Uraling The Great Divide (now with more dogs!)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by rebelpacket, Jul 27, 2013.

  1. novaboy

    novaboy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    Oddometer:
    648
    Location:
    Rothesay, New Brunswick, Canada, eh
    Awesome, would love to get a Ural to take my chocolate lab with me on my travels.
    #61
  2. tshelfer

    tshelfer Adventurer

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    Dec 31, 2011
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    Location:
    Arlington, Tx
    Great story - keep it coming.

    One question. I note that most of your camping is boondock style. What are you doing about potable water in camp?
    #62
  3. rebelpacket

    rebelpacket four-stroke earth-saw

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    740
    Location:
    Missoula, MT
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    A humid morning broke over our quiet camp, and I debated my options. With only had around 100 miles to ride to Kalispell, I had reserved a hotel room for “one last hurrah” before the real start of the CDT. I still had to flip on the two knobby tires I’d carried from Colorado for the start of the ride. Its a well known fact that flipping tires in an air-conditioned hotel room floor beats doing it on a picnic table while swatting mosquitos.

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    Heading north on 83 is a straight shot north through the Flathead National forest. Dense forest line both sides of the road, offering only brief glimpses of scenic beauty around it. Occasionally the view would present itself through a meadow or some cleared cattle land.

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    Since I had all day to go 100 miles, I chose to explore some national forest roads to kill some time.

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    We stopped mid-morning in a clearing to enjoy a brief continental breakfast. No more gas station burritos for me; I kept it classy with an apple and a clif bar. Lola got a few treats and a nice sunny nap.

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    As we got closer to Kalispell, the forest receded into farmlands, which gave us nice (albeit distant) views of the mountain ranges. Peter Egan once wrote that “Montana is the land of mountains which are forever fifty miles away”. I think there is some truth in that.

    By 2:00pm, we rolled down the main drag in Kalispell, looking for the Best Value Inn. When we finally found it, I asked for an early check-in. The clerk at the front-desk was steadfast. “You can check in at 3:00pm. No earlier”.

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    Instead of sitting outside of the hotel like vagrants, we decided to sit around the public park like vagrants. I laid down and took a nap, while Lola kept a close eye on anyone that got too close to the Ural.

    When 3:00pm finally rolled around my wristwatch, we loaded back up to the hotel and checked in. I spent the night watching truly terrible movies on the television and stuffing delivery pizza in my mouth. I changed the two tires on a tarp laid out on the floor, and went to bed early.

    Days mileage: 122 miles
    Total mileage: 1084 miles
    #63
  4. rebelpacket

    rebelpacket four-stroke earth-saw

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    740
    Location:
    Missoula, MT
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    Maybe it was the beds at the Best Value Inn, or perhaps the anticipation of starting the route that led to a fitful night of sleep. The silver lining was the breakfast bar at 5:30am that morning. Pristine, clean and organized, like it had just been laid out for me. I was able to casually enjoy some pancakes, eggs and a cup of coffee before any other guests awoke.

    I’m not sure if its the left-over viking blood in our veins, or just the layout of our culture. Lodgers waking up in hotels, charge into the breakfast room, tiny plastic forks and knives raised, elbows out, ready for blood. Eating voraciously with singular purpose; Get the good food, before it all runs out. The sad dejected look of those who arrive too late, and are left only a fossilized apple turnover, or a stale slice of rye.

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    The plan was to meet Zina and Wayne at the border station outside Eureka at 3:00pm, which gave me 4 hours to do 60 miles. I again referenced my Gazetteer maps to burn a little time.

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    This is the only photo I got of one of these butterflies that wasn’t smashed up to bits, or slow-roasted “well done” between the cooling fins of the Urals cylinders.

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    A little past 3:00pm, we rolled into the border. I saw Zina, Wayne and Simon, and did my best Valentino Rossi fist pump in the air. A little premature, this being the starting line and all. It felt right in the moment.

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    Three humans, two dogs, and seven wheels at the Canadian border. Now the fun can really begin. Wayne and Zina wanted to find a camp site right off, so they could dispose of their worn TrailWings, and spoon on some knobs.

