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Continental Divide Ride in New Mexico.

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Ray Hooper (Hoop) and Chris Hardy (mcrider) do the Continental Divide Ride in New Mexico.

The route for the first 4.5 days of the ride followed the GPS route by BigDog. Thanks, it was a great help.

Ray & his XR650R. Navigator.
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Chris & his 625 SXC
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Ray’s Prologue:

I was aching to go for a ride out west, so when mcrider said "when do we leave?" I had to come up with a date. We decided to leave a few days before Labor Day, and ride for about a week. Now, the question was where to go. I had ridden the Colorado and New Mexico portions of the Divide Ride from North to South last year, and wanted to go back and re-do the New Mexico sections, because it was really good riding, and because I was to the point of exhaustion on some of it and didn't really enjoy it as much as I thought I could have. Anyhow, we settled on riding from Deming NM to the Colorado border in 3 or 4 days, then we would decide what to do next.

At the last minute, I also made up a route that tried to go east to the Wild Rivers area, then east again to the Carson NF north of Taos, then head back south and west trying to find dirt roads, avoiding the interstates and large towns as much as possible. I used Garmin City Navigator to look for routes, which I knew would be problematic, but it was all I had time for.

I picked mcrider up on Wednesday, Sept 2, and we drove 14 hours to Deming NM.

Day 0
Ray is to be at my house at 7:30 am Wednesday.
Waiting.
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And we are loaded.
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Day 1 - Deming to Datil

Day 1
Deming to Datil - 267.5 miles, elevation range 4,296’ to 7,873’.
The track is attached.

We left the hotel to get to the storage place when they opened at 8 AM.
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and dropped the car and trailer off at AT Storage. Nice folks, $25 cash for up to a month. Ray used them last year too.

We got geared up.
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and set out on I-10 to the village of Separ, the first official dirt of the trip. We did ride a little bit of dirt road along the RR tracks instead of the interstate, which was nice.

Here we are at the beginning of the dirt road at Separ.
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The dirt road from Separ to the hiway south of Silver City is fast and easy. The area had rain recently, so lots of traction, minimal dust.
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Ray had loaded a bunch of MP3's into the Zumo a year ago, and as we left Separ he turned it on random play.
What should come up but Back in the Saddle followed by Rocketman.

That was a great start.

We gassed up at Silver City, and again at the Mimbres Store, since we expected to be tight on gas range during this section. Ray’s XR goes on reserve at about 130 miles, then another ~50 miles after that. Chris' KTM 625 had similar gas range, or so we thought.

Here's the famous sign at the turnoff of Hwy 35.
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The road starts off easy, great scenery in spots. This section goes up and over 4 or 5 peaks with a lot of switch backs. It ends in a long straight gravel two track through the trees.
How fast can you go? HBRYB?

We were hoping to get to Pie Town for lunch, then make it all the way to Grants for the night. It was an ambitious plan, but we were feeling ambitious.

We start chasing the rain.
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Nice views on this road.
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First high meadow.
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Taking a break by an interesting rock formation.
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Rain behind us now too. So we thought.
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We had scouted out this automated gas station in Old Horse Springs, about 6 miles off of the route. It worked, and took care of our gas range problem.
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It had been raining on us a little bit, and we weren't making good time. No way we were going to make it to Grants, so we rode the hiway east to the town of Datil and got a nice cheap room at the Eagle Nest Lodge. Good food too. Highly recommend this place. Sorry no pics.

Chris had changed the main jet on the 625SXC from a 170 to a 165 before leaving Houston, but left the JD blue needle installed (position 2). The bike was a little lean as we got to the higher elevations, so that evening he installed the JD red needle in position 5. It ran fine the remainder of the trip until we got to lower elevations; went back to the blue.

We realized several days later that Datil is just a few miles away from the Very Large Array.
We would have liked to visit the place.

We looked at the maps that night and scouted a way to ride some dirt roads to connect back up to the CDR without backtracking all the way to where we left off.

