Thursday, October 14, 2010

Riding to Pecos

Here is an example of why I wanted to start sharing this blog with everyone. I got a call one Sunday morning in late September. My friend Bjorn wanted to go for a ride, but wanted to do something different. We were getting a little bored with the Jemez and Madrid runs, so I suggested the Pecos. Bjorn’s response was “Pecos? Never heard of it”. The Pecos is a neat area tucked away East of Santa Fe. I had camped there numerous times while in the Boy Scouts in my youth. The Pecos has a beautiful stream running through, great camp grounds, and a small lake not many know about. The lake is fed by a stream that also flows through numerous caves.  The Pecos is a beautiful area and has attracted several former Hollywood stars to live there like Val Kilmer.

The Pecos ride is a relatively quick if taken through I-25. Round trip this Sunday took about 3.5 hrs. You can extend this ride if you choose by first riding East I-40 to Moriarty, then riding north on 41 through Galisteo, connecting on 285 at Lamy and then catching I-25 onto 50 and finally into Pecos.  Because we started later in the day we decided to do the quick route. We departed from Bernalillo and rode North on I-25 until we reached Glorieta.  If you’re in to American history make a quick stop in Glorieta and check out the western most battlefield of the Civil War. At Glorieta we departed I-25 and jumped on 50 and on into Pecos. At the main intersection at Pecos we made a left turn onto 63. 63 follows the mountain valley north next to the Pecos river and into Tererro. The road is windy, but nothing to extreme. As you ride North there are several camp/picnic sites to stop at and cool off in the beautiful Pecos river.

As we continued North on 63 the road became very narrow; barely wide enough for a car. As we passed Tererro the narrow road becomes even windier, as we approached a hairpin turn an SUV came barreling through the corner with a trailer full of ATV’s and nearly hit me. We pulled off and decided the road was just too narrow to continue with trucks and trailers traveling the same path. We turned around and as we passed a very small general store in Tererro I noticed an old gas pump from the early forties. I stopped to take a picture, this pump was in immaculate condition, and I’m sure the American Picker guys would have been all over this piece.

To sum up the Pecos ride, the area is absolutely beautiful. The Pecos river is extremely nice and the many pull offs would make a great place for an afternoon picnic on the bikes. My two biggest complaints are 63 and the jerks in their pick-ups. 63 is in need of some serious TLC. The road has countless patches that are uneven. Lots of gravel and crazy truck drivers who aren’t interested in sharing the road.  This trek is great for Cruisers and dual purpose bikes. Sports bikes would not enjoy the poor road conditions and extremely narrow paved paths past Tererro. Dual purpose bikes could ride even further North on 63 if they chose as the paved path is quite bumpy with lots of rock debris.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bike Test: Triumph Thruxton

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Triumph Demo Event at PJ’s.  At the top of my list of bikes to ride was the Thruxton. Every time I walk into PJ’s I stop at the Thruxton and drool. The Thruxton is a Sports Classic; the design is just about the same as it was in the 50’s and 60’s. This bike just screams cool.  The bike really reflects the CafĂ© Racer era with smooth lines, forward riding position and bar end mirrors. This is the bike all the cool cats would have ridden back in U.S. and Britain in the early sixties.  I have wanted to ride this bike for a long time but PJ’s never had a demo available. So, when I heard that Triumph was swinging by for a demo event I made sure I was the first to ride this bike.

The Thruxton as mentioned earlier is a sports classic powered by the venerable 865cc dual over head cam parallel twin. This is the same motor that powers the Bonneville. Now, don’t let that turn you off, the Thruxton’s 865cc engine boats higher compression and a 360 degree firing interval as compared to the 270 degree lower compression Bonneville. These two tweaks make a huge difference on power offered. Now this bike will not contend of the shelf with the Ducati GT 1000, but the Thruxton’s superior looks will make up the difference.  The demo bike was equipped with Triumphs off road “megaphone exhaust” and sounded magnificent.  As the structured ride departed PJ’s I accelerated slowly so the pack could advance ahead of me giving me the opportunity to wring it out. I was not disappointed, the growling exhaust and brisk acceleration put a smile on my face as we rode to the turnaround point at Coffee at Dawn. Although a structured ride, I was able to get a little testing in. The Nissin brakes were extremely effective, without being over whelming. The bike handled great, but I was not able to ride some more challenging curves (structured ride was geared towards beginners), the ride suspension was smooth and stable.

My final review of the Thruxton is an 8/10. The bike boasts sexy looks, great sound, predictable and smooth handling and better than average braking.  It could use some more power, but that is easily fixed by removing the restrictive European emissions system (that’s right, be damned global warming!), and installing an aftermarket cam which will have you dusting those pesky GT 1000’s in no time. 

