Continental Divide Trail, July 2016

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by WilsoDRZ, Jul 19, 2016.

  1. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

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    [​IMG]Beginning July 1, 2016, I rode the Continental Divide Trail from Mexico to Canada. It was beyond description. The ups and downs, both physical and emotional, the endless scenery, the challenges, the people, the experiences. I’ll have stories to tell for the rest of my life. I put together this video and it barely even captures 1% of it. I’m writing this daily report after the ride to add more detail and maybe inspire others.




    Day 0:

    Planning for this ride began about a year ago with the purchase of a 2001 DRZ400S whose previous owner thought it was “too much bike”. Thus, I got a sweet deal on a low mileage bike that wouldn’t start because the carb was gummed up. I’ve been riding various dirt and street bikes for years but I spent some time getting well acquainted with the bike and slowly purchasing parts, farkles, riding gear and camping equipment. I took a 3 day trip down the coast of Texas as a practice run and learned an enormous amount about my riding gear and the way I packed the bike. I also discovered the vacuum petcock and float bowl seal had a meeting and decided to leak and fill the cylinder with gas overnight, leading to the picture below:

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    As departure day approached, I hit some milestones: reserved the moving truck, booked a return flight, bought bear spray, downloaded my final tracks to the GPS. My plan went like this: Haul the bike to El Paso, ride to Hatchita, begin following the blue and red lines from GPSKevin (mucho gracias for everything, I’ll be writing a trail condition report next), finish in Eureka MT, slab it to Seattle where a buddy will keep the bike, and finally fly back to Austin. I’m a planner to a certain degree but wanted the trip to be anxiety free-ish so I selected campgrounds for each night but didn’t make any reservations.

    Planned route:

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    Being an engineer and fabricator at a motorcycle shop, it’s fairly easy to convince the bosses to let me take 14 days off for a motorcycle trip. On the other hand, it’s fairly difficult to actually leave, since there is so much work to be done. I worked until noon on Day 0 before riding to Budget truck rental place, ready to kick off this epic journey. Entering the store, I proudly announced my name and reservation for a 12ft truck. The gentleman behind the counter politely informed me that there was no reservation and he had no 12ft truck. Frantically searching through emails on my phone, I discovered I made the reservation for the previous day before realizing it would put me in Pie town when the café was closed. I don’t schedule around many things, but pie is one of them. Understanding my situation, the Budget guy told me he could give me a 16ft truck for the same cost and that the 12 footers don’t have a ramp so I’d have been screwed unloading the bike alone anyway. Adventure karma #1!

    The drive on I-10 to El Paso is long, flat, boring and hot so I was happy with my decision to rent a truck. However the speed governor at 74mph meant I zombie-ed my way into El Paso’s dirtiest hotel at 11pm. I unrolled my sleeping bag on top of the bed, crawled in and passed out.

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    #1
  2. LadyFish4

    LadyFish4 Adventurer

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    Nice video. I look forward to the follow up as you fill in the details and tell of each days journey!
    #2
  3. BSTT

    BSTT Been here awhile

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    Hey, that's a very good video! It makes me curious about the pics and story.
    I' sitting down on the sofa and wait for things to come. :lurk
    Ciao Gero
    #3
  4. Marc LaDue

    Marc LaDue Been here awhile

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    Nice Video!

    It's hard to fathom the time it took to string together the number of clips you did to come up with a very entertaining 9 minutes. I was extremely impressed with the variety of angles and choice of items and views to focus on and share. I'm also envious of your editing skills. Over the past five years I've probably spent close to $2000 on GoPro cameras (4) as well as accessories and SD cards (I don't know how to save them to memory so I just buy a new one for every day and camera), and I couldn't scratch together half a dozen minutes of decent footage that would hold a candle to yours.
    I particularly liked urinating in the public's domain, as well as the motorcyclist's wave reciprocated by some Harley riders; way to reach out and bridge gaps!
    Hopefully you can follow this up with some other similar stuff. We've been playing around Colorado for the past five years every summer, and I know you could find a ton of things worth your talent (TAT, Taylor Park, Mosquito, Black Bear, etc).
    Thanks again for your efforts,