Stats:
On the move for 8 hours, covered 266 miles, elevation 4300' to 7700'. Datil is at 7500'.
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Day 2 - Datit to Grants

Day 2
Datit to Grants, 179.7 miles on a 153.3 mile motorcycle that went on reserve at 133.6 miles. Elevation range 6,875’ to 8,222’. The track is attached.

We had a good breakfast and set out to try to find the dirt roads that would short-cut us to Pie Town. It was not to be. We ran into a couple of dead ends, then stopped and asked a guy driving a pickup truck with a flat tire, and he gave us some long and convoluted directions. We rode the hwy back to the route and headed on to Pie Town. The roads in this part of the route are pretty straight and mostly boring.
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Old church.
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Pie Town, NM.
A must stop as you pass through & sign their guest book. They knew we were doing the CDR & are proud of the pie. Did not get a picture of the pie, the pie chef or the pie server. Sorry!
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Internet café.
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North of Pie Town, the roads are again straight and easy (fast) until you get to hwy 117.
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At this point, you can go east on pavement to Grants, or go west on dirt roads around the El Malpais lava flow.
We went east last year, so we went west this time. We were doing fine following the route until we came to this locked gate. No bikes allowed. This is what caused the gas shortage, The Federal Government. Ten mile round trip off track because of faded signs.
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We backtracked a little and found a rancher, and asked him how we could get to Grants. He told us to backtrack to the first turn we took off the main dirt road and take the left fork. At that intersection, the dead end is marked with a sign that says "Hole in the Wall". The correct route has a very faded sign that says "Scenic Byway" or something like that.

Backtracking.
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Some lava flow.
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What the ride is about.
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Between the long dead end to the closed gate, and the fact that the west route is about 15 miles longer than the east route, we both went on reserve before getting back to pavement. We dumped 3 fuel bottles into Chris' bike and made it to town to gas up and head for the Sands Motel on historic Route 66.
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Gotta love the neon.
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A side note: Chris traveled from East Tennessee to California on Route 66 in 1952 in a ‘41 Chevrolet. Wonder if this motel was there.
Before air conditioning in the summer.

A good dinner at El Cafecito. These are the only food pictures of the trip, so enjoy. In New Mexico, all food has chilies on it, in it, whatever.
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Stats:
181 miles in a little over 6 hours of riding.
Elevation 8200' to 6200' at Grants.
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Day 3 - Grants to Espanola

Day 3
Grants to Espanola, 223 miles, elevation range 6,206’ to 10,290’
The track is attached.

This day of riding really has some great contrast. There is a long desert section between Grants and Cuba, then a climb into the forest between Cuba and Abiquiu. (pronounced “abby-q”)
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This sand road took us 20 miles or so. We lucked out in that it had rained the day before; if it had not the dry sand would have been very tiring. We entered the road through an open cattle feed lot area, again lucky the rancher was not feeding the cows. I’m sure he would not have liked us scattering his stock.
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We are at higher elevations today. A break at 9k+.
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The New Mexicans take their campers up some incredible roads.
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Another high elevation.
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Rock formation.
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There's a big new Shell station in Cuba, a few blocks north of the old ratty Circle K that we stopped at.
We passed a couple of guys on bikes with luggage going the opposite direction in the twisty pavement section just past Cuba. We assume they were doing the Divide Route in the opposite direction, but didn't stop to talk.

Ah, here's some forest:
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These are in the Carson National Forest, before the rain. Here Comes the Rain Again
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It started raining just before a long rocky up hill, no dirt. We both had tented shield/goggles that made the dark skies & rain darker. I just put in 2nd gear & did not stop. What I hit, I hit. At some point I could make out Ray with a stalled bike, he was upright, so I kept going. Once at the top I walked back to take pictures, but found out I don’t breath very good at 10k+. The VW in thumper’s report on TWT is just out of the shot. Thought I took two, but no.

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It just rained hard while we were on the hill.
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As we came down off the mountain towards Abiquiu, it stopped raining.

