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The 2015 Taos Desert Run & Chopper Hill Climb: in Memory of Becca the Recka

Motorcycles make all of us feel some type of way. This community is not just a weekend ride. It’s a forever family. Earlier this year we lost Becca Strelitz to a motorcycle crash. She was a free spirit, environmental advocate, motorcycle enthusiast, and friend to many across the country. The second annual Taos Desert Run & Chopper Hill Climb was held this year as a memorial run for anyone and everyone on two wheels that wanted to remember Becca for the things she loved most: riding motorcycles, being outside, and being surrounded by good people and having a good time.

The first day of the run we met up at the Taos Mesa Brewery, had a beer, and waited til the sun was close to setting before we threw our kickstands up and headed out on to the Mesa. Chasing the sun to camp, I watched as the golden hour threw harsh shadows over and into the Rio Grand Gorge, and turned the riders in front of me into black silhouettes with shiny red tail lights slowly becoming more apparent as the sun grew closer to the horizon. We rambled down a dirt road for a few miles before we came to a questionably deep rutted dirt road. A little sketchy maneuvering and near bike dumping and everyone made it to the first nights campsite: a gigantic zombie apocalypse-themed fort, fully equipped with two bars, outhouses, and plenty of room for motorcycle camping.

Photo by Enrique Parilla
Photo by Enrique Parilla

Anything goes out on the mesa. It didn’t take long for the 70 or so of us to start crackin’ beers and shootin’ booze. After all this was a run to remember our sweet Becca, and she wouldn’t have had it any other way. Zia was shooting fire from her mouth like a professional pyro and others had found some magical mushrooms and began their own journey into the night. Music blared across the fort until the sun came up—it might’ve actually not turned off ’til someone woke up in the morning, but who cares.

I managed to ghost out and sneak away from the remaining 4 or 5 party animals towards the early hours of the morning. I lucked out and scored a sleeping spot inside a shipping container-turned-hangout-room and got an hour maybe two hours of sleep before it was time to wake up and shoot some early morning party aftermath.

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Since we rolled into camp after the sun went down, the surprise beyond the walls of the party fort was pretty bitchin’. From the fort you could see all of the Taos Valley, the Rio Grand Gorge, the town and the Mountains that form just beyond. Sleeping Bags, Motorcycles, and Tents seemed to be scattered all over the property where they would fit, and slowly but surely as the sun rose more people slowly began awakening in their proper hungover moods.

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Carla and friends slowly began cooking what I like to call Chile Cheekies —I think they’re actually called chile quiles or something like that— for everyone. While we waited for food to settle and for people to get their lives and livers to together, Jera managed to get a giant sticker bur stuck in her hair which we were able to cut out. Don’t worry, though, we wasted a good 30 minutes attempting to save her hair.

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From here people rolled out on their own to wander around the tiny town of Taos, grab some grub, or rip around on the mesa until we met up again at the TMB. The camp site and route for the second location was top secret again, so unless you rode with us out from the brewery you’d have a damn good time attempting to find us in the hills of northern New Mexico.

Our first spot was a hill climb, beer stop, and figure 8 run. I’ve gotta say, these crazy people I call my friends are in fact f’n nuts. Only a few folks slammed a beer and jumped on their choppers to attempt the hill climb, but it was pretty intense to watch. Clayer managed to pull a few runs up the hill for Becca, who was the only chick to attempt the hill climbs on the Desert Run the previous year. Tyler almost ran over me (Sorry bud), & a few of the Denver guys decided it wasn’t a party or proper hill climb without sparkle panties, so naturally you can image what happened.

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People got squirrelly, had fun, and did their thing. As for me, I created a drinking game for the boys. How to play? Shotgun a beer. First person to finish slaps the other person as hard as they can in the face. 1-2-3-GO! Naturally, this got way too entertaining way too quick. We paused the game, cleaned up our trash and got ready to head to the campsite where the final hill climbs and party shenanigans would take place.

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The best part about this run is the roads you gotta take to get to the campsites. If you can’t ride on dirt roads, you’ll be a pro by the end of the weekend, or you’ll just hate riding motorcycles on anything but pavement from here on out. Each road to every stop on the run is at least 2-3 miles worth of dirt roads.

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The final stretch of road led us to a massive dirt pit with a convenient camping area uptop. Those that were ballsy enough to rip up the hills made their runs until the sun went down. A few people got stuck, but there were plenty of helping hands around to give a bike a push or pull to the top of the hill. People were losing kickstands, mirrors, shifter pegs, all kinds of semi important stuff as they failed their hill climb attempts, but it didn’t slow anyone down from gettin’ rowdy and having fun.

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That’s what makes this group of people so damn rad, and why this will probably be one of the most memorable runs for me. Not only because it will always remind me of the wild girl I met in the California High Desert with a heart of gold, but because the people who knew her reflect the same character traits. Nobody on this run was too “chopular” or egotistical for their own good. Everyone was there for the same reason: to remember Becca the Recka and to have a damn good time.

The sun set and things got even more wild than the first night. A typical chopper campout is the easiest and PC way I think I can describe it. But if you care to know: There was a couple fucking in a truck bed about 30 feet from the campfire, others stoned out of their gourds, drunker than skunks, tripping out of their minds. What makes you more free than a motorcycle sometimes? Party favors of all flavors. Especially when taken with friends. Every guy still awake by 2am ended up with his shirt off hootin’ and hollerin’ around the campfire, and some chicks even joined in. As for I, I stayed stoned in my mummy bag next to the campfire and watched the party from the exact same spot the entire night. And it ruled.

When I woke up in the morning I was still laying next to what was left of the campfire. There were empty bottles of moonshine, beer cans galore, and plenty of liquor bottles scattered around me and the rest of the area. Slowly people began to wake up and stumble back to the fire to help clean up the trash. It was another slow moving morning, but one by one people started to pack up and head home.

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About 20 of us stayed behind and let our hangovers ease off before we got our day going. Some had a little hair of the dog and took shots of jim beam out of Clayer’s belly button, others puked at the sight of a whiskey bottle. Finally we got the camp spot cleaned up, were able to make a few more hill climb runs, and then headed out to the Rio Grande River for some swimming.

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The run was over, and we had successfully threw a hell of a party to remember our wild Becca. Thanks to her, I have new found friends in New Mexico and Colorado, amazing memories, and a new found love of sketchy dirt roads on motorcycles. Ride Fast, Take Chances, and never forget exactly why it is we all love these death machines and the people that ride them.

Photo by Enrique Parilla
Photo by Enrique Parilla