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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Ikeya-Seki, Jul 9, 2021.
Excellent as aways!
I’ve had my ups and downs, but yes, I thank my lucky star all the time. Thank you for reading.
Sit Rep: Engineer & Imogene passes complete:
RR to follow
The scenery is impeccable!
Monday, August 9
Nuts & Bolts: I leave Dr. Sean’s home in Glenwood Springs and ride to dispersed campsite in the Gunnison National Forest just outside of Lake City. I make several stops along the way.
Total Miles: 5998.7
Weather: 57-81F. Sunny with large white clouds and blue sky. Much of the haze has diminished. Visibility 20 miles or better, especially going south. Breezy, cool, & comfortable. Perfect riding weather.
Trail Conditions: Dry, hard packed fire roads with embedded stone in many places. Fresh grading in some sections. Minor loose sand. Much less traffic than on the weekend. Less erosion with a few puddles. Mud on the road near Redstone.
Stops: Hot springs just past the Avalanche Ranch for a dip. Gunnison Forrest for some family business. Ryce Asian Bistro in Crested Bute for chicken pad Thai. Fuel.
Lodging: Dispersed camping near a river. Picnic table, fire ring & an outhouse near by. Bear country.
Observations: First I gotta say how good it was to see my old classmate Sean. It’s been decades since we last crossed paths and he was a gracious host. Catching up over a couple beers at Casey Brewing, some home cooking and more a couple more beers in Aspen came free and easy. We passed the time quickly.
Drone shot of the Dr’s Glenwood Springs home
Much of the haze from the smoke had blown out by late Sunday evening and Colorado’s picture book landscape was again on display. Unfortunately however Pine Beetles and some other diseases have ravaged large swaths of forest and from what Sean tells me the changes are devastating. Apparently among other reasons is the lack of a sufficient winter kill.
Couple cold ones in Aspen
Hot springs pop up fairly often out west and there’s one just outside of Carbondale just past the Avalanche Ranch and I took the time to scope one out. I met a nice local girl there named Kristen who filled me in on the best pools and how the recent mudslides had overwhelmed the pools. She has been working to get them back on track and seemed to really appreciate them. She was covered in “exfoliating mud.”
Hot Springs visit.
I took the same route back to the TAT from Glenwood springs that I rode in on so there is not much more to report on the trek except that clear skies and bright sunshine really amplified the view.
Pine Beetle damage
I stopped too at a National Forest campground in the northern part of Gunnison and paid homage to family. A peaceful & beautiful site.
Gunison National Forest camping
I dropped into a stream side campground probably no more than 10 miles from Lake City. Too often I blow right by these little gems and wind up shelling out for a room I really didn’t want. Tonight I will get some early shut eye. I got a small fire going in the ring, extinguishing water at the ready and I’m all set up. I had an easy can of good old Dinty Moore tonight and cleaned up good owing to the plentiful bear signs, both literal and actual.
Doing their part for fire prevention
High elevation passes coming up.
Wednesday, Aug 11
Nuts & Bolts: After a chilly night sleep in Gunnison, I ride into Lake City for a trip over and down Engineer Pass into Ouray for Lunch and then over Imogene Pass into Telluride for dinner. I make camp in USFS Mary E campground, just outside Telluride.
Total Miles: 6068.5
Weather: 40F-74F Blustery and cold start to the day. Some warming with the sun as the day went on. High wispy clouds. Dry. Good riding conditions.
Trail Conditions: Steep, rocky, loose, switch backs, a few shallow water crossings, steep & steep.
Stops: Red Mountain Brewing in Ouray for a double pork chop and Floradora Saloon in Telluride for locally raised steak & garlic mashed potato.
Lodging: U.S.F.S. Campsite Mary E
Observations: The short distance, high altitude, MPG, and trail conditions kinda paints the picture for the day.
The campsite in Gunnison was blustery and cold during the night, pushing my sleeping bag to it’s limit. I had layers to add, but it was good to get a sense of where the line is - 40F I’d say.
