The Albuquerque Motorcycle Riders Group trip description for Saturday was ambitious; ride up through Cuba to Abiquiu, then north to Chama for lunch near the border of Colorado, then down back roads south through Madrid and back to Albuquerque in a day. The leader, Jim, who probably has gear and a bike built for trips to Tierra del Fuego, apparently experienced four drops of rain after leaving the house, so he turned around and bagged the trip. He “doesn’t do rain,” he said later. I hope he does do endless chiding, ridicule, girly nicknames and other humor at his expense, because that’s what he’s going to get from that group. Any credit for the last fifty trips he’s organized and led will vanish.
But about 10 of us did meet up and ride. At Cuba, we turned east on a little road heading up into the Los Padres National Forest. It was a beautiful forest road, but the wrong one, as we found out when, after crossing a cattle guard at around 50 mph, the road suddenly turned to gravel. Whoa, lil doggies! I fishtailed the bike a little when I braked, but managed to save it. We turned around and found the right road east through the little towns of Regina (pronounced to rhyme with a certain female body part) and Coyote on the way to Abiquiu. This is the area of gorgeous red and white cliffs made famous by the artist Georgia O’Keefe.
We had lunch at the Abiquiu Inn, very nice and a little swankier than we’re used to. I felt like maybe we shoulda busted some stuff or started a fight at least to keep our reputations as bad ass bikers, but we resisted the temptation, conversed cordially and enjoyed our $9.50 green chile cheese burgers. Everyone decided that Chama would make it too long of a day, so some headed back down through the Jemez mountains, others headed back through Madrid to Albuquerque. I said goodbye to the rest and headed north on my own.
Red, yellow and white cliffs, spires and boulders, and thunderstorms in the distance adding a special glow to the rocks…Hard to keep my eyes on the road! Took a picture of my bike in front of the Echo Amphitheater that Georgia O'Keefe painted.
Just before the town of Chama, the imposing Brazos Cliffs appear to the east.
In another lifetime, somewhere around the early 1980s, I climbed this cliff – 18 rope pitches – with the adventurous Los Alamos physicists who originally pioneered the first climbing routes up the face. I can’t believe I did that. We also did some excellent fly fishing on the Brazos River back in the olden days.
So I found a motel in Chama, just like the one I pictured in my mind, with a portal porch and a bench in front of the room where I could read my book and a view out the back window of a green field with horses grazing.
They have had a LOT of rain in Chama, so it’s shockingly green. And it was such a heavy winter that the one grocery store, many other buildings and barns were crushed under the snow.
I had an early dinner at the High Country Restaurant and Saloon, which I remembered from that other lifetime when I used to come here after XC ski races on Cumbres Pass to drink beer. “Didn’t this place used to be bigger?” I asked the bartender. “Did they add walls to separate it into the restaurant and bar?” The bartender said no, it’s always been like this. “How old are you?” I asked him. Gulp, he was 24 years old, so I was remembering a time from my young adulthood, before he was born. Huh.