My Colorado BDR Experience -- the rest of the story.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Orangecicle, Oct 5, 2013.

  1. Orangecicle

    Orangecicle On a "Quest"

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    About a month ago, I headed out to meet a group of riders to attempt the Colorado BDR. Today, my KTM sits safely back in the garage, and I sit safely back in front of this computer screen.

    The KTM has quite a few more scratches on it than it had before.

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    There's also a layer of Colorado dirt on it that I swear seems as if it is etched into various surfaces. I literally can't wash away some of this tan residue with a pressure washer, and rubbing it with a rag just seems to imbed it deeper. It might be there forever . . . and I'm OK with that.

    As for me, the trip left its own kind of marks on me. My ribs hurt like hell at times. Such are the consequences for a tenderfoot making mistakes in an environment like this. You learn quickly, but the lessons can be painful.

    Ribs heal, so the reminders of the lessons received will fade in time. But I hope that my memories of this epic trip remain gouged deeply in the recesses of my mind, just like the new additions to my KTM's patina. I feel fundamentally changed, and I want that feeling to stick with me the rest of my days.

    In the posts to follow, I'll give you a daily account of the trip, so stay tuned! :freaky
    #1
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  2. Orangecicle

    Orangecicle On a "Quest"

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    September 3

    I sat at work toiling away, slowly going through the gamut of emotions about this trip. The overarching feeling is one of excitement -- absolute giddiness over the fact that I am making this trek. Then angst over preparation and the ever-present unknown when it comes to something like my bike. It's made long trips before, so down deep I know it will be fine. Then doubt over whether I'm mentally and physically ready. Will my crappy back be able to pick up the fully loaded bike? Will my left wrist with carpal tunnel hold up?

    And there is sadness as well. For me, 2012 sucked. I had to deal with major litigation and huge headaches at work right at the same time my Dad was suffering a severe stroke. Then came September 2012, and the ugly decision I had to make to pull back life sustaining efforts. 2012 sucked, plain and simple.

    As I was in the midst of wrapping up affairs at work today, I listened to my iPod on shuffle, and the Andy McKee song "For My Father" came up. It's a song McKee wrote for his father's funeral, and it's the song I chose for my Dad's memorial. It's a beautiful song, but I'm taking out of my iPod rotation for awhile.



    Tomorrow, it's off to Golden and Dad's old house for the night, and then south to Mesa Verde. That's the last I'll speak of 2012. This trip is to make new memories, not to brood over the past. It's time for excitement and adventure. Time to move on.

    I remember when I broached the idea of attending the KTM Rally with my wife. Spending three or four days away from the family purely for fun was not something I've typically done in the past. Knowing that last year was probably the worst I've ever had, she had no problem with it. Then came the question of how I would get to the rally.

    Through ADV Rider, I learned of Butler Maps, the Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route, and their offer to give a map to a few people willing to follow the route up to the Rally and report about it. I'm very admittedly an off-road novice. I ride a lot of gravel and dirt roads here in Iowa but, I imagined that the COBDR was a lot more than that. Regardless, I PMed Butler to see if they would be willing to give me a shot at running the route for them to see whether or not a novice could handle it. Bill agreed, and soon enough a couple of Butler maps in a nice Wolfman map pocket showed up in the mail. My plans were starting to line out, and my four-day vacation from reality was starting to turn into a 10- to 12-day trip.

    I decided to not bring that to the attention of the wife at that point. But, as the day approached, the length of time away from home did become a subject of discussion, and Mary relented AS LONG AS I trailered the bike to Golden to start my trip. I wasn't too excited about that part, but sometimes compromises are worth it.

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    #2
  3. akaDigger

    akaDigger Amateur Adventurer

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    I enjoyed getting to know you a bit by reading the first episode of this adventure. "The Rest of the Story" will no doubt clear up the loose ends. Go for it!
    #3
  4. bikyto

    bikyto Dans le doute...gaz!

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    Thank you for taking us along....

    I can relate, I think, to your 2012 hardships. Your selected song brought tears and smiles to my face. It's a keeper.

    Looking forward to the rest of your adventure :clap
    #4
  5. Orangecicle

    Orangecicle On a "Quest"

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    September 4

    Today was my travel day to get to Golden. I left at 5:30 a.m. and arrived in Golden around 3:30 p.m. Was there speeding involved? Noooooooooooo. :lol3

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    It was wonderful to get out on the road. My job involves . . . sitting at a desk pretty much. That’s it. Read the e-mail; respond to the e-mail. Write a handful of very repetitive documents. I ride an adventure bike back and forth to a most unadventurous job, which is just wrong in so many ways. Knowing that I didn't have to jockey the desk for more than a week made me giggle a bit every now and again.

    Everything went fine on the day, and I had the time at the end of the day to take out my neice and nephew. They’re both good kids in a bad situation. The family split up leaving the two who just graduated from college to fend for themselves in the world. The nephew looks for work while living on someone’s couch. Tough. The niece is a fabulous musician who is now giving piano lessons and working in the “food industry. Not exactly where either wants to be at this point, but they are figuring life out. Here we are at dinner at Indulge Bistro & Wine Bar with the two showing a distinct lack of enthusiasm about my wireless shutter release.

