lb. motorcycle. What I did not want to do was drop both wheels into this rut, or I would not get out without help. Trying get the front wheel over the rut would likely result in the rear wheel dropping into the rut and I would not likely get out without help. Ultimately I had to get both wheels over the rut, so made a run turning right up the embankment, then sharp left at a 45 degree angle to the rut, and jumped over the rut with the help of a little bump at the leading edge of the rut. I’m glad to say this method worked, and I continued along my way. In dealing with this problem I completely forgot to take a picture.

I found the Carson National Forest Cruces Basin sign, a common CDR land mark, which was followed by a long downhill run through loose softball sized rocks.




I also encountered muddle puddles in the forest where bypass options were limited. These unassuming pools can be 3 feet deep and filled with mud that will never let go of a vehicle once mired in its depths.
I finally reach the Cumbres and Toltec narrow gauge scenic railroad tracks, marking the end of my CDR ride.



From here I ride Hwy 17 to Antonito CO for fuel and water. Then I head east on gravel road Ave G to the old suspension bridge over the Rio Grande river enroute to Red River NM. Along the way I see a group of Antelope running across the road and out in to the vast grass land that defines this area.


I ride down Hwy 522 toward Hwy 38, but turn east on Llano Rd. aka FR 134, a couple miles before Hwy 38. I wanted to see what the area behind Red River NM is like for future trips into the area. I rode up to Cabresto Lake from Llano road on a steep road that that had been absolutely destroyed by ATV’s. It is a day-use only area consisting mostly of a beautiful lake surrounded by steep forested hills, and small parking area, not much else. Hardly worth the ride up.


Back on FR134 I continue on toward Red River NM. I am unfortunate in that a grader is in the process of reconstructing the road, first by digging out the ditch at the side of the road and then playing-out the loose material on top of the road. I makes the road very difficult to ride while the work is in progress.

Upon reaching Red River I ask around about Chain Lube, as I am have used nearly all of mine. No chain lube to be had in Red River so I head south to Angel Fire NM where I find a NAPA parts store. They have something that will suffice for chain lube until I can get home.

While in Angel Fire I have lunch at the Bakery and Café @ Angel Fire as recommended by the guy at NAPA. I sit and drink lots of iced tea and book a room in Lubbock. That will make my mileage for the day around 575 miles.

After leaving Angel fire I ride south to Black Lake where I turn on to Hwy 120 to Ocate NM. Most of this route is unpaved. Once on pavement I make time to Wagon Mound NM at IH25 where I refuel and lube the chain.

My last trip through here I made the mistake of not buying fuel in Wagon Mound thinking I had plenty to get me to my next fuel stop in Logan NM. What I didn’t count on was a stiff headwind on the high plains ahead that dropped my MPG to 30-35. I made it to Logan on fumes. This is partly where my range anxiety came from, and I haven’t made the same mistake since.

This trip there was no particularly strong headwind, but I was surprised passing through the high plains of New Mexico that it was 104 degrees. It’s usually much cooler at that elevation. I continued south to Lubbock where it was 111 the day I rode in. Thankfully it was only 101 when I arrived around 8pm.

I checked into my hotel, got a burger at placed called Five-Guys, refueled and then back to my room for a shower and bed.

The last day of trip was a familiar 500 mile route through Texas back to Austin. When I stopped in Lampasas TX for a break, I discovered my right fork seal was leaking. I’ll have to get that fixed when I get home. Aside from the fork seal and a scraped crash bar, the BMW came home in the same condition in which we embarked on this adventure, albeit a little dirtier.

Thanks for riding, I mean reading, along with me on my CDR adventure.
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Un-Supervised Slacker
Forum Supporter
Jan 15, 2005
Looks like a great ride. Thanks for sharing...


