Continental Divide Trail, July 2016

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

  1. lets_go_adv

    lets_go_adv Adventurer

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    Fantastic story! Looks like you pushed hard on the DRZ's capabilities. Have you modified the suspension at all from stock? And what tires were you running for this trip?
    #41
  2. Walternate

    Walternate Strawberry milkshake!

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    I love that guy's reaction :-) like you were from the planet of crazy city folk. I'm glad everything worked out and he gave you the straight report. I love it out west! Rootin' for you!
    #42
  3. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

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    The rear suspension is stock. I swapped to '04 DRZ400E forks after I took the bike to a motorcross track and blew the stock S forks. I ran Michelin AC10's from the start to Breckenridge and then switched to Kenda Parker DT for the remainder. I liked both but the Kenda wore slightly faster on the pavement.
    #43
    lets_go_adv likes this.
  4. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

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    Day 7 Rawlins WY to Granite Springs WY, 289 miles

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    It was dark by the time I returned to the KOA after my burger and whiskey but I noticed another bike and tent had appeared at the site next door. The rider saw me pull in and came over to say hi and inspect the bike. He was a 20-year-old New Yorker who decided to make a move to Northern California and opted to make the trip aboard an XR650 via mostly highways. It was great to talk to someone else on a long trip with a similar bike but a different intention. We discussed riding gear, particularly my adventure boots vs his Vans sneakers. He kindly offered some of his delivered Dominoes pizza and I offered the promise of coffee in the morning but he insisted he’d be up and on the road shortly after sunrise. After my most challenging day, sleep came swiftly in the cool night air.

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    On my usual schedule, I was up at dawn and enjoyed the luxury of washing my face and brushing my teeth with running water. My young neighbor never roused as I made some breakfast and rolled my tent. I even spent some time looking over the bike and doing zero maintenance. This bike has been incredible (this is actually not foreshadowing at all). Other than filling it with varying octanes of gas, I have done almost nothing, and I feel a little guilty because of it. So I checked things out…dirty air filter, check, dry chain, check, weeping countershaft, check, bug covered headlight, check. Losing hope of saying goodbye to my neighbor, I began packing the bike when I finally heard his tent rustling and he emerged to exclaim that he overslept. No matter how similar our trips, I realized the difference 13 years makes. We exchanged well-wishes as he headed for the bath house. I decided to leave some Revival stickers and a mini bottle of Jack Daniels on his picnic table, remembering how he commented about not being able to visit brewery’s or bars during his travels.

    After topping off the tank, I headed north into strong winds that had me tucking behind my non-existent wind screen. Luckily it was only a few miles before the exit off pavement, across a cattle guard and past a sign about raptors. “Raptors?” I said aloud in my helmet. In general, I think of myself as an intelligent guy, but my curiosity led me to whip a u-turn, back track and begin another u-turn before I truly discovered what mental exhaustion was. I found myself sideways on a cattle guard, the same simple device that extorts the stupidity of millions of cows. And my front tire was falling in slow motion. I saw my trip ending at that moment; the forks would hit and the wheel would fold like a nicely toasted corn tortilla as the bike toppled over. Miraculously the tire slipped out as the bike fell, no damage done. On another note, ‘raptors’ is also a word for birds of prey in addition to the most vicious dinosaur to ever turn into a chicken.

    Into the Great Divide Basin I ride. Remote beauty at its best. On a dirtbike, the roads were fast but I couldn’t help but feel the pain of the cyclist I say along this section. A lot of it was sand or loose gravel with long straight sections and no shade to be found. I stopped and chatted with a gentleman from Finland. He was heading south to north but had made such good time he was trying to find ways to waste time so he didn’t have to wait for weeks in Banf for his already-booked flight home. Not realizing how little there was to do on the trail, he was riding 12 hour days that lasted late into the evening with slowly setting sun. Other than cyclist, I only had livestock traffic jams to wait out since my horn was still upset about the cold water bath the day before.

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    The pace was quick and I was in Atlantic City in no time. I stopped at the closed general store and took a walk through the bar which said “open” but even I realized 11am was probably too early. Just up the road, I stopped in South Pass city to read the signs and decide I didn’t want to pay the $2 to see the “historic” town, seemed a bit Disney-esque to me.

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    In the back of my mind I recalled that this section to Pinedale was 230 miles which was near the limit of my range. The faster speeds mean I have less range as the DRZ tends to drop in fuel mileage above 50mph. I had read about fuel in Boulder, a town about 25 miles before Pinedale but couldn’t be sure, plus I might find myself having to back track. Because of this, I found it hard to concentrate on the scenery around me and failed to stop for any photos. The natural fuel tank allows me to see the fuel level, which proves to be a blessing and a curse. I kept telling myself that there were plenty of houses scattered every few miles and my safety was never a concern but I didn’t want to have to de-rail my day to beg for a few gallons of gas at the doorstep of a stranger. At 200 miles, I hadn’t emptied the tank and I still had the auxiliary gallon remaining. A big sigh of relief, I could make the 230 miles to Pinedale. The dirt road turned to pavement as I came into Boulder and I saw there was, in fact, a gas station. As my highschool shop teacher frequently said, “I shit you not” the spark plug ignited the last ounce of fuel in the tank as I pulled into the gas station and coasted to the pump. Brilliant.

    My planned detour for the night meant the remaining 60 miles for the day would be easy so I strolled into the gas station/café/grocery store/bait shop/pool hall/watering hole and sat at the bar. This was one of those interesting moments where I felt like a rock star but nobody noticed. I definitely didn’t do this trip to get anybody’s approval, but when people express interest in my trip, I am elated to tell the story. Thus when they do not even raise an eyebrow, I am borderline furious. At a mere 7000 feet with the sun blazing, I chose not to leave my black jacket and dark grey helmet on the bike so I strolled into the bar in full gear. A 40-something woman with jet black hair smoked a cigarette at one end of the bar while a 50-something man smoked his cigarette at the other end. A TV played a daytime soap opera and both parties seemed to know the riveting plot, silently rooting for their favorite character and against the man/woman that wronged them. The bartender walked up as I set my helmet on a bar stool and struggled to remove the jacket and camel back. I mentioned something about a rough morning and asked for a cheap beer and shot of whiskey. I sit for a moment soaking up the AC before sipping the beer, tossing back the shot and placing my credit card on the bar. Not a single question, comment, glance, or acknowledgment. Properly put in my place, I eked out “ya’ll have a good’un” in the thickest Texas accent I could muster and headed back to the familiarity of my motorcycle.

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    With an odd feeling from the aforementioned situation and noon-time drinking, I chuckled as I turned onto Paradise Rd which happened to be a red section of the map. It quickly turned to a sandy, rutted two track that would definitely be difficult for big bikes but fit the DRZ quite nicely. I stood on the pegs through the ruts and whoops for 10 miles, just enough to have fun without getting exhausted. The trail dumped me into the tourist town of Pinedale. There was some sort of festival as evident by the city square packed with white canopy’s advertising local arts and funnel cake. I fueled up and thought about stopping for lunch but wasn’t feeling it and decided to make like a banana and get the hell out of there…or something like that. The first few miles were a bore but the mountains quickly approached and soon I was shredding asphalt between a rock cliff and the postcard-worthy Hoback river. The clock only read 4pm when the turn for Granite Hot Springs and Campground appeared and a dusty but well-traveled gravel road carried me along the windy Granite Creek for 10 miles. I took a lap through the campground, found a site and returned to the pay station. Cash only and I didn’t have cash, rookie mistake. I found the camp host and explained that I was only there for the night and really wanted to see the hot springs before it closed. She bluntly but politely informed me that the town of Hoback 20 miles away might have an ATM. She also begrudgingly allowed me to stake out a site while I left in search of sacred paper money. Flying back to the pavement, I chose not to go to Hoback but to a gas station only a few miles back the way I came. Pulling in, I scanned for the tell-tale ATM neon sign. Nothing. I went inside to find the clerk/bartender (everywhere serves booze in Wyoming) and explained my situation, practically begging him to do cash back on my card. I ended up buying gas, a Dr. Pepper, 2 liters of water, and some cliff bars just to get $20 cash. Back to camp, I went to the host site and this time spoke with the husband. His tune was quite different, suggesting they weren’t busy and a guy like me could stay a night without concern for payment. He asked about my trip, we discussed Texas weather and he gave me insider information about a secondary hot spring.

