Even though the attractions had been closed, I realized I had seen enough of Los Alamos. Mostly, something more important came to view: I needed to replace my tires. I only had about 4,000 miles on them when I pulled out of my apartment’s alleyway parking spot, and I had added another 2,600 miles since then. My front tire still had a bit of life left, but the weight of all of my gear and the long stretches of straight road had taken its toll on the rear. Since I only had a couple of hours of drive time today, I figured there would be no better time to get a new set installed.
Google had shown me a Yamaha/KTM dealer in Santa Fé, roughly 45 minutes from my hotel, and it only made sense to me that a dealer specializing in off-road motorcycles would have a good choice of tires on hand. A short talk at the parts desk revealed I was wrong. It hadn’t been the first time I was wrong, and it wouldn’t be the last. At least they were helpful, calling around to a couple of other shops in the area to check if any had my size in stock, before recommending I traveled further south to Albuquerque.
I hadn’t intended on traveling that far south, but Albuquerque was a bigger city than Santa Fé, so my odds were higher. As I approached the city, I looked up potential places on my GPS, and found a BMW Motorcycle dealer. Considering BMW’s history in adventure motorcycles, I pulled into the parking lot, finding a space next to a new greenish-tan F800GS Adventure. It looked nice, and the knobby Heidenau tires looked like something I wanted for the rest of my trip.
Inside, I was directed upstairs to the parts counter. The guy at the counter took my tire sizes and left to go check his stock, leaving me to look at the miscellaneous BMW accessories on display. He returned a few minutes later confirming that he had a pair of Michelin Anakee 3’s in stock and in my size. I didn’t want such a road-based tire but, with not knowing where I’d need to change at, I hadn’t pre-ordered anything.
I asked if they had time to do the install then, and he called down to the service department. No answer, he left a message, and chatted with me a few moments about my bike, mentioning the Triumph Thruxton he had test ridden and liked. I was surprised to see a BMW peddler so interested in Triumph. Another couple of phone calls later I was told they couldn’t fit me in for another few days, currently booked doing the highway patrol’s fleet of bikes. But then, I was told there was a Triumph dealer in town.
I called, and was told they didn’t have many tires in stock, but they had ample time to do the install. All I had to do was bring the bike by. And figure out how to get the tires there. I paid for my tires and a set of heavy-duty inner tubes, and walked downstairs to start a game of “Tetris: Motorcycle Luggage Edition”
Somehow, I had figured out how to secure everything to the bike well enough to make it the 14 miles to the Triumph dealer, but I was thankful it wasn’t any further. I was uncomfortable, my Kreiga hydration pack sat high on my back resting partially on the tires strapped down behind me, and it was anyone’s guess if I was sitting on the seat or on the fuel tank.
14 miles proved to be too far, I discovered as I unloaded the bike at the dealer. With my bungee cords securing the tires instead of my tent, the tent dangled at the tips of my exhaust, hot gasses being blown directly onto the plastic, fusing it into a melted mess. I was bummed. I had already bought a new set of sleeping gear in Oklahoma. I hadn’t planned on needing to buy a new tent too.
While the bike was being worked on, I looked around the dealership. A single gloss black Scrambler stood between a Thruxton and a Speedmaster, while a range of new Tigers took up a whole aisle. I’ve always liked the look of the new Tigers and, with ample time to kill, I had a sales rep set me up for a demo ride.
The bike fit like a glove, its taller height of the 800XC fitting me better than the Scrambler could. It seemed surprisingly nimble, despite being so large, and as I merged onto the Interstate, I could tell it had a good bit of power. It felt smooth. It felt good. I liked the multifunction trip computer which, compared to the single gauge I had on my bike, gave me a wealth of information. Part of me wanted to know how different the trip would be on this bike. I curbed my lust, the thrill of this trip was doing it on the naked, bare-bones Scrambler, a bike that many said was just a styling exercise good for only a handful of miles.
I returned to the dealership and picked up my bike, tossing my burnt up tent into the dumpster. Encumbered by the amount of gear I had brought, I thought this might be the perfect chance to get something smaller and more compact. My GPS said an REI was nearby, so I headed there to purchase a new tent. As I looked however, I found the tent I already had was my best deal, especially when it was a two-person tent I could use later with Alyssa.
Taking an extra couple of moments to double check my gear, making sure nothing else would be lost or burnt, I set off on the day’s route. I sped along Route 550, racing north as the road took a meandering route through another set of mesas.
After a few hours, and a stop for dinner at a local BBQ restaurant, I crossed over Navajo Dam to arrive at the campground. I rode around the area for a few moments, trying to find a site that I liked. Eventually I found one, parked the bike, and unloaded.