|07-29-2013, 08:14 AM||#17|
Joined: Apr 2008
Location: Coarsegold, CA
Subscribed. Riders doing this type of adventure have my admiration. It's not a ride to the grocery store.
|07-29-2013, 07:52 PM||#18|
Joined: Apr 2006
Location: San Diego
DAY 6 - JULY 9 - TUESDAY
Swan River, MT to Moose Creek, MT
Welcome to a damp, damp morning. These wetlands are no misnomer. The sun doesn't reach our camp site through the trees so the tent is going to have to be rolled up wet with junk stuck to it. That disturbs my female sensibilities, calibrated for a certain level of tidiness.
Being in bear territory, we use the sidecar trunk as a food locker. A bear could probably tear it open, but at least the racket it makes will give Wayne and Alex ample time to put on their shoes and get a head start on me (I sleep with earplugs), although a head start isn't necessary since I am among the world's slowest runners.
Before leaving our camp site, we see a cyclist coming down the forest road towards us. Of course we can't let him pass by without a thorough interrogation. We learn that Pascal is from Switzerland and enjoys epic rides, having done such inconceivable journeys as pedaling across the Sahara. Wayne asked how he managed to get so much time off to ride and Pascal explained that whenever he wanted to undertake a new adventure, he just quits his job. He works in the software industry and doesn't have much of a problem finding a new job when he returns home.
There's a small stuffed koala in the front bag that Wayne asks about. Pascal explains that when he's reincarnated he wants to be a koala because they sleep 20+ hours a day and their food source of eucalyptus abounds. He adds that the eucalptus makes them extremely amorous, but alas, chlamydia runs rampant and has had a significant impact on the population. Until scientists work out the vaccine for koala chlamydia, I would recommend that Pascal select another reincarnation vessel. Might I suggest the kangaroo? They've got killer cycling thighs.
The first part of the day's ride is more easy forest roads. This is the biggest obstacle in our path.
Well, until we get to this one. There's no way we're crossing it — the workers would probaby be pissed if we even walked across — so we get out our maps and look for an alternative route to Highway 83.
We leave Pascal a message about the impasse. If his route's the same, maybe we save him from excess pedaling, although he might enjoy the extra miles to fantasize about life as a koala.
We get back to Highway 83 and cruise down to the Condon store...
...which features an outdoor freezer with a beam that blocks the door.
We're on Highway 83 for about 40 miles. The Ural has a top speed around 55, with little (maybe nothing?) in reserve to overcome hills or headwind. Alex recedes into the background and the only way we know he's still back there is the dot of his headlight. Our speed disparity isn't a problem, though; the agreement is that we always regroup when the pavement turns to dirt, or vice versa. Yeah, I know, it's pretty funny that the DRZ400 can outrun anything.
The trail picks up again at Seeley Lake. If I recall correctly, the problem so far with Montana is that there are lots of lakes but you can't see them because of all the trees lining the road. The Montana Tourism Board should work with the various government agencies to have view-blocking trees relocated. Certainly there's enough room in that big state for a tree sanctuary.
The above mentioned tree problem is why Cottonwood Lake (47.166726,-113.351916) is striking. The tree-blinders are suddenly removed and your eyes are treated to a shimmering blue that follows the road.
Crossing Highway 200 drops us into the CDT-friendly town of Ovando. Today, we increase the dog population by 2.
For $5 per night you can sleep in a wagon, teepee, or the town jail. A solar shower in the tent goes for $2.
Not too far outside of Ovando we're back in the dirt. We try to stay close so no one has to eat all the dust.
The horses cluster behind a sign posted for their benefit. One of them must know how to read, and I bet his name is Mr. Ed.
Through this stretch of forest there's logging activity and the road shows the wear from heavy use. The bumpier stretches are tamed by standing on the pegs. Alex and Lola don't have this option and just have to put up with getting their teeth rattled. Alex gets some payback on a long sandy downhill that has Wayne and me plowing all over the place. What's fun for the Ural is usually not fun for the DRZ.
We meet another CDT cyclist. Unlike all the other ones we've chatted up, this guy looks FRIED. His eyes are red and he speaks quietly and somewhat haltingly, like he's not entirely sure where he's at. I ask him if he needs anything. He wouldn't mind some more water so I top off his bottles. In hindsight, we should've attached a tow rope to him and pulled him into the next town so he could get a big fat cheeseburger and a good night's sleep.
Remnants of industry, or perhaps random wall building.
Montana's loneliest llama. Not even a horse or a cow for a friend.
