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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by jbb13, Dec 17, 2017.
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Getting back to this now; busy week. Going to try and make a better effort to keep them coming this week.
I’m going to skip a post I’d originally written on a couple days I took off to further catch up on some stuff and refocus for what was ahead. So we're at day 13. I did get the air filter tidied up and managed to not turn the place into a disaster:
Day 13: Richfield to Green River
I rolled out of bed, had a shower and started taking stuff down to the bike. Laziness had set in, but I knew I’d get over that quickly because by noon the prior day I was questioning why the hell I was just sitting around.
The morning was nice; it was in the lower 50’s when I set out. The track headed east out of town on the road for about 10 miles. I’d decided I’d take the scenic track options today if and when available.
The mornings always go smoothly. It seems too early to be riding, the miles seem to tick away more quickly and the views always seem to look more scenic too for some reason.
Soon after turning off the main road I hit the first proper water crossing of the trip.
Easy, nothing to it.
The trail followed I-70 for awhile.
It didn’t take long before I was abandoning my plan to take the scenic routes and I was heading up the main route again. The trail wound up a mountain where fall had already started to arrive.
The scenic route and the main route met up again for the final 41 miles into Emery, Utah.
It ran around the side of the mountain and I was starting to head uphill. I decided I’d check the altitude on my GPS when it felt like I’d hit the high point and sure enough I was up over 10,000 feet. This was great; I wasn’t sure how the bike would run at altitude. I had three high passes coming up in a few days; all over 10,000 feet and she was running beautifully.
The ride back down was a bit more complicated. The area the trail was going through was part of a trail system put together by the State of Utah; so the trails are marked according to difficulty.
I was at the top of the mountain and the tracks made a turn onto this route back down:
I didn’t snap a ton of photos coming back down since there weren’t many great places to stop. These definitely won't do it justice but I did shoot these:
Maybe only 8 miles and an hour later I was back on what appeared to be the same trail I was on before turning down the marked trail. These trails would have been fantastic to ride on my KTM but on a fully loaded down bike this was a slow process. I was able to ride them fine; but I cannot imagine what people riding bigger bikes with less off road experience would do. they seemed a bit unnecessary for the main route. It probably could have been marked as a hard route with a main or scenic alternative. Heed the warning on GPSKevin's site; smaller bikes are better.
I was finally off the mountain and heading down into Emery, UT when it started to downpour. Rain and hail. I couldn’t immediately stop anywhere so I continued down a slick rocky section before getting off to grab my rain gear.
I was already soaked when I hoped off the bike and I wasn’t even sure why I was still getting my rain pants at that point. They were packed in the bottom of the pannier in a compression sack; which was a stupid place to put them. I’d dug out most of the stuff that was on top of my rain pants by which point the rain stopped.
Lesson learned, rain pants go on top along with first aid. I repacked the pannier and left the rain pants in there. I didn’t need them now; the sun was out again and I was already soaked. I was hoping to dry quickly in the sun.
I rode into Emery, grabbed gas and changed my soaked gloves. I was wet and the temperature had dropped from about 80 to 52 degrees.
I rode up to the next section of trail and decided I was going back to my original plan. Scenic trail.
On my way there I could see another storm in front of me so I pulled over and got the rain pants out of the pannier and threw on my ridiculous looking orange dish washing rubber gloves over my last dry pair of riding gloves.
This section was only 92 miles. The scenic route was 73 of them. I pulled off at the turn shown on the GPS and into some sort of recreational area. The track ran through a basin and had a sign at the beginning that said the road may be impassable during storms. Well, it had been storming and still was behind me. About a mile later I passed the “Danger, Flash Flood Area” sign. I was now about to embark on what could potentially have turned into the dumbest thing I’d ever done; riding through no man’s land susceptible to flooding with a storm at my back.
I ran up on a water crossing. Well, more specifically a flooded road. I got off the bike and walked out into it a little just to see how strong it was since you can never be sure. It wasn’t strong, so I rode through it with no problem. You can see the storm in the mirror.
About 5 miles into the track the rain had stopped and the track was dry; but the storms were surrounding me. I started to push hard. I was trying to keep myself going about 50 mph. The roads were pretty straight so I kept an eye on the GPS for sudden switchbacks.
