planning started as a weekend camping trip. We
didn't have much of a plan other than it was to be 4
days of riding and camping, beyond that it didn't
the process of this lose knit plan we heard about a
Motorcycle Rally. It was the first year for this
rally and it looked interesting, so why not? Our plan of
4 days filled with riding and camping now included a
would be my first Motorcycle Rally. In fact, it was the
first for the four of us. We had no idea what to expect
really, our riding was done in small groups and nothing
organized like an Event.
cast of characters or my riding partners pictured left
to right. Me on an '80 Wing, cousin
John on a '75 Wing, Mike on a '77 Wing, and
Ray otherwise known as Dad on a '79 Wing.
of us had done a lot of riding together in those days.
John and I for many years had ridden the dirt and 4
wheeling on the family outings. Mike, my best friend
through high school and roommate between his many wives
and Dad. Dad starting riding an old army Harley in the
late 40's and after a long hiatus from riding took it up
again in later years. We knew each other well and it was
a good group to ride with.
year is 1980, the weekend is Memorial Day weekend and
the Event is the first year of the Red River Rally held in Red River NM.
left Denver mid morning on Friday. The sun was shining,
the sky a perfect blue, around 85 degrees and a perfect
day for riding. We were all ready to ride and have some
ride was uneventful until Hwy 17 going into Alamosa.
Just like it shows on the map, you can't draw a
straighter line. So boring you can set the cruise
control, lean back and fall asleep. Then we get our wake
up call. A strong cross wind that lays the bikes over
like doing 30 over in a twisty. That'll wake you up
come off the pass we see Red River a quaint little town
with a few bikes here and
there. After fuel, with some looking around and checking
in we head to the campsite to stake our claim. Finding a
nice little grassy area we pitch our tents and meander
over to the camp fire.
campfire was huge! They were stoking it with telephone
poles. It had to be 35 feet across and you could roast a
marshmallow a block away. It definitely took the chill
off the evening. Before long we headed back to the tents
and turned in.
this is where the fun begins. You do remember I said
there was a chill on the evening? Well I lied, it was
downright COLD, and that's what gives me a great story
to tell. To this day, the four of us talk about that
night, how cold it was and the joke we played on Dad.
Like any good story this has not been embellished ...
all had tents and down sleeping bags. My bag was rated
down to zero and our first night of camping we froze.
BIG TIME! Mike, John and I get up that first day before
Dad and the discussion topic was what we wore and
wondering what we have to do to stay warm tomorrow
night. John and I wore long underwear and sometime
during the night we added jeans and shirt. Mike starting
with long underwear and during the night got fully
clothed including his down parka. Simply put, clothes
and all, we froze.
this time Dad crawls out of his tent, fussing, moaning,
groaning and just plain cranky. Fully clothed, he's
stomping around camp like a constipated bear complaining
about how cold he was.
Without a word spoken and just a glance, with a little
smile we were all on the same page. Mike say's, "Ray,
don't you have a down bag?" The reply was yes so Mike
continues, what did you wear?" Dear old Dad said every
bit of clothes I could find. All in
backing each other up we say, "Thats the problem, you
had too many clothes on. Tonight sleep in your long
underwear. You need the heat from your body to keep the
Saturday we didnt ride much. We cleaned our bikes, hung
out around town, and checked out the parked bikes. Later
we watched the custom bike show and bike games which were the typical bike
games, weenie bite and slow bike race. Later that
evening we ate at their group BBQ and headed back to
swear our second night in Red River was colder yet. John
and I had long underwear, jeans, shirt and coats. Mike
the same plus his rain suit and gloves. Yes gloves. Damn
it was cold and dear old Dad, crawling out of his tent
with long underwear only, making the constipated bear of
yesterday seem tame, went off again. Each of us attested
to how warm we were, toasty in fact. How could you be cold
Ray? "It must be the long underwear" we told him. Yep,
that's it, tonight, sleep in your shorts. No way will
you be cold then.
a great day of riding Sunday up to Taos, Angel Fire and
back we head to camp. We must make sure Dad understands
the concept, so we tell him again. No additional
clothes, just shorts and you'll be warm. Off to the
tents we go.
next morning we emerge from the tents. As usual, the
three of us are up first. Each of us froze and not only
did we wear everything we packed, extra shirts and
pants, we used bike covers and anything else we could
find to cover up with.
are moving around the camp and starting our morning fire
we see a pair of tennis shoes on the table. An
interesting thing about these shoes is that they are
sitting in a small pool of water, ice now and frozen to
the table. With nothing better to do we chip the ice to
free the shoes.
laughter and noise woke the bear. Out of the tent comes
Dad and our first question, how did you sleep? "I DIDN'T,"
he swears. "It was too cold to sleep; I spent the night in
the shower." You see, he was so cold he walked to the
shower house and turned on every hot water faucet in
there. Each shower, each sink, nothing but the hot, full
open, flooding the place with hot water. Finally, he
found some heat!
don't recall this part, but John swears Ray grabbed
the frozen tennis shoes out of Mike's hands and threw
them at the nearby tree. A solid hit so he says and the
tree, a poor little sapling about 5' tall fell over.
breaking camp, loading up the bikes, the four of us
wearing coats, rain suits and anything else we could
find, put a leg over the bike and headed for home. It
was about three hours later when we stopped for lunch
that we were able to warm up enough to take a few
this day, 27 years later, Mike, John and I still talk
about this ride and the joke that made the old man
cranky. Ray on the other hand doesn't say much, he just
glares at the kids.
from the fun of our little joke, what makes this ride so
special for me was that it was my first long ride with
Dad. A great weekend of riding shared with Dad and friends.
Unfortunately it was also our last long ride together.
John found a career, wife and child, never to be heard
from again except at family gatherings to reminisce about
the good rides we once had. Dad and I had a few short rides
but he has since given it up. Mike and I took a few more
trips, one spectacular trip to Canada in 1984 but he has found
another wife and moved to Fairplay.
Great friends as they sometimes do, found a different
we ride again,
complete photo gallery of the Red River Ride can be
found in the photo gallery under
The Oldies Gallery Index.