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Old 03-19-2011, 08:18 PM   #1
trackhead OP
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Five Deserts, Three States, 2000 miles

Just finished up a 2000 mile mostly dirt loop from Salt Lake City, crossing five deserts and three states, with terrain ranging from snowy mountains to cactus and gila monsters.

Here's a pic from today, our last day riding. More later.......


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trackhead screwed with this post 03-20-2011 at 08:20 AM
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Old 03-19-2011, 09:16 PM   #2
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Is this pix taken off I-70 near Richfield?
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Old 03-20-2011, 07:05 AM   #3
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The plan was to take 12 days to ride a 2000 mile loop from SLC across the lonely Great Basin Desert, then ride south into the Mohave to Parker, Arizona. From Parker we would leave the Mohave, entering the cactus riddled Sonoran Desert to the edge of the chaos that is Phoenix. From Phoenix, we would ride across the beautiful Painted Desert and north back into Utah and the redrock of the Escalante Desert.

Here is our route, we rode the outer perimeter of this loop.



I'm riding a 2007 KTM 450 XC that I bought last fall. The bike was raced pretty hard prior to me buying it, and it showed. I rebuilt the motor prior to this trip, replacing the piston and valves, as the intake valves were shot. I only had time to put 100 miles on it prior to the ride, but it was purring after rebuild. I did the last break in ride, checked the valves one more time, and crossed my fingers. This is my first KTM, and prior to this trip, I believed the dogma that KTM's might not be up to the task at hand.

We were to meet at a gas station at the edge of town. GISkev shows up and my bike is on it's side, oil all over the ground and my boots. WTF? My bike is pouring oil out from where? Turns out on the last valve check, I put the valve cover window on with a kink in the gasket. GISkev was laughing, taking pics of the poor KTM on it's side in the first 30 miles. But as it turns out, his XR650R was sputtering and running like crap too. Anyway, fixed the valve cover gasket and rode on, fixing the oil leak.

First dirt, clean bikes, a little nervous looking for more oil leaks and GISkev's bikes stuttering a bit. Oh well.



This stretch of the route has a gas interval of 190 miles if all went well, given that, we chose to ride light on the throttle to conserve gas. We headed south, leaving the Pony Express route.






After 150 miles or so, GISkev suggested that if we saw anybody out here, that we might ask to buy some gas. A few miles later we ran into these guys, retired brothers from Lehi out for some four wheeling, beer drinking, and gun shooting. They were quite cordial and generous. We hung out for a bit as they insisted we drink some of their bitter Folgers crystals and look at cell phone pics of their exploits. After a couple gallons of gas, we were back riding.


Click for video.


This part of the route was fast, super remote, and tons of sixth gear fun.





Natures roller coaster.


Great Basin sheep herd with the rare friendly sheep dog guarding the flock.





Turns out the KTM and Honda were running fine and we wouldn't need a ride back this day.






Took a side trip up to Notch Peak, a fun alpine rock route and semi-popular base jumping site.




The Great Basin Desert is just starting to green up.


Beeline for the town of Baker, NV and Wheeler Peak.







Powerline roads would become the theme of the trip, offering fast routes across the deserts.



We made it to Baker, NV twice as fast as we thought we would and stopped for lunch.


The owner asked if we were riding the TAT. Apparently he sees a lot of those folks in the summer.



South out of Baker, Nevada and back into Utah.




Lots of this kind of stuff in the west dez.



I love this kind of terrain. Some would call it barren and ugly, but I find it amazing, being able to coast along at 50+mph.



This road stayed straight as an arrow to the next horizon. A seven speed transmission would have been nice.


We rode until dark, accumulating 350 miles for the day.


Camp was next to some railroad tracks, with trains passing by frequently through the night. A bit of whiskey seemed to quiet them down nicely. Bikes were running good, route was fun, good times.
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Old 03-20-2011, 07:29 AM   #4
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Great Start!

Keep it comming.
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Old 03-20-2011, 07:56 AM   #5
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Just looking at your loop gives me a woody! If for some reason Ryman and I can't get across the border, I'll be hitting you up for the gpx.

Gotta love ATV riders...when they are carrying extra fuel !
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Old 03-20-2011, 08:11 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HickOnACrick View Post
Just looking at your loop gives me a woody!
Right up your alley.
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Old 03-20-2011, 08:17 AM   #7
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Great intro

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Old 03-20-2011, 09:44 AM   #8
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Great Ride!

Here's Trackhead flying as usual...



On the way to the base of Notch Peak!



Lots of good dez riding!




...More to come later. I've got to get some chores done or it's the doghouse for me!
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Old 03-20-2011, 04:34 PM   #9
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Day Two:

Rise and shine next to the rail road tracks in Nowhere, UT. Drink some coffee and ride to the next town for food.


We rode into St. George and stopped at Walmart for all your moto needs, and a brief map recon.


The views leaving St. George are always nice.


GISkev descends to the first river crossing.


Uneventful.


More powerline rallying.


GISkev trying to preserve his front tire tread.


We chose an alternate route here, following this long, sand wash for miles and miles.



Our routine for photos was to race ahead, slam on the brakes, rip out the camera and try to catch a glimpse of the other as they raced past. With that, most shots end up like this.......it made for a fast pace and not too much slowing down to take photos.


Oddly enough, finding a dirt route and staying off I-15 proved to be a long session of dead ends.
It was here that I noticed GISkev's bike making an odd racket at idle. I didn't say anything, but quietly wondered WTF?