We cross Highway 12 and find a good stopping point for the night. Moose Creek Campground is about 8 miles west of Helena.
I haven't had a shower in a few days and I can't take my filthy hair anymore. One of the biggest differences between my male counterparts and me is that their threshhold for odors and uncleanliness is a lot higher. Compared to the general female population I'm low maintenance, but compared to adventurers I'm probably borderline high maintenance. Greasy hair and smelly feet bother me, as does the fact that I packed a pair of green shorts of a hue that clashes with my green shirt. A dude just wouldn't care — how liberating that must be!
The communal dinner tonight is what Alex calls "Taco Soup." It's a bunch of stuff that comes out of cans and something that comes out of a packet heated together in a pot. Poured over Minute Rice, it's a perfect end-of-day camping meal.
190 miles, 6:10 hours moving time
|07-30-2013, 02:19 AM||#19|
Joined: Nov 2012
Location: Middle earth
Alright, you got me...
Spent a few years up there many years ago. I've driven through it a few times since but not like that. I'm in. I want to go back and see some of this stuff but since it's really tough to get there from here. I've gotta be satisfied with just reading about it. Count me in.
Ride safe and have fun...
Anywhere is home
|08-01-2013, 12:14 PM||#20|
Joined: Apr 2006
Location: San Diego
DAY 7 - JULY 10 - WEDNESDAY
Moose Creek, MT to Clark Canyon Reservoir, MT
A woodpecker sporting a lucha libre mask serves as this morning's alarm clock. Does it know that the FDA recommended daily allowance for creosote is zero? Apparently not.
We follow an easy forest road towards our lunch destination of Butte (has any road not been easy?). The road is mostly lined by trees so there's not much to photograph (really, it's possible to get your fill of trees when they're constantly in your face). We get to Basin on the interstate and things finally start to change up as we follow a frontage road along I-15.
This civil engineering exercise from 1911 is a refreshing change of scenery. I'm about to make a Freudian Trip by slipping my unit into the tunnel.
The DRZ headlight is so anemic that I'm riding through the tunnel almost blind, hoping not to hit an obstacle or drop into a hole. My video camera is running and its optic eye does a superior job of seeing in the dim light.
Alex lived in Bozeman before moving to Colorado so he's familiar with a lot of places in Montana. He guides us to an eatery called Great Harvest Bread Co. and we get the best sandwiches we'll eat on the entire trip. As is standard for dualsporters with dogs, we must dine outside. It's really not health codes that keeps dogs out of restaurants; it's their predatory glare at the food transferring from hand to mouth that requires the ban. A patron cannot dine comfortably when a dog will lunge at his or her face at any moment.
Think I'm kidding? I've watched Lola watch Alex and I'll bet a few meals have ended with him peeling her jaws off his face. Alex actually has a cool scar along his cheek which he claims is from his childhood. I understand sometimes you have to tell white lies to cover for the bad table manners of your best friend.
Simon is much less of a reconstructive surgery threat. He's more a a dropped-food opportunist so it's fun to see if he'll go for a piece of napkin soiled with mustard.
Back in the dirt after lunch we encounter more heavily ladened cyclists making their way south. I see a frisky little dust cloud behind Alex — did he actually roost them?
For now we're out of the wall-to-wall trees. We wind along hillsides where low scrub transition into meadows. Niiiice.
Alex is taking a break and as we roll up we notice he and Lola have company. The friendly mixed-breed border collie greets Simon.
The dog has no collar but he's in great shape. Alex offered him water but I think he said he didn't seem desperate to drink or eat — it's a good sign that he's not starving. Still, being dog lovers we're disturbed about leaving him behind. We haven't passed any homes since we left Butte so where did the dog come from? Did he bounce out of someone's truck bed? I'm an extra bit sad to leave the dog because he's similar to my late best friend, Lucky.
When we get to Highway 43, we see Alex talking to a couple of guys. As we get near, Alex pulls back onto the road and continues on. Shortly thereafter, we pass this van.
Turns out the guys that Alex was talking to had waved him down. They said their van had a flat and someone either needed a ride to or from the van. Alex wasn't about to boot Lola out of the sidecar so that's probably why the guys were fervently waving at us. Alex explained later that the guys were unkempt to the point of being scabby and that they didn't even have a spare with which to replace their flat tire. That explains why they were waving at us — they were probably baked to the point of cluelessness. Were they hoping to sit on our handlebars? Anyhoo, being a hippie might've been cool in the 60s, and nowadays it might even be sweet if you're a clean-ish hippie toting a guitar, but c'mon, nobody wants a dreadlocked vector for lice in their car.
