A Father and Son Trip Down the Great Divide

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by isaac004, Aug 2, 2010.

  1. basketcase

    basketcase lifelong reject fixer

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    Yes, we looked into the various logistical angles and had originally planned to rent a truck for the trip out and back. Then we saw the rental cost would total the price of another bike so we forgot that idea and opted to go 100% adventure! :lol3

    Actually, it was not unbearable and on the twisties it was a load of fun riding the DR. But as a Gold Wing owner I can also safely say there is no way to construe the DR as a super slab tourer.

    Tire wise, we rode out on the stock tires and put on knobbies at Sliver City, NM. Keeping in mind that we got off at Yellowstone and then took in some other places on the way back, the D606's got us up the trail and all the way back home with rubber to spare. Prior to the trip I had read as much as I could about "which knobbies" and there is a lot of speculation around here that gets passed off as wisdom. BigDaveF's front Mefo was toast by the time he got back to Grants. At this moment my 606's have 4,150 miles on them and I think they would go another 1K on the street -- and who knows how much further if all they were rode on was dirt. A DR rider can't go wrong with the D606, IMHO.

    Your photography is outstanding! What type of camera were you using?
    #41
  2. isaac004

    isaac004 Been here awhile

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    My Dad and I went down a similar path, looking at the cost (in time and money) to truck/fly the bikes out, ride, and get them back. Way too much hassle. Plus it's cheating too! :evil

    In the end it was much more fun to have ridden them out, especially when Harley guys ask in absolute horror if we really rode those things across the country. I actually enjoyed riding the DR650 on long stretches of tarmac. Only issue is some extra engine vibs when I'm cruising at 70+ mph, but on the backroads and in the twisties it is a lot of fun and handles the curves with ease. This trip has made it my new favorite bike, due to its afford-ability and versatility.

    Tires was initially a big battle, but we settled on D606's for a few big points - cheap, long lasting, and the knobs would give us an advantage in the rougher sections. I did consult this as a resource:
    http://standoutnet.com/extras/mike/motorcycles/klr650/tires/#contents

    I was going to wait a bit to go into detail of my camera choice, but now is a good time to cover that subject.

    Camera is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1.
    http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/TS1/TS1A.HTM

    It is the "older" version, with the TS2 being newer but the only big difference is the TS2 can handle 10m of submersion, while mine can handle only 3m. Yes, it is water proof, shock proof, and dust proof. After dragging my big Canon 40D on various motorcycling, backpacking, and rock climbing trips, the shutter broke and I said enough with hauling that chunk of glass and magnesium around. So I did a bunch of heavy research on weatherproof point and shoot cameras, bought a few, tested some out, and decided the Panasonic was the best ADV camera on the market. Below is a good reference. I also did buy the new Pentax W90 and wanted to love it, but the photo quality was terrible so I returned it (thank you Amazon.com). I should also add that the TS1/TS2 has a 28mm lens, which is one of the widest lenses you can get in an APS. There are 2 Canon's that have 24mm but they are not waterproof.
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/Q209waterproofgroup/

    I love my TS1. It has great photo quality, good low light results, and can do 30-60 second exposures under a mode called “stary night”. I really wanted to bring the DSLR to capture some amazing shots but I just didn't want to worry about shock to the camera from the rough roads as well as afternoon thunderstorms....and even if I did, how the hell would I pack it such that I could grab the camera and take a shot in 5 seconds?

    I keep my TS1 in my Aerostich pocket with a lanyard around my neck. This allows me to grab the camera, while riding, and take a shot in less than 5 seconds. And if it rains, I keep snapping shots (water drops will collect on the lens though and make the picture look funny). Speed of accessibility is the most important part of picture taking, and this setup resulted in well over 1000 photos in 3 weeks of riding.
    [​IMG]

    I also did take a few photos with my HTC Incredible, but that was so I could send updates from the road.
    #42
  3. pyrate

    pyrate Walking the plank

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    How is the shutter lag? I have an Olympus Tough 6000 which I miss a fair amount of shots because of the lag. I have it mounted on the handlebars using a RAM mount and have the camera on and simply put - it takes too long to shoot the picture. It also has a TAPTAP feature that is absolute annoying. It is going to get TAPTAP'd with a hammer soon. :thwak

    #43
  4. isaac004

    isaac004 Been here awhile

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    To turn it on requires holding the power button for 1 second, but the lag to power up is just 1-2 seconds. To take a photo, the AF can usually lock onto an object and be ready to snap in 0.5-1.5 seconds. In good lighting, you can almost always take a photo in less then 1 second from focus to picture....in dark situations, it can take 1-1.5 seconds to find a focus point.

    There are lots of cameras with better response, but this one can get covered in sand, mud, and rinsed off in water, which sold me.
    #44
  5. pyrate

    pyrate Walking the plank

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    Better than mine. Can you zoom while shooting video? The Olympus won't.

    Thanks! Might check this one out when it is time to check out how "tough" the Olympus is. :kboom
    <input id="gwProxy" type="hidden"><!--Session data--><input onclick="if(typeof(jsCall)=='function'){jsCall();}else{setTimeout('jsCall()',500);}" id="jsProxy" type="hidden">
    #45
  6. river-rider

    river-rider Adventurer

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    I'm enjoying your RR! Thanks
    #46
  7. isaac004

    isaac004 Been here awhile

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    Yep, it will zoom during video. It shoots HD video with some nice codec to keep file sizes down. A 16gb card could hold 1000 photos and still have room for 1 hr of HD video.
    #47
  8. Just Paul

    Just Paul Pro Cat Herder

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    isaac,

    glad your enjoying the sleeping pad I love mine !

    I am enjoying your RR ..

    Keep up the good work !!
    #48
  9. isaac004

    isaac004 Been here awhile

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    Day 3, Whitehall MT to Red Rock Reservoir, MT

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    We awoke bright and early at 6am to a group breakfast at the B&B, with a plain and simple eggs, toast, and fruit breakfast. Here is the husband of the couple who owned it&#8230;he had a lot of rants on Obama as well as kids in today&#8217;s society, which I found quite entertaining.
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    We took off into another brisk morning and after a few quick miles we jumped back onto the dirt. The roads started out wider, and then became narrower and lightly rutted. Here&#8217;s one of the CDT hiking signs on the road.
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    In one of the rutted spots before we hit the tarmac for a bit, my Dad got caught off guard in some ruts and nearly lost it but stuck his foot out in time to save it. He said it was actually quite spooky and made him briefly question his ability on this trip. Even though we used to dirt bike together a lot while I was growing up, he never did much rough stuff and it has been many years since he last did. For this reason we did keep our pace rather relaxed, averaging around 200 miles per day over the course of the trip in order to ensure we never felt rushed.

    I like this sign.
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    We went off route to Dillon MT for lunch, and stopped at a local bar. Bison burger was my meal and it was quite tasty.
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    Really?
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    On the tarmac ride back to the dirt roads after lunch, we stopped by someone&#8217;s front yard who had a nice boneyard of old cars.
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    I started getting better with my aim.
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    A lot of the dirt road for the rest of the day was cutting through wide open plains.
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    It&#8217;s nice and quiet out here. :)
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    I started trying a whole bunch of different on the bike shots on these roads&#8230;.here&#8217;s the head shot.
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    And the fork shot.
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    The rear shot.
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    The bag shot
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    And the looking down shot.
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    It&#8217;s exceptionally beautiful out here.
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    Coming up one of the few rises in the plains.
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    The Old Bannack Road.
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    More of these old decaying cabins.
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    Medicine Lodge Road.
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    This shot gives you an idea of how vast and open it is.
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    The road then cut between some cool rocks and it became narrow for a bit.
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    Here&#8217;s a small cabin with a "for sale" sign.
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    More cool rocks.
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    We gassed up in Lima MT, and decided to continue out to one of a few designated camp sites around Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, on a long westerly stretch across the SW plains of Montana, which will dump us into Idaho in the next day or so. Here is passing Lima Reservoir.
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    Empty dust clouds.
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    A whole lot of cows to pass. They never moove until the last second and you never know what direction they will go. The calf will run to whichever side of the road the mother is on, which is never that clear. So you have to slow down to 1st or 2nd gear and start honking A LOT. I found out that revving does a little more to get them moving quicker, but it&#8217;s still kind of a pain.
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    Someone lost a shock out here.
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    Here's my Dad again, cruising along.
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    We switched bikes up for a bit. The XR feels more nimble but also a little less stable at speed. Not a bad thing, just means it&#8217;s better for riding through technical stuff. My Dad did comment the DR is more comfortable at speed and more mild mannered, as well as having better suspension. The previous owner of my DR put in Intimidator&#8217;s (like Gold Valve emulators) in the forks and a rebuilt Cogent rear shock, and luckily was the same weight as I, so the suspension is vastly improved over stock.
    [​IMG]

    The sun was getting low but luckily we pulled up to the camp site at Upper Red Rock Lake with a few hours of daylight to spare. It&#8217;s a small basic campsite with just 5-6 spots, 2 outhouses, and a spring for potable water. It also included 2 newly added bear boxes. While bears are a concern here, they aren&#8217;t the huge issue I see in the California Sierra&#8217;s where even the most remote backpacking campsites have bear boxes installed. Until recently, they just used an old horse trailer with a nice latch as a &#8220;bear box&#8221;. We spoke with some of the park employees the next morning and they said they are currently trying to update a lot of park campsites to include bear boxes as standard equipment. It&#8217;s no big deal to not have a bear box if you have a car, but on a motorbike/bicycle/foot you definitely have to work harder to isolate yourself from the food.
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    Next to us was a Great Divide mountain biker, Alex.
    [​IMG]

    Alex was a pretty cool person, a teacher in Connecticut at a school for high school aged kids who have behavioral issues such as ADD. The fact that he as a teacher who also has to live in the dorms and help supervise 24/7 gives you an idea of how much of a handful these kids, er teens, can be. Pretty impressive. That would also explain why he wanted to get out on the trail for the entire summer. His blog is here:
    http://greatdivideforvetshelpingheroes.blogspot.com/

    Let me say, the mosquitoes here were TERRIBLE. I had on 2 long sleeve shirts and jeans, and they were still biting through. Two types of insect repellent seemed to do worse. Buzzing was constantly heard. I couldn't even eat because in the 3 seconds it took to spoon food into my mouth, at least 5 would land on my hand and start biting it. I've never experienced them this bad before. Eventually we retired to the tent pretty early, around 8pm or so, because they were that bad. It almost sounded like a light rain, the way the bugs and mosquitoes pelted against the tent, trying to get in. There is a good reason why this campsite was free.
    #49
  10. YnotJP?

    YnotJP? Long timer

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    Nice Report. This is a ride that you will remember forever, and so will your Dad.

    You are lucky that he gave your DR back to you.

    If you ever ride to Canada or Alaska in the summer, you will really see what the bugs are like. Repellant and mosquitoe nets are a must.

    Keep the reports coming.
    #50
  11. flyde

    flyde Been here awhile

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    Nice report Isaac:clap
    99 miles of twisties with burgers and milkshakes grazing the roadside!! YEAH!!

    I was surprised to see the Pirelli and glad to see the 606 make its well awaited appearance.

    Thanks for the photos. Despite my association with BP, they still wouldn't let me on to the oil fields in Deadhorse, AK!! :lol3

    Ahhhh, man, I laughed for a long time in the helmet about your BP comment :rofl.. Brilliant!

    I think you better make plans for a ride in Oz,
    Pleasure to meet you,
    Adam
    #51
  12. isaac004

    isaac004 Been here awhile

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    Day 4, Red Rock Reservoir MT to Dubois WY

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    The morning was bright and clear, and the fog was lightly blanketing the lake. The walk down to the spring to fill up bottles had this nice view.
    [​IMG]

    The mosquitoes weren't as bad as the previous evening, though there were still a few causing some trouble. Still, it was a great improvement from the night before. Some park rangers stopped by and we talked with them for a bit. My Dad had mentioned that on his ride out west, somewhere in South Dakota were signs warning people to not let their pets out of the cars because the prairie dogs have plague. Then they started telling us how they vacuum up prairie dogs into a giant vacuum cleaner van to clean them up and release them. Weird. We chatted with Alex for a bit then wished each other a safe journey and parted ways. What a nice morning for a ride..
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    We had a nice smooth ride and quickly reached the first pass of the morning as well as one of the many Divide crossings.
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    I wonder who lives here...
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    We were dumped back into civilization for awhile as we rolled into Island Park Idaho, for some late breakfast. It was apparent a lot of people vacation out here, especially in RV's. At this point we discussed a few options on how to make our way towards Teton National Park. A few miles after breakfast we stopped at a local motorcycle shop to find brake pads. Due to the fact that my front brake pads were getting close to the end of their life, we had previously discussed picking up a spare set. One option is to ship them to a post office ahead of time and pick the package up. This required setting a firm schedule though, and we like to keep a floating schedule depending on how the riding is going. The shop did not have pads (since they did not sell Suzuki stuff) but they called ahead to a shop in Driggs ID and we verified they did have the front pads I needed for the DR. So we decided to go off route slightly and pick up the pads, as it would be easier then trying to arraign shipping and pickup. Here we are burning down the tarmac on the way to Driggs.

    [​IMG]

    The shop was nice and big in Driggs and had the pads. Thanks Racin' Station! We now had two options....go south of Teton National Park on the tarmac or head north and cut between Teton and Yellowstone on the dirt roads. Part of the issue was we were trying to make it to Jackson Lake Lodge at the Tetons by dinner (it was 1pm at this point) to meet my Aunt and Uncle (Dad's sister). Both ways looked to take about the same amount of time on the map (tarmac had more miles, and the dirt route was shorter). We decided to go dirt...after all, that's why we are doing this trip right? To ride dirt? That's what I thought. Good thing we headed north for the dirt too, because the southern part had this nice storm brewing over it.
    [​IMG]

    The GPS was leading us on some small straight farm roads into the mountains but we came across a sign that said the road was closed ahead of time. We stopped to ask some locals if this was true and they did confirm. They also directed us to a few roads north in order to get over the pass. We had to ask with crop sprayer to confirm a few miles up the road....kind of sucks to have to back track a lot so it pays to ask the locals for info. Heading up the big dirt road, it looked clear on our path.
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    And all stormy on the southern side. Good thing we went on the dirt to the north. Know this - dirt always wins.
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    Enter Wyoming. I wonder if they have firearms here?
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    The sign was speaking the truth.
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    The straighter sections.
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    Grassy Lake Damn. I mean Dam. Teton National Park and the storm are in the background (south). On the other side of the damn is Yellowstone.
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    Some nice green meadows.
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    Just south of Yellowstone, and just north of Teton. What happened?
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    Heading south towards the lodges at Jackson Lake at Teton National Park. No matter which side you look at them from, the Tetons are truly breathtaking. If you have seen it in person, you know what I'm talking about.
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    In the end we did get to the park in time but we had a logistical error in trying to locate my Aunt and Uncle. They were away from their phone so we were not able to contact them and in our short window of time we decided it was beneficial to push onto Dubois WY for the night, in order to gain more mileage and have access to MUCH more affordable lodging. Note - if you take that dirt road between Yellowstone and Teton, you can enter Teton National Park without paying for the park fee!

