Of The Rockies Trail
Sam Correro, creator of the Trans America Trail that extends
from Kentucky to the Oregon coast has
been at it again creating a route from the Mexican border North To Canada. He's not finished with it yet,
but has at least gotten the New Mexico portion finished.
Looking at topo maps we will almost always be above 5,000 ft. and the highest point is about 9,000 ft.
Riding from near El Paso, Texas to the border of Colorado we will intersect the
Trans America Trail.
I had invited just a few friends...two couldn't go and
one never responded to my invitation and
a local friend quit his job (sorta) to go with me------I knew it would be very unlikely all could go, and
really like traveling with just one riding partner. All kinds of problems can double and triple with more
riders--not that I can't have my own for sure---after all I had 3 flat tires.
So we are both in between employment opportunities
Me and my hometown buddy Randy Stewart left Southern Illinois
on April 18th, 2008 and rode our KLR's
thru Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and then to the New Mexico border where the Shadow
of the Rockies trail ends if doing it South to North.......however we navigated it North to South and started at
the exact spot where the trans am trail (East to West) crosses the New Mexico---Colorado border. At this spot
the trans am trail and shadow of the rockies trail intersect and are one in the same...but split shortly after going
South a few miles.
We rode a total of 3,500 miles----the New Mexico portion
of the trail was only about 700 miles, but we made an
additional adventure out of it going and coming. It was a very memorable ride and the weather was absolutely
perfect except one day of rain on the way out as we spent a couple of days in Missouri riding the "Swinging
So this is where the ride began for us........
Down the rocky swithbacks ofLong Canyon Road.
On the Colorado--New Mexico border
This is the beautiful view looking down from the top of
the canyon......me and Randy were estatic as we
rode down the steep switchbacks to the bottom. We didn't get to this point till almost 5PM as we rode
a magnificent route to here.........as we rode thru Black Mesa National Park in Oklahoma. It was early in
the day when we rode thru there and we wanted to camp--this is a really nice extremely remote place
where very few get to---I wasn't sure if a road went out North of the park......but it did...and soon turned
to dirt as we rode into New Mexico........North into Colorado.....and then back to
New Mexico to the start of
The Shadow Of The Rockies Trail
Later on I'll have a picture of Randy's air cleaner----thing
43 mph after about 600 miles of this !!!!
As with a lot of the roads in New Mexico---they can be
impassable when wet.
When I rode the Divide ride thru New Mexico-----same thing.
Lucky it was dry for us.
Me and Randy had ridden all day--hard..........but only covered 87 miles of the trail that day
as we never got to the start untill about 5PM. We were low on gas and were forced to make
a run into Clayton, New Mexico where gas, food and lodging can be had. We had camped in
Missouri on the way here but got a motel in Clayton.
After a really good breakfast in Clayton at the "Rabbit
Ear" cafe we headed East on the highway
so we cold get back on the route. The Rabbit Ear cafe was interesting. It was a very old place
that had gone through very few owners since new. It was named after two mountains in view
that looked like rabbit ears.
We rode some fast dirt, rock and sand roads thru a lot
Navigation was a no-brainer as I had the route programmed in my gps and
had filled my trash can at home with Sam's maps and rollcharts.
In 1821, the Santa Fe Trail became Americas first
great international commercial highway, and for
nearly sixty years thereafter was one of the nations great routes of adventure and western expansion.
The Santa Fe Trail stirs imaginations as few other historic trails can. For 60 years, the Trail was one thread in a web of international trade routes.
It influenced economies as far away as New York and London. Spanning 900 miles of the Great Plains between the
United States (Missouri) and Mexico (Santa Fe), it brought together a cultural mosaic of individuals who cooperated
and sometimes clashed. In the process, the rich and varied cultures of Great Plains Indian peoples caught in the middle
were changed forever. Soldiers used the trail during the 1846-1848 Mexican-American War, 1840s border disputes
between the Republic of Texas and Mexico, and America's Civil War. The troops also policed conflicts between
traders and Indian tribes. With the traders and military freighters tramped a curious company of gold seekers, emigrants,
adventurers, mountain men, hunters, American Indians, guides, packers, translators, invalids, reporters, and Mexican children
bound for schools in Los Estados Unidos.