Forum Supporter
Jul 5, 2009
Ellis County Texas
Thanks for sharing. I spent 2 weeks hiking up there with my son near Cimarron in June. I was thinking of a bike trip in the area next summer. This will spur me to get it on the schedule.
Nov 25, 2012
Wow I started looking at this yesterday evening right after you posted it. Amazing amount of pictures you did a great job with your ride report. Beautiful scenery. Thank you for taking us along. The Lower Black Canyon camp ground looks so peaceful. Glad you made it without any major issues. Did you ever figure out on the bulbs if they are the same? I have a BMW also and was curious.
Jan 1, 2006
Westfield, Texas
Thanks for the memories of the ride Hoop & I did from Deming to Chama in Sept. '09, but we moteled it. Continental Divide Ride in New Mexico. We also used BigDog's route as a base. Saw a lot of the same pictures; you parked your bike at the same spot to take pictures of the log cabin & coral. We took 4.5 days up & 4 days back via an eastern route that Hoop planed out that parts ended up being very interesting.
Jun 9, 2008
Austin, TX
Thanks for the link to your report. I enjoyed reading it. The cabin was in better shape when you rode through in '09.
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Jun 9, 2008
Austin, TX
I usually ride up from Cimarron to McCrystal Camp Ground in Valle Vidal and then across to Costilla.
Valle Vidal is a nice mountainous area if you've not been up that way.
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Jun 9, 2008
Austin, TX
Yes the high and low beam bulbs in the F800 are the identical and therefore interchangeable if need be; both are H7 55 watt.
Jun 9, 2008
Austin, TX
I planned to upload my GPS tracks in a GPX file, but I can't get the GPX file to upload even though it is smaller than the max file size, so all I can offer is a GDB file.

I am not sure how useful a Gdb file will be unless you have Garmin MAPSOURCE or BASECAMP applications on your computer.

Here is the Gdb file for my View attachment 2016 MC CDR Tracks-Routes-POI.gdb


Keeper of the Asylum
Feb 28, 2003
:tab Excellent report! :clap:

:tab You are fortunate that the vulture simply dropped his meal to lighten the load. I have had the "pleasure" of a vulture lightening the load by vacating his bowels onto my vehicle... The uneaten rabbit is BY FAR the more pleasant of the two options!! :eek2: :puke: :lol2:

:tab Last October Rsquared, Jfink and I did the stretch from Apache Creek at Hwy 12/32 down 94 to 159 and 61 to Beaverhead on big bikes (1190 KTM, 990 KTM and 1200 GS). That stretch you did to the North and West of Beaverhead on 61/159 can be treacherous. It looked bone dry when you did it. When we did it, it was a full on mud fest from where that long STRAIGHT part of 159 turns East and runs through the bottom of the valley to where the pavement ends near the Beaverhead Outfitter. Even trying to get off the side of the road into the grass to go around some of the mud was really soft. We eventually got through it, but man it was messy!! Looking at your pictures of the road, I can hardly believe it is the same road! There were HUGE potholes, mud pits, and long deep ruts when we came through there. They must grade it after it dries out. At the time, I was VERY glad I was not riding alone!!

:tab The rest of your report really makes me want to explore more of Northern NM. Last September, I took my wife and kids up through Chama on the way to Lake City, Co. We stayed over in Chama so we could ride the narrow gauge train from Antonito back to Chama. It was really neat and the kids totally enjoyed it. All along the train route I kept seeing tons of fun looking dirt roads and places to camp. The speaker guy on the train told me those roads were all open to the public (regular BLM/FS type roads). It is beautiful country!
Jun 9, 2008
Austin, TX
Tourmeister, I was on the fence about taking this trip and one of the things that tipped the scales in favor of the trip was the weather forecast; bone dry all week.
I knew that much of the route would not be passable in wet conditions. Yes it would be hotter than normal (111 degrees in Lubbock the day I rode in), but dry at least.
Thanks for commenting.
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Jun 9, 2008
Austin, TX
Trail Boss, Thanks for commenting, and for the honorable mention on your Texas Adventure trip on the CDR planned for June next year.
I've also ridden parts of the CDR through Colorado, enroute to Moab, and enjoyed that as well, though you can't beat New Mexico for the remoteness and diversity of terrain.


Keeper of the Asylum
Feb 28, 2003
:tab We had rain/hail and temps in the low 30s. We ran from ToC over to Silver City, up to the Cliff Dwellings, back down and then over to 191 where we ran up to Hannegans Meadow for the night. Then we ran up to Alpine, cut back East on a bit to Blue River Road that cut South to the Blue River, ran along the river then crossed it and eventually dropped us out on 180 South of Spruce. That was a great stretch, even in the rain. By the time we got up to Reserve on Hwy 12, it was raining quite hard and there was more on the way.

:tab I had originally intended to take us South out of Reserve on 435 before cutting East on Loco Mountain Road, which would have brought us out at 159/61. The radar in that direction was NASTY. So our detour was to run up to 94, then hit 159/61. We did not get rained on and it actually cleared up, but it was WET!! I did go down in the mud at one spot at relatively low speed. It was so slick three of us could hardly keep our feet under us to pick up the bike, and it wasn't even heavily loaded. Worse, the mud was mixed with cow poo... :huh2: Oh yeah... I was smelling farm fresh after that day! :lol2: