Bad Mud Day on the Rez RR

Discussion in 'The Rockies – It's all downhill from here...' started by wbbnm, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    I will start off by noting that it is not good when you are at home writing the ride report on the fourth day of a 10 day ride.
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    This was supposed to be a 10 day ride. Here is a map of what we planned to do.
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    All of the pictures either are or hopefully will be here.
    <o:p>http://hubilado.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/2011-September-Nevada-Ride/19077607_KrRBQ8#1484143072_LRSKM4R</o:p>
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    This trip was planned to be a sequel to a similar trip to Death Valley done in May of 2010. Here is that ride report:
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    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=587761
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    We felt like the Death Valley ride was the trip of a lifetime. But we had so much fun, we decided to do another one. We wanted to pick up things we didn&#8217;t get to do last time but we were not going to Death Valley this time
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    The ride started pretty good. I met Gordy, Jon, Jay, and Stephen at Porter Landing in the Jemez Mountains about 9:30 Thursday morning.
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    There were supposed to be eight of us. But 3 guys dropped out just before the trip.<o:p></o:p>
    We had a great ride through the forest up FR 534. I think this is one of the nicest roads in the Jemez.
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    We continued down the mountain to old 44 and then over to 550. After about a mile we picked up a dirt road west. There is a bridge over the Rio Puerco here. This road was mainly dry with a few muddy spots. Stephen went down in one bad one.
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    Northwest NM and most of AZ and southern Utah had gotten a lot of rain the past week due to a stationary low pressure zone sitting over western AZ. It was supposed to be slowing moving east which would have meant drier weather. If it was moving, it was very slow.
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    After Stephen&#8217;s fall, we thought we would try to go around the puddles off the road. I tried this in the next one and got stuck bad in a swamp. I had to remove my fork brace to free up the front wheel. It took all of us to get the bike out of the swamp muck and onto the road. Then the bike still wouldn&#8217;t go because of all the mud in packed up by the rear wheel, so I had to clean that out.
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    Then things where fine. We continued on the dirt road with no more problems to NM 197. Took this about 10 miles down to Torreon for gas and a snack.
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    Gordy decided to skip the rest of the dirt for the day. And the rest of us felt it would be a good idea to do the same. The original plan was to take the pipeline road to Chaco Canyon then a primitive dirt road over to NM 371 then minor paved roads to Chinle AZ.
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    Instead we continued on NM 197 and Indian route 9 thru Pueblo Pintado and Crownpoint over to US 491 (formerly 666). There were scattered thunderstorms and we got a little wet at times, and there was strong wind out of the west. There was standing water in the fields along the side of the road at several low spots. I noticed that the road we would have taken to Chaco looked very muddy when we went by it.
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    We could have gone north on 491 and picked up our track. Jay kind of took the lead in planning the rest of the route. We decided to head south to 264 and take it over to Window Rock. We thought we were going to continue on this west and then go north on good paved roads up to Chinle. But Jay turned right onto a minor paved road heading north out of Window Rock. The GPS showed good minor roads up to Chinle. So we continued on pavement about 15 miles up to the town of Sawmill. A mile or so outside of Sawmill the pavement ended. Gordy turned around immediately and went back to Window Rock.
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    The rest of debated for a few minutes and decided to take the dirt road. It was wet but hard-packed and not rutted from the traffic. We were up pretty high in the mountains by this time. Anyway we continued up this road for about 10 miles with minimal problems &#8211; only occasional puddles and slick mud spots.
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    We stopped at what looked like a little worse mud spot and decided to continue. We figured it was about 17 miles to Chinle from here. This was the downhill off-the-mountain section. I went first and made it about half a mile without too much problem even though it was very muddy and slick. I was not having a mud-packing problem for some reason &#8211; maybe I had enough speed. <o:p></o:p>
    I then stopped and waited a long time for Jay to come. He was killing and having to restart his engine about every 50 feet. His bike was completely packed up with mud.
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    He went another 50 yards and stopped to clean off some mud. After a few minutes I decided to ride back and look for Stephen and Jon. I made it a few hundred yards up the hill and found Jon with his bike down.

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    <o:p>We got his up and then walked up and found Stephen having a terrible time. His BMW had a low front fender which made it impossible for the front wheel to turn. We cleaned this up a few times and made it maybe 20-50 yards between cleanings. He didn&#8217;t want to remove the fender because there was a brake line crossover which would also have to be removed.</o:p>
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    The mud finally broke the fender and he removed it and the right side brake caliper. He tied the caliper to the headlight assembly. He could go pretty well after this.
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    But it was nearly dark and we knew we were going to be spending the night on the mountain. Meanwhile Jay had made some progress. We could hear his bike in the distance. Actually we thought he might even have made it down the hil.
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    I got back on my bike and started down after Jon and Stephen. I guess the mud must have gotten worse, because I went about 50 yards and the packed mud killed the engine. I restarted a few times but could only go maybe 10 ft each time and my clutch started feeling real bad. Finally I restarted the bike and clutch was gone completely. When I put the bike in gear and let out the clutch the engine just reved like it was in neutral and there was no coupling of energy to the rear wheel. It was almost fully dark by this time.
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    I walked down the hill a bit and caught up with Jon and Stephen. They were at a relatively flat spot, so we decided to spend the night there. Jon thought his clutch was nearly shot, but his bike was rideable. We had no idea where Jay was.
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    We managed to start a fire with really wet wood using gasoline and a lighter that Stephen had thought to pack. We sat around and drank what booze we had (beer, wine, and scotch) and had a dinner of power bars.
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    Then we sort of went to sleep. About 11:30 we heard what sounded like a car or house alarm going off. About half an hour later a Navajo policeman showed up in a 4WD truck. Turns out Gordy had made it to Chinle and got worried about us and ,after a lot of trouble, managed to convince the police to come looking for us. Also Jon and maybe Jay had managed to get messages off to their wives about our predicament via cell phones. One of the wives had relayed this to Gordy.
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    The cop, Kee Begay, was really nice and friendly. He told us Jay was camped down the road a few hundred yards but did not have a fire. (He had turned his siren on when he came up on Jay&#8217;s bike to get Jay to come out of the woods.) We decided to stay on the mountain with our bikes and not go back to town. In retrospect I am not sure why. I guess because we had a fire and did not want to leave the bikes. Officer Begay said he thought the police could bring a couple of pickups up for us in the morning, but not until after 8 am or so. He then went down and told Jay where we were and about the fire, but Jay decided to stay at his camp.
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    We had a fitful night with very little sleep. It rained off and on and we continually had to and find more wood to put on the fire. We slept in our riding clothes and boots right on the wet, cold, muddy ground.
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    A little after 5 am Jay came up to our camp using a flashlight. So we milled around until dawn. Jay called Gordy using his satellite phone.
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    We had a pretty good rain about this time, which dashed any hopes of the road drying out.
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    Again Gordy used his great powers of persuasion to convince the police chief to send up the trucks for us. So two policemen and two maintenance workers and Gordy showed up around 9:30. Gordy became great friends with several of the police in the course of our little adventure.<o:p></o:p>
    The only ramp they had was a ~3 ft heavy steel ladder. So we pretty much had to lift muddy bikes into the trucks. They only had a few tie downs. It took probably an hour and a half to load the bikes.
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    We got the bikes loaded and headed for Chinle. The road was horrible for almost 10 miles. We would never have made into town trying to ride it even if we could have kept the bikes running.<o:p></o:p>
    The cops strongly suggested that we go directly to the car wash which was also what we pretty much wanted to do. I think we went thru about $40 in quarters washing the trucks and bikes.
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    Turns out Jay felt his clutch was too far gone to do anymore riding. So he called his wife and made her shorten her fishing trip in Gunnison and go to their home in Taos, get their utility trailer, and drive to Chinle to take those of us home whose bikes were incapacitated. She got in about 7 pm.<o:p></o:p>

    The Navajo guys were exceptionally nice and friendly and worked their butts off helping us load the bikes. We gave them a moderate gratuity for their help &#8211; enough to be useful but not so much as to be a bribe.
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    We stayed at the Best Western directly across the street from the car wash. They had what looked like the only non-fast food restaurant in town.
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    The next day Gordy and Stephen rode their bikes home. The rest of us loaded our bikes into Jay&#8217;s rig and he did a grand tour taking me home to Albuquerque and Jon to Los Alamos and he and Ethel home to Taos.<o:p></o:p>

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    #1
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  2. TinkerinWstuff

    TinkerinWstuff Take it apart

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    now that is epic.

    I bet it was frustrating to no end at the time but a story that will told over drinks for years to come. The story just wouldn't do justice without the pictures! Amazing
    #2
  3. rtadlock

    rtadlock Long timer

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    Crazy story guys. Sounds like a wicked adventure for sure. Glad all bikes and people are ok.
    #3
  4. DirtDad

    DirtDad Green Chile Guru

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    That is a good one. :D Reminds me of our D/S ride a few years back. Had to walk six miles in mud, and left the
    DR, standing without kickstand in the mud overnight, with a fried clutch. Great fun! We will be doing it again this
    weekend. :lol3

    Nice report. :thumb
    #4
  5. FatChance

    FatChance Road Captain

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    Gordy is a lot smarter than he looks! :nod