That's it for pics today, because the rain hit while we were climbing through a rocky section, and continued until we were almost back to pavement at Abiquiu.
We would have liked to spend the night in Abiquiu, but there's only one place and it's pretty foofy, $165/night. We rode the hwy to Espanola and got a room at the Motel 6, only hotel in town that had rooms, next door to a Sonic.

Stats:
222 miles in 8 hours of riding.
Elevation from 10,300' south of Abiquiu to 5600' in Espanola.
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Day 4 - Espanola to Chama

Day 4
Espanola to Chama, 142.3 miles.
The track is attached.

Today's ride is almost all in National Forest land, and ranges from easy dirt roads to some muddy sections and also a few very rocky and steep sections. Good stuff.

We rode the pavement back to near Abiquiu and then headed north to El Rito. The gas station in El Rito was closed, since it was Sunday and everyone was at the big church in town. We continued on into the forest.
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Here's a nice road through the aspens.
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We really got a laugh out of this, but we were talking with some hunters later and they said you're allowed to go 300' from the road in closed areas. So next time you see a 'closed to vehicles' sign, try riding on 300' past it and see if you don't get in trouble.
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A break in an Aspin forest.
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My *** is sore.
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The Forest Service is working to preserve the high meadows.
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One of the original settler’s home.
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Some big sky country.
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These pictures do not do this rocky hill justice. It is rocker & steeper than it looks.
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So it was rocky for a while, but it's not like Colorado. Ok, maybe it is.

Made it to Colorado. We had pulled the bikes off the road to take this picture and some smartass in a jeep rolled down the window and asked if we were going to ride up the hill.
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We do not need to stop on the way back.
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The dirt road crosses the narrow gauge railroad and comes out on Colorado hwy 17, which we rode south to Chama for the night.

We were going to try to find a dirt road that ran west from the Lagunitas campground to Chama, but found out that area is part of the Tierra Amarilla land grant, and closed to outsiders.

Stats:
140 miles in 5 and a half hours of riding.
Elevation from 10,900' to 7800' in Chama.
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Thanks for sharing your story and the photos. A friend and I started riding out of Silver City one year on our GS's and the wet, clay roads were so slick that we couldn't ride. So it is nice to follow along with your report. :rider:
 
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Day 5 - Chama to Cimarron

Day 5
Start the return trip to the East & South.
Chama to Cimarron, 248.1 miles, elevation range 6,497’ to 10,893’.
The track is attached.

These were unproven routes, so we did a lot of roads both ways.

We decided to take Ray’s hastily-planned return route, which would take us east, then run back southwest across the state, trying to run dirt roads and avoid big cities wherever possible. The first 40 miles or so, we would be backtracking yesterday’s ride, then before we cross Hwy 64, we would head east and come out on hwy 285, where we would cross into the Wild Rivers Backcountry, make a north-east-south loop through this remote area and come out near Arroyo Hondo for gas.

Here’s the rocky section again while backtracking.
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We didn’t have Forest Service maps, but we stopped and talked to some hunters and looked at their map. You would think it would be pretty easy to figure out which dirt road to take, because there are not all that many. Well, the lack of road markings, and the Zumo, led us astray (not the first time, obviously) and we came out on hwy 64 instead of on 285. No biggie. We rode a little pavement and made our way to the turnoff from 285.

We went about 100 yards down the dirt road when the planned route took a left and there was no left to be taken. Never has been, from the looks of it. A little ways down 285 we found a large red gate with a sign to “Close Gate by order of State Police”. There was a pick up parked just inside. We closed the gate, because the dirt road went east. It was some kind of public wild management area. We ran this road up a couple of dead ends, and made a big loop and came out where we started. No road signs at all, except for “no trespassing”.

