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Old 10-24-2014, 08:51 PM   #1
zekester63 OP
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The Southeast Utah 1000

First, a few teasers to start things off:
  • 2 Dual Sport Bikes
  • 7 Days
  • 1034 miles
  • White Rim Trail
  • Natural Bridges
  • Moki Dugway
  • Lockhart Basin
  • UTBDR
  • Much more...














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Old 10-24-2014, 08:54 PM   #2
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Looking forward to this one.
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Southwest Utah: Dual Sport Riding from St. George
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Old 10-24-2014, 08:57 PM   #3
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Looks like it's gonna be a good one.
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Old 10-25-2014, 06:04 AM   #4
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IN!
Looks like this will be full of great pics!
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Old 10-25-2014, 08:19 AM   #5
zekester63 OP
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For a while now some friends and I have wanted to go on a ride that was more than just a few days, like our awesome trip last year to New Mexico. The TAT has always been appealing, but with only a week off, we’d be limited to only being able to do a small section of it, not to mention backtracking or slabbing it back home. That just didn’t seem like a good idea. So we narrowed our planning down to Colorado and/or Utah, where there was more than enough choices for a week of decent dual sport riding.

There are a ton of ride reports covering all sorts of cool rides around CO and UT, and I love reading all of them, but there were two in particular that inspired me to actually start working on a trip: Jglow’s Ultimate Utah Adventure Route – The UTBDR and a Whole Lot More. Jglow also has a trip report from this year as well here - good stuff. And then there’s BigDog’s trip with DingWeed and friends: BigDog/Friends/COBDR/UTBDR/2,3 & 4 Corners. In BigDog’s report, we got to hear the early announcement of DingWeed starting the 3 Step Hideaway, which seemed like a “must do” when in that area!

So off I started with planning, reading more ride reports, studying maps, GPS tracks, and whatever other Forestry/BLM/National Park/MVUM map information could find. We quickly realized that having only a week was going to be limiting for us, so we dropped the idea of Colorado and just focused on Utah. Reviewing the tracks for the UTBDR was a good starting point, but the more I learned about Utah, the more I wanted to do more than only the UTBDR. I also didn’t want to have to backtrack any, so I had to come up with some sort of loop for the week. And since I didn’t want to waste a lot of time re-routing, I pretty much tried to stick with routes that I was fairly confident we could get through on or there were GPS tracks already available for. My goal was simple: keep it interesting, see as much as possible, ride as little slab as practical, and not get too crazy with overly challenging routes.

Originally there were 3 of us going, but unfortunately our friend Steve, who we rode with last year in NM, just recently injured his back while hiking in the mountains. His physical therapist told him at least 4 weeks of only light activity only (like walking), so sadly he had to back out. We will miss him and his vast knowledge of history (and actually most things in general).

That leaves me, riding my WR250X (disguised as a “R” on D606s) that I call Roxy, and Okraider81 (Dave), riding his plated DRZ400 (kicker), fondly known as QE2, also recently shod with a rear D606.

Dave and I both decided to upgrade our tanks so we wouldn’t have to carry extra fuel. I mounted an IMS 4.7 on my WR, while he put an Acerbis 3.7 on his DRZ. That should give us all the range we need for the areas we’ll be riding in SE Utah anyway. The 4.7 is a huge tank on the WR, but I’ve chosen functionality over looks, and also gone with the natural color and have zero regrets on that choice! I love being able to see the gas level at a quick glance.

Here’s pics of the new tanks installed:





We’d be camping every night we’re riding, so we'd have all that gear along with as well. Somehow we seemed to think we were taking the absolute minimum of things we'd need, but once we got it all on the bikes, it seemed like so much, and is definitely a different ride. Fortunately our first day should be fairly easy riding (for the most part), so that should give us some time to get a good feel for things.

We had a GoPro with us, so my goal is to provide a little clip of video from each day, but I won't make any promises on that!

I’ve been through many iterations of routes over the past few months, constantly tweaking or adding/changing routes to see things that looked interesting along the way or places that looked fun to ride. It's been a fun process, and I've learned a lot from it. This map shows what I came up with, but later I ended up making some small changes.



What you don’t see on this map is all the other tracks I had for shortcuts, alternate routes, and short excursions to ruins and other notable landmarks, but this map gives you a pretty good overview of the major routes planned.

Stay tuned for Day 1... lots of pictures on the way!

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Old 10-25-2014, 01:23 PM   #6
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DAY 1: The 960 Mile All-Nighter plus some riding...