We opened and closed many wire gates thru these ranch lands.
We always left the gates as we found them. It seemed we would see one vehicle out here
about every 50 miles.........the ranches were very far and between.
I loved these wide opened spaces----Randy loved the more forested areas
which we go thru later on while traveling thru an Indian reservation.
My KLR purred like a kitten---it is such a relaxing bike to ride and invites you to
explore the road less traveled. When dry this is not a hard route--the KLR was at
home. We were packed much heavier than most of my previous trips as we had camping
gear and cooking gear------I couldn't wait to camp and cook on this ride. I told Randy
from the get go this is what I was going to do......this was fine with him as he was just
as hardy a camper as I was. We would never be in a hurry--never ride hard to make time or a
destination. There was no reason to---I was bent on soaking it all in.
We pondered life in the adobe house above. Wasn't much
left of it.
As we pondered the old house---this bull was pondering Randy's bright red Aerostich......and moved in.
I was using my camcorder as the bull just kept coming towards us. We finally had to throw what we had in our
hands in the tankbag and scurried off. Randy's cocky on video remark of how he was going to have him for dinner
was suddenly taken back as we roared off---------well I wouldn't call it a roar---we didn't have enough horsepower to roar !!!!
When I last posted this guy was giving us the eye.......
And he had some huge cahona's.
And I think he was prepared to use them
So we wheezed on down the trail
I made only 2 small boo boos transferring Sam Corerro's
maps to a gps file.
The offroute riding thru here was fantastic----and the other boo boo I made was by far
the best riding of the trip--that's later on.
Maybe I should make my own route........HHHhhhhmmmmmm. ??????
Let me remind you----Randy's nose and bike were eating
a lot of dust.
This will come in to play later on.
I have always done well in sand---there is no sand in Southern Illinois....but I remember when I was young I could ride a bike wide open going really fast in deep mud standing on the pegs. I think this skill transfered well when I started riding in sand---the trips to Arizona, mainland Mexico and Baja lately have given me a refresher course. However riding in the sand for Randy was a little scary for him and very challenging. Randy has had several get offs as of lately---one happened right behind me in some wet slick clay and I think these are still weighing on his mind.
A near miss or a scary crash can sure slow a guy down......well for awhile
On we ride towards Logan, New Mexico
There is some pavement on the shadow of the Rockies trail----about 10% I'd guess.
Somewhere about here Randy tells me a big nasty storm is
brewing--says he can smell it ????
I don't see or smell nothin' ????
"Well.........El (long pause) Perro Grande can you
see it now" ???????
There is no protection out here and we button up the hatches figuring on riding thru it and hope
the road isn't some more of that red impassable when wet dirt...........er........mud.
We were just about to take off in the 45 mph wind when I suggested we sit still a bit.
Good thing.........the storm passed in front of us and we rode thru a lot of standing water
and there was a lot of hail on the ground.
We loved sitting on top of the Mesa watching the storm---as we could see for miles. At home I love to sit on the porch and watch storms
come across the farmers field in front of my house. We took bets as to whether the storm was going to miss us or not.
Thats the hail-----pretty small--but we never had to ride
we were lucky and only had the tail end of storm showers get us wet.
Here cross over Ute Creek as we get near the small town
of Logan, New Mexico.
This is actually the very North end of the Ute Reservoir.
We ride into Logan New Mexico relieved we missed the strong storm.....barely.
We pulled into town where it was pointed out to me my front tire was flat as a flitter.
That was my 2nd flat of the trip----the first was in Kansas.......a rear flat.
A very nice fellow at the motel there came out to help----he had to go answer the phone and came back shortly and asked what
tools we would need......a compresssor, wrenches ????
