Utah, maybe UTBDR trip planning questions

Discussion in 'The Rockies – It's all downhill from here...' started by KTM Mike, Dec 30, 2017.

  1. KTM Mike

    KTM Mike Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,256
    Location:
    Atlanta, Michigan
    I am in the early stages of planning a Utah ride. It started out not really thinking of the Utah BDR, but it seems that is now on the table for consideration. This would be a two up ride with dear Wifey Mrs. KTM riding pillion with me on the 990. Initially, we were thinking of last week of May, early June based on a suggestion from a friend and my work schedule, but now that it seems we are considering the BDR, or portion of it at least, that timing is now at question. We would be trailering the bike from Michigan.

    Original plan was to head down to the Medicine Hat area, set up the camper, ride for a few days, then move camp somewhere else (thinking of Moab perhaps?), then repeat. We would have 2 weeks total time, including the travel to/from Michigan. If we do the BDR, we are more likely to simply trailer out, find a spot to park the truck midway, pavement ride south to the BDR start, ride north to the truck, restock and continue on.

    In no particular order here are my initial questions:

    1) First off - that time of year, late May, early June (might be able to shift it to first two weeks of June) - in looking at the BDR info I have found, it seems we are likely to run into snow at the higher elevations on the route. Is that accurate? Or might we be OK if in June? In part, it is time off from work pushing that time of year for us. Or should we try to do it later in the year? (work schedule may prevent that though).

    2) UTBDR two up - doable? We have ridden the entire CDR from Banff to Mexico two up, and done plenty of technical stuff - so not newbs. At a glance, even the "expert" alternate routes appear OK - though Mrs. KTM would dismount for the most difficult parts. I have seen mention of the deep sand sections - how long do they go on for? Rock steps, look tough, but appear doable within my skill set. (but I do proceed with caution as dont want to get in over my head!)

    3) What is a reasonable amount of time, at a relaxed two up sort of pace, for the UTBDR? We do not push mega long days in terms of miles covered, off pavement as our pace is fairly slow. On the CDR we comfortably did 150 or more per day, (some much longer days when it was fast gravel or had good bits of pavement) but we do take a good bit of time off the bike taking pictures etc.

    I already have the GPS tracks, Butler Maps map, and DVD to get us through our long Michigan winter and start our planning

    I guess that is a start on our questions. Thanks in advance for the input.

    Mike
    #1
    GF-kam likes this.
  2. Biggetybike

    Biggetybike Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2017
    Oddometer:
    22
    I am planning a Utah trip also so I am very interested in the replies you get
    #2
    KTM Mike likes this.
  3. cidi

    cidi cidi

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    479
    Location:
    Just South of Denver, CO
    May can definitely be snowy so it really depends on how much snow they get during the winter, but especially in the late spring.
    Sand can go on for a couple of miles or longer, and again it could be easy sand or super deep talcum powder like, depending on how much moisture they had. The one section I would be most concerned about is la salle pass into moab. That pass got destroyed and has not been rebuilt. Search on this forum about the ride reports. You can certainly bypass that section.
    On a different note, I personally would stay South of I70, as the best riding / scenery is South. Again just my opinion and there are lots of others that can chime in. Best of luck with your planning.
    #3
    KTM Mike likes this.
  4. SAM13

    SAM13 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 1, 2017
    Oddometer:
    157
    #4
  5. KTM Mike

    KTM Mike Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,256
    Location:
    Atlanta, Michigan
    Thanks cidi. Sounds like going early June might be better to avoid the snow, though of course the sand might worse. From what I've read here , late may occasionally works, but is iffy. Now to determine if my work load will work with June.

    Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk
    #5
  6. RideFreak

    RideFreak Torque Jockey

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Oddometer:
    11,764
    Location:
    Out in the NM Dez somewhere
    I haven't done the whole UTBDR but I've ridden everything south of I-70 which will be fine in early june, probably a bit hot. You can assess the snow better in later in the winter, if our weather in NM is any indication you'll be fine, it's a really dry so far this winter. If your schedule is flexible then you can adjust earlier or later based on the snow reports.
    #6
    KTM Mike likes this.
  7. RideFreak

    RideFreak Torque Jockey

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Oddometer:
    11,764
    Location:
    Out in the NM Dez somewhere
    Completely agree, if you haven't done it, riding across southern Utah is amazing and it's all south of 1-70. Not to say there isn't nice things to see north of there but the density of really scenic amazing things to see and ride is much better to the south IMO.
    #7
    KTM Mike likes this.
  8. KTM Mike

    KTM Mike Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,256
    Location:
    Atlanta, Michigan
    Thanks Sam13. Yeah heat is yet another consideration. Coming from Michigan, we are not well acclimated! Mrs KTM does well in most any conditions. We go as slow as we have to keep her comfy. Good advice on taking in the scenery.

    Worst case I guess we bypass snow as needed and don't get stuck on only riding the BDR.

    Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk
    #8
    zgfiredude likes this.
  9. sknx

    sknx Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 29, 2009
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Evergreen, CO
    Lockhart Basin might be a challenge on a loaded big bike. Stumble on a guy from Carolina couple of years ago that took the word "expert" lightly. He was struggling for 2-nd day with a 1190 on that stretch and he was stuck midpoint, had to call the rangers.
    Trail was in a bad shape to be honest. What I'm trying to say is conditions can change from doable to almost impassible in a few weeks so plan some alternatives.
    #9
    KTM Mike likes this.
  10. Patj551

    Patj551 Motorcycle & Empowerment Coach

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,494
    Location:
    Colorado Rockies
    Lockhart Basin is the "alternate expert" route. Definitely NOT 2 up friendly. The "main" route into Moab is easy except for a short stretch through "Hells Canyon." That part is steep and Rocky. Not 2 up friendly. The alternate "snow route" into Moab is easy and 2 up friendly. There is damage from flooding on part of the route between Monticello and Moab but it was easy enough to navigate.

    I've only ridden the Southern portion South of I70. Did it October and November of this year. The Southern portion should be doable in May.
    #10
  11. FamilyRider

    FamilyRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    594
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    May-early June is a great time for southern Utah, but most likely too early for northern Utah. I don't own a big bike, so the BDRs haven't ever really appealed to me. But they do make a good backbone for some nice loop rides. By doing loops, I don't have to ride a lot of pavement to get back to my car. Southern Utah has a lot of good loop options. RideFreak has posted a number of great rides, as have others. Riding two-up, you will have to pick and choose which routes you take, but there should be plenty of good options.

    A few years ago we spent 3 days exploring the Cedar Mesa area (Bears Ears) and we barely touched the area. Most of our ride would be two-up friendly, but we did a few optional side spurs that might be too technical. You can read about it here.

    The Grand Staircase Escalante area also has some great rides, including the Burr Trail, Wolverine Loop, Hwy 12, etc. Here are a couple of my trip reports for that area; car adventure, bike adventure.

    And of course there is Moab and the San Rafael Swell. Both areas offer really technical rides as well as big bike friendly dirt roads.
    #11
    Colorado Uli, RideFreak and KTM Mike like this.
  12. Colorado Uli

    Colorado Uli Must I?

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,311
    Location:
    Ze Western Slope
    1) Yes, too early in the year for northern (higher) half.
    Note: Of course, it all depends on what the rest of the winter will bring. Also, you may have to bypass the Abajo Mountains, and that’d be a shame.

    2) Two up doable? Anything is possible, but you may not enjoy it. Some sections are as easy as the CDR, but many others are certainly not. Even non- expert sections may be deep sandy, washed out or rocky. Again, the weather out here can easily change fun stuff into quite challenging routes. I know a guy who’s ridden a Tiger through Lockheart Basin two up, but they didn’t have much gear and must have been nuts.

    3) Six Days if you like a slower pace or short(ish) days.

    Note: I’ve ridden both CDR and UTBDR twice and consider them a very different sort of adventure ride all together. Read the UTBDR thread here in the Rockies section for lots of info on the details, if you haven’t already, and get back to us with your questions.
    Tell you what, if you do decide to do this in May/June, post back and we’ll set you up with great alternate routes depending on what Mother Nature has been up to.

    Best of luck.