DAY 1: The 960 Mile All-Nighter plus some riding...

Our plan was to leave bright and early on Saturday, and drive out to Monticello, UT. We would stay the night there so we could get a nice, early start on Sunday morning. But excitement got the best of us, and we decided to leave Friday evening around 8PM and just see how far we could get. We figured if we got too tired, we’d just pull into a rest stop along the way for a few hours. This also meant that we could possibly start our riding a day early, or at least get a few hours of riding in on Saturday afternoon. So I started thinking and looking over the maps and tracks to figure out a plan for Saturday, if we got there early enough to start our ride.

One of our many stops along the way… for gas, coffee and snacks:



Shiprock - we’re getting closer now!



Nearly 15 hours and 960ish miles later we roll into Monticello. We had reservations at the Blue Mountain Horse Head Inn, but we knew 10AM was probably too early to get our room. I figured I would go ask anyway. Our new plan was to forfeit the night in the motel, but we still wanted to nap for couple hours and shower before loading up our bikes and starting our week of riding. We got checked in, but he said the room wasn’t quite ready, so if we could come back in an hour or so, we should be able to have the room. We went to eat breakfast at PJs to kill a little time - good, homestyle food, prepared and served by a couple “grandmas”, and it hit the spot.





Dave shows me one of the many books on the rack near our table that he seemed to be able to relate to. All of the books at our table and on the rack were authored by Ben Goode, who seems to have quite an assortment of lighthearted titles.



After an hour or so we head back to the motel. The staff has our room ready, so we start unloading our junk, shower and catch a little shut-eye. Clean and functional rooms, serving our purpose perfectly.



About an hour later we are up and ready to roll, so we loaded up our gear on the bikes and headed out. Since our original plan was to start on Sunday, with a full day of riding, I had to come up with a new plan for the remaining hours of light to ride. I ended up borrowing some of the tracks I had planned for our last day of riding near Monticello, and decided it would work out nicely. So the plan now was to ride Montezuma Creek Canyon south from Monticello, and make our way to Sand Island campgounds near Bluff for the night.

Montezuma Creek was a fairly scenic ride, but also a great road to get used to all the extra weight on our bikes without getting into any technical stuff. There are some ruins along the way, although our goal on this trip wasn’t of a very archeological nature - we mainly wanted to ride, so that meant we'd probably only stop if there was something convenient and easily accessible.

The residents of the canyon made great use of the landscape, from building houses into the rocks as well as storing farm equipment and hay there as well. Some of the caves looked natural, while others were obviously drilled out.

Oh, and just for the record, and not that I’m anything much of a photographer, but none of these shots posted have been edited in any form or fashion, cropped or otherwise. These are straight uploads from the camera.





This is what we need in Oklahoma to protect us from all the tornados..







As we traveled further south, we entered the Navajo Reservation, and the landscape changed a bit. I wondered if it was “ok” to ride through the reservation, but since we didn’t see any signs stating otherwise, we just kept riding. Actually the only way I even knew this was because I saw it on the maps. There were very few residences or signs of life along the way.



Dave and QE2, leading the way:



After a short section of slab, we made it to Bluff. Twin Rocks was only the beginning of strange rock formations that we saw all week. Pretty interesting stuff for flatlanders from Oklahoma.







We rode past Bluff Fort to see what it was like. You can Google it if you’re interested in the history of it.



Our campsite at Sand Island Campground:



We rode back into Bluff to grab some dinner at the Twin Rocks Café. Nice backdrop, and good food. There's a gift shop there as well, if you're into that sort of thing.







Back at camp, we found some firewood by the river for a campfire, and settled in for the evening. There was a creepy looking man in the bluffs watching us all night long…



The next picture is me testing the somewhat limited capabilities of my Sony Cybershot… slightly better than your typical pocket camera, but not a DSLR by any means either. In the end I’m glad I chose this one over my little Samsung, but this one proved to be somewhat of a hassle getting in and out of my tank bag all week long - especially once the zipper was covered in dust and dirt. It also didn't leave much room in the tank bag for other junk that's nice to keep handy in there.



Tomorrow we have our first full day of riding ahead of us. Probably the busiest day on our itinerary, and most “touristy” as well.

Map of today’s ride:



Mileage for the day: 95

Stay tuned for Day 2...
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Old 10-25-2014, 01:34 PM   #7
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I'll repeat what Red Rock Rider said..............

Looking forward to this story and pictures !!!!