    A little parting shot of the Teton's as we head east into WY.
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    To get to Dubois, we hit some highway but to our benefit it turned to dirt for a while due to construction. Unfortunately, we had a few large 18 wheelers in front of us to slow traffic down as we went over the pass. Boo.

    We stayed at Twin Pines Lodge and had a nice small cabin. Laziness/cheapness was in order so we just bought some cans of soup and such at the gas station and heated that up for dinner. While doing the usual daily chain lube, I documented some of the dirtiness on my DR.
    [​IMG]

    I also did some laundry in the sink. It's important to smell nice on the dirt bike.
    #52
  13. isaac004

    isaac004 Been here awhile

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    Thanks, though your report sounds is much more adventourous. The only way I could top yours is if we built rafts around the bikes and tried to float down the Divide. :rofl
    #53
  14. freizeit

    freizeit Adventurer

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    Great report! Thanks for taking the time to post. Three of us are heading out for the CDR this Saturday. We have been following your report closely. Keep up the good work.
    #54
  15. isaac004

    isaac004 Been here awhile

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    Day 5, Dubois WY to A&M Reservoir WY

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    The morning was quite an interesting one. My Dad went to the continental breakfast first and started talking to another older guy about guns. Somehow the conversation shifted and it turns out this gentleman is one of the main scientists in the lab at Coca Cola. If you only knew how much of a Coke fanatic my Dad is (he will have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner), you would understand how existing this was. So we got to grill him and listen to his stories for a good 20-30 minutes, everything there is to know about Coke. One of the more surprising stories was all of the organized crime out there making and selling counterfeit Coke syrup, as well as how much energy Coke puts into busting these operations.

    Turns out the cabins have been around since the early 1900's. Here I am peaking before packing up.
    [​IMG]

    As we left, we saw a KLR loaded with gear at the gas station across the street and figured he was another Divide rider and that we should exchange recon. Turns out he was just out for a weekend ride...if you read this, hello Bill from Bozeman MT!

    The dirt road south of Dubois was very windy.
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    Some nice elevation gain!
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    Here we are near the top of Union Pass.
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    Oh look! A rare picture of me riding! Near the top of Union Pass.
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    Cruising along. Here you can see some of the typical damage from the pine beetle. Everywhere, always saw patches of these brown trees.
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    A nice bridge over a pristine mountain stream.
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    The roads straightened out for a bit.
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    Here's a nice long shot, taken from the road that descended down to the meadow that my Dad is riding through.
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    Oooo, this looks really cool.
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    This dirt road stretch around Union Pass though Shoshone National Forest (between Dubois WY and Pinedale WY) really is amazing, espcially in the morning when the air is nice and crisp.
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    Some open winding sections.
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    We stopped in Pinedale WY for lunch and gas. This is known to be one of the last gas stops until Rawlins WY, roughly 230 miles later. So yeah, you better have the range and some spare gas too. Here is how I carried one 30 oz MSR bottle of gas. It was in my exterior CamelBak pocket but the weight started to bother me on the long days. Plus who really feels that good about gasoline strapped to your back?
    [​IMG]

    I had one other 30 oz MSR bottle on my bike, mounted in the tractor owners manual tube:
    http://www.agrisupply.com/product.asp?pn=67670&bhcd2=1282107428

    A photo of how it fits on my bike. I removed the factory tool tube, which was way too small and useless.
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    The MSR bottle fits like a glove. This photo shows the stock cap, which is like a medicine cap in that you have to push down on it. You are better off to spend $1.99 at REI and get the regular screw cap, as it is much less likely to break since it has no moving parts.
    [​IMG]

    So between the two bottles I had almost half a gallon of spare gas. My Dad was carrying two MSR bottles as well, but in the Sweet Cheeks setup. That means I had 5 gal in the tank plus 1/2 gal extra, and he had 4.5 gal in the tank plus 1/2 gal extra. Should be plenty!

    We rolled out of town after crawling through some parade traffic. For those riding the Divide from north to south, there is one more gas station after Pinedale. Just to the southwest is Boulder WY and we did top off (all of 0.10 gallons, haha) at one gas station. Last gas!