The Million Dollar Highway

So here it is, I finally was able to sit down and write my first post to Life Needs More Green Lights. This idea came out of boredom at work, and my friend Elva’s blog Elva Eats. The whole point to my blog is riding motorcycles. I had a friend say something that I will never forget while describing me. “Chuck likes the wind in his face” and it’s true. I am a true motor cycle enthusiast; there is nothing like clearing your mind on an open highway, no better way to understand life and simplify it. Throughout my years riding I have seen many great areas of New Mexico and Colorado. But the more people I ride with, the more routes I discover. Everyone has their own expertise on a region of New Mexico, Colorado, or any other state for that fact. Some where they grew up or visited; the knowledge of roads long forgotten or lost on a map. I decided to create this blog to help share these rides with all of you. I have spent the last few months of summer riding to build some content for this blog before winter arrives. During the off season I will try to stop by PJ’s Triumph Ducati to test ride as many bikes as possible and post my reviews for you until I can hit the road again in Spring.

My first ride review is by far one of the most amazing roads I have ever ridden.  The views were fantastic, the ride challenging, and the memories unforgettable. First things first, props to Krystal and Matt for telling me about Ouray, CO! Back in spring I was eating dinner with a few Ducati riders. Matt and Krystal were there and talking about their upcoming trip to Ouray. I had never heard of Ouray, and Krystal was kind enough to show me pictures. The pictures did not do Ouray justice as I was to learn. Ouray is North of Durango CO. on highway 550, or the “Million Dollar Highway” as it’s labeled on Google Maps. In early September Durango hosts the Four Corners Bike Rally; I decided that was my chance I to ride to Ouray. I talked to my brother and a few friends about riding up for the rally, but had only one friend accept the invitation.

Mountain Backdrop
Ben and I left September 3rd for a long Labor Day celebration in Colorado. The ride to Durango sucks! And was by far the worst part of the trip. 550 past Cuba, NM is 100 miles of nothing, a straight line through the desert. Once we got past Bloomfield the road began to twist as we entered Durango. After checking in at the hotel that afternoon, we decided to hit up downtown for some beers. After many beers we made it back to the hotel where we were greeted in the parking lot by Bikers from all over the country, and different backgrounds telling stories with two wheels. That next morning me staggered out of our hotel rooms, ate breakfast, drank some coffee and prepared for the ride of a life time (although we didn’t know it at the time).

Silverton, CO.
We departed for our journey a little past 11am. As you start the ride north from Durango you are greeted by winding river valley that is the main route for the Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. About 15 miles outside of Durango, we began a steady assent into the skies of Colorado winding our way into some of the highest passes in the lower 48. The farther we progressed on our trip one thing was becoming abundantly apparent. The road was slowly becoming narrower, with steeper drop-offs and no guard rails. At that point we became highly focused on what was going on around us, maintaining our riding positions, studying the road in front of us and avoiding oncoming traffic through hair pin turns. One small mistake and you would drive off a cliff into a valley, and no one would know that it happened.  As we wound around a mountain top we were greeted to our first amazing view. A thousand feet below us in a valley lay Silverton.

Leaving Silverton, 550 in the distance carved into the mountain.
Ouray, CO
After stopping in Silverton for few minutes to check Google maps we resumed on out trek to Ouray. As we climbed out of the valley the roads only got better. The hairpin turns became more severe with radical elevation changes and amazing views. We stopped at every other stream to converse about the ride, and cool our faces in the cold water. We pressed on and soon arrived in Ouray, we decided to ride through and see what the road provided into Ridgeway; unfortunately it was low and straight. We turned around at Ridgeway to stop in Ouray for a late lunch and gas. We studied Google maps some more at lunch and debated whether to continue on 550 through Ridgeway and then jump on  62 into Telluride, south into Dolores and eventually back to Durango, or to ride back though 550 on the amazing road we had just traversed. Because of out late light night prior, and our late start that morning we decided to head back through 550 and save the big ride for next year when we could leave earlier in the morning. We were not upset by this decision at all, as we both wanted to ride the Million Dollar Highway again. The ride back was just as amazing, the views were different but equally enjoyable. As we approached Silverton we were reminded of the danger of the road as we passed a car that had lost control and rolled into a ravine. The medics were just arriving to treat the victims as we rolled through.

After arriving back the hotel around 530pm we cracked some beers and talked about how memorable the ride was. Ben said it was the most technical road has ever ridden, I would have to agree. It was at that time we decided that we were going to attend the Four Corners Rally every year from then on. All in all I would give the ride 10 out of 10. Highway 550 is very well maintained, with no pot holes, gravel or old asphalt. The views were top notch, the ride challenging and equally rewarding and the weather was perfect. I    cannot wait for Labor Day weekend 2011!

One of the many streams we stopped at.
Feel free to suggest rides for review. I routinely study maps, but some things allude me. One thing I have learned is that we all know a little hole in the wall place to visit that involves a great ride.