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    After setting up the tent to officially claim my spot, I set off for the hot springs pool in flip-flops, shorts and helmet. In the only description I can come up with, the pool reminded me of something from an 80’s summer camp. And it was great. I paid $6 for entry and $2 for a towel and weaved through the happy families to sit down as the creepy 30-something single guy at the pool.

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    I soaked for a couple hours before the sun went behind the mountains and the temperature dropped steadily. On the way back to camp I stopped at Granite Falls where the mysterious second undeveloped hot springs existed just across the river. My flip flops did their best not to blow out as I hiked the 50 yards to the water and began hopping boulders. I spotted where the spring had to be only to see a topless woman give me an awkward wave that said “Hi, I’m here. But don’t come over here, just know that I’m here” Message received. I climbed around in the mist of the falls as the evening light faded. Darkness would ensure even lower temps and I headed back to camp to get out of my wet shorts. The day was relatively easy and I wasn’t exhausted so I took the time to light a small fire in the ring and watch darkness fully settle in before crawling into the bag for a chilly night.

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    #44
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  5. refokus

    refokus Hmmmmmm

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    Awesome job on the RR....................huge :thumb
    #45
  6. AZ TOM

    AZ TOM Long timer

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    Great stuff for sure. I am always amazed that even though people read reports like this they still feel the DRZ inferior to the newer bikes. No fuel injection, no this, no that. Just a light my E 262 dry weight, bullet proof go anywhere do anything bike, without mortgaging the farm to buy one. Looking forward to the rest of you RR.
    #46
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  7. guavadude

    guavadude Dirt Nap Enthusiast

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    Great RR and I loved the opening video! I just wrapped up a 5k mile trip up and around the divide and am sorting through the mountain of pics.
    Looking forward to hearing more about your trip.
    #47
  8. i4bikes

    i4bikes Been here awhile

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    Great vid, one of the best on here.
    #48
  9. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

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    Austin, TX
    Day 8 Granite Springs, WY to Big Springs, ID, 179 miles

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    I’ll make this day’s report short since I didn’t follow the CDT. The urge to see Jackson and check some National Parks off my list led me to detour through Tourist Town, USA. The morning at Granite Springs campground was bitterly cold but sunny and I didn’t bother with breakfast since I knew the pavement miles would tick off quickly and I could get some runny eggs soon enough. Nothing in Jackson really enticed me so I rode on to check out the resort at Jackson Hole. Perhaps it’s better as a snowy winter ski village, but I was disappointed. I rode through Teton park. There are mountains. They are rocky. Here’s a picture from Jenny Lake.

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    I rolled into Yellowstone with pretty low expectations and therefore was not disappointed. Missing an eruption by 10 minutes, I grabbed an ice cream cone, stomped around in my motorcycle boots and waited for the next Ol’ Faithful event. The people watching is great but a little sad; I’m very disappointed with the way society feels obligated to film EVERYTHING. Nothing is more depressing to me than somebody holding up an I-pad and watching this miracle of nature through a screen. I guarantee your grandkids don’t really want to watch your shaky video of a broken fire hydrant. Enjoy it, soak it in, keep your mouth shut.

    Here’s a sign.

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    Emerging from West Yellowstone, I made the trek to Red Rock RV campground in Idaho, and had the pleasure of speaking with some very polite camp hosts. They didn’t really have tent sites but I was welcome to set up in the yard by the office, which I happily did, before heading to the local watering hole for some food. I parked next to a fully loaded bicycle and saw the rider just sitting down at a table. I introduced myself and he invited me to sit as we proceeded to tell our stories. Nima was on his 64th day from Montreal, headed to Colorado then San Diego. He had a huge prime rib, baked potato, two large beers and my garlic bread. Nice guy.

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    #49
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  10. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

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    Agreed, I did my research before buying and the DRZ was the obvious choice for me. I only wish I had the kick start along with the electric start. For this type of trip, i'd much rather have a carb than FI.

    Sometimes I get lost in my photos and videos and have to carefully sort out what happened when and where.