The crosswind was getting pretty intense. I was leaning into the wind just to keep myself headed straight. Breaks in the wind would caused me to veer off to the right unexpectedly; which would have been humorous if there had been another soul around to witness it.
I finally reached the next turn on the track and it wanted me to go down one of the flood ruts. I considered it for a second; but it was time to pass on this one. I felt like I’d taken a chance riding this area in the first place, the route I was on at least had buried pipes that allowed the it to pass over these flood rut tracks. I could convince myself that I was reasonable safe on this road. This wouldn’t be the be case in the rut/road though. I zoomed my GPS out and found that in about 10 or so miles the track I was on would intersect U.S. Route 191, only about 15 miles further north than it would had I taken the flood rut route. Once on U.S. 191 the tracks took you right into Green River.
I rolled into Green River expecting to camp but the forecast was now calling for severe thunderstorms all night. I didn’t mind sleeping in the rain, but severe thunderstorms were another story. I decided to just shack up in a Motel 6 for the night.
I got the cheapest room they had; it was smoking room. Which doesn’t usually bother me but this one smelled like a bowling alley.
The storms were rolling in just as I got my bags inside. The storms were off to the east and it was dark; but it was raining where the sun was in the west. Pretty sweet.
I’d planned on going out and grabbing dinner but the storms had come while I was having a shower so instead of walking through them to find a place to eat I decided to just find another innovative way to warm up soup:
The water at the Motel 6 was hotter than what you would expect; good for can warming.
This was kind of the point in the trip where I'd entirely refocused myself. I'd mentally managed to get to the "F*ck it, ride it" point. The dead ends didn't matter anymore; I'd just find a way around. I'd take calculated risks when needed but there wasn't any glory in doing something dumb. I was slightly pissed off at myself for skipping the remainder of Nevada and essentially admitting that I'd let it beat me. It also bugged be that I'd taken 3 out of 4 days off from riding entirely. In retrospect I think I needed those days off at that time and I didn't take a day off the rest of the trip. After a few more days of riding I didn't care about skipping Nevada anymore. I said for a good long while after I got home that if I never rode Nevada again it would be too soon. It's not until now, after rereading and editing these for this RR that I'm thinking I want to go back and run it just for the sake of beating it. Maybe I will.
Day 14: Green River to Dove Creek
I’d gotten into the swing of things, I needed routine less and less; at this point I was just rolling with it. Wake up, pack, ride, relax; let the day unfold as it so chooses. I guess that’s a routine technically. The first week I wondered how anyone could do this sort of thing long term; after 2 weeks I felt I could go on forever if I wanted. I think trips like this are how people get sucked into multi-year tours.
That being said of course, I packed up late again. It was an easy day to pack too, the bike was parked right outside the door.
I dropped the room key off at the office and got on the road. Sure enough, no more than 100 yards down the road, a short downpour of rain dumped on me. It was heavy; it was quick and naturally, included hail. The first place to pull off was a Conoco gas station barely 1/4 mile up the road but before I got there the rain was gone. Wet again… a perfect start to the day.
I dried pretty quickly. The most problematic area when it comes to rain is unfortunately between the legs. All of the water from the tank bag and my jacket just drains there. What’s really unfortunate is that it’s the most uncomfortable place to be wet; to dry yourself you have to ride with your knees sticking out looking like an idiot.
The first 15 miles the day’s route was either sort of paved or light gravel roads. Easy riding, perfect for the knee-out idiot technique.
The road then turned into a really fun desert track that followed a set of power lines.
While I wasn’t in flood basin, I still found myself underneath a cloud that just seemed to follow me; dumping spurts of hail on me every 15 mins or so. Just when I thought I was clear of it another burst of hail would clobber me.
The trail connected up with a very wide dirt road. I pulled out onto this road and just gave The DR a handful of throttle. The road was dead straight and I was cruising at about 60 mph.
The road turned out to be a pretty main road even though it was unpaved; I passed 6 tractor trailers going the other direction.