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    Barbie and I had a great talk about her future and family issues, and I mentally debated whether or not to mount the new front Pirelli Rally before heading out to Mesa Verde or to just carry it along with the Rally rear. Decisions, decisions.
    #5
  6. Orangecicle

    Orangecicle On a "Quest"

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    September 5 - Part 1

    What an amazing day. Little more can be said. It started with me questioning this journey, and it ended wonderfully.

    I slept very little the night before. Questions kept running through my head. Should I really carry the extra camera? Should I carry my laptop? I had so much concern about the weight on the bike that I couldn’t sleep.

    In the morning, I made final if not “questionable” decisions on packing and got ready to head out. The bike was stupidly heavy . . . so much so that it barely would stand on the sidestand. I started laying out tools and spare parts that I’d brought and slowly started setting aside things that I “likely” would not need. In the end, I left with the bike way overweight.

    So here’s the first COBDR tip for you. Pack Light!!! If you’re worried about whether or not your rectifier is up to the trip, change it out days before you leave with a new one and keep the old one around in case you need it later. Don’t pack spares. You just can’t afford the weight in a setting like this. This . . . is not packing light:

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    The first stop for me was a local gas station just south of Golden. After filling up, I clicked the key over and hit the starter button. Nothing. My heart sank. All sorts of negative thoughts ran through my head. I thought, “This journey is over even before it’s started. Crap.” Well, it turned out my gloves were hanging over the cut-off switch, . . . which was in the “off” position. Nerves were getting the best of me.

    Once I headed out, everything was fine. I recognized the first few roads that I was one -- ones that ran past Red Rocks and the little town of Morrison. But then at Morrison, I turned the bike onto a road I’d never been on before and pointed us both towards pure adventure. I honked away a big deer from the side of the road, followed not long thereafter by a large bobcat. So cool to see.

    It’s really hard to say that any riding in this state is boring. In the morning it was hilly, mountainous and cold. By afternoon, it was flat and hot. By afternoon, I was climbing above 11,000 ft. in some of the most scenic lands I have ever seen.

    Monarch Crest, where my bike coughed once or twice while climbing, leaving me with a bit of an uneasy feeling. That's a subtle little bit of "foreshadowing" for ya. :lol3

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    Fairplay, Colorado -- and my life at a gas station:

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    Buena Vista, Colorado:

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    Lonely roads near near Gunnison:

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    Gunnison, Colorado:

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    I had thought that I would stop in Gunnison on the way down and fly fish for an afternoon. But, I left the fly rod in Golden to cut down on weight, so I kept moving.
    #6
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  7. Orangecicle

    Orangecicle On a "Quest"

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    September 5 - Part 2

    I knew that I wanted to get to Cortez by riding down the Million Dollar Highway through Ouray, a route I picked simply because it was the crookedest line I could find on the map. :lol3 So I stayed on Hwy. 50 until I reached Montrose and then I headed south on Hwy. 550. The scenery in this part of the trip kept changing by the mile and ranged from flat ranch land to arid plains with mountains in the distant. As you head toward Ouray, you start riding back into the mountainous landscapes of the state. Ouray itself is the little hamlet nestled in a valley between mountain walls on either side. You can usually appreciate scenery like that more when riding a bike, but in Ouray I was having trouble taking it all in; there is just so much to look at that I had to concentrate on the road and avoid distraction. I want to go back to Ouray and explore one day.

    South of Ouray, the Million Dollar Highway did not disappoint. The road in smooth blacktop that winds and climbs up through the mountain range and reveals some of the most scenic views I can ever recall. In places, there are bits of road where the blacktop is laid right up to the edge of a cliff . . . with no guardrail. Mistakes would come at a huge price there.

    Further up, the road opens to winding switchbacks. I tried to take a picture, but it really doesn't do the scene any justice at all.

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    As I was riding along following the road on my Motion-X GPS app, I kept noticing that the BDR track was right next to the road I was on. The track was up on the top of the orangish mountains in the distance, and I was honestly taken aback that we would be riding up there in the days to come.

    Another cool thing about riding a bike is the camaraderie of like-minded people. Along the way, people would walk up to me at gas stations and want to know what I was doing, and they would talk about their own bikes. It opens up conversations that would never happen otherwise. I met a group of ADVers on the top of Monarch Pass who were from Tennessee. At a gas station west of Gunnison, I pulled up next to a guy in a pristine 2006 Adventure who said he had just bought the bike and was riding it back to his home in California. While I was stopped taking pictures of the mountains outside of Ouray, this guy on a Harley pulls up and starts chatting. It was pretty obvious that Garmt was not from the US. It turns out he was from the Netherlands and was spending some time in the states. He pulled out his map to show the loops he had made through the country on his Harley, and I took his picture to send to him later.
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    A little further up the road, I ran across a tiny waterfall on the side of the road, so I tried my best to make something of it:

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    The shot didn't quite work out like I wanted, but I tried. The funny thing was that as I was getting back to my bike -- and trying to not slip on the dang slippery rocks -- an SUV drove past, and this lady in the passenger seat sticks her arm out the window with an iPhone and snaps a picture. I had to chuckle a little. To me, it was the perfect embodiment of the reason I ride. I want to get into the scene when I travel, and the idea that somebody thinks they can get a sense of the place and the people by snapping a picture through the window of an SUV . . . it's just so wrong in my book.