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    After searching fruitlessly for some marked campgrounds on the Gazetteer, we doubled back to Rexford, where Wayne and Zina said they had seen a viable campground. It seemed more like an RV parking area than a campground, but with sturdy picnic tables and running water, we’d certainly make do.

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    Changing tires is one of those communal shit-jobs where everyone pitches in. Doesn’t matter who you are, if a rider sees tire irons in your hand, they immediately stop and pull over to help. No words need to be exchanged, the commiseration of arm wrestling stiff, sticky beads over metal hoops is well known across all languages and cultures.

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    Wayne is pretty good at flipping skins on his own, so my only real contribution was the scissor-jack I had packed along. A luxury for those traveling by motorcycle, but a requirement for those on a Ural. Sure, you can tip the Ural over in a ditch to take the sidecar wheel off. But you lose major cool points when you get stuck in the ditch.

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    Zina and Wayne made a special ramen noodle dish they lived off on the TAT, while I made one of my freeze-dried meals I had brought along. Some picture off-loading, and general conversation about the next day, and we turned in early for the night.

    With tomorrow mornings waxing sunlight, the promise of dirt, dust and grit between our teeth would be fulfilled, and the journey officially begin.

    Days mileage: 78 miles
    Total mileage: 1162 miles
    #64
  5. rebelpacket

    rebelpacket four-stroke earth-saw

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    740
    Location:
    Missoula, MT
    Thanks for all the compliments folks; I'm very happy that so many of you are riding along, and enjoying the tales!

    There was another syllable on what he said, that I couldn't pick out. He had a big smile, and gave an enthusiastic wave when he left. As far as omnipresent "good signs", I figured meeting a Russian guy near the start was up there.

    Originally from Connecticut. After the Whalers went under, I chose the Bruins. As you can tell from the color of my dog, I'm all about the black 'n gold. :)

    In the nose of the sidecar, I have a backpack with my laptop, clothes and toiletries, as well as a 3 1/2 gallon water jug. In addition, I rode with a 2L camelback, which I filled from the jug throughout the day. Lola will drink right from the camelback, so it takes care of water for both of us.

    Sorry to hear about your aged Lab; Here's to hoping you two can find another dog that you can take on great adventures. Obviously starting a puppy out would be best, but considering Lola was 9 years old when she first started riding, I think you can teach old dogs new tricks!
    #65
  6. hyperboarder

    hyperboarder Potato Farmer

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2010
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    1,026
    Location:
    Boise, ID
    Making me seriously question the ad I just placed for my Tourist in the flea market...

    Great report!
    #66
  7. LethPhaos

    LethPhaos Been here awhile

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    Aug 16, 2012
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    Location:
    Belgistan
    what software do you use to take screenshots off for your maps?
    #67
  8. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe RN

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    1,584
    Location:
    Concord, CA
    That is f'ing funny!!

    JG
    #68
  9. olderigetfasteriam

    olderigetfasteriam Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    60
    Great!
    #69
  10. Blue Mule

    Blue Mule Persistent Slacker

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    Sep 10, 2011
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    12,616
    Location:
    The Land of Cheese and Beer
    I'm just here for the Dog tales!:lol3


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    Got a soft spot for Rotties... this is Roxy. best dog i've ever had, Lola reminds me of her.:freaky
    #70
  11. Byork

    Byork Novice

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    240
    Location:
    N. IN
    Awesome ride! The pictures have been great. If we had some terrain out here I'd have a Ural. Looks like it's treating you and your dog well :freaky
    #71
  12. Downs

    Downs KK6RBI

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2007
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    Location:
    MCAS MIRAMAR
    as much crap as I talk about Urals this is making me want to get one :D
    #72
  13. acidman1968

    acidman1968 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2012
    Oddometer:
    170
    Location:
    Utah, Great Basin / Intermountain West
    Excellent RR so far - and it's definitely a wonderful distraction from work! Ride safely, enjoy the trip, and take (and share) many pictures of the travel!