We cover a lot of ground on the paved Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway, which reaches 10,000 feet. I think I heard Alex's Ural let out an audible groan when nearing those five digits. He looks intense on the downhill side of the byway; he's taking advantage of the speed wherever he can.
It's really too bad there's that thing called snow or else I'd consider moving to an area like this with a better bike culture. The People's Republic of Kalifornia is impressively mountain bike unfriendly, at least in the San Diego area.
It's late afternoon and time to think about a camping spot. We stop at Bannack State Park but they want $23 for a mostly primitive campground. No point in paying for an enclosure that features a toilet, an overpowering odor, and a swarm of flies. However, in hindsight we should've enjoyed the ghost town since they got hammered by a flash flood one week after we were there and will require a lot of work to be restored. This underlines the capriciousness of weather and backroads travel: Had we departed one week later on our trip, we might've found a lot of this area a big pain in the ass to get through. Even Highway 89, some 75 miles to the east and the northern entrance to Yellowstone Park, was closed due to a landslide. But today, the weather is fine and we're on the move.
About 20 miles southeast of Bannack we arrive at Clark Canyon Reservoir. It takes us a little while to understand why so few people are taking advantage of this beautiful waterfront spot. As it gets darker, the mosquitoes begin to congregate around our camp. By the time we're bedding down in our tents, the buzzing is so loud it feels like we've been dropped into a Hitchcock movie.
Ever mindful of what is enabling us to see this part of the world, we lovingly put our horses in the barn for the night.
187 miles, 5:20 hours moving time
|08-04-2013, 08:27 PM||#21|
Joined: Apr 2006
Location: San Diego
14 Legs, 7 Wheels: We're with the Ural guy!
DAY 8 - JULY 11 - THURSDAY
Clark Canyon Reservoir, MT to Henrys Fork, ID
You know when the cloud of mosquitoes show up in a photo taken by a cheap Pentax, they must be thick.
So thick, in fact, that Alex lights a morning fire to smoke them away. It just gives him another excuse to throw a match on gasoline.
The road south passes through ranch land where several ATVs are slowly rolling through the fields. This one provides an opportunity to see its all-business set-up — at first I thought that piece behind her was a backrest, but unless I'm mistaken, that's quite the auxiliary tank.
Cyclists have far outnumbered dualsporters on this trip so far. These gents look more like sea dogs on shore leave than CDT cyclists.
A light rain is falling so we stop and put on rain gear. I made a cover for Simon's backpack out of waterproof nylon; there's a flap on the right side so he can still stick his head out.
Since we're stopped, we decide to wait for Alex to catch up. We wait. And wait. He had mentioned that sometimes when it's raining hard and Lola won't take shelter in the nose of the sidecar, he'll pull over — maybe there's a cloudburst over him and he's hunkering down. Alex eventually appears as a dot in the distance and then climbs the hill towards us.
It wasn't rain that slowed Alex down, but a broken exhaust bracket. He spun a web of wire around it but wasn't sure if it would hold. We had him go ahead of us in case he had another problem.
Not too far down the road we find him with his tools on the ground... the wire was not up to the task. Wayne and Alex review their options.
A local stops to see what's up. Alex asks if a nearby rancher might have a welder. The guy says it's quite likely, but that everyone is probably out in the field at the moment. He does tell us that we'll probably find someone in Lima, the very town we're headed to.
Alex and Wayne continue cobbling until they have an architectural masterpiece of hose clamps, duct tape and zip ties.
About a half hour later we find Alex yanking at the exhaust. The fix isn't holding and instead of risking the header getting dorked up by a flailing exhaust, he's just going to take it off. I guess the MacGyver seal of approval isn't always a guarantee of success.
Onward to Lima, purported land of welders!
We pull into this auto repair shop in Lima. They don't do welding, but Alex gets a lead on another place. We decide that while he takes care of the exhaust, we'll get lunch.
We're hanging out at Mountain High Subs when Alex returns to us with a freshly welded exhaust bracket and an improved outlook. The welder had never seen a Ural before and was so stoked that he did the welding for free; however, Alex was so grateful for the work that he made the guy take his money anyways.
This unrestrained exercise in self-expression is courtesy of the town's Crazy Old Man. According to the guy who owns the sub shop, people see the ice cream sign and go there in an attempt to satisfy their immediate needs. What they get is the equivalent of Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino telling them to get off his lawn. The sub shop owner also sells ice cream, which is probably why people end up recounting their Crazy Old Man stories to him.
