Monday, May 2, 2011

A bad day for motorcycling

Show Low, Arizona

We left Truth or Consequences early yesterday morning after spending three fun days with Dave and Annie. Alas, all good things must come to an end so we somewhat reluctantly packed up, dressed for the chilly morning air and took off heading north to Gallup, NM, by way of U.S. Rte 60 from Socorro, through Magdalena, to Quemado and NM Rte 36 to Gallup. Our goal was to get within attack distance of those parks we had missed by going south to Tucson in last week's big cold snap. But almost as soon as we got up to highway speed Donna signaled me to pull over -- she was wanting another layer to help fight off the morning chill.

We wanted to stay off I-25 and ride Arizona Rte 181 to Socorro but after only a few miles 181 dead-ended and we were forced onto the super slab once again. The 70 mile ride on I-25 to the junction of US 60 was totally miserable. Strong cross winds, cold and gusty, assaulted us the whole way. The sun was out but didn't provide much in the way of heat. As we raced along at 75 mph virtually alone on the big highway I was watching the miles click off ever so slowly, slowly on my GPS when my thoughts turned to motorcycling in Thailand. In Thailand the weather is never a factor. You don't have to carry cold weather gear or even rain gear for much of the "winter" over there. Pretty easy. Today I'm carrying enough clothing for at least three separate climates: rainy Oregon, sun-baked Tucson, and these frigid Rocky Mountains. And it's May 1st! Why the hell isn't spring already here?

Finally we got free of I-25 and began our trek west on US 60, a nice, scenic highway even though a bit too straight for fun biking. We stopped in Magdalena for coffee and to add extra warm clothes to the mix. We ate breakfast at the Bear Mountain Coffee Shop in Magdalena -- wonderful homey atmosphere and honest-to-god homemade pies and biscuits.  Before mounting up I put on my heavy gauntlet gloves, wind pants and an extra polypro shirt while Donna put on her heated gloves and jacket.

We filled up at the local Conoco station and began a discussion of just where we were heading because rather than warming up, the day was still decidedly cool, er, cold. Magdalena, and the rest of our intended route for that matter, is at about 6000 feet above sea level; the temperature was only about 50 degrees at  11 o'clock. Then too, we noticed what looked like storm clouds building in the north. Were we really going to turn north to Gallup when we were both feeling chilly already? Nope. We decided to bail. Donna was familiar with Show Low from many previous trips through here so we decided to head that-a-way and wait for the cold to moderate; we continued driving west on 60 until we got to Show Low at about 4 pm. We hit the room and immediately cranked the heater up to 75. But once again we had been forced to ditch our plans. Once again the weather had screwed us royally.

US 60 near Show Low Arizona on a cold May Day afternoon
Today dawned clear and cold. Very cold. It was a bracing 29 degrees at 6 am this morning. To make matters worse, my grip heaters are not working. Quick checks of fuses and connections turned up nothing. Oh well, I'll just have to mark it up as an interesting experience, this springtime motorcycling in the Rocky Mountains. Yep, sure.

The forecasts for later today and tomorrow are promising much warmer weather. St. George, Torrey, and Bluff, all in southern Utah, should have temps in the high 70s or low 80s by tomorrow. All we have to do is get through this chilly morning before suiting up and heading north. I'm starting to believe that old adage: the third time's the charm. It took three tries to get out of Eugene and if we're lucky, this third attempt to get into Utah will be the one that works.