    The next town after Ouray is Silverton. As I was passing through the edge of town, I notices a little stream with mountains in the distance. I can't pass by water without at least trying a shot for some reason.

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    I wanted to do more and take more time there, but I knew it was getting late, and I still had miles to go. I was losing sunlight by the time I hit Durango. My goal was to get to Cortez by nightfall. But, I was bushed from just pure sensory overload on the day, and nearly 500 miles of riding on my stock 950 seat had taken its toll on my ass. I peaked in all of the motel lots to see if I could find any sign of CJ and his group, but no luck. In one of the motels, I noticed a V-Strom rider pulled up to the motel office, so I turned around to ask if the rates were reasonable.

    That discussion lead to dinner with Derek and Lauren, a young couple from Colorado Springs out an a jaunt on Dereks new-to-him Strom. What a wonderful time. We spent the night talking about everything in the world, from work to careers to family. You name it. Lauren worked up the crowd while cheering on her team at the bar. Derek and I talked about our bikes, travels, ear plugs . . . you name it. It was just one of those awesome evenings of good food, good beer, and great conversation. It reminded me a lot of how my Dad felt about strangers. His sense was that you needed to protect yourself from those you don't know. He couldn't have been more wrong. Letting down your guard and opening yourself to others exposes you to these kinds of chance encounters. You meet new people and open yourself to new ideas. That truly is where the adventure begins. :freaky
    #7
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  8. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

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    Awesome stuff :clap
    #8
  9. Questor

    Questor More Undestructable

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    Hey Man.

    Good to see you doing the Ride Report.
    We crossed paths at that Old mining town near Animas Forks and again at CJ's rally.

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    I'm "IN" for your Ride Report.
    Great pictures by the way.

    Q~
    #9
  10. Orangecicle

    Orangecicle On a "Quest"

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    West Des Moines, IA
    September 6 - Part 1

    In the morning I packed up and said so long to Derek and Lauren.

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    I realized while loading the bike that I really needed to get some sunscreen.

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    The plan had always been to meet the other inmates riding the BDR at Cortez and hit the route on the 7th. They thought they would only get to Cortez on the 6th, but they actually arrived a day sooner than planned due to weather chasing them. As I pulled into the Best Western parking lot this morning, I found Brent's bike in this state:

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    Apparently, the fork had been squirting oil in his face during the first leg of their trip, so they just stripped the bike in the parking lot and fixed it . . . in the parking lot of a Best Western . . . . Very impressive skills. Brent's bike was also very well outfitted -- the likes of which I'd never seen before. The suspension, the wheels, the headlights. This is an impressive bike.

    When I met the guys in the group, there were different sentiments about when to start. Bob wanted to be on the road ASAP, no later than 3 pm that day. That did not fit well with my plans. When I started looking at the BDR on the map, I knew iit would be unlikely that I would ever get back this way again. Therefore, if there was something I should see, then I should do everything I could to see it. Mesa Verde and the native American cliff dwellings was high up on my list of things that I should see, so I did a lot of my planning around that.

    The others in the group were not starting until the next day, but they were starting from Cortez because they came in through the Four Corners area and had been to the monument the day before. I knew that I had to go to the Four Corners monument just to be able to say that I made the full route. The others said it was a waste of rubber, but I had to.

    I also couldn't miss seeing Mesa Verde, and I had to change my tires. So, a lot to do and little time to do it. Such is this life. Wouldn't it be amazing to be able to go someplace and stay weeks to really explore? But, that is just not how things ever work out. So, I rushed out to Four Corners, and with the hope of getting tires changed by one, and then a couple of hours to spare for Mesa Verde and "maybe" hook back up with Bob to see if he really wanted to head out on the trail that evening.

    I headed out to the Four Corner's Monument, mindful that I was on native American lands. A tribal speeding ticket addressed by a tribal court would be, let's say, a bad thing. It seemed like every place I passed today was straight out of some old western movie. You could have stopped at any place along the way and spotted a young John Wayne riding through the desert.

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    The monument was not that much to write home about, but I can add three more states to my list of states seen by motorcycle.

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    While I was there, I heard the unmistakable sound of KTM V-twins. I looked out in the lot and saw Craig of CJDesigns on his unique two-wheel-drive Adventure. I said hello to his crew, which was starting the BDR, and then I asked Craig if he minded if I tagged along back to Cortez. He said, "Sure, if you can keep up!" Uh-oh. First mistake of the day. The group blasted out with CJ popping a wheelie on the main road. The rest of the run back to Cortez was at speeds between 75 and 90 the whole way. Luckily, no ticket. I'm not sure how I wasn't tagged, as I was the last in the line and would have been the one pulled over.