Lunch eaten? Check. Exhaust welded? Check. Time to leave Lima. The skies have made no effort to retract the gloomy pall but at least that keeps the temperature pleasant, effectively making it an ideal day for extended roadside stops where shade is non-existent.
Alex had stopped to take some photos, giving us a chance to catch up and regroup. I'm not in the habit of looking down at people's tires but for some reason just as we're taking off I glance down at Alex's rear tire and notice it's flat. (Maybe I had been unconsciously performing courtesy checks on his bike since he caught my flat a few days before?) At least a flat is less problematic than a wagging exhaust, especially when you've got a handy center stand.
Like I just said, it's a pleasant day for extended roadside stops. No sweating, no cursing the heat — just take in the scenery.
So which side of the marker does someone pee on to have it flow east?
Near the end of the day we hit a Road Closed sign. Light rain is falling so rather than head down an alternate — and unknown — dirt road* we return to the pavement in search of a good stopping point for the night.
We pull into Sawtelle Mountain Resort, which has a little of everything: RV hookups, tent camping, cabins and motel rooms. Unfortunately, the rooms are booked up and we don't feel like pitching our tents in the rain. Can you tell I'm ready to stop for the day?
Not too far down the road we score a cabin at Macks Inn Resort on the Snake River.
The rain lets up but we're still glad to have a room with a shower. Alex's day isn't quite done... he decides to fix the flat since there's daylight left. Wayne tries to goad Alex into squatting but Alex doesn't take the bait. The day's been eventful enough without him popping an achilles!
159 miles, 4:31 hours moving time
* We're adventurers up to 4:00 pm. After that, our focus turns to making sure dinner and sleep is not jeopardized in any way.
|08-05-2013, 02:47 PM||#22|
Alaska Born Ducatisti
Joined: Apr 2006
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Love your writing style! Nice pics too. Thank you for taking the time to share.
Oh, and a pretty impressive profile as well.
To continuing grand adventures, Mark H.
My Ride Reports of Alaska & The Yukon
|08-05-2013, 04:08 PM||#23|
Joined: May 2011
Location: Rancho Cucamonger, CA
awesome, another thread with Simon!
heat melts nylon? who knew?
530EXCR and a bunch of 2 strokes that you dont want to read about. :)
|08-06-2013, 02:15 PM||#24|
Joined: Apr 2006
Location: San Diego
|08-06-2013, 03:59 PM||#26|
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: NW Arkansas
Great report! Interesting to follow along with the Ural and all. Very interesting. Good luck!
|08-09-2013, 09:24 PM||#27|
Joined: Apr 2006
Location: San Diego
DAY 9 - JULY 12 - FRIDAY
Henrys Fork, ID to Pinedale, WY
The bikes, wet from morning dew, dry in the sun. Although the cabin is small, three adults, two dogs, and a lot of dirty gear successfully co-existed for one night.
Wayne successfully goads Alex into a squat! If only Alex could get the right heel on the ground he'd be given a set of imitation gold-plated chopsticks by the Community of Asiatic Bros.
We've got a solid stretch of pavement this morning so we use this opportunity to shoot footage of Alex giving Simon an in-flight treat. As Wayne says before we take off, "This might be a really cool shot or a really killer crash!" Alex does a test-handoff to Simon before we start moving.
Simon looks like a turtle cautiously coming out of his shell... even Lola watches with concern.
Rough road? These civil engineers should take a tour of the TAT.
Grassy Lake reservoir is about 80% full. Seeing how the water is just about even with the road, I'd like to know what happens at 100% capacity.
As I'm taking pictures of these flattened lodgepole pines a ranger rolls up and looks into the distance, wondering why I'm interested in something so uninteresting. I ask him about the trees and he says it's a byproduct of a fire in the 80s. The trees, however, aren't charred so I can't reconcile what he's saying with what I'm seeing. If someone can explain to me why unburnt trees fall over like this, please do (yes, I googled it, without success.
That's the Teton range behind Wayne. Unlike Mt. Whitney, there's no simple hiking route to the top of Grand Teton (13,775 feet), but you can reach the peak if you can handle 5.4 climbing.
Tourists are the downside of any national park in summer. The Cruise America RVs are thick as the mosquitoes we encountered at Clark Canyon Reservoir. This traffic jam in the middle of nowhere is courtesy of the brown blob in the next photo.