    :lurk
    #73
  14. mountaineer

    mountaineer Explorer.

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    69
    Location:
    Manila, Philippines
    One of the best ways to travel!
    Thank you for sharing.
    #74
  15. MotoBoss

    MotoBoss Bad Influence

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,880
    Location:
    Martinsville, Indiana USA
    Awesome report. The dogs are really a hi-lite to a tale of "riding the CDR."

    Keep it safe and keep it coming :clap
    #75
  16. Mofrid

    Mofrid Adventurer

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    Nov 27, 2012
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    State of Jefferson
    Subscribed. :lol3
    #76
  17. h2o_snow

    h2o_snow Water, snow & dirt too.

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    808
    Location:
    North of Boise-vegas, ID
    Old river guide joke.

    Now - how are we going to get that sidecar through Montana???

    (This thread is a great way to blow off work). :D
    #77
  18. rebelpacket

    rebelpacket four-stroke earth-saw

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    740
    Location:
    Missoula, MT
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    Unfortunately for Wayne & Zina (who were probably still sleeping on San Diego time), I’m a morning person. On motorcycle trips, I like nothing better than getting on the road when the sun is still rising. Lola is not a morning dog, but will usually get up and shake off the sleep if I start clanking the food bowl around.

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    I tried to quietly creep around without making too much noise. Large legs and gangly arms can be a hindrance however, and between the muffled curses as I tripped over equipment, or the loud sigh of a camp-mattress being rolled up I had woken everyone up.

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    Coffee is a morning ritual to many people. To others its a required step in the starting process, like choke plungers on a carburetor, or pre-heating a boiler. The latter is true for Zina and I, while Wayne prefers water or a granola bar. After some caffeine saturation, we packed everything up and hit the road for an early start.

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    The route started off on a narrow, paved county road, which wound through a check board of ranch land, and the Kootenai National Forest.

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    Quite often as we motored along, chipmunks and other small animals would burst from the vegetation lining the roadside in a suicide dash across the road in front of us. Sometimes she’d see one when we stopped, and as soon as the motor turned off, she’d burst from the sidecar in search-and-destroy mode.

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    In a matter of minutes, we had crossed over US-93, and into the Flathead national forest. The dirt began as a nicely groomed, wide straight road with some gravel mixed in. Smooooth.

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    As we turned up Grave Creek, the road broke into first sized rocks for a brief stretch which rattled things up nicely. Also the first test of the Duro HF307 tires with less-than-ideal traction, which they passed quite well.

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    Some of the local flora (Fireweed) is in full bloom along the side of the trail, providing some contrasting colors along the predominantly green landscape.

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    Clear mountain streams with brilliantly clear water ran along drainages and slopes throughout the route. In terms of scenic beauty, the first day on the dirt did not disappoint.

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    The road here, is great fun. Lined with lodgepole pine trees and well maintained, it curls through the mountains and peaks like a roller coaster. Happy times.

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    The Ural hammered out a steady, soft rhythm at 40mph, the random "Plink!" of gravel bouncing off metal fenders acting as cymbals for the road beat. Happy times.

    Video: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26899829@N07/9428982856/in/set-72157634907534371

    The only major imperfection on this section of road, is potholes. 4-8 inches deep in places, and up to 2 feet wide, avoiding them on the Ural wasn't easy, and sometimes impossible. I had to make split-second steering input, and decide on who was going to take the hit, myself or Lola.

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    We met our first cyclists on the road too. The guy on the Surly fat-bike I recognized from a member on Soviet Steeds who ran into him while riding the New Mexico portion of the route in June. Second only to hikers, the bicyclists of this route are the real tough guys. We motorcyclists are just loud tourists.

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    Rounding a bend on a beautiful section of road, we come across…

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    Red Meadow Lake Campground. One of the most beautiful campgrounds I have ever seen. Hindsight being 20/20, I’d have loved to spend a night there on the way up to the border.

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    Three spots right on the lake, and nobody there. Too bad it was only mid-day, as this would have been a fantastic place to camp for the day.