BigDog
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Old 10-25-2014, 02:02 PM   #8
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Nice Job Zeke

Making me wish it weren't over so soon.
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Old 10-26-2014, 10:43 AM   #9
quota
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Already seeing some familiar places. Look forward to seeing more.
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Old 10-26-2014, 10:58 AM   #10
DingWeed
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Larry,
It was Fantastic to meet you guys here at 3 Step!!
Looking forward to your RR and pics!
Scott
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Old 10-26-2014, 12:53 PM   #11
zekester63 OP
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DAY 2 - Busy Playing Tourist

DAY 2: Comb Ridge, Butler Wash, Mexican Hat, Goosenecks SP, Valley of the Gods, Moki Dugway, Muley Point, Natural Bridges

The next morning was cool - low 40s I think, but those temps are fine. It's when it dips into the 30s that my 32 degree bag gets to be a bit of a challenge. We boiled water for oatmeal and coffee, packed up camp, and hit the road. We had a pretty big day planned now, and I wasn't even sure if we would be able to do everything on the itinerary.

Heading west on 163, we pass by Butler Wash. We would be riding that a bit later. I noticed the gate that I’ve seen pictures of in ride reports. Nearly 3 miles further west, we picked up Comb Wash. This runs parallel to Butler Wash, but on the west/lower side of the ridge. On Google Earth, this road looked fairly interesting, so I decided we would ride it north and make a loop back to the north end of Butler Wash, and then ride Butler Wash back south again, as we really didn’t want to miss that one either.

Some shots along the way:





There were quite a few creek crossings, but they were mostly dry during our ride. I imagine it could get pretty fun on some of the crossings if there had been any recent rains. There were quite a few stretches of sand as well.

Sand schmand...



We reached highway 95, crossed over and continued on northward. I guess at this point it’s now called Comb Ridge, according to TrailDamage.com anyway. This is also the way into Arch Canyon and Hotel Rock.



Comb Ridge was very similar to Comb Wash - some sand, but mostly smooth and scenic.



I knew there was a bit of a technical climb up ahead, up through the ridge, but had no idea what was really in store for us. I had seen a YouTube video from a few years back that made it look fairly doable, but I’d also read a report on TrailDamage.com that had words like “unmaintained”, “eroded”, “steep”, “rocky”, “narrow”, “intimidating”, “overgrown”, “deep trenches” and “crazy”. This member report was from 2010, and with no maintenance, we just weren’t sure what we were getting ourselves into.

We got to the dugway that led up to the top of the ridge, and it looked like a go. Actually we didn’t give it much thought, and just proceeded on up the trail.



At first it wasn’t too bad, some trenches and areas that were washed out, as well as some rocks and ledges. We’re both old dirt bikers, so the only bad thing was doing this on loaded down, top heavy bikes. A little further though, we were quickly wondering what we had gotten ourselves into - too far into it to turn around (not to mention that retreating is for wimps...), but also dreading the remainder of the climb. Dave stopped at one point and didn’t have anywhere for his foot, so QE2 decided to nap a couple minutes. And as usual, the pictures don’t do ANY justice for it. In fact, we look at the pictures ourselves now and wonder if we just made the difficulty of the whole thing up. Seriously though, for our first day of full riding, the last thing we wanted was to be injured or break the bikes, so this was on our minds as we continued up the hill, often just inches from the edge of severe injury or even death.



I found a reasonable spot where I could actually park my bike and walked back to help (but mostly take pictures). Again, this part of the trail actually looks (and was) pretty mild compared to what lie ahead.



Again, the usual disclaimer that pictures just don’t do justice…



From this point on, I didn’t get any pictures because I was hanging on for dear life, trying not to go over the edge, yet somehow traverse up the ledges and around the boulders with an overloaded bike. Although I’m running 14/50 gearing, I could have definitely used a granny gear for this one spot of the whole week. Otherwise the gearing is great.

We finally made it up the switchback and through the carved out rocks at the top and once we got a little further up onto the mesa, the trail became smooth and maintained again. Once again we saw the sign for “More difficult” (blue) trail sign pointing down Comb Ridge, and realized that this must be very outdated. Reflecting back now, comparing Comb Ridge to Lockhart Basin, which is a double diamond black “expert” trail, we realized that with exception of 1 technical area on Lockhart Basin, it was far easier than Comb Ridge. At least for us. So take that into consideration, as necessary.

