This was a journey of firsts. I had never done a long dual-sport ride and Adan had not done a BDR. We started planning for this trip weeks prior to our departure. We hoped that we had not forgotten anything. We were excited to start our journey. Here is the ride report from this wonderful adventure.
May 5, 2022 – A day of thought and preparation. I was all packed and we loaded the 390 Adventure onto the trailer. I double-checked my packing lists and hoped that I had not forgotten anything. To be honest I was starting to feel a little nervous. I am new to the off-road game and I was afraid I had gotten myself in too deep, by taking on the New Mexico BackCountry Discovery Route. I utilized the tools provided on the Ridebdr site to prepare. This is a great resource and I encourage everyone, to support this great cause. It was too late to back out now. I went to sleep with visions of dirt roads and mountains in my head. I slept well.
May 6, 2022 – South bound and ready to roll! I loaded up the trailer and was on the road to Dallas by 6am. I would take the short 5-hour drive, as it would help with the long drive tomorrow to Carlsbad NM. It is an easy drive from Arkansas and I was at Rob’s house around 1pm. We spent the evening talking about the trip and watching BDR videos. It was a nice way to prepare for the journey ahead of us.
May 7, 2022 – Carlsbad here we come! Damn it is hot! I met up with Adan and we transferred the trailer over to his truck. He had loaded up his BMW 301GS the evening before at Plano Kawasaki. Thanks to Jason for helping him out. The following morning we met up with the crew and had a quick breakfast before rolling over to Plano Kawasaki to pick up one last thing for the trip. We were on the road around 9:30am. It is a boring drive across west Texas, but riding together we had a lot of time to reflect on our upcoming journey. Adan is turning 50 this year and his goal was to ride a BDR before he reached that milestone of life.
We made it to Carlsbad without issue and unloaded the machines. We took in a quick New Mexico dinner and relaxed for the rest of the evening. The temps were hot and the wind was blowing significantly from the east.
May 8, 2022 – First day off the beaten path! We decided the night before, that we would do the first part of the BDR today. We would ride up to Guadalupe Rim, then head over to Mayhill NM for a late lunch, before slabbing back to Carlsbad. This would be a good test run for the bikes. The wind was really blowing when we left and it stayed that way most of the day. The temps were very warm as well. There was no chance of rain. We stopped in Queen before hitting the Guadalupe Rim.
The rim road was washboarded out in a number of places. It was a very rough ride for the most part. The views were very nice and we rode most of the day without seeing another human being. This day of riding made us realize how “out in the middle of no where” we would be for the next 7 days. We stopped and had lunch In Mayhill NM. Adan pushed the little GS on the brink of fuel starvation, but we filled it up to avoid disaster. That is a bit dramatic. haha! We had extra fuel on each bike, so running out of fuel, was not going to happen.
This was a great primer for the rest of the trip. We got back to Carlsbad with the temps in the upper 90’s. We took a quick shower and grabbed a quick dinner. I was taking full advantage of being in New Mexico and was not going to miss a meal where NM food was available. As the saying goes “if you know… then you know”
May 9, 2022 – First section of the BDR. Today we tackled the last part of section #1 of the NMBDR. It was a great mix of forest roads, twisty tarmac and some rocky sections. It was a beautiful day for a ride. We took our time and enjoyed the cooler temps. Being higher in altitude was nice as the rest of New Mexico seemed to be in a heat wave. We finished the first section in Ruidoso NM.
It was late in the afternoon and we thought that we had taken on all of the hard parts for the day. We were mistaken. We hit a rough, rocky up hill section heading into the hotel and spent the next hour working our way to the end of this short section. It was a very challenging hour.
We arrived at the Arrowhead motel in Ruidoso, exhausted and ready to sleep. One thing we were realizing was the fact that this dual-sport riding was tiring. It had been a good day. A long day and a rewarding day. We were excited to see what tomorrow would bring.
May 10, 2022 – Sand Sucks! This day would turn out to be the most challenging day of the trip. It started out beautifully as we awoke to cooler temps and a sunrise that only the NM Southwest can provide. We ran into town for breakfast at Zocca coffee. The breakfast burrito did not disappoint. The morning ride was one of my favorites for the trip. Forest roads, with picturesque scenery, appeared for mile after mile. This is what the person who invented the NMBDR must have had in mind when doing the route. It was amazing!
After this great start to the day we were headed to the section that had me worried the most. This would be the sand stretch that would last 30-40 miles. It was getting hot and I had never ridden in sand. This was going to be fun.
I should have know the moment we hit the sand that I was in trouble. It took us a good hour or so to go 10 miles. The sand was 2-4″ deep with sections more in the range of 4-6″.
I finally ejected off the bike around the 11 mile mark. It did not hurt, but I felt totally defeated. We were 25% of the way and I was exhausted and not having much fun what so ever. The scenery was non existent and to be honest, I was so focused on not busting my ass that I did not see much of the landscape. I think I would have been better off with knobbies on the KTM for this stretch. The TKC Rocks were not up to the test. To be honest , I was not up for the test, I am sure the bike and the tires were not the issue. My LOT (Lack of Talent) off-road was the true culprit. We decided to go back and take the long way round. This was not a bad choice. We stopped by a few tourist places to have a little ice cream and take in the true beauty of this part of New Mexico.
Our first stop was Pistachioland. Adan had visited as a child and we thought it was a good place to stop and take in some of the ice cream. It was so hot outside and the ice cream made it bearable. What a cool place.
