I really wanted to get away from it all for the weekend, and thought a trip to Taos, NM would be just the thing, so I convinced a married couple I know to come along... I didn't have to try very hard, they really wanted to go.
Bryan & KJ are new to motorcycling, they just bought bikes a few weeks ago and took the MSF basic rider's course. Since they are newbs, I didn't plan any serious canyon-carving for us, mostly just highway and maybe some nice sedate mountain riding. Bryan has an 09 Suzuki Gladius, and KJ has a Boulevard S40.
At the last minute, Jen a girl I know somewhat, decided she would like to go too. This is the nervous-making part....Jen has never even sat on a bike before, and last summer wouldn't go riding with me saying she was terrified of riding. When I mentioned what I was doing for the weekend, she insisted that she really wanted to come (REALLYREALLYREALLY) so I pulled no punches, telling her about long hours on the bikes, that we would likely get rained on (which we did) and that even with rest breaks she would be tired & sore. she still wanted to go. I let her come, despite delaying departure to wait for her for about an hour.
Now, at first i thought that this combination of factors might prove less than good. a 600+ mile round trip with a bunch of inexperienced riders...Lots
of room for problems.
Well, everyone showed up ready to ride. everyone was dressed appropriately for an april road trip, in multiple layers, extra warm clothes, etc. Bryan and KJ don't have riding pants yet, and were in jeans and had stout boots, helmets, good riding jackets & gloves. No rain gear, but they are both veteran soldiers I've served overseas with and when they said they could persevere I took em at their word. Jen said she had a good leather jacket, but it turned out to be a fashion-weight jobby that just wouldn't do. I lent her my leather flight jacket, a waterproof liner, and some goretex pants for if (when) it rained...along with my spare gloves, she was good to go.
We set out. I'd explained te rules to Jen, about where to put her feet, how to lean with me and not to lean away from me...not to make sudden, jerky movements when I was in the middle of a maneuver, how to communicate with me, etc.
Not to point a finger of blame at poor Jen, but she never did get the hang of it during the whole trip. I do think she had some fun, but her fidgety, squirmy, off-kilter jiggles, nervous lunges, and movements in general made for some very nervous moments for me, since she couldn't abide any but the very very gentlest of braking, leaning, accelerating, gear-changing, or any other maneuver. it taught me patience, it taught me the art of piloting the bike in a very smooth & graceful fashion, and it taught me to use great forethought in every circumstance. it also generated endless complaints from her, and when I tried to make some gentle suggestions on different things that might improve her perception, she was insulted as if she already knew as much as she needed to. I can't blame her for it, it's my own fault for bringing an inexperienced and untried pillion along. so be it.
Well, the first leg of our trip was superslab from Denver to Walsenberg, CO, where we left the interstate and went to surface highway. we hadn't made time like I'd wanted because of frequent stops.
We left Walsenberg, headed to Ft Gardner CO over La Veta Pass, which in daylight is very beautiful. We did it at dusk, and there was rain...and there was thick fog...and it was cold. that was an interesting 30 miles.
We warmed up a bit at Ft Gardner, and then headed out across the San Luis Valley, and into New Mexico. By now it was full-dark. eventually we made it to Taos.
In Taos, I had to look at some written directions. My family has a vacation house out in the country down there, and it's been a couple years since I've been there. Well, the last little stretch of road is dirt/gravel, and it's pitch-dark. Landmarks are not evident like they should be. we turned onto the wrong road, and spent some time fumbling around with me trying to find
my way. Eventually I figured out the problem, and got us where we needed to be, but not before dumping my bike while doing a U-turn.
It was a real slo-mo kind of thing, the dirt/gravel road had some big ruts under a thin layer of gravel and when the bike hit one, over it went. slowly. I tried heroically, but it still went over...but no dents, one small scratch on the paint of my bar-end mirror. Whew!
We had a nice time at the Taos house, took a side-trip to Santa Fe, saw some sights, it was good! We headed back yesterday (sunday) and made decent time.
We detoured through the San Isabel national forest, and stopped to see Bishop Castle
Mr Bishop, the castle builder was there, and made us very uncomfortable due to his being a raving lunatic (literally), a conspiracy theorist of major proportions, and a really crazy old dude. we didn't stay long.
Then, DISASTER! On the way down to Pueblo CO, while negotiating a slow, tight, hairpin curve, Bryan wiped out on some gravel and slid his bike into the guardrail... Bryan was completely uninjured. his gear performed well. His Scorpion jacket has an abrasion on the left shoulder but that's all. His bike has bent handlebars, and some scratches on the tank, and that's about it. Very lucky..... Jen got pretty freaked out by all this, and says she won't go riding again, but I dont think I'll be inviting her along again in any case. Feh!
After a good look-over, we decided his bike was ok to ride. we went the rest of the way into town paying close attention to how it handled...no problems. so we all continued our journey back up to Denver and arrived late last night.
All in all, I'm glad that adventure is done & over with. now I'm gonna go bive the bike a good wash and go for a ride!