Wandering Ganesha

2015 Iron Butt Rally – Part 4.3: Leg 1 in the books

I was quickly back on I-25 and thoughts of the comfortable bed awaiting me in Albuquerque filled my head. What I had not been really noticing was my fuel. Just as I was leaving Las Vegas I noticed that I had a lot of miles under my belt so far. I usually like to fill up after about 350 miles, and I now had about 380 miles, but I’m stubborn and don’t like to turn around. I figured that with my lower speed fuel should still be in range, and my usual 400 miles max should be able to be exceeded.

A few minutes later I got a call from Gregg Lenentine. Gregg was north of me by a few hours. He was doing well and was pretty happy with how his leg 1 was shaping up. I told him that as long as my fuel held out I was in the same boat! I hung up as I came across a sign that claimed there was fuel at the next exit. I exited onto NM-3 and rode north to the little settlement there. It was a very dubious place, and soon I turned around and went to see what the south side of the highway had to offer. South of I-25 there was a bombed out gas station that might have been in service 20 years ago, while there was no sign with gas on it I’m sure if there had been one the price would have been below two bucks. I keep informal track of what the lowest price I’ve seen in an abandoned station is, so far it rests at $1.249. This was also in New Mexico somewhere on US-60, but I saw it on Butt Lite 7.

Wasted Time looking for Gas
51.2 Miles since FOUN Arrived 12:26 Departed 12:29

Rushing back onto I-25, and to my grateful surprise it was only 3 more miles to a gas station. The Pecos River Station had a distinctive banjo player from Deliverance vibe. There was a rather disheveled man at the picnic bench located in front of the door. Encrusted in filth he cast a wary eye on any patron that approached the front door. I’ve been to creepier gas stations than this (ask me about the Obama Gas Station from BL6!), so after fueling I wandered inside to look for the restroom and ice cream. Both were found and after a quick pit stop in the men’s room, I enjoyed a nice Snickers Ice Cream bar under the gaze of the stations guardian.

3 miles since last stop Arrived 12:32 Departed 12:42

A few minutes later I was back on the highway just long enough to pull off again. The Pecos National Monument has a really nice welcome sign, I know I visited it as a kid, but all memories are lost to the sands of time. As we didn’t have to go in, I did a quick stop, snapped my picture and moved on.

PECO – Pecos National Monument
16.7 since gas Arrived 12:55 Departed 12:58

Pecos National Monument

Pecos National Monument

Bandelier National Monument was my next scheduled stop, but I was dreading it. I’d seen huge storm cells on the weather map and it looked like I was going to get pretty wet. Getting to Bandelier required getting off the highway and slogging through Santa Fe. I’ve always thought of Santa Fe as a picturesque place, but on a hot day in full gear US-84 has too damn many stoplights!

At one light, I pulled up next to a Chevy Suburban full of 20 something guys in the prime of their youth. They had the music blaring and were all shirtless. They were certainly not too concerned with the weather and were headed to whatever adventure the upcoming July 4th weekend would bring. One of them stuck his head out the window and yelled to me, asking if I was headed to Alaska! As the light turned green I responded that I wished I was as it was sure to be cooler there!

My interminable ride through Santa Fe continued on with only the stop lights providing interruptions to my thoughts.

Eventually I was up in the hills north of Santa Fe, with one eye warily on the radar I kept expecting any minute I’d be under a deluge of rain. Soon I was seeing signs that explained that Bandelier was closed to traffic and that you had to park and then take a shuttle. There was no way I was going to sit around and take a shuttle bus so I could get drenched. Sure I had plenty of time, but as I didn’t need the points, mentally it just wasn’t going to happen. I decided to keep going and maybe I’d get lucky.

I passed by the shuttle parking lot and kept moving. A minute later there was another rider approaching from the opposite way. He was waving frantically at me so I came to a stop. He pulled a U-turn and came up to me. It was none other than Mike Langford. Mike was a fellow Triumph rider, but he was on a Trophy. He’d had a real challenge on his hands making the start as his Triumph has been less reliable than mine and he got it back from the dealer just 48 hours before the start, however he’d taken the plastics off himself and had basically spent the night putting it back together. Mike is also the brains behind Maplefarkles, and has made many an auxiliary fuel tank for riders. He’s a believer in gravity so I think my tank rankles him a little!

Jawing with Mike Langford
67.9 miles since PECO arrived 2:12 Departed 12:13

He had been down to Bandelier and couldn’t find a way in. I said that confirmed my suspicions that the signs were right and you probably had to take a bus to get there. I said I was going to bag it, I didn’t care for the points and the checkpoint’s siren’s call was loud in my ears. He was going to stop and see how bad the bus was. We parted ways at the shuttle parking lot, and a few minutes later I saw some other riders headed towards Bandelier. I gave them a thumbs down sign and kept on moving.

Moving southbound at least I could circle around Santa Fe on 599 and avoid all the stop lights. There were some impressive thunderheads on the horizon as the suburbs of Albuquerque started to envelope me. It was only an 11-mile detour to go to Petroglyph National Monument, but I honestly debated not going to it. I decided that It was just too wimpy a choice to not ride 11 miles; after all it wasn’t even 4 PM and the scoring window didn’t open until 5 PM!

It was a quick trip through the suburbs of Albuquerque, to the park and I was soon pulling up to the park sign to take the requisite photo. There was a 2-up couple there but for the life of me I can’t remember who it was. Probably Greg & Pat Blewett.

PETR – Petroglyph National Monument
96.1 miles since Mike Langford Arrived 3:43 Departed 3:47

Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument

The 2-up couple left before I had my photo, but I soon caught up to them on I-40 and slowed to match their speed. I had switched on Waze on my iPhone and was using it and ignoring my Garmins. As we crossed Albuquerque it wanted me to exit at San Mateo and then go east on Menaul Blvd. The 2-up couple was headed onto the direct route of Louisiana Blvd. I followed Waze’s advice and sure enough I pulled into the lot a half minute before the 2-up couple. Chalk up a win for Waze!

It was 4:04 PM. I’d ridden a short 591 miles that day. But leg 1 was done! I was on my way to accomplishing my goal.

3 thoughts on “2015 Iron Butt Rally – Part 4.3: Leg 1 in the books

  1. Eric B

    Loved the Obama gas station during BL6. Rich Reid and I got there about 20 minutes after sunset, right as they were about to close. We were very very concerned for our safety….as were the attendants judging from the bullet proof glass in front of the cash register.

  2. Dylan

    Excellent !

    After reading down a bit I was initially thinking this was going to be the episode in which having electric fuel pump and shut off aux system would have an issue as was eluded to in an earlier report…..So now Im still waiting on the edge of my seat!

    Thank you for all the writing!

  3. Chris

    Great read Steve. I came in to BAND from the north at the end of leg 3 and was able to get down to the visitor center at 6am.


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