The Top 1/2 of the Continental Divide

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by hutchman, Aug 13, 2004.

  1. hutchman

    hutchman Been here awhile

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    Richland, WA.
    This is going to be a long one! I will not be completed tonight, but I hope by the end of the week it will be.

    The idea for this ride started last year, as probably for most of us, when the article came out in Cycle World. I started mapping routes last winter and along with two great friends, Gary Smith and Peter Scott, was ready to leave the middle of July. Peter lives in San Diego, so he shipped his KLR to my house and flew up.

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    Gary was staying at Priest Lake, ID. so we were off to pick him up on our way to the border.

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    We picked Gary up and made our way into the great state of Montana, not realizing it would be 5 days before we got into Idaho!

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    Three of us at the border ready to head south.

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    This is self portrait taken by Peter of himself and Gary in the background on the first road we took south from the border. I was a little disappointed that it was paved, but I should not have worried, there would be plenty of dirt.

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    Ah, this is better!

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    Our first lunch spot: What a place to munch on peanut butter and crackers!

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    Then came our first small holdup. They were logging a section of forrest that had burned. While we were waiting for them to clear the road, one of the guys said they had accidently dropped a tree on a bike the day before. Seems as if the people rode into a spot they should not have been, just as they cut down a tree. It fell onto the back of the bike. The man and his wife apparently dove out of the way before the tree fell and were not hurt. I wondered about the truth of this story until I was in Missoula the next day getting the ABS reset on the GS, but Im getting ahead of myself!

    We road several miles farther and got into some thicker forrest, where I learned one of the biggest lessons of my life. On single lane forrest service roads, with blind corners, SLOW DOWN! I rounded a corner on MYside of the road, but unfortunately, there was a pickup pulling a boat on my side coming the opposite direction. This is one of those moments frozen in time that I will never forget. My choices were to lay the bike down and slide under the truck/boat, which did not really seem to desireable at the time, try to cut the corner tighter and sideswipe the truck/boat, which also seemed less than desireable, or try and outrun the truck to the other side of the road and take my chances in the ditch. I chose the latter and this is the result.

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    The guy in the truck left as soon as he saw that I was OK. I think I may have scared him a little when I stood up. For those of you who do no know me, I'm 6'; 8' and about 320! The guy in the truck was all of 5'5" and maybe 160. Anyway, the tank bag saved me from suffering any damage from the handle bars and the mud and vegetation saved the bike from any damage. A fitting on the rear caliper loosened and allow the brake fluid to drain, so no rear brakes. I also learned that when one wheel spins and the other is stationary, the ABS will lose it's mind. This was fixed the next day in Missoula.

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    This was only the first of two times I run off the road by a car or truck.

    Anyway, the rest of the day was uneventful and we spent the night in Kalispell, MT. at the home of a friend from a long time ago, Mac Bledsoe. I knew Mac 20 years ago when he lived in our area. He road a Sportster that he had rebuilt and chopped. It had a new paint job about every year and was a real looker. He hasn't change much. The bike is new, but just like the rest of us, getting better with age.

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    He and his wife Barbara were gracious hosts and great people!

    I need to go to bed 'cause it's off to work in the early AM, but I'll try to add some more tomorrow.

    Enjy the pics, and if you ever get the chance, you gotta do this. It was one of my greatest adventures.

    Hutch
    #1
  2. Ostrich

    Ostrich Jaded and Happy

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    Where are you guys headed? :ear
    #2
  3. HarveyMushman

    HarveyMushman Tire Squarerer

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    Mexico.
    #3
  4. hutchman

    hutchman Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Richland, WA.
    Day Two!

    We did not get an early start on day 2. We had breakfast with Mac and took a little ride with him then headed for the dirt.

    Here we are airing down.

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    We were headed in the general direction of Helena but ran into some pre-mapped roads that were not open.

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    With the GPS, it is possible to route around these blocked roads and get where you want to be.

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    Peter used Pelican cases on a Happy Trails rack. He designed the mounts himself and even thought to use the lid for a table. He designed the lid supports with 2 positions such that with the bike on the center stand or the side stand, the lid gave him a flat surface to work or eat on.