    Thanks!!!!!!
    #50
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  11. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

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    While writing Day 9, I came across the Gopro video from the northern Colorado single track and trail of tears (my tears). I forgot I recorded everything, even the conversation with the quaker oats guy. I'll try to get it edited and posted soon.
    #51
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  12. avejoe

    avejoe Been here awhile

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    Down around the corner half a mile from here
    Excellent!
    #52
  13. Walternate

    Walternate Strawberry milkshake!

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    Loud and clear, my friend! :beer Great report and great observations! Ride on!
    #53
  14. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

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    Sep 10, 2015
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    Austin, TX
    Day 9 Big Springs, ID to Butte MT, 272 miles

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    Coffee at dawn is the best way to start my day and a picnic table to sit at really pushes it to the next level. The morning was enjoyable until the sun bullied its way past the tree tops like a grade school kid at recess and forced me to suit up. Only a few paved miles allowed me to wake up before hitting well maintained dirt/gravel road. Another mile later saw me stopping at the Red Rock Pass sign on the border of Idaho and Montana. After a night and 20 miles of riding in Idaho, I can claim it as a state I’ve been in, agreed?

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    Minutes later I glanced at the GPS to see that I missed the turnoff for the red route. Executing a well-practiced u-turn, I headed back to find an overgrown trail that at one point had a bridge over Red Rock Creek. My brain works in an odd way when it comes to difficult routes: I want to do them and I will do them until the danger level hits 11, but when I find a closed road I have an overwhelming sense of relief. In my head I’m elated I don’t have to do this road, but only because it’s closed. There is very little that I “have” to do on this trip, but I don’t want to tell people that I bypassed something because I was tired, scared or didn’t have the skill. The many miles I’ve spent in this helmet have allowed me to realize how much I fail to live in the moment and just constantly replay what I’ll say to people after the fact. I’m working on it but enough introspective thinking for now.

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    Continuing on the blue route, I rode along the ridge of mountains that create the border between Montana and Idaho. To my left the pine trees fight for space as the land climbs toward rocky peaks still holding on to patches of snow and to my right is flat land made green and vibrant by the creek snaking its way down the valley. Combined with an easy riding road, the morning was shaping up to be beautiful. The road crosses the valley and makes it way along the other side which seems to be arid with dirt and rock hills covered in brush rather than trees. This area is the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge with tons of birds, everything from falcons to swans in the Lima Reservoir (I think they were swans).

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    It was still breakfast time when I fueled up in Lima (like the bean, not the city in Peru) and stopped at Jan’s Café. I love diners and this did not disappoint. The 8-month pregnant hostess/waitress/prep-cook sat me at the counter near an arrangement of shiny plastic green ivy leaves and poured a cup of coffee without really asking. After placing an order for over-medium eggs with a side of biscuits and gravy, I watched the cook, who could only be Jan herself, hustle around the flat top in her Sunday best while her hair fresh from the beauty parlor didn’t move a millimeter. Full belly, I rode through one of my favorite sections of the trip. The narrow gravel road winds its way through a narrow passage in the cliffs, hugging the natural route of Big Sheep Creek where I spotted fly fisherman every 100 yards. I was reminded of the old roadrunner and coyote cartoons, trying to stay on the road as I looked up for an Acme anvil to fall from the sky at any moment. Passing through the mountains, the path turns north up a valley of rolling hills and scattered ranch houses. Time was flying by as I reached the next connecting stretch of pavement that turned onto a dusty, flat straight stretch of gravel heading slowly up to the next string of mountains. It quickly turns back to cracked blacktop as I imagine this area experiences a full four seasons of weather extremes. The clock barely read noon when I reached my planned stop for the night: Elkhorn Springs. Knowing I would be continuing down the road, I stopped to experience the place. Adventure karma #12: a closed red route and fast roads meant I didn’t have to stay the night at this terrible place. The spring fed pool was about ¾ full but still appeared to be open. The rustic restaurant/bar/bunk house/museum was empty, dark and musty. I will be sending them a pack of Swiffers when I get home. The assumed bartender sat at the bar watching a soap opera giving only the slightest acknowledgement of my existence. I asked if they were open and selling beer. I’m sure he debated waiting for a commercial break before waddling to the mini fridge behind the bar and displaying a selection of about 7 longnecks. On the brightside they appeared to be local brew, but when asked about the label with a moose, the man clearly did not have time to explain things to the only paying customer within 100 miles. I took my beer outside and watched some humming birds at a feeder on the porch who were better company, though they asked very few questions.

