Middle of the week, we got a text about a ride happening that following Sunday. Our bikes were finally out of the shop with new chains and sprockets, and we were ready to get back at it after having to skip a weekend. Martin, who we rode with two Sunday’s before in the big group, was the one doing the inviting. We had spoke to him quite a bit and exchanged info after our ride together. He was coming back to the area, a 2 hour drive, to check out some new trails. After a couple days of group texts, it turned out that we were really the only ones available for a tour of the Tularosa Basin via dualsport.
The weather was to be in the 50s in Cloudcroft so we dressed warm but not too warm. The previous weekend it had also started out cold but by mid day we were all pretty hot. We didn’t know the plan at all this time but as it turned out we ended up right back down in lower elevations where it was in the 70s. We started out north of Cloudcroft on Bailey Canyon Road, then La Luz Canyon Road and finally Mountain View Road, before we eventually met up with Highway 82. From there, we crossed the highway and started a long journey along West Side Road in search of a “northeast passage” back up to the Rim Trail where we had ridden some of the weekend of the group ride. This was Martin’s main goal for the day, to save having to go down Sunspot Highway to get around. He could start on the rim trail, go down to West Side Road and back up the Canyon roads (and vice versa), if he could verify that the mountainous trails were doable and maintained.
Early in the ride we attempted a trail rather than just dirt roads but the rain all week had left the ground pretty wet, and although we have ridden in some mud, we didn’t make it very far uphill on mud. I watched Ross slip around and lost focus, sliding sideways in a rut, then when Ross turned around to help me pick up my bike, his wheel locked up when he tried to stop and he slid right into a downed tree. It was so comical, that I had to laugh, as we stumbled around like amateurs – we’ll just leave muddy hills for another day.
We tagged along as Martin sought out the trails going up, but mostly stayed on the road and waited for him to check them out. We regretted it a bit, but the road was also a good place to practice some things. I rode standing up at least half the time, even turning while standing quite a bit, and I practiced holding onto the handlebars with just my fingertips, in an attempt to give my wrist breaks, and also to depend less on my grip and more on trusting the bike. The terrain of the roads varied greatly, from loose ground, to ruts to rocks to packed dirt and on the looser corners I practiced speeding up, leaning hard, putting my foot down and powering through them. There weren’t many corners with loose enough dirt for this, but it was fun. We rode about 50 miles, starting at 10am and getting back to the vehicles around 5pm. Overall it was an awesome day and it was cool to see the terrain change from higher elevations to the desert in one ride. Definitely a ride worth doing again!