The road intersected a paved road, the GPS track made a right but I’d noticed a scenic overlook just off to the left and decided to go check it out. Well worth the time; this should have been a waypoint on the GPS tracks, but GPSKevin’s waypoints are reserved only for Subway, closed fueling stations and overpriced accommodations. There’s no time for sightseeing!
I took my photos and was on my way. I was headed for Moab.
I hung a left and rode through some of the most amazing scenery I’ve ever been through:
I came down off the mesa and pulled out onto the main road into Moab. The place was packed; I almost got hit 3 times while at the gas station. It looked like a really cool place to visit though; I think I'll return someday.
I left the main drag out of downtown and passed a vintage car rally. I wanted to stop in but there was nowhere to park, which is really saying something considering I’m on a motorcycle. I did manage to get a pic of one of the cars from the rally in Telluride, CO the next day:
I followed the track out to of town toward Dove Creek, CO and the track lead me into Sand Flats Recreation area. There was no charge to ride straight through on the main road but $2.00 for motorcycles to go off the main road. After a few minutes of back and forth with the guy running the kiosk he finally accepted my $2.00. He insisted that my “rig” wasn’t going very far off the main track. I told him that may be true but the clown who’s the tracks I’m following probably sees it differently; he has in every other area I’ve been through. For $2.00, better safe than sorry. My admission pass was a map.
The road was pretty interesting and the wind was intense. There were a lot of trucks on the road. One was watering the dust down on the road, a bunch passed me going the other direction and there were also a few areas where they were doing road work. Busy busy…
I had to make the decision on whether or not to go over Geyser Pass. It was a 10,000 foot pass and the weather didn’t look great. I didn’t really want to take scenic routes today; this was Moab and surrounding areas, this was it man! No skipping! Out came the rain pants and over the pass we went.
I was happy I’d made the pass but it was an easy dirt road with no scenery or even a cool sign at the top. It was just kinda cold.
I came down off the pass and carried on out of the forest then back into the desert.
The roads straighten and the track met up with tarmac for about 15 miles. It hung a left onto a dirt track and crossed into western Colorado.
The next stop on the tracks was an out of the way fuel stop in Monticello, UT. I didn’t need gas; the leg down from Moab was only 137 miles and I’d only used less than 1/2 tank. I was on the last 30 miles of the leg so I decided to skip it.
I’d reserved a room at the Country Inn in Dove Creek, CO earlier that morning. The office was locked when I arrived so I rang the doorbell. Then rang it again… then a third time. Finally, I decided to called the number I’d called that morning. The owner answered and told me to hold tight, he’d be there in 5 minutes. Ok, fine; I’ve got nowhere else to be. I was the only person in the parking lot kind of just standing there in the sun wearing rain pants.
The owner showed up a little while later. He was a cool guy who liked to talk.He told me all about how he’d won a Trip Advisor award the previous year. He even had the award on the counter. They’d told him it would be a big boost to business but business was down 40% this year so far. He laughed it off and said at least he didn’t have payments on the motel anymore but if Trip Advisor calls this year he’d be hitting ignore.
I got settled into the room and noticed that my tank bag was ripped. Great, now I needed to find a place for all of this stuff that was in it.
At least standing while riding would be easier; that thing got in the way.
Enjoying your ride report a lot.
I hope you do make it back to ride parts of Nevada, especially on the smaller roads/trails if you get the chance. It does look kind of boring where you're out in the flats between mountain ranges but even then you never know what you might see.
Without researching and looking things up for the TAT and hwy 191, I wonder if this section of road was an old portion of U.S. 191 which has been rerouted. If I have to ride pavement, I like to find these old sections of highways past. Nice picture.
True but still very funny. (waypoints are reserved only for Subway, closed fueling stations and overpriced accommodations.
Looks like Monitor and Merrimac Butte's in the distance. If you ever, ever want or get a chance to ride in Moab you will be hooked and never want to leave. If you like riding off-road that is.
Ah, you went down Gemini Bridges road. Very nice!
Again, funny I told him that may be true but the clown who’s the tracks I’m following probably sees it differently;
Enjoying your ride report.
Spent 3 days in Moab in 2016 - great place to hang out for a few days and explore the area.
Good RR :)
Really enjoying your RR. Thanks.
Day 15: Dove Creek to Lake City
It was mountain pass day!