Wandering around in a wildlife management area & going out where we came in.
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Undaunted, we went back out on hwy 285 and rode a mile or so north where we found another gate to a dirt road. This time, we were on the route for about a mile before it continued straight and the road went right. We continued on an easy 2-track dirt road for a few miles and met a wood-cutter in a pickup truck. We stopped and asked for directions to Arroyo Hondo. He said we couldn’t get there except to backtrack on 285, then continue east on hwy 64. He told us the dirt road we were on got a lot rougher, continued north and would come out on hwy 285 near Antonito, Colorado. Since we were iffy on gas range, we took the pavement back as he suggested. Well, that was a bust.

Hwy 64 crosses the Rio Grand River where there is a good-sized rocky canyon. It’s somewhat of a tourist trap. We stopped for a second, but didn’t take any pics. We continued to the outskirts of Taos for gas and a quick lunch at, what else, another New-Mexican Mexican joint with chilies on everything.

Then we continued on pavement north to Questa and San Cristobal, where we picked up an easy dirt road over a mountain. Back on the pavement for a while, and then we headed south into Costilla Creek canyon road, which started out pavement and turned into a nice winding easy dirt road.
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This is a narrow valley at 9000’ along Costilla Creek on Hwy 196 (or 1960) going into the Carson National Forest. A lot of fishermen.
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Unfortunately, our winding dirt road eventually turned into this:
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Then this:
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It doesn’t show, but the road was badly wash boarded in several long sections. We were on this mostly flat, straight dirt road for about 30 miles until we popped out on hwy 64 again just east of Cimarron. We were never so happy to see pavement.
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We rode into Cimarron, got gas, and got a room at the Canyon Inn, which was pretty basic, but just right for what we needed.
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We went to the somewhat foofy St. James hotel for dinner, which was good. No chilies. Sorry no pics.


Stats for the day:
249 miles in about 12 hours of riding.
Elevation from 11,000’ down to 6500’ at Cimarron.
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Day 6 - Cimarron to Moriarty

Day 6
Cimarron to Moriarty, 295.6 miles, elevation range 5,800’ to 8,526’.
The track is attached.

We had high hopes for today. We were planning to catch a dirt road south of Cimarron and head west towards Angel Fire, then south to Ocate and Mora on land that showed to be national and state forests on the (worthless) map. MapSource had paved or dirt roads that went where we wanted to go and the route was ready.

Once again, MapSource and the paper maps let us down.

We left Cimarron on Hwy 21 headed south, and looking for a turn to the west. First we passed a landmark. Do you recognize it?
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How about now? Any Rick Perry fans out there?
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We found a dirt road that headed west south of Philmont. So far so good.
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Ran that dirt road a mile and came to a locked gate. Backtracked to 21 and continued south. Unfortunately, 21 then turns east, which is farther away from the mountains, and took us to Springer on I-25. We gassed up in Springer and ran the interstate south to Hwy 120 at Wagon Mound to run 120 east to pick up the route.

You say you’ll give me a highway with no one on it.
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When we passed the dirt road that came out on 120 to get us back on the route, it had a locked gate too. We pressed on to Ocate and then ran hwy 442 south to pick up Coyote Road, an easy twisty dirt road that ran a few miles and dumped us out on hwy 434.

Here we are on 442, yes, that is rain in the distance.
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The rain hit us at the end of Coyote Road, we hustled into Mora and decided to have a sit down lunch at the Pizza Pro. We killed an hour in there until the rain passed by, then tried to find the dirt road just west of town. We ran a couple of long dead ends, and stopped and talked to a guy running a chainsaw who told us that the road didn’t go through anymore, even though it showed as a through route on Google maps. We already knew it at that point.

So we ran the pavement south to Las Vegas and gassed up again, and stopped and looked at the map. Looked like we could make it to Moriarty, but it would be a long haul. We had some more dirt roads planned, but our luck with dirt roads today had been pretty much zero.

