The Midwest meets the West: Another 950 Off Road Adventure

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by gearheadE30, Dec 20, 2017.

  1. TwoTiredRiders

    TwoTiredRiders Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    393
    Location:
    The Keystone State
    Right on E30 and thanks for the detailed reply. A GREAT deal of time goes into this stuff and every one that does take the time paves the way for others, myself included, that my not brave the unknown. Previous trips (3 cross country month long road trips) have been all paved and focusing on hitting the national parks and stuff and although spectacular I now wish to see some of the western areas via BDR routes and Jeep trails. Any GPS coordinates will be extremely helpful as a base map to use or modify in my Garmin Basecamp software. My preference for riding is twisty asphalt and dirt roads/ single track. I lead adventure rides for our local BMW dealership and have a training program as well. I recently had Shawn Thomas and his brother Lance, both former RawHyde instructors and now working for BMW directly as well, at my house for a group class and that was very cool. I got busy and haven't fooled around with my FB page much lately but it is GS Riders of Velocity Cycles. There are some cool pictures on there of the single track trails we do on the GS's and various group ride stuff. Check it out and Like it if you are into that kind of stuff. Catch you later and Thx again.
    #21
  2. TwoTiredRiders

    TwoTiredRiders Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    393
    Location:
    The Keystone State
    One more thing E30: You wouldn't believe the difference in the 2013 and up water cooled GS's. It's not possible to put words to it you just have to ride one at a demo event.
    #22
  3. gearheadE30

    gearheadE30 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,696
    Location:
    Indiana
    Day 8 7/27/2017

    We broke camp on day 8 after eventually deciding to go back to look for dad's missing bag. I was convinced that we could find it, and Engineer is fun so I didn't mind riding it again. Dad was on the fence as he felt like he was slowing things down making us retrace our steps, and no doubt felt a bit bad about losing is luggage. Again. He had, by this time, already forgotten that we'd made a 1.5 hour round trip out of the way just to pick up a rear tire for me, and that was all pavement, so I guess this made us even!

    Before leaving, we took a look through all of our pictures to see if the bag was visible in any of them. Somehow, every single picture we took of his bike between Ouray and camp only showed the left side! We had one picture at the trailhead, so we at least knew it was on the trail...somewhere. I had been riding behind dad for some of the time, and I surely would have seen that it was missing. This also bracketed a few areas where it could be.

    [​IMG]

    Some backstory on dad's luggage - I don't know what brand they are, but they are some kind of top-loading plastic case (might even be a pelican case) that have brackets mounted to the back to allow them to latch to the racks. The latches have locks on them to allow them to be secured to the bike, which is nice, but locking isn't required to ride and is something of a hassle. Additionally, the latches are designed to be sacrificial in the event of a crash - it's much better to have the bag pop off than it is to trap a leg underneath or catch a tree and send the bike flying. This bends the latch tabs up, but usually they still work okay.

    On that first trip almost 4 years ago now, dad had an F650GS (his first bike!) with these bags on it. A few downs had left him with bags that would stay on most of the time, but one got bad enough that poking it with a twig was risky. Locking it seemed to help though, so neither of us thought much of it. After a particularly grueling climb on the Great Western Trail, we stopped for a breather....and discovered that a bag was missing. Neither of us wanted to tackle the hill again, so we started waking back down the trail. Something like 20 minutes later, we found his bag, lying in the middle of the trail. It was a loooong walk back up that hill, in MX boots, on a hot day, carrying a heavy bag. But hey, that's what memories are made of, and I know I'll probably never forget that experience!

    Dad had a brilliant idea on the ride back (headed back down to Ouray by this point) to put my GoPro card in one of our phones to see if we could narrow down an area where it could have been lost. We had already ridden through the area where I had followed him, so hope was dwindling.

    [​IMG]

    The footage clearly showed that I'm pretty oblivious to the bike I'm following!

    Sure enough, the bag was missing for almost all of the footage we had, again with just enough to show that the bag was on the bike at the trailhead, but was gone by the time we got to the final switchbacks heading to the top of the pass. One particular clip showed just enough to think that it *might* have been lost as early as a few miles into the trail, but it was hard to tell. We were fairly close to the trailhead at this point, so we decided to carry on.

    We actually stopped and talked to almost everyone we saw on the trail. It was still fairly early in the day at this point, so traffic was light, but it still made for slow going. Only one person thought they might have seen a plastic box covered in stickers at the trailhead, under a sign. He also said we should check with any side by sides that came up the trail, as there were a bunch of them on the way up. Hoping to make good time and beat anyone else to it, we got moving, and let a few people pass by. As one innocuous side by side with a family in it cruised past, I caught a multicolored glint of light out of the corner of my eye. It was dad's bag, in the bed! I about dropped my bike trying to stop, and yelled at dad over the headset to stop them!

    It was pretty amusing seeing the alarm on their faces as dad yelled at them, with realization slowly dawning as they saw the matching bag on dad's bike. :lol3

    [​IMG]

    They left the bag for us, and kept on their way. Nothing in the bag had been taken; in fact, it looked like it hadn't even been opened. Our best guess was that the unlocked latches rotated some in the bumps and the bag eventually fell off. Success! I still can't believe we got that bag back. :clap

    We turned around and headed back up the pass, this time shooting for Cinnamon to switch things up a bit. We passed all the Jeeps and Land Cruisers we had talked to on the way down, giving thumbs up as we went. Those guys all had radios, and every single one of them knew our plight.

    We stopped at another mine site on the way back up, careful to take a picture of the escaped bag just in case we lost it again...

    [​IMG]

    All the slow moving trucks trundled up Engineer Pass, leaving us a clear shot up and over Cinnamon.

    [​IMG]

    Two passes in one day!

    [​IMG]

    We finally had a break from the overcast, rainy weather. This is one of my favorite views, with the road winding up ahead. I took almost the same picture 4 years ago.

    [​IMG]

    The clouds eventually crept back in, but that did nothing to stifle the beauty of the land around us.

    [​IMG]

    We hit a little rain on the way into Lake City, but fortunately it stopped so we could enjoy some delicious lunch at Poker Alice. Always delicious, though certainly not the fastest place to eat.

    [​IMG]

    It rained quite heavily almost as soon as we left lunch, which I suppose was better than raining during lunch. We stopped and got gas, then headed back out of town. There weren't any convenient places to get water, so we stopped at the park in town and filled up at the public spigot. Completely sanitary, I'm sure.

    [​IMG]

    I have no idea what the forest we headed into next was called, but I think it's still technically part of the Rio Grande forest. We were headed generally northeast, up towards Taylor Park on the northeast side of Gunnison.

    I'm somewhat afraid of heights, so dad was determined to make me nervous by getting right up on a sheer ledge so he could hang his arm over the edge to take a picture.

    [​IMG]

    Some people were fishing from the side of the road, braving the drizzly weather.

    [​IMG]

    We stopped around the corner at a campground to use the facilities, where I found a convenient log to jump. If I had known the camera was running, I definitely would not have made it. This is also the only video I've uploaded from the trip! (hopefully the embed works...)



    We also met this badass traveling on a mountain bike. (and people think living on a motorcycle is crazy!) and it was a very long constant uphill to get to where he was.

    [​IMG]

    I don't remember exactly if this happened before or after meeting the mountain biker, so I'm just going to throw it in here. Unfortunately, because of time zone differences, the time stamps on my cameras and dad's cameras aren't necessarily in order. Regardless, this was incredibly cool. As soon as we saw this she-moose (yeah, I know, it's technically a cow, but that seems like such a misnomer. Just look how offended she looks at the thought of being called a cow), we killed the engines and rolled up silently.

    [​IMG]

    My camera has a pretty good lens on it; we weren't actually that close. I know moose aren't the most intelligent, and can be fiercely territorial and protective. They're also rather a lot bigger than me. I had no desire to get closer.

    [​IMG]

    Surprisingly, none of the moose were particularly alarmed when we fired up the bikes, so we headed out. We broke out of one forest, crossed a highway, and went straight into another - the Gunnison National Forest.

    [​IMG]

    There, we encountered a group of entirely female riders tearing it up going the other way.

    [​IMG]

    Of course, we weren't done with the rain yet. I believe this was the road that I hit my top speed of the trip, though. Long, flat, good visibility...who can resist?

    [​IMG]

    This is how you know a storm is coming... The cows. They know more than they let on.

    [​IMG]

    Eventually, the smooth, fast roads degenerated back into trails. Our path would take us up over Cumberland Pass and back down into Tincup.

    [​IMG]

    We made it! Three passes in one day!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We made one real mistake that day - not stopping for cobbler in Tincup. It's a mistake I won't be making again, but after having our brains beaten out on all the embedded rocks coming down the pass and fighting dwindling daylight, I wasn't thinking clearly.

    [​IMG]

    Cumberland Pass proved to be too much for dad's front tube. Coming down the last section, I hadn't really been paying attention and gradually increased my speed. The suspension on the 950 works better going faster, so I was trying to be as smooth as possible. Unfortunately, the same speed on the 800 was apparently pretty abusive, as a particularly tall rock finally spelled the end. With it came a few new dents in the rim, but nothing too severe.