    We jumped on the tarmac for a bit before hitting the dirt.
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    We started threading around some of those infamous afternoon thunderstorms.
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    Looks much more menacing when you actually get underneath the edge of it.
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    Nice and wide open. That spec is the headlight of my Dad's XR.
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    Both my Dad and the storm are closer now!
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    This thing looks menacing.
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    Why is this man smiling?!? Well, because it is actually fun to tip toe around the edge of a huge storm. Probably part of the craziness in us motorcyclists, but it does make you feel alive!
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    Nothing but wide open and storms.
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    Starting to get some water on the camera lens.
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    That's the storm to the south, with some slight amount of intermittent sprinkling. While we did ride under the edge of it, we barely got wet so I would call it a success! Seeing big bolts of lightening a few miles off was a little unnerving though, especially since the terrain is so open and exposed out here.
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    We then rolled into the small town of Atlantic City. Kind of a weird small tourist feel here. Also, rumor has it the gun store will sell you some gas at a marked up price if you really need it.
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    After Atlantic City, we did see two other adventure riders go by the opposite direction. My guess is they were riding the Divide from south to north. They looked to be two BMW's, maybe F800GS's, going at a pretty good clip.

    We then started to approach yet another storm! The lone tree looks pretty cool.
    [​IMG]

    And it clears up again. A lot of sections looked like this, just wide open great plain country. Somewhere around here is a cool intersection of four historical trails - The Oregon Trail, The Mormon Trail, The Pony Express, and The California Trail. There is supposed to be a marker post there, but we never found it. I was pretty bummed out about that.
    [​IMG]

    You really feel the isolation out here.
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    Looks like someone is having a party out here. What a long rough drive in a cage for a party.
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    Some lone pump jacks. This meant there were some wide graded dirt roads for the big rigs to get in and out.
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    This rig looked pretty used and abused.
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    One of my favorite shots.
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    Aside from cows, the only other form of wildlife out here are these Pronghorns. They are pretty interesting creatures and can run up to 50 mph for a good few minutes. Supposedly they can run almost as fast as some cheetahs, but at much more sustained periods. Usually they see you coming from a mile away, then at 1/4 to 1/8 mile they take off in a sprint. This guy started to spring along the left hand side of the road. Right after I snapped the photo, he cut across the road to the right side. I was going about 30-40 mph and he was pulling away from me. Good runners!
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    We decided to camp at A&M Reservoir. It's a BLM campsite, undeveloped. There was a large pull off with a guy and his camper trailer, but we wanted to camp a bit further back. We rode a small dual track trail and found a nice sandy open patch. Dinner is served.
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    The sun setting on this great remote campsite.
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    One of the amazing things about this camp spot was the lack of all human activity. We did not hear or see anyone, and even better we did not see or hear any airplanes flying overhead.
    #55
  16. DBrentMiller

    DBrentMiller Sojourn Chronicles

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    I'm enjoying your ride report, AND thinking about putting some TKC 80s on my V-Strom DL650 for a ride out there next year. I don't think the V-Strom would have any problem on the kind of roads you've been showing.

    Brent
    #56
  17. isaac004

    isaac004 Been here awhile

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    As long as you are comfortable on the DL on dirt, it should be fine. We did skip one of the hardest sections, Fleecer Ridge in MT. I did talk to someone who got their 1200GS up there but they did struggle. Most of the other sections are fine.
    #57
  18. Tor

    Tor Norwegian Viking

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    Very nice :thumb. Wish I could go tomorrow......
    #58
  19. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

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    Über Alles,California

    Fire 1988, judging by the size of the new trees it has burned probably 3 more times since '88.




    That's almost exactly where I got struck by lightning last year when I rode the divide.:huh


    I'm enjoying your report a lot!!

    :lurk
    #59
  20. isaac004

    isaac004 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    938
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    :eek1
    Yeeouch! What happened?
    #60