We jumped on I-25 again and ran it a few miles to pick up hwy 3 south. Hwy 3 is a nice twisty road through the hills at first, then flattens out into the desert. We stopped to stretch and check out the local flora and fauna.
A wild gourd.
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Helped this guy across Hwy 3 north of I-40.
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We also passed these things. Strange design.
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Ray tried to find out something about them. But couldn’t find anything that would explain why this strange design is favored over others. He started wondering if there were aggies in New Mexico & found this. Sorry for that little detour.

Hwy 3 took us to I-40, which we ran to Clines Corners. We were supposed to run a back-road that paralleled the interstate from Clines Corners to Moriarty, but we missed the exit, and once you miss the exit in NM, you’ve missed the exit for 20 miles or so. They have fences to keep people like us from cutting across the median.

So, we spent the night in Moriarty. They put us in the back of the hotel so we wouldn’t scare away other customers. Seriously. This is the view from our hotel room. We opened the window and brought our luggage in through the window.
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We walked across the street and had dinner at the truck stop. Breakfast the next day too.

Stats for the day:
298 miles in 9 hours of riding, almost all pavement. Elevation from 5900’ to 8700’.
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Day 7 - Moriarty to Truth or Consequences

Day 7
Moriarty to Truth or Consequences, 325 miles, elevation range 4,611’ to 9,780’.
The track is attached.

We had miserable luck with the dirt roads yesterday, but seeing as how we were in a relatively un-peopled part of the state, and headed for even less-peopled areas, we were optimistic that our luck would turn today.

We left Moriarty on 41 South and picked up some flat dirt roads to connect to Hwy 337 and 55 south.
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Rode the pavement to Mountainair, where we stopped into and visited with the friendly Forest Service folks. We asked about a dirt road south from hwy 60 towards Socorro. They told us it was a bad road, and last time they were on it, they tore up a jeep. Oh baby! We both started grinning.

We set out for this terrible dirt road. We ran 60 west almost to Sivelleta Wildlife Refuge, and found the dirt road as promised. The only problem was it was pretty flat and pretty well graded and mostly boring. The route had us turning west again to Socorro, but we were well off of the planned route, so we had to wing it. We bypassed the first dirt road that went west, because it seemed to be “too soon” to turn west, thought we needed to run a little further south. We ran down several dead ends. Here’s one.
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This is what most of the road looked like.
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We eventually ran the dirt road all the way to hwy 380, almost 40 miles. It was better than riding pavement, but not much. Either the Forest Service people in Mountainair are idiots, or we were on the wrong road. Maybe both.

We ran 380 west and then the interstate back north to Socorro for gas. Then we ran hwy 60 west to Magdelena where we stopped again and talked with more friendly Forest Service folks. We had scoped out a route that would take us into the Cibola National Forest which looked promising to find some interesting roads. The FS guy told us NM 107 isn’t too bad, and neither is FR 330, but FR 96 is in BAD SHAPE! We set out to find this mythical FR 96.

Here’s where stupidity and reliance on the Zumo caught up with us again. The Zumo map had NM 107 in the wrong place. We followed the Zumo route and ran into the Magdelena Mountains, which are a nice ride, but all dead ends. Here is one of the nice dead ends.
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Kelly, NM John the Baptist Church. Here’s a short story about the place.
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We wasted over an hour and burned a bunch of gas before we finally saw a road sign marked ‘101’ and stopped to look at the map. We figured out where we went wrong, backtracked to Magdelena, gassed up AGAIN, and this time we found NM 107 leaving town a few blocks to the west of NM 101.

NM 107 is a state highway, so it’s pretty well graded.
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We found FR 330 with no problems, and it also was in good shape, narrower, but flat and mostly straight across the desert to Cibola National Forest where we headed into the mountains.
FR 330 turned out to be a great road
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As the road started a straight climb from 7,200’ to 8,050’ on a rocky ledge two track, then switchbacks up to 9,500’. It runs up over a couple of mountains and is switchback heaven for a while. It got rougher the higher we got. We were having a good time. By luck more than anything else, we found FR 96, which was not marked, and ran it downhill to the southwest. It was mostly similar to FR 330, but steep downhill instead of uphill. Some loose rock, but nothing terrible. The dirt section was about 70 miles.