Next we headed to my birthplace. I was born on White Sands Missile Range back in 1964. It had been years since I visited the park. I had forgotten how bright the sand gets in direct sunlight. We had a great time and enjoyed this NM wonderland.
It was a long day of riding as we logged almost 350 miles. We cooled off in the hotel and enjoyed an easy night of relaxation. Today was an ass whooping!
May 11, 2022 – Does it get any better than this? T or C to Reserve was a fantastic section of the BDR. After yesterdays ride, we were in need of an easier day. The weather was good and the riding was even better. We stopped by the world famous Winston General store, topped off with fuel, before exploring some of the best dual-sport roads I have ever encountered.
May 12, 2022 -Twisty roads and pie! On this fine day we decided to keep most of our miles on the asphalt. We both needed a break from the off-road activity and today would lend itself to some great roads. We headed over to Alpine, then up to Springerville for breakfast. This part of Arizona is a sport touring dream. Nice twisties, great views and the tarmac was flawless. This was just what the doctor ordered for a break from the dirt.
We made a slight detour to ride into Pie Town NM to partake in what else… Pie. Little did we know that this would turn into one of the coolest experiences from this journey. We stopped into the only pie establishment that was open and we were greeted with a number of hikers from the CDT. There had to be 30-40 people in this little building. As we walked in and surveyed the situation, you could not help but notice the buzz in the air. The excitement of the journey. These folks were enjoying themselves some pie. Many had multiple pieces in from of them. No one was a little overweight except for the two guys in all of the motorcycle gear. We still felt the need to do our part in the pie devastation that was taking place here in the middle of nowhere.
We spent the next two hours listening to stories from these hikers. How they get water from the local cattle trough and how they would hike 20-30 miles each day in the NM heat. They were worried about the fires that seemed to be breaking out all over the state. I have to say that I was a little envious of the freedom and how carefree they all seemed to be. We left with a large smile on our faces and to this day we still follow some of the hikers on their journey. Social media is a wonderful thing.
May 13, 2022 -Albuquerque, Abiquiu before Chama We stayed in Grants last night and decided that we would head up to Chama a day ahead of schedule. The fires were raging in some locations and we were afraid that some of the national forest would be closed. We were correct in this assessment as we would find out later.
We stopped by Albuquerque to see the BMW dealership before heading up to Chama. It is a nice dealership and the folks were very friendly and seemed to be interested in our journey. They had some cool bikes as well. Who knew?
After we left the Q we took some nice two lane roads up to Abiquiu. The ride was nice and we had a few nice look outs to take in. We even got the drone up for some video. You can see the first part of our journey here on video.
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We finished up the day in Chama NM. The Chama Trails Inn was under construction, but still very nice. We enjoyed the evening in cooler temps. It had been a a great day of riding!
May 14, 2022 -Last section of the NMBDR. Colorado Rocks! KTM fall down and go BOOM! We made our way to Antonito Colorado and would tackle the last part of the NMBDR going north to south. This section is very rocky and it was recommended to do it in this direction. The morning was down right cool and we enjoyed the cooler weather as we rode. The trail did get rocky and my KTM decided to take a nap. It was not the KTM’s fault, as it was all my LOT (Lack Of Talent) that caused the get off.
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We finished up 60 miles of dirt before heading back into Chama. After the rocky section, we were treated to beautiful scenery, nice forest roads and a number of chances to stop and take in the beauty that we were in the middle of. I said it before, but this is what a BDR should be. Wow! I was so glad that we had taken on the challenge. We were the only humans in the area. We rode for hours and never saw another person or vehicle. It was pure bliss.
May 15, 2022 -Visiting family and Smokey the Bear Our plans had to change as we would have to reroute due to the NM fires. The original plan was to ride over to Red River and stay in Santa Rosa before returning to Carlsbad. However the fires made that impossible so we went to plan B. We would slab down to Albuquerque and have lunch with Jamie’s Mom and aunt, before riding over to Mountainair and then spending the evening in Capitan the home of Smokey the bear. It was not the best day of riding, but we enjoyed lunch and made it to Capitan in good time to cool down and enjoy another New Mexico meal.
I had a great time and enjoyed spending some extended time with my good friend Adan. I know many of you were asking what I thought about the BDR and would I do another one. I defiantly would, but under a few provisions. For me, the reason I ride a motorcycle is for the enjoyment it brings me. With that being said, there were times when I was not enjoying myself. The sand was dreadful and I would not have been disappointed had we bypassed that entire section. The rocky sections were challenging and about the hardest riding I want to take part in. The reason I love the idea of dual-sport riding is being off the beaten path, taking in scenery and imagery that can only be experienced by venturing off the pavement.
I really enjoyed those miles of off-road riding, where we were one with nature, riding along a creek, taking in the landscape. I did not enjoy the times, where we were concentrating so hard on riding and not falling over that we missed all of the cool visions that surrounded us. So to answer your question, I will do another BDR, but will also pick and choose the sections to take part in.
I love motorcycle camping, but I was so glad that we decided to do the hotel thing for this trip. Each night I was exhausted and hot. The thought of setting up and breaking down camp each day seemed in a word “awful”. I will leave the moto camping to 2-3 day affairs.
I will always be a sport-touring guy first and a dual-sport rider second. If I want to do rock crawling and more hard core off-road adventures, I will get into my, more than capable Jeep Wrangler and enjoy the harder trails that way. It is always nice to have choices.