    [​IMG]

    We got that squared away and continued on the road into Taylor Park, looking for a likely campsite. Since the last time I was there, many of the trails and camp areas have been blocked and destroyed, which is really too bad. There didn't ever seem to be much erosion or anything, so I'm not sure what the rationale was. The result, though, was a significant number of closed trails and far fewer sites than normal. It was rather sad to see, having seen how open it was a few years ago.

    It's still incredibly beautiful, though.

    [​IMG]

    Camp:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And that's a wrap on day 8....only 3 more to go.

    Day 8 Mileage:

    [​IMG]
    #23
    Allucaneat, DaveWave, KLRalph and 2 others like this.
  4. gearheadE30

    gearheadE30 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,696
    Location:
    Indiana
    EDIT: tracks removed for the time being - need to clean it up for general internet consumption. I will repost once I have done so.

    @TwoTiredRiders it definitely does take a lot of time, but it was one of these ride reports that gave me the motivation to buy a bike and try it myself (one of the Wan's first Oso reports). I guess I hope that, in addition to this being a cool record for me, someone might use this for their own planning, or as a reason to get up and try it for themselves. It's not as hard as it looks; I had basically never camped before I left on my first trip!

    I'm familiar with the RawHyde group by name at least; very cool that you're out there enabling people and setting up rides! I'll take a look at your page; I'm always up for gnarly trails on big bikes.

    I'll take your word for it on the GSAW - I'll try one if I get a chance, but I doubt it would sway me from the 950. I like my big, simple, crashable dirt bike too much! :lol3
    #24
    Critic and TwoTiredRiders like this.
  5. TwoTiredRiders

    TwoTiredRiders Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    393
    Location:
    The Keystone State
    Copy that E30. EDIT: tracks removed for the time being - need to clean it up for general internet consumption. I will repost once I have done so.
    Focus on the primary task of the RR. Also the GS is no comparison to 950/990, I do sometimes miss mine, I had one of each and did a lot of dual sport events two up back in 2004-2008 when my wife was more into that. Now the GS works better for us. With your style of riding the KTM suits you better and especially the 21" front. (Nice log jump BTW). It's just that the water cooled GS is NOTHING like the air cooled version you rode. I really want you to ride one some time!
    #25
    gearheadE30 likes this.
  6. Critic

    Critic More or less!

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,577
    Location:
    West of the Illinois, heart of the state!
    @Critic yeah, GoPros really flatten the scenery out. I use one on my helmet to shoot, which helps keep it stable and shows the viewer more of what I'm looking at, but it still doesn't do a great job of conveying the actual experience. And thanks for teaching me a new word! I had to look up intervalometer, and spell check doesn't even believe it means anything. Feel free to call me out on stuff; otherwise I'll just carry on in ignorance, accidentally acting a fool. :gerg

    @TwoTiredRiders
    The only big GS I've ridden was an air/oil cooled R1200GS, and I can definitely see the attraction. Smooth, torquey, remarkable weather protection, and better than they should be off road. It suffered from the usual BMW close ratio gearbox silliness (I don't know why they even bothered with a 6th gear when it's only a few hundred rpm different than 5th on the highway), the telelever front end was more vague than I was used to (love the anti-dive aspect though) and, of course, doesn't have that race bike sound or powerband. Great for the two-up riding though, I'm sure! Hope you have an awesome trip! :beer[/QUOTE]

    You nailed them both, GoPro and GS! They both have their sweet spot, which tends to fit right into the sweet spot for sales!
    I had BMWs from 1977 up to early 2000.
    #26
    gearheadE30 likes this.
  7. gearheadE30

    gearheadE30 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,696
    Location:
    Indiana
    @TwoTiredRiders haha okay, if the opportunity arises, I will put a GSAW through its paces and see what I think.

    Day 9 7/28/2017

    We woke up to sun once again! You'll notice a trend here - we'd get sun through much of the morning, but by one or two in the afternoon, it would get overcast and we would get wet. Looking back, I think it rained on us just about every day, which is where quality gear comes in. Aside from wet feet (dad and I both wear Alpinestars Tech7s, which are great, but not waterproof), the rain really didn't get to us too badly. Heated grips go a long way towards rider comfort in the rain, too.

    This was a pretty typical morning for us, getting up when the sun started peeking through the tent fabric and making a quick breakfast before breaking camp.

    [​IMG]

    We weren't going to start hammering miles out right away. The plan was to ride around Taylor Park for awhile on the easier ATV trails in the valley before making our way over to Buena Vista. This was also the last day that dad and I would be riding together, which we really didn't think about too much until later. I had to be back in Indiana a few days later for work, and dad had the same reason for heading back to California. Those thoughts were miles from our minds though, and we focused our considerable enthusiasm on going for a rip down some nice grippy two track.