    LaDue
    #4
    atomizer and billmaxx97 like this.
  5. Iron HorseBG

    Iron HorseBG n00b

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    Starts interesting. I'm waiting for the next days :)
    #5
  6. TwoWheelExplorer

    TwoWheelExplorer Been here awhile

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    Fantastic video. Usually I don't watch the whole video in trip reports but I've already seen this twice and am sending it off to my brother for a "hey... Buy a dirt bike so we can do this!" message ;)
    #6
  7. Tcon77

    Tcon77 Eternal Pessimist

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    Great video! Waiting for the rest of the RR!
    #7
  8. Molonlabemike

    Molonlabemike Been here awhile

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    Ok I'm in, enjoyed the vid and really looking forward to the RR. The CDT might be on my list for next year.
    #8
  9. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer

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    Excellent video, will patiently wait for more!
    #9
  10. Ol Man

    Ol Man Been here awhile

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    Really enjoyed your video. Lots of different perspectives and views of things few think of filming.
    #10
  11. Air Force Vet

    Air Force Vet Been here awhile

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    Great video! Looks like you read-only put a lot of effort into it. Nicely done!!!

    Sent from my 6045O using Tapatalk
    #11
  12. Seismo

    Seismo Adventurer

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    That is a brilliant video! To capture the condensed essence of the many facets of the GDR and not bore the crap out of people is a very, very hard feat to achieve. You nailed it. Just excellent!
    #12
  13. DaveWave

    DaveWave Don't sweat the small stuff. It's all small stuff.

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    Kudos on the video...very nice start to a report! Looks like you had plenty of wet weather.
    #13
  14. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

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    Austin, TX
    Thanks for all the great responses. I was really trying to capture the reality of being an adventure rider, it's not all photos in front of signs and landmarks. Sometimes it's a grind on the pavement, or getting yourself into challenging situations, or the simplicity of carrying all you need to eat, sleep and make coffee, not to mention a beer here and there. As far as editing, I didn't do a single adjustment to the clips besides speed on a few of them. I wanted the variety to speak for itself: golden hour at Wall Lake was gorgeous, a hail storm at 10k ft was dreary, not everything needs an instagram filter.
    The video took some time but it was a labor of love. Plus, after 12 days in the saddle, I enjoyed sitting in my underwear in my desk chair for 10 hours, drinking cold shiner and re-watching all the scenes I saw live the previous two weeks.

    This is probably one of the best compliments ever, thank you!.


    I read somewhere that on average most people watch 8 seconds of a video before fast forwarding or moving on. I figured 9 minutes was way too long but I just couldn't leave any more footage on the cutting room floor.

    Day 1 is being written now, will upload soon.
    #14
    BackRoadNomad, refokus and i4bikes like this.
  15. mark2wheeler

    mark2wheeler Adventurer

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    What everyone is saying about the video is true.It is unlike most and you've made it look easy.How do you make it look like you're spinning around in the selfy shots?Are you actually shuffling your feet or spinning on your heel or standing on a record player?
    #15
  16. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

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    Day 1: El Paso to Wall Lake Campground, 315 miles

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    The day started late since I had to return the truck at 9am. Luckily the Budget truck office was located in a room of the hotel. Classy. After some loading of the bike, I suited up and rode approximately 1 block to the nearest gas station. No sense in trucking 5 gallons of gas halfway across Texas. The weather was cloudy so I slipped on the hi-vis trash bags known as rain gear. Getting out of El Paso was stressful between the traffic, slick roads, navigating and overly-intense listening to the bike for any sort of mechanical trouble.

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    In preparation, I read many varying reports of gas in Hatchita so I called the number listed in gpsKevin’s files. “This number is no longer in service”. In a moment of adventurer brilliance, I called the Hatchita post office and a lovely young lady informed me there was no store, no gas and little else besides her in the town, as if she’d answered the same question before. However, there was gas in Columbus which would still support me to the next gas stop in Silver City. Thus I set out down hwy 9, a desolate strip of black top whose only existence is to provide access for border patrol. Completely void of traffic I was free to take photos like this. Who needs a selfie stick…or clutch hand?