This was a big day on the on the route. Three passes, all over 10,000 feet; Lizard Head pass (tarmac), Imogene pass 13,224′ (off-road) and Engineer pass 12,800′ (off-road). Questions abound: Would the weather hold? Would the bike run at elevation? Could I ride a fully loaded adventure bike up extreme terrain with dire consequences?
I guess we would see; but until then I had 108 miles of forest roads to ride through.
I’d noticed 3 other adventure bikes at the hotel when I went to grab dinner the previous night; they were heading out when I started packing.
It took me an hour to pack this time. I needed to rearranged several things, several times, since my tank bag was now gone. The group I saw leave looked like they were heading the same direction as I was. I’d hoped to maybe talk to them before they left about teaming up for the passes. Thanks to being slow and lazy that wasn’t going to happen.
I finally got packed, dropped off my key and hit the road. There was a slightly uneasy feel to the day. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I did what I always do when I’m feeling uneasy, just put it out of my mind and focus on what was happening at the moment, the first 108 miles.
The route was chilly that morning, of course, I was still up in the mountains so you have to expect that. The roads were pretty smooth so I was able to hold a pretty good pace. Next thing I knew I’d caught up to the group I saw while I was packing. I stopped them and we agreed to meet in Telluride and go over the passes together. They were bit slower than I was on these tracks, doing roughly 25-30 mph when I caught up to them. I was rolling at about 45-50, so they let me pass.
I came down to a tee intersection where I was supposed to make a left but there was a sign saying road closed. This had happened a few times already without any consequences so I proceeded through anyway. I went down the road and across a small bridge that crossed a stream with the clearest water I’d ever seen. I came up to a guy working up along what looked like a rock slide that had covered the road.
I waited around for about 20 minutes for him to back the grader up to where I was. I asked him if it was alright for me to pass and shrugged his shoulders and said he didn’t know. I asked if the road was clear and he said yes, but there was a Forest Service Officer at the other end writing citations for anyone ignoring the road closed sign and coming through.
Ok, fair enough. “I don’t know” was kind of a weird answer, I think “You probably shouldn’t” would have made more sense. He’d made his point though; back down the hill.
On my way back down I ran into the group I was supposed to me meet up with in Telluride for the passes. I explained the situation ahead and we all began to consult our GPS to find a go around. After a few minutes of searching two guys in a Range Rover pulled up. They were looking for the bridge I’d snapped a picture on and were wondering if they were headed the right direction. We told them they were but the road was closed a few miles past it. They knew already, they’d talked to the Forest Service Officer at the other end and proceeded to explain the way around.
It was 25 miles to the main road and then another 54 to Telluride; a 79 mile detour. We decided to ride it out together.
We had ridden about 40 miles when the group pulled over at a campground’s store. I figured, ok lunch. I’d been skipping lunch and just snacking but it was noon, so it seemed like perfect time. This stopped turned out to be a stop for ice cream instead of lunch. Lunch was scheduled for Telluride. The campground didn’t have soft serve available at the moment. I grabbed a Gatorade and candy bar and proceeded to wait around chatting with one of the guys while we got ready to get riding again.
They’d had quite an adventure so far; lots of falls, miserable times in Nevada and a trip to the ER for a separated shoulder. They were supposed to have four in their group, they’d planned the trip for a buddy of their’s who had brain cancer. He couldn’t make it though because he’d had a relapse. He told them all to go anyway and even drove their bikes out to Portland, Oregon from Tampa, Florida for them.
About an hour had passed before we were finally on the road again and the group of guys had decided to cancel their hotel in Lake City and spend the night in Telluride. It was about 1:00 now and Telluride was still close to an hour away; I wouldn’t start over the passes until 2:00.
We rode up over Lizard Head Pass, down into Telluride and stopped at the first gas station we saw. I said goodbye to the group and told them I was shooting for the passes. They invited me to lunch but I declined due to time. I had a cheap Airbnb in Lake City I wasn’t willing to cancel.
I rode through downtown Telluride and up the weird ally that over looked Telluride and lead to Imogene Pass.