Posey’s Trail was at the top of Comb Ridge, as well as Tower House Ruins a bit further down the road.

The trail intersected with Cottonwood Creek Rd, and we headed back south to pick up Butler Wash off of highway 95. Before heading to Butler Wash though, we rode into Blanding for gas to top off our tanks. Butler Wash was scenic and fun, and although somewhat sandy in spots, overall it was uneventful and easy compared to Comb Ridge (at least the dugway).



There’s quite a few sights and ruins along Butler Wash. I think this was Fishmouth Cave. We didn’t bother hiking over to it though, as we still had a long day ahead of us.



We finish Butler Wash and take highway 163 to our next destination - Mexican Hat. First thing on the agenda was lunch at Hat Rock Café. The Navajo Taco with Chili Beans was a good choice. Maybe not for camping, but at least we don’t share a tent, and I brought ear plugs in case there were just too many extra sound effects during the night.



For some reason I thought Mexican Hat Rock was going to be bigger, but I suppose if you’re hanging from a rope on it or standing under it, it is fairly big. But it’s not from a distance.





We rode around back to check out the interesting colors and formations of the terrain. We’re imagining that this area is a geologist’s dream.



Next we’re off to Goosenecks State Park. Somehow, trying to ride dual sports for a week, as much off-pavement as we can possibly ride, we really didn’t like the thought of all the tourists and RVs, but it’s worth checking out since we’re here. Besides, we’re also tourists, but it just feels different for us I suppose since we’re just on “dirt bikes.” We paid our $2, snapped a few pics, said a few ooh-ahs, and were on our way. We still had things to see, and the day was starting to get short.







Next up: Valley of the Gods. Wow. Impressive. As Dave put it, the enormity of everything riding through there really makes you feel tiny and insignificant. It wouldn’t be the same just seeing everything from the main road. You have to drive though. Oh, and a note on this ride, we saw all sorts of vehicles, from small cars to SUVs. Some of these must have been rentals though, as they were driving excessively fast through some of the rougher areas, and I can’t imagine doing that without bottoming out or doing some other damage to a regular sedan.











We reached the end of the 17 mile ride and headed up Moki Dugway. This is yet another fun spot I’d seen in many others’ ride reports. Although it was a neat set of switchbacks, I guess it wasn’t as dramatic as I had expected. We did, however, see a full-size truck pulling a pretty big camper, coming down the switchbacks. That didn’t look like a very smart move in my opinion, but I suppose they made it down ok. Dave isn’t thrilled with extreme heights, especially combined with roads where you can easily ride off to your death, but that didn’t stop him. Later on though, while doing the Shafer Switchbacks, he questioned his sanity following me - especially when I told him once reaching the top that we had to go back down again to pick up the White Rim Trail.

Here you can barely see Dave on QE2 riding up the switchback:







We reached the top and headed out to Muley Point. BigDog & crew had some awesome shots of this from their trip last year, so I wasn’t about to pass it up on this trip.









Our trusty steeds, waiting patiently for us as we play tourist:



The plan for tonight was to camp at Natural Bridges Campground. Unfortunately we got there just as the Visitor’s Center was closing, and the Park Ranger walking out told us that it was full. Fortunately he gave us a few tips on where we could primitive camp on BLM land, and that turned out to be a win for us.

There were many primitive sites along the way, and we finally found a suitable one a ways back off the road, complete with a fire ring and some extra wood laying there. Perfect. Just in time for sunset as well.







Tomorrow’s destination is Needles Outpost, via Manti-LaSal National Forest. Looking forward to the mountains!

Map of today’s ride:



Mileage for the day: 175

Stay tuned for Day 3...
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zekester63 screwed with this post 10-26-2014 at 06:35 PM
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Old 10-26-2014, 01:56 PM   #12
Bob
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Nice pics.
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Old 10-26-2014, 02:39 PM   #13
zekester63 OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob View Post
Nice pics.
Thanks Bob. I'm sure you know that pictures rarely even do justice compared to the real thing. We were often at a loss for words to even describe our feelings while riding through there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedRockRider View Post
Looking forward to this one.
RRR, this is pretty much in your back yard I guess - I'm sure you're pretty familiar with all these great places. What a smorgasbord of riding options out there. Dave and I often discussed how easily we could spend several weeks out there and not ever have to ride anything twice.
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Old 10-27-2014, 09:06 AM   #14
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Old 10-27-2014, 12:25 PM   #15
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Comb Ridge

A little Go Pro of Comb Ridge Dugway


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