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    These pictures were taken above Seeleyl Lake MT.

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    That night we stayed in a Motel in Seeley Lake and met these to adventure riders in the same motel. The had been to the Bear Tooth Rally and said they were the hit of the party. Seems as if a VW powered trike can pull wheelies at will!F

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    Day 3

    We got a decent start on day 3 and headed south. After riding some Forrest Service roads, we came out of the mountains and into this.

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    The terrain changed again and we were right back in the mountains.

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    Then the fun began. We turned off a main gravel road onto a small dirt road that went up into the forrest. It had rained a day or 2 before and we ran into a water hazard. What's a guy to do?

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    Woo hoo!

    Time to ge the bike really dirty.

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    Of course when you get one dirty, you gotto wash it in clean water - right!?!?!?!


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    And once it is washed and rinsed, you gotta air dry 'em.

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    What fun. If we only knew what was to come, we might have just stopped here.

    But we did not so on we went.

    A few miles later, Peter and I became separated from Gary. We rode in circles it seemed like and just could not find him. Because of the separation, we got lost for a while. It turned out to be a lucky break for us - we ended up on the top of a mountain with some beautiful scenery.

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    We caught up with Gary in Helena and decided to head for Butte, since it was only 1400. If we only knew.

    We headed south and about 15 miles up into the forrest, our road ran into a campground and went no further. This is what the GPS is for. We mapped around the campground and headed south again. We were following a road that was marked as a "designated route". I'm not sure what that means, but I'll tell you this. It does not mean interstate!

    The next pic is the first of the bad stuff. It really was not that bad. However, as you all know, the picture just does not do the real thing justice.

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    We detoured around this one, and thought we were home free. Too late, the bad stuff was yet to come!

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    I am just going to post a series of picutes here for your enjoyment. The memory is still fresh for me - I can still feel the pain!

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    Big Pigs just are not made for this stuff.

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    At this point we were at the top of the divide, but could go no further.

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    We backtracked a ways and found another way out. As luck would have it, on of my Jesse bags came off during the worst of the trail and we failed to notice it until we were about 15 miles down the hill. So back we came, through the rough stuff and found the bag. We made it to Butte by 2300. It was a long day, but we really made a memory.

    More to follow,

    Hutch
    #4
  5. hutchman

    hutchman Been here awhile

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    We're back already. We ended up in Steamboat before riding to I-70 and west.

    Hutch
    #5
  6. Ostrich

    Ostrich Jaded and Happy

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    Kewl. :clap
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  7. ian408

    ian408 Administrator Administrator

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    cool stuff!
    #7
  8. dirtrider

    dirtrider Dusty Adventurer

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    Great ride report :thumb Glad you enjoyed my back yard!

    We rode those sections between Helena and Butte this spring while there was still a few remenants of winter (read snow). Made the rocky sections very technical - and fun! I wouldn't want to ride a fully loaded GS through there, but on a lightly packed LC4 with knobbies, it's a kick in the ass. :nod You'r KLR should have felt right at home.

    Looking forward to the rest of your report. :deal
    #8
  9. knary

    knary sunshine and puppies

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    WOW!

    I can see the thinking, "If we can just get through this tough spot, it's going to get easier and better." :lol3

    For some reason this is the photo I keep returning to:
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    #9
  10. hutchman

    hutchman Been here awhile

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    That bike may not fit the definition of "Adventure Bike" as we know it, but Mac has been riding for years and can tell of "adventures" from years gone by! He is a rider and every ride is an adventure, no matter how short or long.

    Day4

    This day started for me with a lot of shoulder pain. One of the get offs from the day before caused me to injure my right shoulder, but with Celebrex, Tylenol, and Ibuprophen, we continued on.

    The riding today and from here on was much easier on the surface.

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    We were headed out into the dry country. This is certainly different from the forrests of the mountains, but still beartiful. This road is hard packed dirt. We had almost no rain during the trip, but realized if it started, we were out of luck on this surface. I think because of the possibility of rain on these hard packed roads, you really ought to have aggressive knobbies on. Two of us were on dual sport tires and prayed for dry weather!