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    “This is going to be captioned poorly, isn’t it?” Wayne said in reference to the photo above at Red Meadow Lake. Feel free to make up your own. My favorite so far is: “How’d you get the beans over the frank?”.

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    We descended off Grave Creek road, and down towards Whitefish, where we met this couple who had just started the route. They sold their business before leaving on this trip, and were in great spirits. Notice that cloud billowing up behind us?

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    I’d seen this BBQ restaurant (Piggyback BBQ) on the way up to Roosville, and read about it in some of my research on the route. We decided to stop in for some lunch, and to review the rest of the route for resupply options.

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    Lunch was good, and one of the other patrons even donated a tray of pulled-pork for the dogs. Zina craftily squared the bulk of it away in a ziplock to mix in with their dinners.

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    The billowing clouds finally developed into small storms, forcing us under a shade canopy for most of our meal.

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    Pulling out of the parking lot after our meal, I noticed Zina’s rear wheel looked like it was running low. I honked the horn and pointed it out, which ended up with us under this apartment parking structure. I asked one of the residents if they would object to mild curse words and the clang of tire irons on asphalt as we fixed our flat. “Everyone is at work, it’d be no problem” she replied.

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    And so Zina and Wayne got busy swapping out the tube. While going through these steps, a small gathering of young residents started to form. One guy on a balcony smoking a doobie, soon turned into three, and then five. While I couldn’t understand what was being said between the gesticulating and laughing, it didn’t seem malicious.

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    In addition to providing scissor-jack services for the DRZ’s, I’m the designated security attaché. Wayne & Zina are carrying bear-spray, and I am carrying my Glock 29. Not that any of us were worried about this small doobie-lovin’ crew, living on the mean streets of Whitefish Montana. They appeared to be having a good time in life, and thats all anyone really wants.

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    We hit the pavement for 20 miles or so out of Whitefish, towards Bigfork where we would pick up the dirt again.

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    We stopped at a country store for provisions, where we ran into a group of like-minded riders doing the trip in the other direction. A veritable Suzuki festival it would seem, as the “DR” platform seems to the be bike of choice. They did not have kind words regarding the trails in New Mexico, didn’t calm the growing apprehension I had for those sections.

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    Smooth and fast, with sweeping corners and relatively good line of sight, the dirt roads past Bigfork are amazing.

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    The recent passing rain showers dampened the road enough to keep the dust down. For once I could ride behind them without eating spoonfuls of talcum powder.

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    The trail narrowed down to a two track, winding over the rolling hills, backdropped with impressive peaks. Not another soul on these roads allows the quiet whispers of the forest to stir up primal emotions in the soul. I was really living in the core of what I wanted to get out of this trip, on day 1!

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    We found lay-by off the road that was relatively flat and set up camp for the night. While a nice spot in the lower elevation, the dampness from the days rolling showers brought out the best in the mosquitos. The Simon and Lola team wandered around exploring our camp, covering every vertical surface with pee while we built a small fire from wet branches to deter some of the bugs.

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    Zina and Wayne cooked up their signature ramen/chicken dish, while I made a can of chili over rice. Sounds of stories shared together echoed amidst a soundtrack of crickets, peepers, and occasional flatulence from our BBQ lunch.

    Day one on the trip left us feeling great as a team for the coming days. Considering none of us have ever done an multi-day ride with one another, the symmetry in styles and attitude is amazing. As night fell, sleep came easy to dogs and humans alike.

    Days Mileage: 156 miles
    Total Mileage: 1,318 miles
    #78
  19. rebelpacket

    rebelpacket four-stroke earth-saw

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    740
    Location:
    Missoula, MT
    I'm a Mac guy, and the screenshot function is built in. Alt-Shift-F4 brings up a selection box, which will allow me to select to portion of the route and save it as an image.
    #79
  20. Lacedaemon

    Lacedaemon Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    628
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    In windows, you use "Print Screen" which is Shift+SysRq (look right above your "insert" key on a standard keyboard).

    This puts the image on your clip board and you can paste it wherever you want.
    #80