    Back at the hotel, Brent was reassembling his KTM in the parking lot. I grabbed my tires and ran to the Honda dealership. Just as I was finishing putting my bike back together, Brent showed up at the dealership to say that Bob had left, getting out as early as possible on the route. I thought that was probably not too wise, and the guys at the bike shop agreed that this was not the type of terrain that you traveled alone.

    In the end, Bob's decision to head out early was the best for me. The other two riders in the group were 950 riders, and Bob had a 990. Both Brent and Kelly were very well versed in how to work on things like carbs on the 950, so there was an added layer of safety there in the event one bike had a problem . . . somebody was bound to have either the part or the knowledge to get it going again. Boy, was that ever important for me on this trip.
    #10
  11. Orangecicle

    Orangecicle On a "Quest"

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    September 6 - Part 2

    After the tire change, I headed out to the Mesa Verde complex arriving there at around 4 p.m. I still hadn't eaten lunch. Monument to the ancestral pueblo cliff dwellers.

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    What I didn't realize about Mesa Verde was that it takes an hour driving through the mesa to get back to the actual cliff dwellings, so it was going to take until 6 pm just to ride there and come back. Did it anyway. What an amazing experience. Just spend a few hours of your life looking at structures abandoned more than 700 years ago, and you quickly get a better sense of the significance of your life in the grand scheme of things.

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    Visiting Mesa Verde is very worth the five bucks and few hours you'll spend there. It was really cool that while I was there, about the only ones speaking English were the park rangers. Everyone else spoke some foreign language, which was really cool to know that this place has that type of world-wide appeal. There was one couple that rode in on a Harley and had the typical Harley gear on, including the clunky boots. But they spoke German. Exactly how does that happen? Anyway, it was pretty cool . . . and very taxing. I walked down this winding path to get to Spruce Tree House.

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    Then I had to climb the path back up. Wow was that tough! I just couldn't catch my breath. I checked the elevation on my phone and found that the dwellings were only at about 7,000 feet above sea level. Many of the high passes we would tackle in the next couple of days were over 12,000'. Uh-oh . . . should have cut out the diet soda a few months earlier!

    It was getting late, so I had to head out. I did drive past many of the other dwellings, but I just couldn't risk spending time looking at them all and being stuck in on the canyon road after sunset. But I did stop at the Far View Terrace, which is in the park and on the way back to the main road. There I had my first meal of the day -- a Navajo Taco.

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    If by chance you find yourself eating a meal at the Far View Terrace in Mesa Verde, make sure you do NOT eat the Navajo Taco. That was gross. The fry bread was old, hard, and just about inedible. It's tough to get that kind of review from a guy who hadn't had eaten all day. On the way out of the park, I had to stop and take one last shot for the day in the park at the Montezuma Valley Overlook.

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    The evening was spent back at the Best Western talking to Brent and Kelly. Both are really funny. At one point Kelly picked up one of the panniers I had brought into the room. I think he just about hurt his back. "Holy Crap! You're gonna bolt that to your BIKE?!?" Yeah, packing light was not my forte at that point. I've since learned a hell of a lot about packing light.

    I couldn't sleep that night. I wasn't worried about the next day. Whatever happens happens. I think it was more a sense that I just couldn't get over the fact that I was actually going out to do what very few people in the world have ever done. I couldn't wait to go.
    #11
  12. Orangecicle

    Orangecicle On a "Quest"

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    September 7 - Part 1

    And so it begins. The day started out well enough. A lot of nervous energy as we pack the bikes and get moving. We pick up the BDR trail on the edge of Cortez and head out. As we are riding the blacktop out to Dolores, I notice something about my bike that I'd noticed the evening before. The engine had a rhythmic drone to it. Hard to explain, but I knew it was less than perfect. I thought at first that it might be the new tires, so I pulled in the clutch and idled while on the road a couple of times. The drone went away, so it was certainly the engine. All I could think was, "Please make this trip."

    We pull in to the sole gas station in Dolores for one last fillup before hitting dirt. I look at Brent, who says, "This is where the fun begins." I responded, "Or this is where it gets pear shaped." He smiled and shrugged, "We'll see!"

    It wasn't long before we turned off of the main track and onto the first difficult bit. We got our bearings, and I could see that the line for the track ran through a big ass ditch. Brent peaks over the edge, and then his bike disappears into the ditch and pops up the other side. I say out loud in my helmet, "WHAT?"

    Kelly goes next, so I bail in next, concerned that I carry enough speed on the overloaded Orangecicle. I fly out the other side. Then the track goes through another big ass ditch, so we do it again. I'm thinking, "OK, if the rest of the damn trail is like this, we'll never make it to Steamboat Springs!"

    The trail that followed was pretty technical in spots with rocky downhills that I'm not used to. I'm doing what I can to keep up, but it's impossible. Kelly and Brent are good. I'm also wearing really dark sunglasses, which means I can see in direct sunlight, but the shadows in the woods are just black. Not good, particularly for someone like me with limited off-road experience. But, I make it through.

    Long gravel stretches follow, eventually leading to the first of the climbs into mountains. This was really beautiful riding up into the Aspens. This was fun.