The ride up the pass was intense. The terrain was rough and the cliffs were steep; no mistakes could be made. There was also Jeep traffic coming down the off the pass as well. Squeezing around Jeeps on the edge of a cliff is not for the faint at heart.
I finally made it to the top. It was like riding on the moon. I pulled The DR up into the line for pictures with sign. It was 85 degrees in Telluride and only 46 on top of the pass. Finally, after about 20 minutes it was my turn with the sign.
I headed down the pass; I’d come up the West side of the pass, the East side was much more tame. Personally I like to go up the complicated stuff and down the easy stuff. I feel like there’s more room for error. If I have to bail out going up the hill I feel like I have more control than if I’m letting gravity assist me with my descent.
Nonetheless it still took a good 45 minutes to descend from the pass and down into Ouray. I didn’t actually need to go into the town proper to get to Engineer Pass so I stopped and snapped these:
It was just after 4:00 now and I was committed to getting to Lake City. As much as I preferred not to start another pass that late, I decided to go for it. I’d been watching the weather on the passes all week and it was always changing. I didn’t want to go over in the rain or snow and I had no idea what the weather would do the next day. The weather right then was perfect, not a single cloud in the sky. I couldn’t let the opportunity slip away.
Engineer Pass had less of a cliff but the terrain was much more harsh. After about an hour I’d made it to the top. There was a guy and his son up there with their SUV next to the sign. They offered to take my picture with the sign. So here I am standing next to a sign:
I started back down the East side; it was a breeze. No rock steps, just a long, fast descent without any ledges on the side. The pass started to level out and rode along a creek right into Lake City.
On my way down I ran into a couple of guys on bikes. They had come out for the week to ride the passes and said they were caught in the snow the day before. They said the weather had been wild all week long and I’d made the right decision to take advantage of the clear skies.
I rode the last 20 miles down into Lake City. I pulled in around 7:40. It was dark and I couldn't find the place. I called the owner and he told me Google always got it wrong and gave me better directions.
Finally I’d arrived, mountain pass day was over. Time to warm up, I was freezing by that point.
Unfortunately, the Airbnb place only had space heaters…
How did the DR do over engineer this time? It was a little blubbery for me but I was surprised how well it did on the stock jetting.
"Personally I like to go up the complicated stuff and down the easy stuff. I feel like there’s more room for error. If I have to bail out going up the hill I feel like I have more control than if I’m letting gravity assist me with my descent."
Cinnamon Pass 2015. My buddy had a rough time that day.
Your report is awesome, I took 285 pics and didn't do a RR, it's too foggy for me to try and write one up now.
Really enjoying your RR.
Good job on the report so far...
Awesome!! I was actually just searching for a w to e ride report tonight and read your whole RR! I’m up here around Spokane wa thinking about hopping on somewhere around Idaho to get my bike back home to Missouri. I’m still undecided lol.
Great RR with awesome photos! You've had great advice about dealing with adversity. We're going next year and we are striving to have a similar laid-back attitude to dispel frustrations. Planning on going from NY through TN and on to OR in Aug/Sept '19.
Thanks for a great read.
Day 16: Lake City to Westcliffe
The big mountains were gone but I still had plenty of backcountry left to cover before getting to Oklahoma.
I felt a sense of relief after passing those mountains; they’d felt like the big test for both the bike and myself. All of the suspense and all of the lingering questions were bottled up in those passes.
It was a brisk 32 degrees when I woke up, so I took my good old time getting everything on the bike and leaving the Airbnb studio apartment with the tiny space heaters.
I’d started making a habit out of fueling up the night before, but I’d gotten in late the previous night and just wanted to settle in. The first order of business would be to get gas, except I’d noticed my chain was quite loose. The demand of the last two weeks and the rough terrain of mountain passes seemed to have stretched it out pretty well. I made the adjustment and went off to find gas.
The closest gas station was in the opposite direction of the trail so once I finished fueling up I needed to work my way back across town. On my way back two guys are Harley’s pulled right out in front of me. I stopped with plenty of room to spare but the one guy almost dumped his hog.
I was heading to Westcliffe, Colorado; another small, cool little mountain town that was unfortunately having a festival that weekend. I knew lodging was going to be sort of expensive. I found a hotel that looked cool with reasonable rates for a festival weekend; The Golden Corner Inn.