    [​IMG]

    We found a few more trails that had been obliterated by the park service, but fortunately there were still plenty to ride. Taylor Park is also home to some free range cattle, who were utterly unperturbed by our presence. The only surprise came when dad bumped his horn button - that got them up and bounding away in a hurry!

    [​IMG]

    After an hour or so of playing on the trails, we headed back towards Cottonwood Pass to head into Buena Vista, only to find that it was under construction. The pass was closed from the reservoir all the way up to where pavement started at the overlook, so there was no practical way for us to go that way. We were left with the options of heading out to the north, going back the way we came over Cumberland pass, or rolling up and over Tincup pass. The choice seemed pretty obvious, so we headed for Tincup. There's a trail that looked like it could be a pretty solid shortcut rather than riding on the main, wide road back to the town of Tincup called Timberline Trail, so we headed for that.

    The trail started out easy enough, offering an entertaining mix of elevation change, rocks, and dirt, but after only a mile or two, the difficulty started to bump upwards.

    [​IMG]

    We made it through without any real problem, but the rocks continued to grow. Fortunately, they were embedded and didn't move underneath us, but that was about the only good thing. It was challenging enough on the 950 - although I can't really touch the ground, at least I have a very light clutch and a ton of clearance to work with. I really have to give dad credit where it's due here - I can't believe how far he took that F800 through this. That clutch is a handful, the engine really likes to stall, and it just didn't have the skidplate clearance that you need to get through this stuff without pinging off of every rock. I'll post some video later, but following him, for the most part it looked like he'd been riding for many, many years longer than the 5 or so he has under his belt. :clap

    [​IMG]

    We made it a little bit further through this, only having to pick a bike up once. Not far after this rock garden, I rode up a climb littered with rocks like this that gave me a better vantage point over where we were headed - it was going to get a lot worse before it got better. There's a line in there somewhere where 'memorable challenge on an inappropriate bike' quickly turns into 'if I fall, I'll break either the bike or myself, or both'. On a trip like this, the risk just wasn't worth it. We turned around and headed back, proving another inexplicable axiom of riding: things always go better when you don't know what's coming. Dad took a bit of a fall in a rock section that he had no problem with the first time through, but fortunately neither he nor the bike were any worse for the wear.

    Popping out the other side, we took the flat, easy route up to the bottom of Tincup Pass. Since this wasn't on my initial trip plan, I have to admit I didn't really know where we were headed. I just had the GPS to guide me, and that flat blue line makes everything look pretty easy. As it turns out, there are a lot of rocks on Tincup. Some big, some small, some embedded, most loose. The road is pretty benign up to this landing, given a '70's vibe with this fantastic C10 Blazer on wagon wheels. I don't know that I've ever seen one of these in person before, and certainly not one that wasn't rusted to pieces.

    [​IMG]

    Bikes have a distinct advantage on this kind of terrain, because all it takes is a good line a few inches wide. I was riding in front, as I tend to stand and attack this stuff - again with the upgraded suspension and rims, it's just easier to carry more speed as the bike won't deflect. When the going gets tough, it seems like it's usually better for everyone in the group to ride their own pace to prevent unnecessary bottlenecks or crashing. However, I probably should have been riding sweep here, as I got to the top of a climb shortly after this and realized dad was no longer behind me. I ended up turning around, to find him and the bike on their sides. From what dad said, it was a pretty close call - the bike either washed out or bucked a bit on a rock and put him into a high side and onto the ground pretty hard. The wind was very much knocked out of him, and the thought on his mind was any potential for a broken rib. Fortunately, for an old guy he's pretty resilient, and after some recovery, got right back on the bike. What a badass. :lift

    [​IMG]

    We both felt a bit of the altitude on this one - the constant jarring impact of rocks especially took its toll on dad, who was at the limit of what his bike could reasonably handle. On the chances I had to watch what he was doing, the stock F800 forks just blow right through their travel on sharp, low speed impacts, putting the rim and tube at risk. It's really hard to control the bike when the forks are doing their best pogo stick impression, but he handled it adroitly and really went for the best lines he could find. The only other bikes that we saw on that trail were 2 stroke KTMs, and they weren't going any faster than we were. I'm not saying that we wouldn't do it again given the chance, but if you're on stock suspension, be ready to have the crap beaten out of you even when riding defensively. Fortunately, as we climbed there were more stretches of dirt to ride on, rather than just endless jagged rocks.

    [​IMG]

    Even after all that, we made it! Shockingly, neither of us even got a flat tire.