    Now properly up in elevation, the road twisted through the trees as it climbed and fell, nothing spectacular but enjoyable nonetheless. I rounded a curve to see a couple Kawasaki Versys-essess on the side of the road, one of which lay on its side. Stopping to offer help, I learned it was just a flat and the father and son team had it under control. After exchanging stories and advice on gear, they asked to take my photo. Finally, the fame I deserved (joking, of course). I explained how I already reached my planned camp for the night and didn’t know how far I’d go. The father suggested the Montana Folk Festival in Butte, which was news to me. Adventure karma #16, more on that later. He then asked if I was “going to get myself some crystals?”. Not sure if this was a drug reference, I casually asked for more information. He pointed up the road and said “yeah, you can just pick ‘em up off the ground”. We said our well-wishes and I headed to the park. I had to read the sign but you can read this: http://southwestmt.com/listings/11967.htm

    Heading up the walking trail, my head spun at the sight of hundreds of large craters in the ground. Far from small holes that toddlers dig at the beach, these were 8ft across, 5 ft deep and surrounded by families with shovels, sifters, canopies, chairs, and BBQ grills. I stopped to speak with a nice local who explained the details as he laughed at my awe. Revealing a large bag of crystals, he proudly displayed a golf-ball sized amethyst that made his 5:30am start worthwhile. I was convinced, found a crater that exuded a lucky aura and picked up a softball sized rock to be my shovel. Hacking at the wall of my gold mine, the decomposed granite would fall away and I’d pick through with my fingers. After finding small but well-formed crystal, the gambling chemical in my brain began to flow and I was frantically digging and sorting. Thirty minutes later I had a reasonable handful of crystals and stashed them in my inside jacket pocket where they still sit in Seattle. If you find yourself in this area, be sure to stop and try not to spend all day digging in the dirt.

    Back to motorcycles…the pavement snaked its way down to Wise River where I gassed up and hit a dirt road marked with standing puddles. With the mystical powers of crystals near my heart, I happily bounced through the damp forest where the path turned onto a rocky and rutted ATV path. The fun turned sour as I rounded the bend to what I now know is John’s hill. The safe path up the hill to Fleecer Ridge should have been about 10 switchbacks but instead the builders decided straight up was the way to go. I told myself it was just steep…no boulders, no roots, one tree…I can do this.

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    As I said I’m an engineer and I love data. The GPS corroborates my story: I started out pretty good at 20 mph up the 36.8% grade and gradually slowed to ~12 mph as I shifted my weight between rear traction and keeping the front down as it bounced over the loose shale. I fought the battle for another ~300ft, aka eternity, before the DRZ decided to take a lateral path off trail and eject me down the hill. Fuel poured out of the cap as I hustled 10ft up to the bike, shut it off and tried to pick it up. Ha ha. With the tires pointed up hill, there was no way. Sweating and huffing, I stripped the helmet, grabbed the rear wheel and started to pull downhill. Of course, on this grade the entire bike slid so I had to grab the front and pull up hill. Properly rotated 180 degrees, I was able to lift the bike but saddling up was a much greater challenge. The luggage prevents me from swinging a leg over so I generally do the awkward hurdle move. Standing on the downhill side, I couldn’t raise my leg high enough. Standing uphill I leaned the bike almost to the ground to get a boot over the seat and avoid toppling downhill. The bike would be long gone before my downhill foot reached the dirt. There was no question I was turning back and with engine off I began rolling/sliding down. I decided I wanted the engine running so I attempted to navigate sideways to the slope and just as I stopped, the bike went for another dirt nap. Good thing I had experience at this point and easily got back on the bike. Pointing downhill again is like the first turn when learning to snow ski. You can traverse the mountain for a while but at some moment you have to accept gravity and go tips down. I made it down without further issue, attempted a re-route but came to a dead end so I thankfully back tracked to pavement and took the green route to Butte.

    This video is not mine but shows the hill from the top down at 4:45. I do not envy these guys on big bikes. Gravity is a bitch. At 6:10 the guy almost falls trying to walk down…it is steep.



