EagleRider Experience – A Weekend in Albuquerque, Part 1

In Travel by AbhiLeave a Comment

You’ve seen several mentions to Club EagleRider on this site on the last few months because I really enjoy the program and want to share it you, my dear reader. With that said, I’ve only been describing it to you in hypotheticals, so I figured it’d be helpful for me to share exactly how the experience goes whenever I take advantage of a rental – the good and the bad. Hopefully, it’s good, and you’ll see why I enjoy the program so much! So, here’s how my experience with EagleRider went during a recent weekend in Albuquerque.

This actually goes back to this summer, when Vy and I went on a road trip of the Western US – here’s the start of the story, though I’m still in the process of writing up the end. One day of the trip was in Albuquerque, where we had the pleasure of staying with reader Gary C and his wonderful wife Kathy.

They mentioned that a few months later, Albuquerque would be hosting their international hot air balloon festival and invited us back for it. Vy and I had to take them up on the offer, but I wasn’t going to ride all the way out to ABQ just for a couple of days. Enter Club EagleRider. My membership allows me to access EagleRider’s inventory at all of their locations, so I figured the easiest thing to do would be to fly into town and rent a bike. It would save time and be much better than renting a car!

Gary was kind enough to pick me up from the airport and drop me off at the EagleRider location, which is part of PJ’s Motorcycles, a Triumph/Ducati dealership. Some EagleRider locations are owned by franchisees, so their hours can vary based on who’s running the show.

The big kahuna for EagleRider ABQ is John Agee, but when I asked for him I was told he was tied up with something and that I would have to wait about 15 minutes. I wasn’t in a rush, so I took the time to explore the dealership, I started in the waiting area, where I noticed a arcade game that I had never heard of before.

It’s called RadiKal Bikers, and I guess it’s about racing around as Italian pizza delivery on scooters that look like Italjet Dragsters. It’s a little absurd, and you can see what the game is like here:

I also couldn’t help but notice this older Triumph. John would later tell me that he recently bought it at auction. It looks really familiar – I actually feel like I’ve featured it on Bike-urious before, but I couldn’t find it in the archives so maybe I’m just crazy:

Unfortunately, John was busier than expected and the 15 minute wait turned into 45. This was obviously frustrating, but it’s a risk when you’re at one of EagleRider’s franchisee locations. In ABQ, there’s just one person running the EagleRider operation, so if he’s busy, you’re stuck. Then you get to walk around and see odd shirts like this:

With that said, once I was able to meet John, he was absolutely fantastic (and he went out of his way later in a huge way, which I’ll get into in the next post). This was the only inconvenience I had throughout the entire experience.

John is a very friendly guy with a lot of fun stories. He’s spent some time in LA (hence the UCLA helmet on his desk) and was most recently in Texas. If I remember correctly, EagleRider brought him out to Albuquerque to run things, and he really enjoys the city. I can’t blame him.

The majority of EagleRider’s offerings are Harleys and Indians, with a lot of Triumphs sprinkled in for good measure. In big cities you’ll get a bit more variety – BMWs, Yamahas, etc. I’ve always wanted to try a Triumph Tiger, so I got my hands on a XRx. It’s the mid-level Tiger that’s more on-road oriented (as opposed to the XCx), equipped with cruise control, adjustable windscreen, ABS, comfort seat, handguards, a center stand, and a few other basics. The bike was clean and everything looked to be in good shape. I also appreciated that it came with bags.

It also came with a heart sticker. John explained that a while back, two girls from Eastern Europe came in to rent bikes, and the one with the Tiger left this sticker on it. She asked John to keep the sticker on and so now it’s a permanent fixture of the bike. John will even send her a photo every once in a while just to show the sticker is still there.

Once I got the bike and was ready to go, Gary took me to visit his friend Tom Volkmann. Tom specializes in European cars, microcars, and motorcycles, but just leaving the description there isn’t doing him justice. My god, the man is talented with keeping vehicles running. Tom took me for a tour of his place, and I think you’ll want to tag along.

The most obvious thing at first glance was a Messerschmitt KR201 roadster. It’s still in progress, but it runs and drives and it’s going to look so cool when it’s done. It features a 2 stroke, 191cc Sachs motor. What’s notable is how you put the car in reverse: the engine has two sets of breaker points, and so you shut the engine off and just restart the motor going the other way! Because of this, you actually have four speeds in forward and four speeds in reverse.