    :lol3 :wave
    #5
  6. gee

    gee Safety First

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    Great report and pics, I know when you're having these types of issues, grabbing a camera and taking pictures isn't always the first thing on your mind but it sure makes the story better, glad everybody made it out safely.
    #6
  7. TaterHarry

    TaterHarry Redneck Emeritus

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    I'm not sure who that is in the back of the truck, but that is a nice application of the ATGATT rule :lol3

    You guys had some cojones, trying to slog through that mud. Three of us turned around on SR126 on Saturday at the sight of the first puddle :eek1
    #7
  8. NMTrailboss

    NMTrailboss Team Dead End

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    Wow!!! :eek1

    Great story! Glad to see everyone and their bikes made it out safely. It's amazing what the dirt on many NM roads can turn in to with just a little water added!! :deal
    #8
  9. _Magoo_

    _Magoo_ master of disaster....

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    +1 :thumb awesome story & pics, that will make for some great campfire stories over the next few years!
    #9
  10. Gordy

    Gordy Team Listo

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    Geeze Bill! What a trip! :huh
    #10
  11. AKASY

    AKASY Noob

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    Now that is a RIDE report--:clap:clap:clap
    Great pics and story line--I really enjoyed it----just glad I wasn't there:lol3
    Good to hear all is well, you should post this up in ADV RR:evil

    How much damage did you do to that poor clutch?:ear
    #11
  12. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    Three of us rode in back of the trucks. The trucks were really thrashing around dealing with the mud. And the bikes were not tied down very well and were moving around a bit. It also rained off and on on the way back. Wearing the helmet seemed wise. And we still had all our other gear on.
    #12
  13. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    I posted my last ride report in the RR section and was kind of disappointed that it only lasted on the front page for a day or so. That section has reports from all over the world. So I thought I would try putting it on what I consider my home page.

    The clutch on my KLR was totally inoperable - it would not transfer energy from the engine to the transmission. I have taken it apart and all the friction material is gone from two of the plates, and I am sure all of the others are severely worn. New plates are on order.

    The guys on the KTMs said their clutches felt bad but the bikes were rideable. The BMW apparently didn't suffer any clutch damage, but the rider had far more trouble with mud packing on the front fender.
    #13
  14. NMTrailboss

    NMTrailboss Team Dead End

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    I agree. Seems local ride reports just get buried in all the RTW stuff most of the time. I probably would have never seen this report in the RR section. Thanks for posting up here!


    Be sure to check the oil strainer screen and clean it while rebuilding the clutch if that much friction material is missing. That material usually clogs the screen when clutches fail! :deal
    #14
  15. RideFreak

    RideFreak Torque Junkie

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    This should be the new poster pic for riding NM in the wet season. Calichi is so decieving, it will look passible but when you start seeing the chunks of mud being flung up out in front of the bike it's all over :cry

    Sure glad you guys made it out ok, that doesn't look like any fun at all but at least everyone is smiling in the pics. Pretty cool of the Res police to come out and help, I can't imagine trying to get out of there without it.

    Do you have a link or track for that route? I've been through the area on street bikes and always wanted to ride a dirt route through there (not in the rainy season though)
    #15
  16. TNC

    TNC Candyass Camper

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    Hey Chris...Gordy's brilliant departure from the group at that strategic point reminds me of someone in Lake City last month.:lol3
    #16
  17. Gordy

    Gordy Team Listo

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    Wrong Gordy! :D


    However, the one is this story is far more wiley than me! :nod

    Sometimes you just have to know when to call it a day!
    #17
  18. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    I did clean the strainer on the KLR and I have cleaned all the surfaces inside the case thoroughly. The oil had a bad odor of burned material.

    Technically the mud was in Arizona, so the poster would have to be for there or maybe for both states. I suspect a few riders have pictures of similar mud on the west side of the Rio Grande from Taos.

    Attached is a gpx file that shows our planned and actual tracks. Quite a few of the planned tracks are synthetic and not real, i.e., I drew them in by hand. You can generally tell the difference by checking if there is a time stamp. Real ones generally have a time stamp unless they were "saved" inside the unit.

    Obviously I do not know for sure if the synthetic ones were actually going to work. But I did a lot of polling here for local knowledge about places I was unsure of. I got several real tracks from the DualSportMaps website.

    Attached Files:

    #18
  19. selaznog

    selaznog Avoiding pavement

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    That's a great :evil picture, but the second I saw it I knew this RR would involve at least one new clutch. I like how the rear wheel has a certain KTM meets Fred Flintstone look about it.
    #19
  20. Gordy

    Gordy Team Listo

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    It kills me when the subject of low fenders comes up and guys inevitably say, "all the Dakar riders run them". :rolleyes

    If the Dakar ran through NM, UT or AZ (or add your favorite sticky mud pit) in late summer, I'll guarantee that they wouldn't! :rofl
    #20