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Old 09-16-2008, 09:59 AM   #1
Joe Motocross OP
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10 Days of Utah Desert Madness!!

Hello people. I’ve decided to try and do a trip report about a recent cross country journey. I’m asking myself why do I want to take the time to do this? To promote myself and look cool? I suppose deep down there must be a little of this but I probably won’t look too cool next to many of these trip reports on Adv Rider. Really what I’ve come up with as an answer is I’m doing this to inspire others who don’t get the opportunity to do such a trip. To maybe make them look outside the box a bit. Maybe act as a catalyst for someone to change their life enough to be able to make a motorcycle journey that they’ve wanted to do. Oh yeah, I’m also doing this to give my friends a little laugh!

So, I suggested a 10 to 14 day dirt journey to some people I know. The route would take us from Salt Lake City into Colorado then back into the Utah desert and back up to Salt Lake. One friend committed to the trip and one tagged along for 3 days. Our plan was to go minimalist style with the route getting into a lot of demanding off road riding and we’d sleep in the dirt. Our choice of bikes is large 4 strokes built for desert off road racing. The current favorite is the KTM 520/530 series. These bikes are very agile in demanding terrain but have a nice 6th gear for big gravel roads or short stretches of pavement. We put 6.6 gallon tanks on which are a must for many portions of the route. Here are the bikes.


Well, the day before we were supposed to leave I was doing some maintenance and found that my intake valves were out of adjustment and I couldn’t get any more clearance. Unfortunately, I knew what this meant but didn’t want to accept it. Luckily, a good friend of mine gave me his old SX as a parts bike so I was able to swap heads. Not what you want to do hours before heading out on a long journey. Well, I went at it with no torque wrench, no cam chain tool, used the old head gasket, slapped it back together and seven hours later fired it up and took a quick test ride through the neighborhood.


Here’s the two heads. You can see the intake valves sunk in to the head on the right one. It’s nice to have a parts bike!! Since I’ve been slowly combining the SX and the EXC I now have a SEXC which I like to refer to as “SEXY”!!


We decided to leave the next day. So, the wrap up for the first day:
Mileage: none
Repairs: a lot
Fingers: raw

Joe Motocross screwed with this post 09-16-2008 at 11:26 AM
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Old 09-16-2008, 10:29 AM   #2
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Doode...Black text on grey background is impossible to read...
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Old 09-16-2008, 10:30 AM   #3
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burly day one!
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Old 09-16-2008, 10:35 AM   #4
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I can see this is going to interesting. 10 days in the desert and untested heart surgery. Subscribed!

Oh yeah, black text on gray background is very hard to read....Doode.
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Old 09-17-2008, 08:22 AM   #5
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And we’re off. We’re going minimalist. No GPS, no maps (we’ll get a few along the way), no tent, no stove, no odometer. Just the clothes on our back, an extra half gallon of water and a bottle of whiskey. We head east over the Wasatch mountains and here’s our first view.



We stop off and pick up a friend with his WR. He informs us his odometer still works so we’ll know mileage for a couple of days. Packing is easy when you don’t have much.



And we’re back on the trail. This day was pretty tame. Mostly gravel and two track roads.



We worked east into the Uintas and down to Strawberry reservoir on more gravel.



A quick gas stop for the WR and……



a cold Clamato for the KTMs.



We climb and follow a ridge road east.



We pick up a nice section of single track.



Nice and smooth flowing in 2nd and 3rd gear.



By this time we’re already used to the large tanks and the extra gear on the rear fender. These bikes are a pleasure to ride on this stuff.



We’re back on the two tracks now with a good amount of mileage behind us already.



There are so many routes through these mountains, many marked on maps, many not. You just have to pick one and see where it takes you. We started following less traveled routes.



After a couple of dead ends and some route finding we got on to a gravel road heading down to Duchesne. Dead ends are frustrating but there’s no way to avoid them when you are searching out these less traveled routes, trying to link them all together.



Then we set up camp for the night. It doesn’t take long to put your kick stand down and lean up against the front tire. Boom, your home!! We build a fire and through some potatoes and corn on. We stick some steaks onto a fork and cook them over the fire as well. A little whiskey and we’re blah blah blahing about the successful day.

Mileage: WR-200 miles, KTMs-around 240.
Route: Mostly gravel and two tracks with a great section of single track.
Difficulty: Easy riding.

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Old 09-17-2008, 09:46 AM   #6
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In the old days, (before throw away bikes) when you ground the valves you also took some off the stem so that the rocker fit at the same place.

I think it is a forgotten art.

Great trip.