I got out of town a little ways and gave them a call. No answer. We would play phone tag the rest of the day until somewhere around Salida, Colorado. The view made for a nice place to place a missed call.
It turned out to be TAT crossing day. Everyone attempting the TAT east to west was passing me going the other direction. I passed about 15 riders heading west. As much as I’d truly enjoyed and appreciated everything I’d ridden through already I was happy it was behind me instead of in front of me. My theory had proven correct; I’d much prefer to lead with the difficult stuff than and cruise the rest.
The twisty backcountry roads opened up into a major vein and everyone was really moving. Bikes and pickup trucks alike were pushing 60 mph on this dirt road. It was wide without much loose material and the turns were quite gradual.
I made a wrong turn off the track to follow the main road I’d been on. I noticed it about half way up a hill and turned around to catch the GPS track again. The GPS track lead right onto private property again. Surprise! Unfortunately, by the time I’d realized this I was already committed and there was no place to turn around so I slowed way down and rode right down the driveway of this ranch. I looked around for the owners and prepared my apology but luckily I never saw them.
When I popped out of the driveway I noticed that the main road I was riding on intersected about 300 yards up from the ranch’s driveway. The conclusion was now very obvious. GPSKevin will send you right through private property if it means he can save 300 yards of tarmac…
This is what you'd have seen traveling E-W so thanks for that Kevin you (insert four letter word(s) of your choice here)…
Is it a big deal to accidentally stumble onto someone’s property out here in this not so well marked area of the country? If you’re the only person riding through; then the answer is probably no; but, I’d already passed 15 TAT riders that day. So 15 people on dirt bikes plus me had just passed through their driveway and it was only about Noon. What was I going to say to make it seem ok? “Yea man, sorry, I was just following these GPS tracks…” They’d already heard that one; probably everyday, multiple times per day, all summer long. I guess I can hope that the E-W people saw the sign and detoured.
Anyway, I carried on down the tracks and into Sargents, Colorado. Which was made to look like a major stopping point per the GPS tracks but really wasn’t much more than a truck stop. I filled up and moved on. I noticed about six adventure bikes sitting outside the diner. Guess who’s property they were heading toward?
The scenery began to change again after leaving Sargents. I was heading north through Salida before turning south again and to head toward Westcliffe. I started to gain elevation again and fall was back. Beautiful.
Outside of Salida I noticed I had a voicemail. It was the hotel I’d called earlier that morning. I hadn’t left a message but the lady said she saw my number as a missed call and figured she’d call it back.
I tried to call again and again no answer. This time I did leave a message and rode off down the road. Salida isn’t a complicated town to navigate but for whatever reason I couldn’t find the street the track was referencing. It turned out to be a positive because I was lost long enough for the lady at the hotel to call me back and I had a room booked.
I had about 80 miles left to Westcliffe and they went by pretty quick; it was a pretty scenic ride.
The Westcliffe sunset was pretty on point too...
I had a shower then went on the prowl for some tacos. I scored these bad boys:
Finally, the most useless outlets ever…
I'm very impressed with the quality of the photographs in your report, it looks like a fairly wide lens on the scenery shots. I was just wondering what you were using (and I'll probably be fooled and find out you're doing it with an I-phone or something silly like that).
I'm guessing its a fairly high quality camera but not something as big as a DSLR since you seem to stop and take pictures fairly frequently. Big cameras can be a pain to drag out of a bag every few miles.
Thanks for taking the time to document your trip so thoroughly - its the outstanding photography in the ride reports that really drags us in and yours is a great one.
I'm also guessing that traveling solo is a lot of fun since you can just pull over and take a photo whenever you feel like it. I stop a lot more frequently when traveling alone and not in a hurry to get anywhere.
I appreciate the kind words; but yes, I am using an iPhone 6 I've had since 2013. The zoom is god awful but it's pretty good for the wide angle. Traveling along and pulling over at your whim is the best.
As I recall in Crescent, Oregon on HWY 97 there are only two motels. One large fancy expensive lodge on the west side of the hwy that would not accept motorcycles and a small motel across the street that is motorcycle friendly.