He was astounded that I had the flat already fixed when he came back and we were riding off for a steak.
The next morning was cool, clear and crisp as was every
Randy had found this neat canyon and bridge just south of town while I was finishing up my tire repair
the previous evening,
so the next morning he took me there----quite a railroad bridge
Lightweight Motorcycle Travel
Riding a bike long distances in a manner familiar to our
Meaning relatively simple equipment and just enough horsepower to get the job done.
It means crossing state lines (maybe many) on far less than a liter's worth of propulsion.
It means riding for the sake of riding---almost anything--without worrying about 'keeping up
appearances' or having the latest and greatest.
It means going places they haven't. It means having a certain amount of grit, ingenuity, and self-reliance.
It means doing things that some folks sneer at. It means going places they haven't.
It means refining a personal system of travel based on hard experience. It means having a twinkle in
your eye. It means being the Gasoline Stranger. It means being unexpectedly asked to tell tales at family functions,
whether they approve of your pastimes or not. This is jarring the first time it happens, I assure you.
All the 'in front of the bar' posing in the world on a
chrome-encrusted-what-have-you is a sad
substitute for surveying a vista you've never seen. Or even fixing a decrepit bike in a rainy ditch
with a strange ocean crashing it's surf nearby. Or having to wait overnight for the only gas station to open
because it closed at five 5PM.
Lightweight unsupported motorcycle travel means riding
a forty to fifty horsepower, three to four hundred
pound motorcycle, on a multi-day road trip, without a supply vehicle following behind.
These machines typically ride best at under 75 mph, a speed slightly below access divided highways.
Motorcycles like this encourage a routing bias toward two-lane
secondary roads. In addition
to matching their speed capability better, secondary roads provide a more interesting mile by mile
I wish I could say the above words were mine---but they aren't.
Copied out of aerostich's book "Lightweight Unsupported Motorcycle
Travel.....For Terminal Cases"
This place was in the middle of nowhere---I bet there hadn't been a flushing toilet here for 50 years.
This day of riding was extra special, as the previous days gulley washer of a rain kept the roads free of dust and gave our knobbies some great predictable traction.
This picture sure has a story.
Lucky I saw the beer can hanging on the electric fence.
We opened this electric fence--rode thru--rode 2 miles--then had to open another one.
No problem--------there was nobody around anywhere.
I bet the wire wasn't up when Sam laid out this road.
We almost went around--but didn't see a problem if we road thru, as it
seemed to be a marked county road.
Randy unhooks the electric fence so we can ride thru.
A couple miles later we had to do the same again.
God---I love stuff like this.
We were very high on a mesa and these windmills came into view.
The line of them disappeared in the distance.I always wanted to see them up close.
We hadn't seen a soul in a hundred miles-----so I trespassed
over a cattle guard to get a closer look.
I rode about a mile on a dirt road to them and one blade appeared to be about 20ft. long.
These things are amazing--they sure look expensive to me......but then you get free electricity !! Well......sort of
Yeh-----I feel the same way too Randy !!!!
We dropped off the Mesa and the view was awesome !!!
I know we had to open a hundred gates on this ride.
This didn't bother us at all---kinda neat actually.
The 5 Pound Booger.
Randy follows me a whole lot closer than I follow anybody.
I won't eat dust-----if I have to follow a mile back--that's OK with me.
He ate 5lbs. of sand, dirt and dust----and he finally blew out
"The 5lb. Booger"
It was awesome--Larry The Cable Guy would have been proud !!!
The sun was starting to lay low---and O'Dark Thirty was
around the corner.
Not wanting to skip any of Sam's route---we ran on the toughest part of the ride of the whole trip.
Not tough here---but we ran thru some absolute baby head rock gardens where We really had to pick
good lines and keep the momentum up on the KLR to keep from falling over.
I so wished I had stopped and took pictures of the tough
stuff-----It would have been tough even on my
KTM 520EXC---we both came out unscathed and exhilerated to have ridden thru here.