Plus, just look at that steering “wheel”!

It would take all day to share all of Tom’s vehicles, so I’ll just pick a few highlights. He has a Cushman Trackster just sitting around. I’ve featured a Trackster before, and what you need to know is that it’s a skid steer all terrain vehicle designed to carry 800 pounds and climb 45 degree slopes.

Tom’s pride and joy is the Vincent Black Shadow that he’s restored. In the background are a R90S and a Fiat 600 Multipla.

There’s also an Isetta, which he took me for a spin in.

There isn’t much room in here!

He saw that I was particularly amused by his CJ750, which he imported from China. He asked if I wanted to take it for a spin, and of course I couldn’t say no.

As I hadn’t had enough fun with motorized vehicles, Tom then mentioned that his next door neighbor collects old tractors! I don’t know anything about tractors, but they sure are cool. There were two very nice guys who showed us a few of the machines, and even tried to start a few up for us. Here’s a classic John Deere Model A that apparently idles at just a few hundred rpm:

Then there was a vintage tractor that you had to start by hand, by giving the flywheel a good spin. I found this fascinating, though our hosts were unable to get it started at that exact moment (it had been sitting a while and was leaking some fuel). Still, this was very cool:

We bid Tom adieu and then made our way back to Gary’s place so that we could get an early start for balloons the next morning. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a 2-week event, and we were there for the last weekend. It starts with “Dawn Patrol”, a few balloons that go up at 6am before everyone else so that other pilots can get an idea of wind speed/direction at different altitudes. Then at 7am you get the Mass Ascension, where all the participating balloons take off.

Gary and I planned to arrive around 6:45am so we could get comfortable before the balloons took off. But when we got there, we were greeted by a whole lot of nothing. There was only one balloon out, and it wasn’t inflated:

Walking over to it, we found out that this balloon was just being dried out so that it wouldn’t be put away damp in storage. When I asked the pilots what was going on, they told me the “red flag” was up, so no one would be flying.

See that red flag? The organizers use colored flags to quickly update pilots on the status. Green means you’re free to fly, yellow means they need more time to decide, and red means everyone’s grounded. Today the red was out due to high winds:

These stormtroopers were just as disappointed as I was:

Close-up of some of the gas burners:

One guy was trying to entertain the crowd by running his burners to shoot flames into the sky:

Considering the letdown, Gary and I decided not to spend much more time there. We instead got breakfast at the local favorite joint, Blake’s Lotaburger. I’m obsessed with the green chilis in New Mexico.

Vy’s flight was scheduled to arrive in a few hours, so I killed some time writing up posts for the site. After we picked her up, we all went for a short group ride – Gary on his R1200GS, Vy and I on the rental Tiger. Gary gives us the thumbs up:

We got to enjoy some beautiful foliage:

Gary hustles around a corner:

We got the top of the hill and got a group photo:

Baby Jack got a view of Albuquerque and impending rain clouds:

One of the few photos I took of the Tiger:

On our way back to Gary’s place, Vy noticed some wildlife:

I noticed some wildlife on a sign that made me laugh:

Back in the summer, when Vy and I went on our trip, we hid little model dirt bikes in a few locations throughout the western US, with prizes for whomever found them. Coincidentally, the one we stashed near Albuquerque was discovered by another Bike-urious reader in the area named Gary, so we made plans to meet up the next time Vy and I were in town. Here’s Gary after he found the toy:
Gary Toy

Vy and I met Gary and his wife for dinner, and Gary was kind enough to share some photos and stories from his time racing motorcycles.

Gary in the paper:

A receipt from when a Bell Star cost 44 bucks, with tax!

Gary and I closing out the restaurant:

Vy and I suffered through a little bit of rain and then got back to our hosts’ place so that we could try to see balloons the next morning.

Continue on to Part 2 – where we finally get to see some hot air balloons! For now, he’s my reminder that you can also sign up with EagleRider if you want access to bikes when you’re on the road. EagleRider recently cut the monthly membership price from $39 to $29, and they have a special rate for Bike-urious readers: if you sign up through this link, EagleRider will waive the initiation fee and they’ll give you an extra rental for free. Safe travels!