The New Mexico Off-Road Runner is the route the Trail Warrior Project was created
on. John Carter was on the original ride and was an intricate part of helping found the
Trail Warrior Project. The first crossing was an epic ride John called " The ride of a
Lifetime " and little did we know it would be John's last ride as he passed the following
Christmas eve. We decided to do this route again this year and make it a memorial ride
for John. John was a good friend, a patriot, and one heck of a bike rider.
We knew heading out this year that there were many dangers on the route that we
did not have to face the last time. Anytime you are inserted in the situations that we do,
you are putting yourself into a survival situation voluntarily. You must worry about food,
shelter, water and transportation. You do take your initial supply with you, but after that,
you better plan and be prepared. This year, New Mexico was on fire, literally. We had to
worry about several huge forest fires to reroute around. We were also worried about the
wind reports we had seen and decided to roll each day by daylight to beat some of the
On insertion day, we headed south out of Santa Fe with the idea of making mile 44 for
camp and hit the town of Moriarity on day 2 for a re-supply. About 20 miles out of town,
we hit a closed forest road and luckily, there was a county road reroute less than a
mile back. When bikepacking, plans are not set in stone and you adapt and change
plans on the fly day by day. We ended up riding our longest day ever loaded for about
73 miles to Moriarity. Tired and hungry, we ordered Pizza and hit the Dollar Store for a
re-supply. One day ahead of schedule, we felt great and like we were out of danger.
Day 2 we headed out of town for a great 54-mile ride through the mountains to
Manzano State Park. The only water stops on route that day were a cattle tank and a
little store in Tajique. The wind and heat were getting to us, so we hung out at the store
a while to eat and cool off. The state park was about 10 miles from the store and was a
welcome site with all the huge pine trees that provided much needed shade. That night
we hung out, ate and planned for the day ahead.
Day 3 started out at sunrise and a cool crisp morning on a good 5-mile climb in the
Manzano Mountains. We had planned to place John's ashes and his Vietnam issued
P38 can opener on a location that we hoped would reveal itself when the time was right.
After a good while of climbing, we reached the top of the pass. It was a beautiful sunny
morning, no wind and not too hot at the top of the 8000' peak. We spotted a tree out by
itself overlooking the valley below that looked healthy and strong and buried John at its
base. We carved JC in the tree as a marker and placed an Airborne patch and his can
opener in the tree. We finished our tribute to our fallen brother by playing his favorite
song "The Gary Owen March" and a small ceremony.
We finished that day with a 33-mile descent into the Kiva RV Park for a good rest.
While at the RV Park, we decided to contact the hotel in Magdalena about a room.
We knew that we had a reroute in Magdalena due to the Bear Trap Canyon fire and had
a contingency plan. The hotel said “if we could get into town, we wouldn't be able to get
out" as all roads were closed except for firemen and forest service workers. We started
researching other options to finish the route and soon realized that we were literally
boxed in and trapped. They had been closing roads and forests right behind us for 3
days and we finally were trapped.
With no way out except to call for an extraction, we made the call and headed back to
Las Cruces. Luckily, we were right by the Interstate or we may have really been in a
Our mission was to lay John to rest and we did that, so even though we did not get to
do the entire route, it was "Mission Accomplished"