I did catch the bad stuff on my helmet camera---as I could run it and keep my hands on the handlebars.
If you ride this ride from the South---coming out the town of Capitan, New Mexico the ride will be easy
for miles-------then your are fooled into a tough section that was very uncharachteristic of what we
had ridden so far. It was about 17 miles of really tough but good riding.
The only thing that was really bothering me was the fact that it was getting dark.
I couldn't and wouldn't ride a shaft drive big trailie thru here.
The KLR just soaked it up with ease tho.
We finally blew into the small town of Capitan, New Mexico in the dark.
The last few miles of trail were awesome---and the sun set was to die for.
We went over Capitan Mountain at an elevation of about 7,500 ft.
We have been just blown away with all the varying terrain
of this ride.
It has something for everybody.
We both agreed profoundly on one thing.
We'd rather stay home than ride this route in July
I wouldn't even ride it in June or August---July being the worst.
The temps went from near freezing to 80 degrees for us.
We could tell in the desert areas--even tho you were at quite a bit of elevation
it would be unbearably hot in the summer.
Well we had been riding for almost a week-----time to do laundry.
I was naked on the wash cycle--didn't suppose you'd want to see that !!!
This was the view from our Motel in Capitan, New Mexico
We blew out of Capitan, New Mexico after O'Turd Thirty and headed towards the border.
These horses ran right in front of me.
I had my helmet camera on and caught it all----I also caught some more horses, some antelope and
a cow (that just about took me out) on video running
right in front of me. I mistakenly deleted one segment of video that was by far
going to be the best shot-----me and Randy were excited to watch it in the motel and I deleted it.
It was about 3 minutes of me herding about 8 antelope down a dirt road between 2 ranch fences.
I was no more than 25 ft. behind them and the feeling was awesome.
We knew we would be riding across an Indian reservation
When we got to it we ran into this sign put up by the Indians.
This was Mescalero Apache Indian territory and it is their land....and their rules.
The problem was the draught-----the whole forest we were told was getting shut down May 1st, 2008.
I don't know exactly how big an area they were talking about--but I know we were near the Lincoln
National Forest----and it was all going to be closed off----no entry---only the people that lived there
would be allowed in.
Passing by this sign could have gotten you arrested by the Indians and your vehicle confiscated.
We hung around awhile plotting an alternate route.
We were about to turn away when this diesal pulled up and
there were 4 full blooded Indians inside.
I think they were on fire patrol and we talked them into letting us pass thru the reservation.
I took this picture of them in case we got stopped inside the reservation.
At least I'd have a picture to show of the guys that gave us permission.
The riding thru the pine forest was spectacular and rough---Randy love it thru her
The riding thru here was about 9,500 ft. .......I think
this is around Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
It was very cool---just right for this kind of riding--probably about 45°.
We dropped down out of the mountains on some spectacular
switchbacks and road across
open desert again.The elevation still maintained above 4,000 ft.
We rode right thru a military reservation with live fire going on.......on both sides of us. We weren't skeert'.
The Shadow Of The Rockies Trail was nearing the end---however
the ride wasn't.
We were so relaxed--no cell service, no jobs, no money, no rent, no flat tires,
no bike payments, no kids, no roof to patch, no yard to mow,no alarm clocks.
It was just more than we could take !!!
Time for a Siesta !!!!!!
We made it---El Paso, Texas and the Mexico border were
The Shadow Of The Rockies Trail is done !!!!
As we turned kind of towards home--well--sort of Randy's
bike couldn't run over 35 mile an hour going up hill on pavement.
We both were getting rotten gas mileage. Man was that thing plugged
Me and Randy had literally all the time in the world to
get home--we didn't care if it tooks us a week or month.
But after one day of riding I got a call from my wife who was having what she thought was a medical emergency.
We road hard on pavement all the way home.
The emergency turned out to be nothing--but I wanted to be there if my wife needed me.
So here I am back at home--man I love this bike--I never touched it except for the 3 flat tires--or was it 4 ????