    [​IMG]

    We didn't stop much on the way back down, preferring to maintain some speed in an effort to get to lunch faster. Towards the bottom of Tincup, we caught up with a convoy of EarthRoamers. If you haven't heard of these things, you should take the next few minutes to google them. They are essentially off road capable luxury campers built on crew cab 1-ton truck chassis. I think most of these were on a Ford chassis. There were 6 of them in the row, being led by a JK Wrangler Unlimited EarthRoamer conversion. It was pretty astounding to see these things off road, especially considering what they cost. Over some sections of the trail, you could see the flex of the chassis as the bumper moved relative to the camper body - it's amazing how much these things bend.


    [​IMG]

    Eventually, we got around the 'Roamers and into Buena Vista, where we stopped at House Rock Kitchen for a well-deserved meal. Yeah, it's healthy, but it was delicious too - we got a great meal and didn't even feel like crap afterwards! I would definitely go back there. The beer wasn't half bad, either. :drink

    [​IMG]

    Rolling out of Buena Vista, we continued to the east, heading up a sand wash. This was great practice for dad, made even better by a recent rain. He started getting the hang of it pretty well, by this point. You become so much more at one with the bike after a few successive days riding off road like this that things that used to be difficult now seem trivial. We made our way out of the sandy wash and up into the hills. Fortunately, the ground was draining pretty well due to the sandy soil, so there wasn't any mud (yet...). It did highlight a weakness of dad's rear tire, though. He was riding on Shinko Big Blocks, which are pretty much a paddle-type tire. They offer almost no side bite whatsoever, and that became increasingly apparent as we worked our way though this rather wet day.

    [​IMG]

    The trail turned into a smooth, fast roller coaster of a trail that was an absolute blast. Given an unlimited amount of time, I probably would have turned around and ridden it again. Unfortunately, it wouldn't last - we broke out of the woods and onto a hilly plain, where it instantly got muddy. The Shinko's lack of side bite strikes again! It was like riding on ice, and the only way to deal with it was to go fast enough to keep the tires clear. That's a fairly risky technique on big bikes with a lot of momentum, and takes some getting used to.

    [​IMG]

    This would happen a few times, and was dad's first experience with 'real' mud. I didn't realize just how much those horrible wet Indiana hare scrambles had helped my own mud riding ability, but the 950 was happiest riding with a heavy hand in a constant slide.

    [​IMG]

    My rear tire wasn't much better than dad's, but no doubt the aggressive front knobs helped, too. The Pirelli Scorpion Rally is the go to front for me, by the way.

    [​IMG]

    It rained on us off and on after this point, so we didn't stop to take many pictures. There were a lot of miles of rather slick mud, poorly developed roads, hills, and cows. We were headed roughly for Colorado Springs and the Rainbow Falls area, but we didn't make it quite that far due to the weather. I was a little concerned that we'd have a hard time finding a campsite considering the relatively developed landscape, but we lucked out and found a great side trail. The rain continued off and on into the evening, but eventually dissipated enough that we could make dinner and stay dry.

    [​IMG]

    I write in a journal every night before falling asleep in the tent so that I can remember what I was doing, and what was going though my head. It's easy to forget (or ignore, really) how good it feels to be on the road once you get home. The journals help keep that dream alive. My entry that night was full of sad thoughts about the trip drawing to a close and having to part ways the following day. As always, it had been an incredible experience, and I was not ready for it to end.

    [​IMG]

    Just two more days to go, documenting the return trip.

    Day 9 Mileage:

    [​IMG]
    #27
    TwoTiredRiders, bomose and KLRalph like this.
  8. Critic

    Critic More or less!

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,577
    Location:
    West of the Illinois, heart of the state!
    "They left the bag for us, and kept on their way."

    Bag stories; I have a bunch!
    Here are a few:
    1979 NW Territory on way to Alaska on R75/7, new sleeping bag with new Levis & socks gone to the wind never to be seen again!
    1997 TN on ST2, it felt like a rear flat weaving thru the curve looking back, I see my bag floating behind me attached by bunny cord!
    2003 IL on Vstrom, I see a guy looking at the rear of my Moto, as I am leaning into a high speed curve; I look back to see smoke pouring out of my soft bags, which have flipped over perfectly centered on the silencers. They boring/burning a hole into another pair of new Levis' and my brand new Cpap!
    2006 on 950a: late at night almost home deer #1, found the bag next day 350 feet past impact on opposite side of road! Deers 0 = Mark 1
    2007 on same 950: mid day on the way to Pilot's for SLAP, yes SLAP deer #2! About 150 feet down in a creek was the same right side bag. Deer 0 = Mark 2
    2009 on 990a:late at night, after talking about hitting deer and on that road, slap #3; this time I did the flip! Deer1 = Mark 2 - Game over, I hope!
    #28
    gearheadE30 likes this.
  9. gearheadE30

    gearheadE30 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,696
    Location:
    Indiana
    @Critic thanks for the stories! Deer are scary...fortunately I've managed to not hit any so far, but there have definitely been some close calls.

