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Luna Lake Ride Evolution

Peggy and Scott Jacobsen  | Published on 6/16/2021

Gene Chapman, former GABA president, was responsible for the creation of the Luna Lake Tour that originated in the mid-80's. Gene liked to look at paper maps (before on-line apps like Ride with GPS were available) and plot out routes for a bike tour, hence the creation of the Luna Lake bike tour.

The inaugural tour went counter clockwise, starting in Springerville,  AZ with the first night spent camping at Whispering Pines Resort, NM  and the second night camping at Snuffy's Tackle Shop at Lake Quemado, NM. There were no motels the first few years of the tour. In fact, the tour started as a self-contained or semi-self -contained trip, which meant cyclists carried their own food, water and personal items while camping gear was carried in Gene's VW bus driven by his wife Ann. In addition to carrying our own gear we did not have any official sag stops - you stopped when you wanted a break and drew on the resources you carried with you.

After putting up with terrible headwinds two years in a row on our way into Springerville, Gene decided we should reverse the route, which provided for a great tailwind going to Springerville and this is the way the tour remained for the next 30+ years. In these early years there were fewer than fifteen riders which made it easy to conduct the ride in this simple fashion.

As time went on minor changes were made to the tour, some due to circumstances beyond our control, such as Whispering Pines Resort closing, and others because riders found better accommodations, like the Rode Inn Motel in Reserve. When Whispering Pines Resort closed we started staying at the fairgrounds outside of Reserve, that lasted for a couple of years until it became overgrown and people discovered the motel. In addition to the changes in overnight accommodations we also saw changes in the places we stopped for our meals. Most notably was Grandma T's restaurant in Reserve, as the size of our group got bigger we started to overwhelm this local cafe, one member of the tour said they heard a worker ask their child to go home and get some milk, another rider said that they observed a worker mixing mustard with mayonnaise and serving it as guacamole!  The following year the restaurant was closed for the weekend when we came into town, eventually going out of business entirely.

With bike touring gaining in popularity the number of riders steadily grew, reaching a high point of 100+. Official sag stops were added, 3 each day with one stop providing fixings for lunch. Dinner and breakfast were prepared by the ride leaders. Eventually the girls high school volleyball team in Quemado took over providing dinner and breakfast. In Reserve the Little Adobe Cafe, which was actually based in Whispering Pines, began catering dinner and breakfast. Starting in 2008 they even provided an Espresso Wagon!

While camping in Quemado eventually settled at the local school, using the showers in the gym, motel accommodations tended to be hit and miss from year to year. The Allison motel seemed to consistently remain open for the longest period of time. There were two other motels in town that you just crossed your fingers and hoped they would be okay. One year riders were checking in at the Lariat motel in Quemado and when they went to their room they found it didn't have a bed! In later years a new motel actually opened in Quemado.

Accommodations in Reserve also went thru several iterations; when camping moved from the fairgrounds it was located on the grounds of a restaurant/hotel at the end of town which was owned by a couple that had relocated from NY city! This location soon became unsuitable so it was relocated to the school before finding it's last location at the town park. Prior to the last year this tour was held the Rode Inn Motel burned so inside accommodations were relocated back to Whispering Pines (which had renovated and re-opened) and also a bed and breakfast in Reserve was an option.

One of the nice finishing touches that was added to this tour was the provision of showers prior to the drive back to civilization! Regardless of what version of this tour you were fortunate to participate in I am sure it provided you with great memories, none of which would have been possible without Gene's sense of adventure and people willing to organize such a trip. Here's hoping that tours such as this remain in GABA's future.