    I had to travel I-15 for a while and did my best not to panic at cars passing me at 85mph as I watched a storm brewing over the mountains. I opted not to take my intended route and stuck to pavement to get to Butte. Thinking I deserved a hotel, I discovered the Folk Festival is indeed a notable Montana event; every room in the town was booked. This is when I tell myself that sleeping accommodations were a problem for future-me. Present-me wanted to see what this festival was all about and it didn’t disappoint. Multiple signs pointed toward parking and a shuttle but I was on a bike so I executed my God given right to ride right up to the closed street, find a small and legal spot and proceeded to strip down to my going out clothes. Five stages were scattered throughout the historic downtown and smells from dozens of food vendors floated on the cool breeze. Dark clouds threatened nearby but never released more than a few droplets. Fully immersed with my buffalo tacos, Montana craft beer and local ice cream I wandered around listening to blues, zydeco, Spanish guitar and big band gospel music.

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    With another great divide ride day in the books, I found a campground, set up the tent in the dark and studied the next day’s map via head lamp.
    This is one of those "Before I die I want to____" chalkboards. I wrote my obvious answer among the notes about profanity and intercourse with celebrities. Society, you have let me down again.

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    #54
  15. norton73

    norton73 drinkin'

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    #55
  16. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2015
    Oddometer:
    50
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Day 10: Butte, MT to Kalispell, MT, 317 miles

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    The dark clouds over the Folk Festival encouraged me to set up the rain fly and pack everything inside the tent for the night. The sound of morning rain pelting the tent convinced me that I made the right choice. Performing a variation of yoga poses, I was able to dress in full gear with rain layers inside my 1 person Big Agnes tent. Loaded up, I headed to the truck stop for fuel, coffee and a McDonald’s sausage biscuit. The weather wasn’t letting up soon but it was only a mild drizzle so headed north on the trail out of Butte. The maintained gravel road allowed a fast pace without much danger from the damp conditions and I eventually made it to Basin MT on I-15 where the road turned a north and become more dirt and more remote. The low level fog made for wet gloves but some nice photos and pleasant riding.

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    As the road climbed, the puddles became more frequent and the skinny trees became denser. It was lush, green, and damp. The bike was running great, I was staying dry and enjoying the ride immensely.

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    Excited for a short red section coming up on the map, I quickly became disappointed upon approaching a closed path. The sign read something about closed due to “wildlife security”.

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    The blue route was easy enough to follow as it wound its way down past the crystal clear but lazily named Park Lake with a nicely developed picnic area including non-motorized boat launch. I had to stop and take some photos, it was a beautiful surprise.

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    Conditions cleared up slightly as I headed down to Helena. I stopped and read the sign describing these old kilns that forged stones used in many of the capitol city’s historic buildings. That’s the best Cannonshot impression I can muster, sorry.

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    Like any decent adventure rider, I searched for breweries upon re-entering cell phone service. Lewis & Clark brewery served food and opened at noon which would give me half an hour to get out of the rain gear and jot down some notes from the morning. When the bartender came to open the front door, there I sat against my bike. Trying not to appear too eager, I waited a few minutes and wandered in. I had pizza and a flight of beer as I chatted with a brewer about a small Texas band, Reckless Kelly, that had played there recently.

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    The road out of Helena was fast and fun rutted gravel that climbed through the increasing rainfall that kept me from taking many stops for photos. Unfortunately I don’t remember many details, but overall it was great ride through thick pine forests on storybook mountain roads. North of Lincoln there were many switchbacks with great views across the valley. Almost immediately I found myself back on flat land looking back at this scene:

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    A few more scenic miles and I made it to Seely Lake which was my intended stop for the night. Still early in the afternoon, I stopped for a latte to warm up and a huckleberry treat to make the day seem less dreary.

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    Knowing it was too early to call it a day, I headed on a 20 mile red route that skirts the west side of Seely lake. The roads weren’t that difficult and the rain had only wetted the top inch of dirt and left a few puddles. A little over halfway through, my GPS indicted I should make a left turn however the road was clearly no longer traveled.

