Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Originally uploaded by rod lewis
When I left Farmington on Sunday morning, I was already ahead of schedule, because I’d forgone about 100 miles in Utah, and had driven straight down from Durango with only the detour of the Four Corners loop of hwys160 and 64. Finding no place to stay in Shiprock, I’d come another 30 miles of what would have been my Sunday ride.
I took a little extra time Sunday morning before climbing on the bike, and decided to have Rod church. For Rod church, I read some Psalms and scribbled some thoughts. The last Psalm I read was number 126. “He has done great things…”
There are very few roads to take one from Farmington, southeast to Santa Fe, so the ride consisted of four lane divided highway 550 until it meets with I-25 just north of Albuquerque. I hated the concept of driving all the way south of Santa Fe, just to ride back north again, so I looked for a little road to cut through the mountains. There were only two roads, both departed from Cuba, NM. The more direct route is 126, and I thought it apt to take the road named after the Psalm I’d read this morning. What’s more, Psalm 126 is a Psalm of Ascent, so it seemed quite appropriate to use that road to cross the mountains and make my own ascent into the town that has come to have deeply spiritual meaning for me.
I stopped, gassed up, and took a biological break in Cuba, and then headed out of the tiny village on 126. About a mile out of town, I passed a sign that read, “caution, mountainous, unimproved road 8 miles ahead, may be impassable in winter conditions. “ The scenery was spectacular, the road, winding and 3 dimensional. After 8 miles of sheer motorcyclist bliss, I came upon the sign that read the same as the first but without the 8 miles ahead part. The sign was perched beside the road upon a gate that could be closed across the road if it had become impassable. The winding, climbing, falling bliss continued for nearly 12 more miles until the road turned to washboard surface dirt. Figuring that this was temporary, I continued slowly for a few more miles until the road turned muddy and rutty and slippery, and I nearly fell off my bike a few times. I pulled over to the side of the road path to contemplate my options. At this tempo, I’d miss the first couple days of the workshop in Santa Fe. As I sat there on the bike, I began to hear cows mooing, and glanced up the road to see a herd of cattle being driven down the road by 4 guys on horses.
As the herd came closer, I realized how understated road condition is in New Mexico, and decided to follow C.S. Lewis’ advice and do an about face and go back to where I’d veered from the right path. By now I’d spent nearly two hours wandering in the wilderness, and was due for another biological break, so I stopped in Cuba again, at a different gas station to avoid having to explain to the attendant why I was back so soon.
Unable to contain the joy of having ventured to the road less traveled and been turned back by a herd of cattle, I called my dad to tell him the story, and climbed back in the saddle and made my way to Santa Fe by the more common means of four lane highway.
It should also be know, I suppose, that this is not the first time I was turned back on this trip. I was also rejected by a road in Colorado that didn’t lead me on nearly as long as this one did. In fact, it told me right away that I wasn’t welcome, but in my stubbornness, I pressed on until the road had to be more forthright. I descended the steep hill and switchbacks on washboards with my tail tucked between my legs.
I’m taking donations for a R1200GS. Allison won’t let me sell the kids.