What is that brown blob you ask? It's a grizzly cub with its face in the grass, indifferent to the people who would run up and cuddle it were it not for the park volunteers keeping gawkers at a distance. Isn't anybody the least bit worried mama bear is somewhere near? Wayne should be since something's up with his can of bear spray...but we'll get to that later...
All the inattentive drivers have worked up a fierce hunger in us. We stop at Buffalo Valley Cafe, which has a dog-friendly outside deck.
I'm not one to get excited about flowers, but I do notice that the meadows in Wyoming have the most beautiful wildflowers. It's probably a post-lunch high that's affecting me.
It might be summer, but it's chilly when you're moving at 9,584 ft. I need to put on another layer while Alex needs to see if anything else has tried to rattle off.
We've got about a 30 mile section of Highway 287 before we're back on dirt. Plenty of nice scenery in this stretch.
Southern California is bone dry this time of the year so I never stop marvelling at how the landscape is so green. Green is also my favorite color so it's hard to get too much of it.
One of the many beautiful meandering streams (or is the name in the next sign what the locals call these?).
We get to Union Pass Road and decide that we have to get gas or we won't make it to Pinedale. We start heading northeast towards Highway 26 when just a half mile down the road we see this sign with that very magic word: FUEL.
Sure enough, a lone pump can be found at 43.579346,-109.825323. It doesn't even show up on Google Maps yet. Future CDT riders, make note of this watering hole for your horse.
This road was a refreshing change from the wide stuff we've been on. It's a little loose and lumpy; just enough to offer entertainment on a porky DRZ.
Like I said before, what's fun for us isn't fun for Alex. By the time he's done with that stretch, he's beat up. Lucky for him we were close to pavement and on the day's final leg heading into Pinedale.
When we get to Pinedale, the main street is lined with vendors and people are strolling all around. We stop in the grocery to pick up provisions and I see three guys dressed up in constume. Rennaisance Faire? Then I realize one of the guys is wearing a coonskin cap. Why it's the 78th Annual Green River Rendezvous Days where people get in touch with their inner squaw-stealing mountain men!
We set up camp at Half Moon Lake, just outside of Pinedale. As we're unpacking, Wayne is alarmed by an unidentified substance all over the inside of his bag. Then he finds the culprit...
His can of bear spray had been rubbing against something which eventually punctured the can. Knowing that he's dealing with a major irritant, he carefully pulls out the contaminated bags and washes them, avoiding contact to the best of his abilities. When the cleaning's done and his hands are washed, he can finally wipe his runny nose. He continues unpacking his gear...and minutes later the downward spiral begins...
Wayne's nose is running and it won't stop. There's a discomfort that's only relieved by rubbing with a wet towel. He asks me for some Neosporin and starts rubbing it in his nose. His face is red. He's wandering around the camp mildly fluxxomed.
I ask him what's wrong and he explains he thinks he's somehow gotten the bear spray into his sinuses. Tears are running down his face as the effects of the capsicum grows in intensity. He's beginning to wonder if his breathing is going to be affected and if his eyes will swell shut. I'm looking for his phone so I can get on the internet and find a remedy when Wayne says, "What does it say on the can?" I read it and it says if you get it in your eyes to flush the area for 20 minutes. Unfortunately, we're at a campground with no water, but fortunately the lake is a mere 20 feet away. Alex and I insist that he go stick his head in the lake for as long as it takes for the pain to go away. Eventually Wayne comes back from his liquid purge and feels much better. His face is still red and he still keeps blowing his nose, but the panic is gone.
Thank you Half Moon Lake for saving us from a trip to the local hospital where they'd charge Wayne $1,000 for the pleasure of giving him the facial version of an enema.
262 miles, 7:15 hours moving time
|08-10-2013, 08:00 PM||#30|
Master of the Obvious
Joined: Feb 2005
Location: Atlanta, GA
I am enjoying your R/R. Hopefully, you will get it finished up. Probably not before I start off on the GDR for myself this week.
I have been following Alex's GDR ride report, and saw an Asian woman riding a DRZ. It took a while, but I remembered you from years ago on Thumper Talk. I rode a DRZ on the TAT in 09 and did a lot of research before I settled on that bike. It is too bad that you did not get my TAT tracks before you rode the western sections. They would have saved you a lot of trouble. It is good to see that you have stayed with dirt riding and completed some of the classic rides out west. Hopefully, you were more comfortable than you were on the TAT.
I can't do the Asian squat either. My Filipino wife teases me about it--especially when we are in Asia and I have to squat to do my business.
I am subscribed, and am looking forward to catching up when I get back.
Aperture Science: "We do what we must because we can."
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