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    Not having the other route mapped out, I attempted to let the Garmin to connect me back to the trail in the forward direction. No luck. It instructed me to back track all the way back to town. I opted to continue on the road hoping it would merge back to my intended track. It wasn’t long before I reached a fork in the road and both directions seemed well traveled so arbitrarily chose the right hand path. It gradually degraded as I crossed more and more tree trunks laying across the overgrown road. With the track disappearing in thick grass, I was force to turn around and take the other direction at the fork. Around the bend a Suburban appeared traveling in my same direction. I pulled alongside and motioned for them to stop so I could ask where I was, always a difficult question to phrase. After explaining that I started in Mexico before getting off track in their home town, the young couple assured me this was the new version of my intended road that was built 2 years ago and would end in the same spot. As I asked about their afternoon, they held up a OJ bottle full of huckleberries and said they were just enjoying the woods and exploring with the chocolate lab hanging out in the back seat. After taking off in front, I rounded a few more bends to find a locked gate with just enough room to squeeze the DRZ by. The direction of the sign implied I had come from the closed side of the gate (photo is taken after I passed the gate). While I took pictures, the young couple drove up and we collectively wondered why the road was closed one side but not the other. The signs indicated the closure was to protect grizzly habitat but clearly there was a failure to communicate.

    [​IMG]

    The triangle and squiggly blue line assured I was back on target. It was another couple miles to pavement that would take me to fuel in Condon before hitting the dirt again. Or so I thought. The gas station was a pile of rubble, the victim of a fire. Ironically the pumps were unscathed. Wet and dejected from re-routes with an odometer pushing 260 miles, I took this as a sign to stick to the highway and find a dry to place to post up for the night.

    [​IMG]

    Looking back at the maps, I think I missed some nice areas around Swan Lake, but I stick to my decision. The rain fell harder and harder all the way north of Flathead lake before offering clear skies as I headed for the Super 8 in Kalispell. Parking under the hotel awning as more thunderclouds approached, I crossed my fingers and headed into the lobby. I think the young man at the desk took pity on me but I also think he is just a great soul putting 100% into a routine and mundane job. He offered a room on the first floor near the side door so I could easily unload, he voluntarily gave me the AAA discount, and when I asked about USB ports in the hotel room, he pulled an adapter out of his own backpack. I generally despise cheap hotels but this one was clean, modern and well managed which made me feel a little guilty for hanging wet gear on every surface in the room and washing my undies and possibly-moldy socks in the bathtub. One day before the border and I was safe, happy, and sleeping in a bed. Excitement and exhaustion briefly battled it out before I passed out to my own stench.
    #56
  17. XRman

    XRman Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,405
    Location:
    SW Victoria Oz
    Great RR so far. I have to admit I have scanned the three pages and not looked at your video yet, but I will.

    My only comment is you seem to have way too much luggage up high on the back of your DRZ. This wil make it act like a pendulum when you are trying to brake into corners when you are going a bit to fast.

    Can I make a suggestion that you contact Tom at www.moto-racks.com to get a rear luggage rack and pannier racks that really suit the DRZ before your next journey. That, or try a U shaped luggage system like a Mosko Moto Reckless 40, in order to get the weight down lower and more to the centre of the bike.
    20151231_100111.jpg
    I have wanted to do a trip like this in the USA. Bucket listed. Are you using a GPS plot that you got from a third party?
    #57
  18. Walternate

    Walternate Strawberry milkshake!

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2016
    Oddometer:
    34
    Location:
    North Carolina, USA
    I like that you interact with people along the way... that they are a part of your story rather than just the background. Excellent RR, sir! :lurk
    #58
  19. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2004
    Oddometer:
    4,062
    Location:
    CA dez (it's a dry heat)/West Yellowstone,MT
    I'm enjoying your report. Good writing and video editing. It's been 10 years since I rode the CDR and now I live a few miles off the route for half the year. Good write ups like yours help me re live my ride. Looking forward to the finish
    #59
  20. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2015
    Oddometer:
    50
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    While the high CG is not ideal, there were many factors that led to my decision:
    -Dry bag and rack were <$140
    -I don't like things dangling around my exhaust and/or chain line.
    -Being narrow was important on the single track
    -I didn't intend to set CDT lap records
    -Panniers can be damaged on one of my many drops
    -And finally, it makes for an excellent back rest.

    Regardless, the bike has been sold, I learned some things and I'll make some different choices on my next set up.

    The GPS track was developed by GPSkevin, an excellent source of information!!!
    If it's on the bucket list, check it off!

    Thanks dudes!
    #60