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    Then came the first big mudhole. I was riding hard trying to keep up, and I topped a little hill to find this big ass mudhole. The right looked doable but slick, and there was a tree down there. Left looked OK, but it was sloped and looked slick. I started to head left and realized that I needed more momentum to hold the bike on the slope, so at the last second I decided to put the bike in the last rut on the left and just wallow through.

    Well, the front wheel went to the right, and the back went to the left. I said outloud, "Here we go," and then I went sliding on my back in the mud. It took me some time to pick up the bike, but I was able to get it up by myself and get going again.

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    Brent had a good laugh over my state when we finally caught up to him.

    Lots of really nice, fast gravel followed as we made our way to Telluride. It was lunch time, and we all went different directions. I found a stand selling falafel sandwiches. Not sure what falafel is. I could Google it . . . but not sure I really want to.

    I sat on the curb in the sun next to my bike trying to find a way to dry off and scrap away some of the mud. Telluride was crazy. There was some kind of foot race ending as we arrived. Traffic was terrible, and no one was getting anywhere quickly. I was glad when we got going.

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    Then we headed down the track to Ophir and up Ophir pass. I really wanted to stop for a minute in Ophir and take in this place, but the guys kept moving, and so did I.

    For me, this is where things went from fun to "pear shaped." As we climbed up the path, Brent and Kelly sped ahead, and we got separated by two Jeeps heading up the trail. I could already tell my bike was not happy at the base of the trail up, and now I had to slow for Jeeps. I stopped at one point to give the Jeeps some time to get a ways ahead, and the bike stalled. Now, trying to get a temperamental, overloaded bike refired while on a big ass slope . . . this was not good.

    When the bike would fire, I just couldn't get it cleared out enough to run. Things were not good. Somehow, I ended up getting the bike on the inner portion of the path -- probably because I really didn't want to go over the edge. Well, I started slipping on loose rocks as I tried to move forward, and that resulted in fall after fall. The Pelican cases on the side helped to prop up the bike and make it easy to pick up. But at one point, the bike slipped just right, and the Pelican landed in a rut, which left the rear tire in the air. I was not picking this up by myself, and strained my back a little trying. So, I got to meet some of the locals. :lol3

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    Eventually, I was able to get the bike up to the middle of the track where a Jeep got stuck some time ago leaving big holes in the track. I slowed just enough to try to pick the best path through, and the bike stalled. I tried to catch the bike. Not so much. I fell to the right . . . with my head over the edge of the cliff. That pretty much freaked me out.

    Brent walked up. How he got there I'm not sure. But we decided to pull the cases off of the bike, get it started, and just run the bike up as fast as it would go. It finally started, and Brent asked if I wanted him to ride it. "You bet. Get it there if you can." He blasted off while I loaded my gear in a Jeep that agreed to help.

    Brent had no trouble getting the bike around the bend and over the last hole, although I notice on the way that the one case I left tied to the bike was in fact . . . not tied to the bike. My dry bag flew off the bike just before the last switchback. As we pulled up to it in the Jeep, I could see my camera gear that was in the bag strewn all over. Unbelievably, nothing actually went over the cliff, and although the cameras came out of the dry bag and out of the camera bag inside, none of the cameras were destroyed. Amazing.

    So, we eventually make it up to the top of Ophir, but Brent had to walk back down and get his bike. I felt terrible that he had to do that. At the same time, I knew I couldn't have gotten the bike over without him.

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    Brent and Kelly at the Ophir Pass elevation marker:

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    Me, upset that I couldn't get here on my own, but glad I didn't fall over the cliff:

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    I coasted and idled my bike most of the way down Ophir, pretty tired, and pretty disappointed that the bike wouldn't run when I needed it most.
    #12
  13. GrumpyOne

    GrumpyOne Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    More please. :thumb

    jw
    #13
  14. FlyingPenguin

    FlyingPenguin Been here awhile

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    "Where the Donner Party Dined"
    Pretty sure I know how this trip turns out, but I'm subscribed anyway.... :lurk
    #14
  15. Orangecicle

    Orangecicle On a "Quest"

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    West Des Moines, IA
    September 7 - Part 2

    So, we've gotten over Ophir Pass, which I now affectionately refer to as "Oh-Fear" Pass. That's not how the locals say it, but it's how I remember it.

    Back at blacktop, I look at my dash for the first time in a while and see "F 0.0." I think, "Crap, I'm out of gas." I tell the guys that I'm low on fuel due to fuel spilt on Ophir, and the decision is to head to Ouray for gas. I'm enjoying the blacktop ride to Ouray. But I realize during the ride that my dash was still reading "F 0.0." Um, I didn't need gas. I was just on the wrong trip setting. Ooops. I feel pretty much like the idiot, but we are already on the way, so I guess I'm stuck with that. I can now admit my mistake that I refused to admit at the time.

    Back on the BDR track, we start up the Corkscrew Pass track. The track is wet from recent rains. Brent heads up first, and I’m adamant that I'm going to stay with Kelly or die trying. The speed up the path is wicked fast for me, but I'm hanging with Kelly. Then we start into this section that is filled with woops and other sundry crap. At one point, I see Kelly go through a woop to the right, and I'm in the middle of the track. As I crest the top of one of the woops, I see a hole on the uphill portion that is so massive that I realize that I can't safely dodge left or right, and the safest thing I can do is just brace and hit it head on. I lock my arms. I remember the bike bottoming out entirely and this ugly and violent "wham" that followed as the bike cleared the hole and topped the woop. How I cleared it, I'm not sure. I closed my eyes expecting a crash. The bike and I survived. My front rim is no longer round, but . . . .