    Uli
    #12
    KHVol, norton(kel) and jjustj like this.
  13. KTM Mike

    KTM Mike Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,256
    Location:
    Atlanta, Michigan
    Thanks for all the replies. The input is very much appreciated. Exact timing remains to be seen, but it really does sound like, if I can, shifting it even a week or so might be helpful - so I am now leaning towards first two weeks of June. I will definitely post back here once I get timing pinned down, alternate routes are always appreciated! One thing I learned long ago is to always have a plan B, C and maybe even a D!

    I didnt mean to suggest I take the "expert" ratings of a route lightly, Ive been around long enough to know better than to think I am the master of all conditions! Here in Michigan, sand is king, and while I hate riding that crap, we manage to trudge through it. What has been most critical for our riding two up is knowing when to slow down..WAY down when needed. Mrs. KTM is 100% good with getting off the bike and walking a section while she takes pictures, while I find the best line and limits of my skills.

    I will continue to read the various ride reports and be a sponge. I am totally sold on riding Utah, even if we stick south of I70, and ride the alternates to the BDR. BDR or not, it will make for a great start to our riding season (snow often does not melt here until April). Reading the ride reports is great reprieve from the temps dipping to 25 below zero, or more!
    #13
  14. glockman

    glockman Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2014
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Utah
    I am in the northern part of UT and we barely have any snow at 9500 ft here right now. I have also ridden the UBDR. The higher elevations in the route are normally open early to mid May but this is the least snow we have had in a decade so barring some late winter deluge they should be completely dry by early May. Everything north of I-70 should be doable 2up without much drama. As has been stated, the south eastern portion is the most technical and changes year to year.
    #14
    KTM Mike likes this.
  15. KTM Mike

    KTM Mike Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,256
    Location:
    Atlanta, Michigan
    Let's hope the lack of snow continues!

    Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk
    #15
  16. Colorado Uli

    Colorado Uli Must I?

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,311
    Location:
    Ze Western Slope
    I will respectfully disagree with you on that last statement. I LOVE riding, but living out here in the West I know what it could mean to ranchers, municipalities, Mexican farmers downstream, and so many more if we don’t get a lot of snow soon. I see the soil in my yard developing scary looking cracks that shouldn’t be there. It’s getting really worrisome out here in the western states.
    #16
    pratered and norton(kel) like this.
  17. KTM Mike

    KTM Mike Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,256
    Location:
    Atlanta, Michigan
    Ok Uli - how about this - I hope you get plenty of rain/snow to keep your yard from drying out, ranchers ranching etc,....but let it be with a big dump of snow now, and a early melt off so I can ride the elevations without issue?

    (in all seriousness, our weather patterns nationwide sure are changing. Hell, look at the mega cold temps on the east coast this last week or so, (we had -19 here in Michigan where I live two days ago), and either very hot/dry summers or non stop rain - nothing moderate seeming like normal. Western Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula have gotten pounded with snow this year - typical lake effect stuff, but the normal "system" snow seems to be MIA)
    #17
    Colorado Uli likes this.
  18. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,325
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    I want to ski. I want a lot of snow, now and continuing. Hope those goals don't mess up your plans, but we need the snow here badly....
    #18
    pratered and KTM Mike like this.
  19. Swashbuckler

    Swashbuckler Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2013
    Oddometer:
    721
    Location:
    Fort Collins, CO
    I didn't enjoy the UTBDR north of i70. Everything south was a blast. The same with the COBDR. My suggestion would be to loop the UT and CO BDR's south of i70!

    The section from i70 south to Moab, and through Lockhart Basin, were the only sections that I wouldn't even try to ride a 990 myself, let alone 2up. Others are much better riders than I am though and have ridden through there on big bikes. If you were 2up you'd at least have 2 people to help lift the bike up some of those step-ups :D If you haven't been to Moab you could consider skipping the north part of the UTBDR and spending a few days riding around Moab. It's an amazing place. We just spent Christmas mountain biking in the snow out there and it's as fun as prime-season. Then you could ride the southern section. It's a lot of fast flowly semi-sandy sections with 1 mountain section that was easy.
    #19
  20. RideFreak

    RideFreak Torque Jockey

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Oddometer:
    11,764
    Location:
    Out in the NM Dez somewhere
    IMO the COBDR and the UTBDR should have gone east/west across the southern portions of those states but I didn't design it and Butler's objectives are probably different then mine.
    #20