Don
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Old 09-17-2008, 09:46 AM   #7
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Great action

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Old 09-18-2008, 10:36 AM   #8
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Good morning! Great sunrise viewed from my sleeping bag although the photo isn’t as good as I’d hoped.



Here’s one of the guys with his shelter deployed. We do a couple of these trips a year and there’s just something great about being on a journey with not many possessions and nothing to be concerned about.



Since we were camped close to Duchesne we decided to check out a local “puke and choke” and get a little grub. We embraced the place and went with chicken fried steak and eggs. Classic!!



Duchesne would be the last stop before we headed south into the Roan cliffs where we’d never ridden through before. So, not knowing where we’ll end up we stock up on food for the day and the next morning. We fill our tanks and discuss the fact that the KTM’s will probably have to share a little fuel with the WR to make it to I-70 where the next fuel is available. We stop off at a ranger station and discuss routes a bit and……..



We’re off again. We follow a two track along a canal and try to link gravel roads together until we get across the Green River. It’s difficult with lots of private ranches and drilling sites. We stop and talk with someone coming out of a ranch and he tells us it’s best just to shoot the pavement to the Green River and then we’ll be back on gravel again. He was great. As a matter of a fact, I find that when I approach most locals throughout Utah on my bike they are very friendly and accommodating.



After a longer stretch of pavement then we wanted we were back on gravel roads. This is drilling country with lots of industrial trucks and semis traveling these well graded roads and drilling sites ALL over the place. We stopped of at this overlook for a quick break as we worked south toward the Roan Cliffs.



A while later we leave the majority of the industrial sites and start climbing a drainage into the high country.



This ends up being a very stunning and casual ride through with numerous small ranches scattered along the bottom.



The route today is very easy as expected. Usually when we roll through new territory we stick to a well used route and get a feel for the terrain. We look at all the drainages and ridges and then plan possible alternative and less traveled routes for future adventures.



This drainage went on for quite some time with spectacular scenery around every corner.



We come around a corner and, well well well, what do you know? An industrial site with a couple of full gas cans. Call it bad kharma or unethical but we took some fuel and left some money.



The easy riding continues.



The route tightened up as it started a steeper climb.



This was a cool little slot that the road passed through.



The road then topped out at around 8000 feet and followed a ridge that provided great views all around. Here’s looking south with the Uncompahgre Plateau in the center with Grand Junction on the left of it and the La Sal Mtns on the right.



Our route followed a road that switchbacked down and spit us out into the desert toward I-70.



We followed the gravel until it teed into old highway 6 and followed it 10 miles into town where we found some cold beer.



It was late in the day so we went out of town and found a place to rest for the night with the Colorado River in view.



We relaxed, built a fire and cooked up some sausages, corn and other vegetables. A little more whiskey and the blah blah blahing started!! Also, we were treated to the sounds of some washed up 80’s “hair” bands that were playing at a weekend concert not far away. Bonus!

Milage: 200 miles
Route: Pavement, gravel, two tracks
Difficulty: very easy
Heavy Metal Band Rating: off the chart!!

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Old 09-18-2008, 10:47 AM   #9
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Awesome..looks like a great time. Makes me itch for a westward bound trip!!
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Old 09-18-2008, 10:57 AM   #10
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GReat Report....

I love Utah...
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Old 09-18-2008, 12:05 PM   #11
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nice shots, cool route, perfect western (light) style
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Old 09-18-2008, 03:29 PM   #12
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Old 09-18-2008, 04:26 PM   #13
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Love the minimalist approach and report!

Looking forward to the rest!
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Old 09-22-2008, 09:17 PM   #14
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The next morning we pack it up and bid farewell to our comrade who must head for home. He picks a route through Green River, UT and heads for Price then over the Strawberry Ridge and down to home. My partner and I, however, are just getting warmed up. Today is when we start getting into more challenging and fun routes.



We take a quick peek at the Colorado River and head east through Grand Junction.



Next we start climbing onto the Uncompahgre Plateau.



We’ve never been here and don’t have a map so we’re just on gravel to start.



We work over the top for a while until we come to a very detailed map along the road. We choose some single track routes that’ll take us in the direction we want to go and……



Here we go!!



This was a nice trail using mostly second gear.



It flowed nice.





There were a few spots where we had to make a few moves but nothing major. This is where these nimble bikes are VERY nice.



You could push bigger bikes through here but you’d work a lot more. These bikes are made for this stuff.





More single track with the La Sal Mountains in Utah in the background.



The trail opened up a bit more and we’re using 3rd more now.



We spit out of the single track and it’s time to follow a gravel road down to Gateway.



