Monday, April 23, 2007

Old But Not Dead, Like Some Things

So. I put 200 miles or so on the bike yesterday, riding down to Roswell and back…the ostensible purposes being (a) to put miles on the bike; (b) have lunch in Roswell; and (c) do a little “styling and profiling” on the Main Drag in Alien-Town. Mission Accomplished.
I woke up this morning feeling old…quite old. I’ll spare you the detailed litany of complaints; suffice it to say I’m sore. My back hurts. The fleshy area of the thumb on my right hand is sore. My left thigh feels like it spent a few hours with Saddam’s rubber-hose wielding thugs. (ed: I thought you were gonna spare us? Oh, shaddup—you know there’s more.) I’m obviously out of riding shape; the corollary to that thought is “getting old really sucks.” I digress.
Not only am I not in great physical riding shape, my general riding skills need a bit of buffing, too. Not the safety-related skills…those are fine, thank you. Head on a swivel, front brake covered in traffic, situational awareness A-OK, and all that. Nope…it was in those rare moments (twice, I believe) when I had to set up for a corner that I found myself being a bit tentative… having to adjust my line once or twice while in the corner, experiencing a bit of difficulty judging the appropriate entry and exit speeds, and all that. Not that there are all that many corners in this part of the world to begin with. I need to head north on my next trip to reacclimatize myself with riding in the twisty-turnies. I’m rusty, and that’s putting it mildly. Once again, I think age may be rearing its ugly head. I’m a lot less bolder than I used to be.
But it was great fun. I’ve reached the magic 500-mile threshold; after I get the bike its 500-mile service tomorrow (hopefully. Another story, that.) I’ll be free to see what it feels like to wind that sucker out all the way to its 10,500 rpm red line. One thing I will tell you: the bike will do 100 mph, and easily, too. It was still pulling hard at a little over 7,500 rpm when I hit 100 (briefly, very briefly) on one of those lonely “you can see forever” stretches of road between P-Town and Roswell. It should go without saying the weather cooperated yesterday. It was a little breezy, but not the life-threatening sort of gales we experienced this past week.
Today’s Pics: New Mexico used to have a patch-work of wet and dry counties in the way-back. One of the fixtures from that day and age is the county-line bar…and there are numerous examples —all dead now— of that phenomenon dotting the New Mexico landscape. Here’s one such…the county-line bar about a mile over the Roosevelt-Chaves County line on US 70 south of Kenna, NM.
I’ve been by this deserted old road house at least 20 times and never stopped to take pics until yesterday. As you can see, the most prominent feature is the B – A – R mounted on a 40-foot (or so) tower over the building. That sign, which I imagine was done up in bright red neon back in the day, is visible for miles before you get to the bar. And…not to put too fine a point on it…this unnamed bar is literally in the middle of freakin’ nowhere, about 30 to 35 miles south of P-Town.
I can also imagine what it must have felt like on a summer Saturday night back in 1958 or so…cruising south from Portales in your ’55 Chevy convertible with the top down, warm breeze in your hair, laughing, telling bad jokes, anticipation building, seeing the B - A - R sign glowing in the distance and then… Pulling into the crowded parking lot…getting out of the car…walking into the bar… hearing Hank Williams (Senior, thank you) on the juke box… watching the heads turn to see who just arrived. Shouting "Hey!" to your Buds, and the odd girl or three. Dancing. Brawls. Marriages made, marriages broken. I could almost smell the beer and the Crown Royal as I walked around the sadly-broken premises. Ah…the stories…the stories!
(Didja read the caption to the bike pic? Yes, that fairing/tank combo does make you look fat. Don’t ever let anyone photograph you from that angle, ever again.)


  1. Toby drove Jesse to Velma (about 8 miles from here)on his bike yesterday. He said he was very careful with my baby. But he did say that when he was driving around on our property, he slid on some freshly mowed clover - scaring himself.

    Toby has tales of living in Hobbs, NM and driving to the Bloated Goat Bar on the TX/NM line - walking into the dark bar from the bright sunlight outside and drinking a cold beer. I asked him if he recognized the bar in your photos, but he said he did not. Then he laughed and said, "Do you think I know every bar in NM?"

  2. Lou said: Then he laughed and said, "Do you think I know every bar in NM?"

    Ah...there's a goal worth having!! :-)

    Way, way back in the day bikers used to have a slang term: "TT bike." A TT bike in its most literal connotation means "Tourist Trophy," after the Isle of Man TT races. But in the slang vernacular "TT" meant "tavern-to-tavern." I used to own one of those, back when I was young and stupid(er). Things have changed. Thank God.

    Re: scaring one's self on a bike. It happens, and happens quite often, especially in the dirt. Once again, we used to have a saying back in my racing days: "If you don't crash once a day you're not riding hard enough." Unfortunately I rode more than "hard enough..." but never broke anything that couldn't heal in between races.

  3. Seen that bar alot! Jeff used to drive a milk truck for MTS (then CTL). It actually only closed a few years ago. Not that I have ever been in there. LOL!

    Roosevelt County is still a dry county, but Portales city limits is not (obviously). I guess my house is the closest thing to a bar Floyd has. LOL!

  4. Wow...I didn't know Roosevelt County was still dry! The things I don't know about my adopted home town would fill a book, eh? (I can't BELIEVE I said/wrote that!!!)

    I'm just philosophically opposed to the whole concept of "dry." In a big, big way. And I'm gonna resist the temptation to rant on that...

  5. The part about this post of yours regarding the B-A-R is very Lileksian. I'm gonna make it a point to take this route next time I have business at points SE of the (even) big(ger) city. I'm sure I drove past there in the late 70s/ early 80s-- I filled gumball machines from Farmington to Amarillo to El Paso to Silver City on the weekends as a high school job (not on one weekend, though). Wish I had taken pictures, but a 17-year-old doesn't think of such things like preserving memories. Well, they are preserved "up here."

  6. Reese sez: The part about this post of yours regarding the B-A-R is very Lileksian.

    That's a high compliment in my book, Reese. James is a Hero of mine in the writing/blogging division. I aspire...but can't come close. The man is talented beyond MY wildest dreams!


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