    Day 10 7/29/2017

    From here on out, there really aren't too many pictures. I had what basically amounted to two days to get back home before I had to be back at work, so there was not a lot of time to stop. I relied quite a bit on the GoPro to catch things that happened during the day, so there should at least be some footage.

    This was the last campsite of the trip...

    [​IMG] .

    The first half hour or so of riding is always the toughest part as you try to get back in the groove and get your legs under you, but we didn't even make it 5 minutes! At the bottom of the road up to the campsite, the mud struck again.

    [​IMG]

    No harm, no foul fortunately. The cause of many of these mud accidents was that the natural instinct seems to be to ride on high ground, or maybe ride up a cambered section to get onto some grass. Most of the time, though, you're much better off staying in the bottom of the rut. It will guide the bike, and you can't slide down any further if you're in the bottom, so it feels much more stable. It makes a big difference, even with shallow ruts like these. Notice the massive amount of mud stuck in the crash bar on the high side of the bike...there may have been two tipovers on the way down this path...

    There was a fair amount of mud and dirt on the way out, which was actually quite a bit of fun. Eventually, it turned into pavement and I started the long pavement pound back home. It was raining when I went through Colorado Springs, so I didn't even get a chance to see the last mountain fade into the distance behind me. The scenery changes so rapidly east of the city that the flatness is a little shocking after being surrounded by mountains. In an effort to keep things interesting, I stayed off the interstate and was trying to take secondary highways. Besides, 75 mph is much more comfortable than 85+ mph the way this bike is geared. Unfortunately, I quickly figured out that most people do not do this, and as a result, there are zero gas stations on the way. The one gas station that I was counting on based on the GPS looked like it had been closed for about a year, so only a few hours into riding and I already had to worry about fuel.

    I stopped on the side of the road to take stock, and after doing some math decided that I needed to head almost straight north up to the interstate to get to the nearest gas station. It would hurt my progress by taking me out of the way, but would avoid getting stranded on the side of the road. What the GPS does not tell you, though, is where public roads end and private ones begin. I did not know this beforehand, but apparently ranchers will build their own roads across their vast tracts of land, and will mark them as no trespassing. However, the GPS will show them as public roads, and will route you down them.

    After 20 minutes of northerly travel on slippery, snotty roads, I came across the no trespassing sign. It had rained the day before, so the roads were a thin layer of sun-baked dry dirt with a few inches of mud underneath. The end effect was like riding on a really thick marshmallow, and even though I was trying to take it easy to save fuel, I had to be on the throttle going fast to keep the tires clear and not get bogged down. As such, I'd burned some fuel getting to that dead end.

    While I was stopped and looking at the map, a guy in an older well-used Ford F250 rolled up and asked what I was doing on his land. He was pretty aggressive at first, but I explained what had happened he calmed down a bit. He was not shy about reminding me what a fool I was to have not stopped for gas in Colorado springs, as he immediately realized what had happened and where I must have come from. After chatting for awhile, and making me swear that he'd never see me on his land again, he gave me permission to ride across his property to get to the gas station. This involved radioing out to everyone in the fields that I was allowed to be there. This led to a little more discussion where I learned that modern-day cowboys tend to use trucks instead of horses to round up cattle, and I actually got to see this in action. It's pretty entertaining seeing people drifting farm trucks around keeping cattle in line, and there's quite a bit of skill in it.

    Turns out the guy I talked to was Bob Bledsoe, who ran the ranch now. Born and raised there, and he told me the story of the different houses I would ride past and when they were built, which he grew up in, etc. There was also one point where I needed to take a fork in the road. He said I would know it when I saw it.

    He was right. There was a 6 foot tall metal fork in the road. Had I been thinking straight, I'd have taken a picture.

    [​IMG]

    Even with his masterful description of how to get through his property, I still got lost. After cutting across literally miles of barren fields, I found the road I was looking for, and made it to the gas station.