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    Finally, the start (for me) Hatchita. I’ll be honest I spent many nights dreaming of an instant turn-off to Baja-like terrain, silt filling my nostrils and heli’s filming my every move. Nope, not even close, more pavement. I should have installed that new knobby sitting in my living room back home.

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    Finally my GPS avatar creeped up on the first off road “red” section just south of I-10. Nope, not even close, locked gate.
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    A few miles on I-10 and I was at the junction with Separ Rd, glorious, open, sweeping, rolling, graded dirt Separ Rd. I opened the throttle, slid out the rear and enjoyed the first fun bit of riding. Then I got greedy. I was really in the groove, 60mph straights, hard on the brakes, 30mph in the curves when one curve came up a little too fast. I had the moment we’ve probably all had…lean in or brake. In my mind, I was too late to make the turn so I opted for braking. Lock the rear, load the front, squeezing until the limit, surprised by the 2 foot wide ditch that had accompanied the road for the last 10 miles. Apparently this ditch is a common occurrence for maintained dirt roads, particularly those that get snow. We don’t have those in Texas, we have private land or I-35, take your pick. I wasn’t stopping so I opted to release the brakes, regain control and ride out the ditch. Up on the pegs, the forks bottomed, the rear bucked, the bars crossed up and I was launched nearly ass over tea kettle… the bike went sideways both ways but somehow I kept aboard and upright. This was not because of skill but because adventurer karma was giving me a stern warning on how easily my trip could end before noon on the first day. This is what the GPS track looked like followed by the actual tracks.

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    More pavement miles to Silver City, a Sonic chicken bacon toaster and a stop at the Santa Rita mine view area led to a rough gravel/dirt road into some baby mountains, lots of switch backs and great views down into Mimbres. A small stretch of pavement and I turned onto N. Star Rd, which alternated between a bed of loose black gravel and rutted mud with embedded stones. It was lightly raining, just enough to make it interesting. I saw lots of cyclists on this stretch, all looking miserable on the climbs and mostly out of control on the descents, including an approaching tandem bike with a front driver(?) whose face said “I’m not getting out of this rut, do you mind passing on the other side?” which I kindly obliged. Those guys are crazy. The rain let up and I entered a valley right at perfect light. I turned toward the “red” path, immediately greeted by a herd of elk. They mostly watched until one decided it was time to sprint across the road and peer pressured the others to follow. They excitedly crossed well in front of me, a cow elk can be seen in my video. I’ll let you find it, like Where’s Waldo, Wildlife Edition. The red path led to a couple houses and a gate. I didn't see an obvious road continuing in the distance; even though a pair of pups came out to say hi, nobody on two legs came out and ushered me through, offering foot massages and freshly milked milk. My dreams were way off. I had the gas and the daylight, so I back tracked past the elk and back on the blue path.

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    Rolling into the Wall Lake area was the near perfect end to my day. Sun was setting, the lake and rock wall were stunning, the silence was deafening. Then I found the no camping signs in front of what used to be a campground. I rode another mile up the road but there was barely a square foot of flat ground without a dense trees. Throw in my bear-phobia and exhaustion, I decided to set up camp just off the road next to the lake. Sure enough, a woman in a truck pulled up and said “you know you’re camping on private property, right?” I ‘yes ma’am-ed’ my way to acceptance as long as I didn’t have a fire and left first thing in the morning. Done. Backcountry meal and in bed…an incredible first day.

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    #16
    BackRoadNomad and Moto Jimmy like this.
  17. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

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    Austin, TX
    Sadly enough, some of the spinning selfie shots took a few takes. Getting the right angle, keeping a straight arm, looking at the lens not the image, not stumbling. I credit my years of high school marching band for the glide step and heel-toe action necessary to pull off a good video selfy.
    #17
  18. Tsotsie

    Tsotsie Semi-reformed Tsotsi

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    Nice!
    #18
  19. Bob

    Bob Formerly H20Pumper

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    Nice video and RR!
    Thanks.
    #19
  20. hoost

    hoost Been here awhile

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    Great video; looking forward to the ride report!
    #20