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    I think this was some of the best riding we had. Nice easy dirt with beautiful vistas. This was south of Bannack.

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    We camped at Red Rock Lake in southern MT that night and ran into these guys. They were riding north from the Mexican border (on bicycles) and were looking forward to the tough stuff. They may be the real "adventure" riders!

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    I manage to catch a magic moment that evening. It was a perfect end to a great day of riding.

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    Gotta go. Mrs. Hutchman is waiting at the door to leave.

    More later!

    Hutch
    #10
  11. lacrestadr

    lacrestadr Been here awhile

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    Hutchman, Thanks for the pics. I'll be going around LAVA MTN! Did you guys ride the route through Fleecer mtn./Fleecer Ridge???? Any other words of wisdom or tips on the route between Helena and were you ended the ride?? Thanks
    #11
  12. lacrestadr

    lacrestadr Been here awhile

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    (Steamboat)
    #12
  13. hutchman

    hutchman Been here awhile

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    I'm going to blame this on old age. I remember Fleecer Mtn. but can't remember where it is?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? :dunno

    Anyway, south of Butte the riding got easier for us. However, there is lot of dirt, not gravel, but dirt. If it rains much, some of this will be impassable even with full knobbies. Late one afternoon, as we approached Red Rock Lake on one of those dirt roads, I hit a section that had been rained on earlier in the day and there had been no traffic. The surface of the mud was no different than the dry road, only a little darker. When I hit the dark section at about 55, the bike went into a violent tank slapper. I thought I had lost it, but was lucky enough not to dump the bike.

    My best advice is to start with a new set of knobbies and learn to read road surfaces quickly.

    Let me know where Fleecer Mtn. is to jog my memory.

    Hutch
    #13
  14. Greg Minor

    Greg Minor The Trespasser

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    And I thought my bike looks little under me @6'6" 290 I'm just a little guy next to you

    Attached Files:

    #14
  15. lacrestadr

    lacrestadr Been here awhile

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    After you come out of Butte, you cross I 15 you go up to Fleecer, then down (south) into Wise River? On the trail map it's identified as "trail", compared to gravel road. Things are very dry here now, hopefully wet roads won't be an issue. Knobbies are ready, I was suprised to see you on Tourances.. I'm aslo going to be cautious arounfd thise corners :ear Glad that worked out ok for you :nod I depart on Wednesday, thanks for the input!!! One other thing, did you guys ride any portion of the old railroad bed south of red rock lakes?
    #15
  16. Wayne Weber

    Wayne Weber why are we stopping?

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    This is a great pic. Ok they all were!











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    What a sunset, you caught this just right! :thumb :thumb
    #16
  17. hutchman

    hutchman Been here awhile

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    lacrestdr,

    Thanks for jogging my memory! I had routed us on Fleecer Mtn. road accoring to Mapsource. I belive that was one of the routes that was closed to motor vehicles. We back tracked and ended up taking Crazy Sweede road I think! This turned out to be one of the better roads we were on. There was some riding that was more challenging, but it wasn,t so tough that it made afraid for your life.

    We did not ride the railroad beds south of Red Rock Lakes. We stayed on road until we were in Wyoming.

    One of the things I learned on this trip was to trust the GPS- it will help you find a detour. When we were blocked, we backtracked, found a road that looked like it went in the correct direction, and let the GPS take us back to the original route.

    Two of us had dual sport tires and we both said we would never go again without knobbies. We were lucky with the weather. NO RAIN! If we had been caught south of Bannack or in some of the other remote areas in the rain, we might still be there.

    Have fun, but be safe. There are a lot of ways to get hurt on this ride, and not many people to help if you do!

    Hutch
    #17
  18. Cooltours

    Cooltours Rider of passion

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    GGGGG.... how tall a man must be to let a GS look that small!!!:eek1[​IMG]
    #18
  19. lacrestadr

    lacrestadr Been here awhile

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    Hutchman, Thanks for the info!
    #19
  20. billcat

    billcat z

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    Nice pics! :thumb
    #20