    From there, it was a boring, fast slab trip all the way to Kansas City on I70. I stayed in Blue Springs, accidentally at the same Super 8 that I had stayed at 3 months before when in Kansas buying a car. It was a long day on the bike, and was quite dark when I called it. There really wasn't hope of finding anywhere to camp, and being on the return trip, I wasn't going to try too hard just to say I did. The bike handled the sustained 5500 rpm+ speed remarkably well, with only some puking from the crankcase vent to voice its displeasure at the boredom. For those curious, this paragon of fuel efficiency was thumping out an impressive 37 mpg at those speeds! With about 8.5 gallons of fuel on board, I was trying to get as close to 300 miles as possible before stopping for fuel. With the camelbak allowing constant drinking, my bladder was usually the primary reason for a break...

    I was tired enough when I stopped that I didn't even get a picture of the hotel... I do remember watching a Friends episode, part of a Harry Potter movie, and probably a half hour of I am Number Four while drinking frankly too much Seagram's before falling asleep for the night. I live a fairly good everyday life, but even so, going back to it is always hard.

    Day 10 Mileage:

    [​IMG]

    I'll put a little aside down here for dad's return trip, though I've only heard about it secondhand and am recording this based on a rather fuzzy memory. Since he had to head back across Colorado, he took the opportunity to go up and over Ophir Pass even though it was raining. I think he also netted a flat tire on that pass, but having used the spare tube on the Cumberland pass flat, he had to resort to patches. Fortunately, they usually work well enough and if nothing else, they will at least slow the leak down enough that you just have to refill it every once in awhile. Dad and I both carry electric air pumps on the bike, so it's pretty easy to do.

    Dad was also treated to a herd of horses wandering around the desert back though Utah - they were right up near him, and those of you who have seen a herd out in the wild before know how cool (and increasingly rare) that sight is. Other high points included the Morrow Point Dam and crossing the continental divide at Monarch Pass. I think he also stayed in a hotel that night.
    #29
    Critic, TwoTiredRiders and bomose like this.
  10. gearheadE30

    gearheadE30 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,696
    Location:
    Indiana
    Day 11 7/30/2017

    The last day... this was also far and away the most uneventful. I got a late start, since I really had no desire to start at all. For most of the trip, the battery in my Sena headset has also been deteriorating, and that ended up being kind of painful this time. The headset is about three years old and probably was used for a third of the days or more of each of those years, and batteries are only good for so many charge cycles. I'd use it for music until it died, and then plugged it in to the charger in the glovebox so the next time I stopped for gas or to use the restroom I could listen to music a bit longer, but it was only lasting a few hours on a full charge. I've since bought a new one.

    The vast majority of the day was slab, making really good time. Even my journal from the last day is almost empty. I spent a lot of time alone with my thoughts since there was no music. At one of the gas stops, there was a gathering of old British cars, including an MGA, a few MGBs, a Spitfire, and a Morgan +8. One of the women in the group was German, so I even got to practice that language a little bit. That was probably the high point of the day, though at least the weather was good. When I got back to Indiana, I switched to secondary roads since I was running pretty far ahead of schedule. I ended up stopping in Bloomington for beer and food, mainly because I just wasn't ready for it to be over. At the time, this picture seemed remarkably poignant, in a glass half full/glass half empty kind of way.

    [​IMG]

    Having spent quite a bit of time there talking to random people at the bar, I went to one of the small dams in a nearby state forest, rode to the top, and laid there until the sun sank below the treeline, just enjoying my last chance to be, in the moment, with nothing vying for my attention except for some bugs and a deer. With no other excuses to keep me from home, I headed back.

    [​IMG]

    Once again, I don't know dad's whole story, but he continued towards home through the searing desert heat. At one point, he said traffic was stopped on the highway and he was just cooking in his gear, so for his own well-being he rode along the edge of the highway and got off in search of some shade. He also got a flat tire - it was hot enough that the patch had melted right off of his tube. Some travelers on Harleys, who had also sought out the shade, were pretty blown away by his being able to fix a flat without taking the bike to a shop and paying someone else to do it.

    Day 11 Mileage:

    [​IMG]


    So that's that. Another memorable trip in the books, and a great opportunity to spend some real quality time with dad. Yes, it was something like 4300 miles in 11 days, but I've always been more of a type 2 fun kind of person. Writing these reports and reliving the experience always has me at an awkward combination of melancholic nostalgia and nervous excitement chomping at the bit to go do it again, which is why it can be so difficult to get them written and to get all of the video edited. I've done my best to convey some of it with words here, but unfortunately I am not eloquent enough to do those memories true justice. I'm already looking for the next opportunity to travel though; I have to get the 950 to that magic 100,000 mile mark!