Then we hit a section where the road was washed out in several places.
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If we had been going faster and unable to stop, this would have really been a bad thing. Maybe the best part of this stretch was that we didn’t see anyone at all from the time we turned onto FR 330 until we got back to NM 52, which is also a dirt road for a while. We passed one truck that looked like a hunter camp, but didn’t see the hunter.

We ran hwy 52 south to Winston, (note the long shadows)
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and then ran the pavement to Truth or Consequences.

This was the longest day, we had plans to go all the way to Deming, but fatigue & darkness took over, so spent the night in T or C.

Stats:
325 miles, maybe 100 or so of it on dirt, in about 11 hours of riding.
Elevation from 9600’ in the Cibola NF to 4500’ at T or C.
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Day 8 - Truth or Consequences to Deming

Day 8
Truth or Consequences to Deming, 96 miles, elevation range 4,267’ to 5,520’.
The track is attached.

That’s just about the end of the story. We got up the next morning and rode pavement for a couple of hours back to Deming. Couple of final pics.

Me chasing Ray.
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Ray chasing his shadow.
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All total we did 1,777 miles in eight days.

Ok, that’s it. Adios until next time.
 

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R

Red Brown

Thanks for sharing not only the riding stories but also the GPS routes!

I plan to do this trek perhaps next summer....except NOT on a V-Strom 650.

Let me know...the range your bike before requiring refueling and how much extra gasoline you carried on the back. My 250 thumper does not have a Clark large-capacity tank yet. I might get 130 miles before going dry. I don't mind packing extra fuel in metal bottles.

RB
 
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our bikes both made about 125-130 miles before going on reserve. Chris went completely dry, after leaning the bike over, at about 160 -165 miles, if I recall correctly. I think my bike goes dry around 180-185 miles. We carried 3 quarts of extra gas between the two of us, and used it all in Chris' bike going from Datil to Grants via the west route through El Malpais, including the time we were lost (181 miles).

Get gas in Mimbres, Old Horse Springs, Grants, Cuba, Abiquiu, El Rito (closed on Sunday), and Chama. If you don't go to Chama, then you've got to find gas before you get to Del Norte (good luck with that), probably in Antonito or maybe Platoro (don't know).
 

thumper

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Nice report!:clap: Thanks for posting the tracks. I'm sure they'll come in handy. :rider:
 
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Thought some of y'all would use the tracks; attaching then was a last minute thing. Most RR do not have them, so I thought it would be a nice change. I left them unfiltered; you need to filter them to your unit.
 
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Just found and read this. I've ridden some of the route in Colorado, none of it in New Mexico (yet) but when I read this:

"Hwy 64 crosses the Rio Grand River where there is a good-sized rocky canyon. It’s somewhat of a tourist trap. We stopped for a second, but didn’t take any pics"

I thought of the paved and dirt road down into the canyon south of Tres Piedras (NM 567/NM 570) that joins US 285 with NM 68 just south of Ranchos Taos. I've been over it a number of times on street bikes but it is a nice alternative route.
 
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Thanks, that was one area we were lacking dirt. I see what you are talking about in MapSource. Looking at TOPO 570 is in the canyon along the river.
We were trying to go to the north 64 to avoid Taos.
 

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Nice report, makes me want to get out there and DO IT! Very much appreciate the tracks.
 
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Great ride report... I just stumbled onto this... Wish I had seen it earlier.
 
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Great ride report... I just stumbled onto this... Wish I had seen it earlier.

You and me both. Great ride report, guys. I did some of that last summer in my Jeep. But, we were in "point A-B" mode so we missed some of the things you had time to check out. I want to go back on the bike, bad.:clap:
 
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Man,, we moved to Albuquerque three weeks ago. Just about 30min from Moriarty,,, from what I can tell from the hiking trips thus far up on Sandia this summers riding/road trips show TONS of potentail!! Great trip guys :rider:
 
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