    As we started up Corkscrew Pass, I was amazed at the scenery. I remember passing by this area a few days before thinking, "I'm going to ride up there?" Yes, I was riding "up there." As we climbed the path on the way up, the switchback became harder and harder. At one point near the top, I remember looking up the path and thinking, "How in the hell am I going to make this turn?" The answer was pretty simple; I wasn't. I tried to make the left turn as best as I could, and the bike coughed right as I had the bike leaned over for the turn. I clutch and throttled as best I could, but by the time the engine came to life, the lean angle was past the point of return. The rear tire started spinning, the bike flipped wildly to the left, and I said, "And here we go." The bike landed with the wheels pointed straight up the hill. I thought, "I . . . am . . . screwed."

    I do my best to move the bike around and get it so that I can pick it up, but no such luck. I'm wicked tired. The bike is damn heavy, and I just can't move it. I feel pretty much defeated by the BDR.

    Out of nowhere come these two old guys on four-wheelers. There was this fella who appeared to be about 85-90 who had on some sort of head thing and what looked to be welding goggles. He was smoking a cigarette. He looks to me to be an octogenarian Mad Max on a four-wheeler. Anyway, Mad Max is with a guy named Larry Guidry from Montrose, Colorado who jump right in. The two of them immediately start working through the situation to figure out the best way to get this damn oversized motorcycle up the hill. I sit back in amazement as they both jump to work, and I'm reminded of all of the travel journals that I've read over the years. Pick up any book you want. Jupiter's Travels, Two-up by Scooter to Australia, Vroom with a View, Uneasy Rider. Pick one; read it. They all express the same sentiment; people are generally good. Put yourself on a bike and exposure yourself to the world, and the world will come to your aid when you are in need.

    Well, I'm in need, and Larry and Octo Mad Max have come to my aid. As we get the bike righted, Brent shows up. Again, I don't know where Brent comes from because I'm so focused on trying to fix my problem. I learn later that Brent fell trying to get back to help me and smashed his GoPro mount off of his helmet.

    After we get the bike up, Brent asks if Larry and/or Octo Mad Max would be willing to carry my cases to the top. Larry says sure, and loads up the cases to get to the top. I actually forget how I get to the next switchback. I'm so tired and winded at that point that I can hardly think. I remember that my helmet was so wet with sweat that it dripped when I took it off.

    Regardless, Brent got my bike up to the next switchback, the very last switchback before the crest of Corkscrew Pass. Larry had taken my cases all the way to the top on the 4-wheeler. As Brent went back down to get his bike, I had just a second to take in the view and the incredible scene that we were in as Brent rode up the path.

    Corkscrew Pass:

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    Probably the best shot I took during the trip. Brent riding up after getting my bike almost to the top of Corkscrew:

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    Why do I like this one over all others? Dunno. It's certainly not great. To me, it's just the memory of the time and place. At this point, I've done all I can physically do, so all I can do is stop and take a picture for someone else. That moment is burned deeply in my memory of the day.

    Brent and I discuss what to do, and he gives me the typical Brent encouragement; "We got this." He gives me direction on how to attack the last 200 feet of path, and I mount my bike with every intention of making it to the top.

    Well, not so much. The bike makes it about 15 feet, and even with full throttle and slipping the clutch wildly, the bike stalled. I didn't fall, but I slide the bike back down the path -- defeated. Brent tries his best to get the bike up, but it won't go. If Brent can't make it, I know we are done. It's getting late, it's dang cold, and it's starting to rain. Brent gets his bike up the last portion of Corkscrew with the promise that he will return with my cases that Larry previously kindly delivered to the top. I start walking to the top. I can take about 10 steps up the path before I start seeing spots, so I stop to catch my breath after every few steps. Eventually, I get to the top completely wasted. Brent's bike is "resting" soundly on its side. He had tried to find a way to load one of my cases and himself on his bike when the bike fell.

    Someone says, "We need to make a call." There is only one decision. "You guys need to go on without me, and I'll make my way down the path," I say. A guy by the name of Larry Fandrich and a group of three others on four-wheelers showed up and agreed to bring my cases down the hill as I coast my disabled bike back to the road. I'm completely bushed. Wasted. I have nothing left. We eventually get my bike back to the road. I had a good time talking to Larry and his family at the end of the track as I tried to remount my cases to the bike. My body is shaking so much that I can hardly do the simplest of tasks at this point. Larry turns out to be an AMSOIL dealer. Along the way, I think I've made a commitment to switch from Motorex to AMSOIL. I can live with that. :lol3

    Back at "normal" altitude, my KTM is back to its "normal" engine drone again. I head to Silverton where I had agreed to meet the guys. By the time I get back, they were already there and were trying to find the most reasonable hotel prices in town. I didn't care at that point. We got a suite at the Silverton Imperial, with dinner at Grumpy's Saloon. The least I could do at that point was refuse to let Kelly and Brent pay.