This view about blew our minds.



Down in Gateway we got fuel, food and water. We saw a couple of guys pull up on these bikes so we thought we’d find them and shoot the shit. When we found them they said they had been up on the Plateau as well during the day and got into some single track that was getting a bit technical for at least one of them on these bikes. The two of them were hanging out with a married couple that was doing a route from Durango. They were all people who are on this forum. We can’t remember what they call them selves here except for the gal goes as “Fat Wife”. The men were smoking cigars and spilling as much beer on the ground as they were getting down their throat!! Fat Wife had obviously had her lips wrapped around a bottle of Chardonnay for some time before we arrived. We liked their style. Hopefully we’ll cross paths again.



He headed down the pavement a few miles and started working up a valley.



Our map showed a few routes that would take us up to the La Sals out of this valley.



After talking to a couple people that we ran into, we found out that the routes didn’t go through due to private property. This section took a little concentration late in the day.



We followed this trail out to an overlook where we camped and planned on heading back down to the pavement in the morning.

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Old 09-23-2008, 09:10 AM   #15
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Sleeping in the dirt is the best!!! Here’s what our camps all look like.



This little bench we were on was a perfect place to stay the night.



Our minimalist approach doesn’t allow for much of a mess kit. It includes a metal cup to drink, eat, and cook with over a fire; a spork; a little tin foil; and an “adjust-a-fork” (more on that later) for cooking various meats. The routine in the morning is to heat up some noodles or oatmeal first. Then some water and coffee with just a splash of Old Crow to sweeten it. We refer to this as “croffee”.



After enjoying our croffee up on the bench it’s time to back track down to the road. We’re not happy that the route didn’t go through but this happens when you’re on an adventure. This stretch of pavement was not the worst by any means. It was a very scenic 10 to 15 mile stretch.



We find a bridge that takes us to a gravel route heading in the direction we want to go.



This road ends up being really stunning running along the river.



Not sure what was up with the old bracing up on the wall. Maybe an old mining trolley.



Our next stop was this place to restock on water, food and Old Crow.



Now we’re getting into the thick of it. Our shaky map indicates a route that will take us down into a valley that we want to cross. This area is littered with old mining roads. We think our route is the one that you can see running parallel to the cliff through the Junipers in the background. We’d find out later it wasn’t the route we wanted.



A typical problem is there are a ton more roads then many maps show. This makes it tough to choose the right one. Lots of these are not well traveled and potentially washed out beyond passable.



Here we are heading in the direction we want.



Not much left of this old route. It’s amazing how the desert reclaims itself.



The route dead ends here giving us a view of the valley we want to get to.



We back track a bit and try another route that proves to get us a little closer to our goal.



We again end up on sparsely traveled routes, just what we’re looking for.



However, we spend the majority of the afternoon wrestling these old roads only to find dead ends.



I’m in my element ‘cause I know the route goes through. My partner is starting to question my sanity. I figure if we don’t find it this time I’ll come back a different day. We about exhaust all our options when we find a route that will take us down. The only problem is it’s about 150 feet down from this road we’re on and there’s a few cliffy sections separating the routes. I suggest we take off the gear and walk it down then remove the tanks and bring them down. We can then walk and belay the bikes with a length of nylon webbing. At this point our democratic method of route finding quickly turns to a dictatorship and my partner announces this is not going to happen. I think his quote was “it’s not like we’re discovering America!!” We are discouraged and getting tired and we are coming to terms with backtracking through a long section of demanding terrain. Now we’re really on an adventure!!!



After a little miscommunication, we get split up for a few minutes. My partner unintentionally stumbles onto the route we’ve been searching for. This was just what needed to happen to him as he was getting pushed to the brink. We regroup and start down.



Here’s the old cut that’s on our map.



It’s steep, rocky, loose and difficult. PERFECT!!!!



It doesn’t get much use these days but it’s still there. You always take a little chance that you may have to climb back up something like this if the route doesn’t pan out.



This route does pan out and we’re feeling that our strenuous afternoon payed off. I drew the route in yellow in this photo. These routes are not only physically demanding but mentally taxing as well. It’s a good test to see what you’re made of.



I think you know the scene here. We think we’re minimalists but there’s still one more category to go. I’ve heard of guys who don’t bring sleeping bags or pads. They just put on all their clothing, put their helmets back on to act as a pillow and lay down in the dirt for the night. We’re not quite there yet but we’re striving for it. Maybe next trip.

Day 5:
Mileage: Unknown
Difficulty: Quite
How good does the bourbon taste: the best we’ve had yet!!!

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