After crossing into New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, and visiting the tourist centre for maps and hotel/motel discount vouchers, we get to Tucumcari on Route 66. Originally founded in 1901 as a construction camp for the railroad construction, it was called Ragtown, it then became known as Six Shooter Siding, due to numerous gunfights and finally was renamed Tucumcari. You can imagine what it was like in its heyday, especially at night with all the neon lighting.
As we ride through, I notice one place has burnt down, then a second and wonder whether the fires were lit by desperate owners wanted to recoup some of their investment after their business went bankrupt. Then we see a third. It can’t be coincidence that 3 businesses have burnt down in the space of a few miles. So sad… I decide I no longer want to follow any of old route 66 as I found too many sad deserted places. I will remember Vega where we met the 2 local lawmen yesterday instead.
The stretch between Tucumcari and Santa Rosa was extremely gusty. Good neck strengthening exercise!! More storm clouds building and moving rapidly but we manage to dodge them. We spend the night at Santa Rosa, staying at a sad motel, after sharing a huge salad at the roadhouse across the road for dinner. It is good to see a Route 66 roadhouse that has not just survived but is thriving.
Anthony had heard of a good motorcycling road to Santa Fe. It feels great to finally get off the main road. Our pace has now slowed down wonderfully. We have plenty of time to get to Denver for our 24th June appointment for our 24,000 miles service for both bikes.
As we ride, we are reminded of our first trip to New Mexico in 1980. We loved it then, had promised ourselves to return on day in the summer, and here we are, loving it just as much. The smell of pines thanks to the heat takes back to that first visit. Isn’t it amazing how powerful smells can be?! I want to camp!! I really want to be out there. We see more and more bikes – all going much faster than us. We get to a little village called Madrid, spot a pub with a few bikes and decide to pull over and stop for lunch. Little did we know this old mine turned tavern was a well known stopping off pub for bikers!! Today, 80 Harleys are expected for lunch (86 turned up). What a sight!! And the noise!! This tavern was featured in the science fiction comedy movie Paul.
Shortly after leaving, poor Streak began spluttering, badly. After a while, I asked Anthony to ride it so that he could feel what I was trying to explain to him (the jerking of the bike dying and suddenly restarting is hard on the body) and so that he too could explain Streak’s problem to Denver next week. Streak was worse than ever. We somehow managed to limp into Santa Fe. I knew, somehow, we would drive past a BMW dealer, and… we did! Very helpful, a service advisor rode my bike around the block. He is pretty sure the fuel injectors are clogged. He gives Streak a good dose of special fuel injector cleaner concentrate which will eventually work itself through the injectors. After a bit of a chat, we leave for a hotel I booked while at BMW, Anthony having put its location in his GPS. As usual whenever we are in cities with an address to go to, I follow as Anthony has the GPS. Streak is behaving. Thank goodness. We get 200 metres heading back to the main road, down the hill to the lights, start going through the lights and Streak dies. My first thought is of the red car behind me – I don’t want to get rear ended and put my flashers. Impossible to restart it. I turn around to let the car know I cannot move. I am in the left hand lane as we were turning left at the lights. Awkward spot to be blocking traffic!! I push myself as best and quickly as I can off the road. A biker waiting in the traffic at the red lights spots my predicament, calls out at cars next him to let him through, parks his bike and rushes over and pushes me off the road. Very very helpful. Anthony rejoins me having had to turn back to get back to me. Eventually Streak restarts, briefly then dies. Anthony offers to ride it back to BMW.
It is now 4.30pm Saturday afternoon, they close at 5 and tomorrow is an annual motorcycle fair in town for which BMW are the major sponsors, so it is frantic. On hearing and seeing us return so soon, all the mechanics comes out to see us. They offer to take Streak and clean out the fuel injectors and hopefully get to the bottom of this problem. This will take them 3 hours but they can only do that Tuesday morning as they are closed on Mondays. So they offer us a loan bike for the week end. Wow, so helpful. They only have 1200GS, which is too high for me, so Anthony will ride that one while I ride Storm. By the time we paperwork and I go to Streak to get my overnight bag out, Ben, the chief mechanic, has already started getting to the fuel injectors. Wow, what service!!! And dedication. It is now 5pm on Saturday.
I am now in charge of navigating with the GPS for the first time!! That means riding with my reading glasses at the tip of my nose, lucky it is long, so that I can read the GPS.
The hotel I have booked is a couple of blocks away from the old town square, so after a shower and change, we go for a lovely walk around the old town, share a salad for dinner with a glass of locally brewed cider and retire for the night early. We are both exhausted after the emotion of Streak dying and riding a loan bike.
After a leisurely breakfast and chatting to a few bikers over from Denmark, Norway and Sweden, we pack up and head for the classic Motorcycle Show in Eldorado, outside Santa Fe. We see some interesting machines, lots of custom bikes, some lovely characters.
It is a hot day, we retreat to an air conditioned restaurant for a cool drink. It is now 1pm. Do we still feel like riding out to Taos today, we ask ourselves? No, too hot and listless. Let’s find another hotel out of town, read “cheaper”, and stay here until Tuesday morning.
We stop at a factory outlet and get a couple of tops to replace our old ones – they have done well and it is now time to donate them.
Our new hotel is across the street from a movie theatre so we go to the movies for the first time this year. We saw Spy – a 007 spoof – very funny. I really enjoyed being entertained, the laugh out loud moments and loud music. You could say that we have been on sensory overload since we started this trip, having had so many experiences, visual, emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual, cultural, culinary and olfactory but seeing this movie made me realise that I had missed a couple in particular: being surrounded by music, and being entertained by comedy – senses we hadn’t experienced for a while. We have watched movies downloaded onto our iPad which we listen through a great little speaker friends gave us before we left, but that sense of being completely surrounded by a story and music suddenly felt new. I am finding it hard to explain…
Monday comes and goes with a few walks, emails, banking, planning, chain tightening for Storm.
Tuesday, we pick up Streak. Ben at BMW Santa Fe cleaned the throttle bodies, cleaned idle actuator & passages in the airbox, cleaned the fuel injectors and reset all adaptation values. He has gone for a good ride and all is well with Streak. We ask where to go to pay for this service. There is no charge. No charge?!?!?! Absolutely no charge. I cannot thank Ben and Teo enough, or recommend them highly enough.
We leave Santa Fe for Taos and Streak is purring beautifully.