    As I go through and upload videos, I will add them to the end of this thread as well. It may be quite awhile before I get through all of those.
    #30
    TwoTiredRiders and Dirtleg like this.
  11. gearheadE30

    gearheadE30 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,696
    Location:
    Indiana
    For anyone interested in using my tracks for their own planning, I've attached them to this post. Some extra info for planning purposes and because I don't want to end up responsible for anyone having issues, a few things to note:
    • If you are comfortable in the dirt, it's obviously all doable on big bikes. No singletrack.
    • If you're not comfortable on dirt beyond forest road type stuff or want to avoid areas where risk is quite high, do your research before riding the Moab trails, avoid Black Bear Pass, and be ready for a long, loose rocky hill climb on Stony Pass and Tincup Pass. I believe just about anyone could at least paddle through in any of the other tough spots even if they were nervous or got in a bind and really had to.
    • Terrain is everything from pavement to gravel, loose rocks, dirt, sand, and, if it is wet, mud. If it's dry, just about any dual sport tire will get you through any of it. If it might rain, strongly consider erring on the knobbier side because a lot of the Colorado tracks turn straight into gooey mud that sticks to the tires.
    • I put these tracks together for the sole purpose of being off pavement as much as possible to keep things interesting, and another side effect of that is that there is one long stretch where there is no fuel. The GPS tracks show this as an out of the way path in the southwestern part of Colorado to get to the nearest gas station. Everywhere else is within comfortable distance of fuel for most bikes, I would think.
    • Ignore the spur north out of Ouray. That was my trip to get a replacement rear tire.
    • There is some private land that I cut through between Colorado Springs and I70 on my return trip. Don't go through there. It's well marked on the road if you do accidentally end up there, and the no trespassing signs are quite clear as to the consequences of ignoring them. It is quite a long ride to get through that property, and I think because the roads are private, the GPS maps (garmin city navigator 2014 at least) aren't anywhere close to reality for the part I was given permission to go through.
    There, you've been warned, and I wash my hands of any responsibility for your use of these tracks unless you had an amazing and incredible ride, in which case I will take full and complete responsibility. :lol3

    Attached Files:

    #31
    Critic and TwoTiredRiders like this.
  12. TwoTiredRiders

    TwoTiredRiders Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    393
    Location:
    The Keystone State
    What a nicely written and prepared Ride Report GearheadE30. Thanks a again for sharing your experiences. 99% of us reading these reports live vicariously through the writers knowing full well that we will never be able to do the exact trip but imagining we can! This one I will surely do (some of it) and already have it scheduled, and your details will make it seem a little less foreign as we go, so thanks for that. It's funny how you dragged that last day out as long as possible, savoring every last minute of freedom, going so far as to stop at a park to drag it out a little longer, lol. As much as I love being on long trips, and I have had the pleasure of doing many multi week bike trips, I am always on some sort of mission to get home on the last day. Hell bent to get there as quickly as possible. It's as if I've thrown in the towel early. Often that last day is highway and I'm hating life, bored and uncomfortable from the drone. I know it's essentially over and lets just get er done, lol. And of course I'm always missing my 2 German Shepherds and wife if she isn't with me. Refreshing to see your polar opposite approach: Stop for food, chat with folks, hang out at a park, etc... You are a true adventure rider and savor every minute on or off the road!
    #32
    Critic likes this.
  13. Hootowl

    Hootowl Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2002
    Oddometer:
    1,440
    Location:
    Bend Oregon
    thanks for a most excellent ride report!
    enjoyable to read
    #33
  14. rwhuibrex

    rwhuibrex Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
    11
    Location:
    SoCal (Simi Valley CA)
    That is a fact! This is GearheadE30's dad....have been an inmate but not in the site for some time. Few memories are as emotional and as strong as these 1:1 trips with my son. I consider myself very fortunate....
    #34
    TwoTiredRiders and gearheadE30 like this.
  15. rwhuibrex

    rwhuibrex Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
    11
    Location:
    SoCal (Simi Valley CA)
    @TwoTiredRiders Old guy here, GearheadE30's dad! At 55, I feel incredibly fortunate to be doing this stuff. My son is a huge motivator and great teacher...and continues to push my skill envelope on these trips. My first bike bought at the end of 2013 was the F650GS twin, and I feel so much more confident and comfortable on the 800 given my 6'4" frame...but I wanted even more ground clearance, better suspension and power when on this kind of trip. Especially when following the 950..... I will say that HyperPro progressive springs and Scott offroad damper have made a huge difference in the sand.

    @Critic yes I use the Hero3 5 second capture interval during video. It only workds on max frame rate of 1080-30fps but that is more than adequate. It does however, generate a ton of pics to wade through but often those are the best of every trip from unexpected moments.
    #35
    TwoTiredRiders and gearheadE30 like this.
  16. Critic

    Critic More or less!

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,577
    Location:
    West of the Illinois, heart of the state!
    Thanks to both of you for the enjoyment! Great job E30!
    #36