    I felt at this point that my trip was over; I'd tried and failed. Done. But Brent and Kelly kept saying otherwise. "We can fix it," I kept hearing them say as I drank wine that night. "We can fix it." I drank more wine. At some point, Lexi the bar maid, whom Brent had gotten to know on a first-name basis, said to me that it was cheaper to just buy the bottle than buy another glass. I bought the bottle.

    I didn't see how I could continue on, and I remember trying to sleep that night as I thought through the various issues that I could be having with the bike. Could it just be jetting? Could I have gotten timing off when I rebuilt the motor? Could it be something more serious? Doubt filled my mind as I churned through the scenarios and tried in vain to sleep.
    #15
  16. Orangecicle

    Orangecicle On a "Quest"

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Oddometer:
    4,307
    Location:
    West Des Moines, IA
    September 8

    I wake from a restless sleep, if you can call it that. Before first light, I grab some clothes and find my way to the street. The night before, I was so disgusted that when Kelly was putting a cable around the bike and asked if I wanted it around mine as well, I said, "No. Maybe somebody will steal it and solve my problem." No such luck.

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    At least the sunrise was beautiful.

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    I turn on my phone to try and find whether or not there are any motorcycle shops in Silverton, Colorado. As it turns out, there is a Harley shop in Silverton -- a clothing store. It's the "World's Highest Harley Store" at more than 9,300 feet. Silverton is definitely up there in elevation. When it's cloudy, you're basically in the clouds.

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    So, no reputable motorcycle shops around, or even ones of disrepute for that matter. I searched for any automotive shops, and the only thing I could find is in Durango some miles down the road. There was a motorcycle/Jeep tour company that I passed the night before on the way to the hotel, so I walked past their shop -- not open until 8 a.m. I got a cup of coffee at a shop, which was terrible. It had an expresso machine in the front window that was covered in dust, and it was still covered in dust after I left -- window dressing to hide the instant Folgers inside. Yuck.

    Eventually, the Jeep tour company opened, and I spoke with the owner. They were going to be of no help at all other than maybe offering the slab out in front of their shop for the work. They did have a nice half track, though.

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    The best way I can describe Silverton is just "weird." It has these old cars parked around like the half track as if they were some odd form of advertising, and the buildings look to be straight out of the 1900s -- last updated in about 1940.

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    Kodak still makes film? Who knew? Even if true, should that be a point of advertising in today's world?

    Anyway, the guys wake up, and I presented the bad news that there was no shop and no place to work on the bike. They said, "What do you mean? We'll fix it right here on the street." I'm sure I had that blank stare of disbelief as they expressed enthusiasm. Regardless, I unenthusiastically agreed to try as long as we made this a one-effort attempt, with the guys moving on as soon as we failed.

    Well, there have been points at which I've been wrong in my life. This was one of them. I tear into the bike just after 8 a.m. We found that the new carb floats that I had put in just before this trip had moved, and one was very clearly not at 3mm anymore. That's a problem. But, how in the world can we measure float height and get it right? Kelly comes up with a metric ruler from somewhere and fashions a cardboard measuring jig of 4mm. Sure enough, it works. Working as quickly as we can, we reset the floats, move the needles back to stock position, and put the bike back together. We're done by 10 a.m.

    Pictures from Brent and Kelly:

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    Along the way, both locals and tourists take a few minutes to ask us what we are doing. There's the local off-duty police officer who drools over the KTMs. Others stop as well to ask what we are doing, where we are going, and to talk about the motorcycle trips they had been on. One fellow with a big safari hat spent time telling me all about his motorcycle adventures in Mexico. He had an accent that seemed familiar to me, so I asked where he was from. Turns out he was from my home town in Texas. Small world.

    We put my airbox back together without the side doors to increase airflow to the carbs and then buttoned my bike back up. I tested the bike, and it seemed to be running great. As for myself, I'm tired. No sleep for a couple of nights is getting to me, and my legs have lactic acid buildup from my issues on Ophir and Corkscrew the day before. I'm not looking forward to another day of tackling mountain passes.

    As soon as everyone is ready, we hit the trail. The plan is to go to Animas Forks to take pictures of abandoned mines that Kelly and Brent had passed the night before. The guys get out ahead of me on the trail, and when I eventually get to the sign pointing to Animas Forks to the left and Cinnamon Pass to the right, I have a brain fart and go to Cinnamon Pass. The track up to the Pass is doable, but it's not what I would call easy. There is this one spot where a big double boulder in the middle of the road makes this stone woop. I bottom my forks on the rocks, but I make it through OK.

    Then I get to the turn to go up Cinnamon Pass. It's littered with sizable boulders that are surrounded by loose rock. I start running through the "what ifs" in my mind. What if the bike stalls? What if I can't get over that first bit because my bike is so dang heavy? What if it gets worse after this? I make up my mind that this is not the day that I want to do Cinnamon Pass. I'll be back, but not this day. I turn the bike around and head down the track back to Animas Forks.

