December 5, 2005 - Monday
Highlands Ranch, CO To Raton, NM

A late start - 1:30p - but I was finally ready. The day was clear and the roads were dry - no issues with the bike outside of the winds.

Tom called with reports of high gusts up where he works - 60 to 80MPH things. A few checks and it seems, that while some of the gusts were strong where I was, they were diminishing as the morning went as well as were lower to the south.

A quick stop at the gas station and off to the highway. The need to get south and out of the snowd as another potential four days of cold and snow are on the way.

US 85 south to I-25 south. Off and running. Snow at the roadside clear pavement in front. Numerous tracks in the center media from prior slide off vehicles from the snowfall a couple days earlier. Smooth sailing with only a couple drifting areas crossing the road. Enough two-track available for me to take a clear path through the 40' sections.

Down near Colorado Springs traffic slowed to a crawl - some sort of accident. A semi truck (van trailer) was overturned off to my right. Crews were there to clean the mess.  Through the city there were some sections of wet road - at least off to the side. Since it was heavy traffic there wasn't much escape from the kickup mist. The face shield obtaind a nice "frosted" look. No wiping it clean either.  Out of the city and down past Pikes Peak International Raceway I pulled over at a rest stop.

I considered stopping in but that would take too long. Since all of the needed items were with me on the bike I was able to sit there, bike running, not even a downed kickstand to get the job done. Bottle of water down to my right (the brown "Milk Chug" is replaced with a small water bottle - sport top) and a rag in the map pouch. Both within reach. A bit of water at the end of the rag, wipe the face shield, other end of the rag to try. Bottle and rag back into place, down goes the face shield. The stop took perhaps 4 minutes.

Clear face shield I was moving with joy.  The roadside snow was getting thin and would soon disappear. The wind was there though - I was leaning to my right a decent amount. The few road cuts (where the road - instead of going over a hill was cut through the hill) I came across had me switching lean. The wind was coming from my right so I was leaning to my right. With clear dry road this was nothing more than mental amusement. On slippery roads this would have been cause to pull over. Anyway - processing through a road cut the right side wind would disappear - causing me to cancel the lean - and to also counter lean as the curl of the wind over the top of the cut would push on my left side - not quite as strong but still there. Out of the cut I'd be back to a right lean. Interesting.

Down near Pueblo there was another accident - this one more severe than the prior slide off and tip over. This had happened perhaps the day or so earlier during the storm. The road had been closed for some time as a blue dumpster was out on the roadway along with various other vehicles and people. A northbound semi had hit the bridge support in the center of the road and ended up in the southbound lanes. The big tractor was somewhat intact but the van was in shreds.

A flatbed trailer was used to put the van shreds onto. The tractor was being hooked to a wrecker. A front loader was out scraping up parts and dumping them into the dumpster.

Sout of Pueblo the road became more spacious - fewer vehicles. One I did notice was a blue pickup pulling a horse trailer - with two horses. I zipped by with perhaps a common wave as I went.  I would end up at the same hotel as them and we met the next morning.

Stopping for some fuel and a bite to eat at Trinidad CO I checked the map - Tucumcari, NM was a ways down. Perhaps more than I could do with the temps and daylight. I called the hostel phone number - not in service. Hotel it will be - Raton, NM it will be. The pass from Trinidad to Raton was in darkness - unfortunate as a dual track rail line followed along the road - red lights staring back at me from the darkness.

At the top I think the GPS listed over 8000 ft elevation.

A quick ride through Raton, NM to look at the different hotels. I chose one that sat out from the others. It was THE hotel of the town (aside from the new chain hotels). Odd I thought - what was in town years back to make a stylish hotel be built? Tomorrow I'd get the answer.

A few blocks from 'home' I was looking west towards the mountains.

Jumping south on US 85

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