Wednesday 13th June 2001, Gallup NM

Another 5.15am start for everyone else, but we elected to leave a little later at 6am. Brian, Jeff, Theo, Dirk, Roger and Rick had decided to follow the original trail of Route 66 into Santa Fe (where some of the guys were keen to visit the Harley Davidson dealership … what is they say about Harley owners always needing a friend with a trailer …), so we tagged along.

It was surprisingly cool on the way up to Santa Fe, so much so that when we stopped for photos, most of us took the opportunity to put on gloves and jackets.

John and I had been riding each other’s bikes since the previous day, but (probably due to last night’s beans) we both found each other’s bikes uncomfortable, and swapped back.

On the way back from Santa Fe, we took the road to the summit of Sandia Crest at 10,678ft, from where we had a bird’s eye view of Albuquerque, before rejoining the Turquoise Trail back to Route 66.

Albuquerque was (in Brigid’s words) “beastly” – full of traffic lights, and very hot! We didn’t hang around. While the main group took I-40, a few of us decided to take the original road, which ran alongside the Interstate. At the “Continental Divide” (a gas station and gift shop run by the local Navajo Indians), we noticed storm clouds gathering and the temperature changing. Suddenly, it was every man for himself! We hot-footed it back on to the Interstate, and hit the gas. Helpful road signs indicated that “Gusty winds may exist”, but they could hardly be any worse than those we had been experiencing for several hours.

John used his experience of the twisties on Sandia Crest to good advantage. At speeds exceeding 90mph (to the surprise of Dirk and Theo), we made the hotel (Red Roof Inn, Gallup, NM) in the nick of time. Brad and Gina were only a few minutes behind us, and got a soaking.

As had become habit, the party met up round the pool to share their day’s experience over a few beers. Fred was despatched to order some pizza, but by then we had all begun to notice the cold. After a few minutes discussion, we decided that the only available public room was the laundry … the pizzas arrived, and the Maytag Pizza Party was born.

Bemused guests found their washing thoughtfully moved from washer to dryer. Joe even put quarters in the machine! Everyone got to take away a slice of pizza and a beer …

Unluckier were Mark and Gina. Bob Hearn had offered to take their luggage on to Gallup in his motorhome. Unfortunately it had broken down on the way, and most of their clothes were now on the way back to Texas.