Fast ATV trails to Logandale/Overton.



Dinner in Overton. Can't remember this fellow's name, he's on ADVrider and lives in Soda Springs.



After dinner, GISkev mentioned the rattle and we were both concerned. The bike ran fine, but at idle had a horrible metal on metal pinging sound. We didn't want to ride into the remote Mohave on a suspect bike, so we decided to ride up to a camp site and tear into the engine. We stopped here to camp and get to work, but then wondered about the sanity of tearing into the motor, at night, in the desert.......


While riding up here, we passed a big residential garage and waved to some Harley guys out enjoying the evening. Later we decided to race down there and ask if we could use their shop space to tear into the XR. Here's their shop.


They obliged, and we found ourselves across the street, working on the XR in a sweet shed/garage/shop with plenty of tools and cold beverages.


We decided to take the head off to take a look at the cam, the auto-decomp, and the cam chain. All the while, the music of the night was some sort of death metal, cranking away at full volume as the neighbors collected to drink and watch the bike get torn apart, all the while a little kid and the wife of the house were tearing around full throttle in the back yard on their 450cc ATV's with loud as hell aftermarket pipes. Dust flying everywhere in the air, and probably into GISkev's motor as well.


The cam looked good, no metal scuffing or nasty looking stuff. We figured it was either the auto-decomp going bad, or the chain tensioner going bad. So all we accomplished was making sure everything looked ok, which made us feel better about riding into the Mohave on it.


After a long day of riding, and a long evening of wrenching, we crashed in the shed. Great accommodations except for the three hounds that were sniffing around all night and managed to eat my breakfast out of my pack.



These guys hooked us up with the shed space, and our work gave us confidence to ride into the remote Mohave the following morning.
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Old 03-20-2011, 09:21 PM   #10
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First ATVs, then Harleys! Next thing you know, we're going to start hearing stories about NASCAR.
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Old 03-20-2011, 09:26 PM   #11
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the fun

just getting started... no dirt yet. where's the oil coming from? oh, i pitched the valved gasket on the last check. good to go!




we may need a ride outta here!



This is the easy stuff but it'll toss a bike loaded w/ camping gear.






this pretty much sums it up!

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Old 03-20-2011, 09:39 PM   #12
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Nice place and nice pics Bro...
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Old 03-21-2011, 06:38 AM   #13
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Day Three:

Woke up early and tried to get an early start, both in part to get some good mileage in, and also in an effort to not get tied up in another prolonged social event at our generous host's house.

Sunrise over my "campsite".


We rode west out of Overton to a 20 mile loop in the Logandale OHV park. This was good for two reasons, fun riding and also a good shake down close to town to make sure GISkev's bike wasn't going to implode.










GISkev's bike seemed to be working fine, if it made the clack at low idle, he would just keep the idle high. What you can't hear can't hurt you, right?

Now it was my turn to make a trip to the hardware store. The bolt holding my exhaust on sheered off.........GISkev seems happy it's my bike, not his.


GISkev gets to go shopping in the hardware store.


A bit of slab through the scenic Valley of Fire.








Cut out for a dirt route into Henderson. Pigs don't fly very well.


This section was more scenic than our lame pictures can portray, hence, we were leap frogging every 1/4 mile shooting photos.






This is where we were introduced to bottomless Mohave pea gravel. A weird, unpredictable, tiring substrate to ride through. Best to pin it and keep your speed up. 1-2nd gear wouldn't work, 3-5th was best, when you could.


We would also get our first taste of the endless boulders and rocky terrain of the Mohave. If it wasn't bottomless pea gravel, it was slow and rocky pinch flat terrain.








GISkev lives for this type of terrain, and he always pins it.


We were enjoying ourselves.




At some point in the trip, I roosted a rock through GISkev's headlight, perhaps it was here.


We rode in and out of Henderson as quick as possible and bee lined for the the river below the dam.


The water was chilly, but the temps were in the upper 80's, so submerging was quite tolerable and refreshing.


Then it was more fast pea gravel towards Laughlin.


Lots of 50+mph terrain.




Another powerline road that was perfectly straight beyond the next horizon. 50+mph interspersed with slamming on the brakes for the too frequent deep wash crossing the road.


Maybe one of those washes pinch flatted GISkev's tire. Oh well, nice place for a flat, with the local bovine watching.




The sun was setting and we really wanted to make Laughlin for food/water, thankfully the terrain was incredibly fast and fun. Lots of 60mph terrain through the desert with the cows mingling nearby. Testosterone was definitely high through here, and I'm sure we were riding far too fast, but it was fun as hell.


Then back out to the straight gravel for a short bit.


This is where GISkev showed me his XR650R is indeed much faster than my little 450 thumper.


Back into the twisties as we descend back down to the river.


We rode the last 20 miles or so in the dark into Laughlin, found an i-Hop and called it a day.


"Camp" was a gravel lot behind iHop. Not exactly quiet, but convenient for breakfast the following morning. Also a good place to sleep with one eye open.


Once again, whiskey seemed to quiet the industrial noise down.


Both bikes were running well, all was good.
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Old 03-21-2011, 07:25 AM   #14
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Sweet..I've been needing my fix
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Old 03-21-2011, 08:51 AM   #15
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Great travels guys. So far it looks doable on big bikes too. Thanks for sharing. I love the picture of he horizon behind the shed in the AM. Fantastic.
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