    I find Brent and Kelly, who had been looking for me. I tell Brent that I've decided to take the easy route over to Lake City. I can see that he's disappointed. He gives me that, "We got this" look, but he agrees to go on up the Pass without me. I watch from a distance as Kelly and Brent make easy work on the boulder-laden entrance to Cinnamon Pass. I spend a few minutes talking to the local Sheriff, Officer Reyburn, at Animas Forks. He's a great old fellow filled with stories. I tell him that I'm a little torn about not trying to make it up the Pass, but he says that I made the right choice. "You know," he says, "there are no certificates of achievement for riding over that Pass. If you don't feel like you're up to it or your equipment isn't up to it, the best thing in the world to do is just what you did. Save it for another time." I felt better after talking to him.

    So, this is the scene from Animas Forks where I parted company with Brent and Kelly for the day, with the promise to Brent that I would meet them in Lake City by nightfall.

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    Sheriff Reyburn gives me some suggestions of things to do right around where we are, and I decide to stay awhile and shoot some pictures of the area.

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    At one point I see that there are a couple of other bikers hanging around my bike, so I walk back up the hill to see. It turns out to be Wolfman and Questor. I tell them about wussing out on Cinnamon Pass, and we talk about Questor's carbed SE running at that altitude. Eventually, I realize that it's after noon, and I have a very long road ahead to get to Lake City. I head back down the canyon to get to Silverton and then up through Ouray and around to Lake City through the easy route.

    Heading out of the Canyon, I had to stop and take a picture because it looks just so amazing, and I feel like a true motorcycle adventurer for a second.

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    And then some lady drives past in a Hyundai, and it totally bursts my bubble.

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    I hustle through Silverton and Ouray on the easy track, which eventually turns off onto gravel north of Ouray. Things are going well, and then it starts to rain. I should mention that I'm using my iPhone to navigate. My iPhone that is in a "formerly" waterproof case mounted to my bars. I say "formerly" because the case has been modified a lot, and it is no longer waterproof. Although I have the BDR map, I really need to follow the line on my GPS to keep on track. Well, the phone is getting wetter and wetter. I should also mention that my iPhone has been through the washer and dryer at home, so its reliability is a bit dubious to begin with. Eventually, I stop to see what I can do, and I decide to put a Ziplock bag over the phone, which makes it nearly unusable. But you can still work the touch screen of your iPhone with a Ziplock bag over it. This I now know. Every time I tried to flatten the Ziplock to see the screen and see if I was on track, I would set off some program function that would do something like turn on the compass.

    The rain is so bad at points that water is covering the road. I'm so drenched that vision is a problem, and I really can't tell if the water on the road is just ponding or whether it is actually flooded. I slowly work through the rain and get past it after about an hour. Once the weather cleared, the riding was fabulous, and the scenery on this part of the track was nothing shy of awesome.

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    For a flatlander like me, this is amazingly beautiful. I could just stand back and take in the view of places like this for hours, and I find myself stopping every few miles to do just that.

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    Then I realize that I'm starting to lose light in the day, and that's not a good thing when you are in a mountainous region -- around things like deer -- and bears. Hmmm. I look at the GPS at the loop I'm on and realize I have to go WAY north before the track starts turning south back to Lake City. I start hustling. Late in the day, I can see clearly that it will be dark before I get to Lake City, so I skip the last part of the track and hit the blacktop to get to town before dark. I made it to Lake City just at dusk. Good thing -- I was starting to see deer on the highway, and deer were walking the streets in the town when I got there at 7:30 pm.

    I track down Brent and Kelly, who had been in town since early afternoon. Brent has apparently been at Packer Saloon all afternoon and is on a first-name basis with the owner and all the wait staff by the time I get there.

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    We sit and trade stories of our respective days. Brent is drinking a margarita, so I order one. To me, it tastes like margarita mix with nothing else, so I order a rum and coke. That takes like . . . coke. Hmmmm. But the Reuben is great. Well, great for someone who has had nothing but snack bars all day long.

    Time for bed. The guys had picked a cabin at a place called G&M Cabins. The cabin was an absolutely wonderful and quirky little hunting lodge. Really cool. I'm a little bummed at myself for not trying Cinnamon Pass, but man what a great day. For once, I can say that I went an entire day on this BDR without having to pick up my overweight bike. It's the first time and the last time that I'll be able to say that.
    #16
  17. AdventureEnvy

    AdventureEnvy Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2013
    Oddometer:
    11
    Location:
    Southwest Louisiana
    Great story and even better Picts, keep em comin please!:clap
    #17
  18. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Oddometer:
    3,554
    Location:
    Jennings, Louisiana
    :clap:clap:clap Great pictures and great story telling to go with them. Love that area of the country. Keep it coming. :clap:clap:clap
    #18
  19. Bob

    Bob Formerly H20Pumper

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2002
    Oddometer:
    3,169
    Location:
    Corral de Tierra CA, Ketchum ID
    Nice story and pics.
    Thanks
    #19
  20. Mr Head

    Mr Head PowerPoint ADV

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2003
    Oddometer:
    9,779
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    This ride or pieces of it are in my plan for next year.

    Great photos!
    #20