"What a beautiful morning for a ride!" I murmured to the wind as I rolled through San Antonio, TX at 9AM on Friday, April 20, 2007. I was on my way to Cloudcroft, NM for a Sport-Touring.Net gathering. Normally I would just be arriving at work at this time. Instead, I had a long 760 miles ahead of me and, just at that moment, each one seemed infinitely better than anything I might have accomplished on any given work day.
I flew across Texas on the wings of my 2005 BMW R1200ST, eating the miles on I10. Most riders would find 500+ miles of straight interstate to be mind-numbing, but I had blue skies, dramatic clouds, and my XM radio to entertain me.
I left the interstate in Ft Stockton, TX and turned toward New Mexico.
US285 took me north through Pecos, TX and Loving, NM before rolling through the larger town of Carlsbad, NM. The day had warmed up, and it seemed that I hit every single red light in the city. A pair of cruiser riders struck up a conversation that lasted through several traffic lights hit side by side.
I turned west in Artesia, NM and soon passed through the desolate and dejected town of Hope.
Sixty miles from my destination, I entered low rolling foothills. The speed limit was 55 mph, but every single car I saw passed me as though I were parked. I ramped up my speed and watchfully enjoyed myself.
The last 40 miles into Cloudcroft were alone worth the 700+ grueling miles I had ridden that day. The desert fell away into real mountains! I swept and swooped around the curves, pressing hard on the bars and powering out with all the raging grunt of the R1200ST's boxer twin.
With the sun beginning to set, I dared not stop for pictures, wanting to both fully enjoy the turns and reach Cloudcroft before dark.
Finally rolling into town, the GPS directed me to the hotel and I parked at the end of a long row of sport-touring bikes. Rabidsnipe was loitering around the otherwise abandoned motorcycles. While we were exchanging greetings, a fellow rider arrived from the BBQ where the rest of the group was enjoying dinner. It was about to close, so I ordered a plate of take-out and joined the rest of the party back at the bikes.
Cricket from Oklahoma, who I've ridden with in the past, had assumed that I would be grumpy after such a long riding day and thoughtfully procured a six pack of Peach Bacardi for me. Proving him wrong, I met the other riders with all the bubbliness and cheer that I could muster, while drinking the first of the bottles.
We mingled by the bikes for several hours before agreeing to meet for breakfast in the morning.