On the way up Engineer
The ride started out as most with a relaxed, meandering pace along the trail. Turns out I was 20 miles outside of Lake City so the passes that came later essentially made up the remaining 60.
Somewhere near 12,000 feet
Engineer pass was first up and luckily for me the route into Ouray is considered better. I can see why. While the ride up from Lake City started out gradually enough as most passes do, it quickly turned into a rugged, steep, deeply pot holed 4x4 trail with fields of stone ranging from 4 inch jagged gravel to baby heads to bread loafs and larger. Lots of ledge as well, some death defying.
The ride down from the summit was essentially the same level of difficulty, but with longer stretches of the real nasty and a lot more of it. Riding up would be doable on a loaded adventure bike, but extra challenging for sure.
Side by Sides & Razors paraded in droves, both down town and all along the pass. Just about every one of them would yield the line and or let me pass to avoid dust. Bikes just motor at a different pace.
Greens & Blues
At the top of one of Engineers little surprises - a stone wall climb into a twisted switch back - I got a little sideways and put Katy M down on her port side. I set her straight and didn’t have any more of those. No harm, no foul.
Imogene Pass proved to my mind much more difficult. I managed to find a line up but sometimes it wasn’t always pretty. I put that 790 over boulders, off ledges, around off-camber hairpins and made her climb like a goat in first gear, second when I could get it and a few times, third. I had my legs out for balance many times - on both passes.
I stopped often on both passes to allow my fuel tank to vent and the motor to cool. The fan whirled often in the steeps. I ran a GoPro from my chin for Engineer and flew the drone at the top, but I didn’t record anything of Imogene, except stills, which I took at nearly every stop. I really didn’t even know I’d be riding the Imogene until I was on it.
Navigating the many side by sides & Jeeps could be tricky at times and I’m sure I squeezed by within only inches some times. Mostly though since I was on the climb for most encounters I just kept to my line and didn’t stop. It’s the only way up in some sections.
Speaking of the only way up, I had my front wheel suspended in the air on many of the boulder climbs along Imogene. I had great traction, but gravity will have her way. Every time I was at hope’s limit. I made it though.
I rolled into Telluride around 5-5:30 beat as work horse, my forearms especially. I caved for a cut of local beef at a relaxed joint diagonally across from the Dollar Saloon, where I got the tip over a Tempter IPA. Setting up my tent was enough of a chore for me and I wanted nothing to do with rounding up grub and cooking.
A well deserved dinner
Colorado is beautiful & challenging and really hard to beat in such a condensed landscape. On the other hand, other than coastal California and the big parks, it’s draws a crowd. Telluride on my first visit back in 1988 was still a baby. It’s all grown up now. Anyhow.
I am uncertain how far I will make it today, but I’m headed toward Utah.
My fly is dry time to go.
Sounds like a real adventure.
Friday, Aug 13
Days: 35 & 36
Nuts & Bolts: I ride west to La Sal, Utah where I lay low at the 3 Step Hideaway for a minute and tune up for what’s next.
Total Miles: 6293.9
Weather: 78-86F Temps increase as elevation drops. Bright sun, moderate wind. Dry. Windy. Cool at night.
Trail Conditions: Transition from loose Rocky Mountain soil & stone to hard packed sand colored roads with minor gravel and soft shoulders. Fast, almost like asphalt with grip.
Stops: Bangers Bar I Dove Cty for a caprice sub & IPA. First time I’ve had a salad sub, but it was tasty. Julie’s Kitchen at the 3 Step Hideaway for home cooked dinner & breakfast, twice.
Lodging: 3 Step Hideaway in La Sal, Utah. Family cabin, for one.
Observations: The ride out of Colorado’s story book world turned a little bitter sweet. Kinda bummed my home town classmate Mike, who I also had not seen in years, was….. back home in N.H. Go figure. I also wanted to ride Black Bear Pass, but the time & energy weren’t there. I’ll save it for next time when I finish the BDR’s.
On the other hand, Utah is pretty sweet and a different kind of riding. How the landscape transforms out here keeps me riveted. A bit sandier in spots, probably a bit hotter, but Utah is prehistoric and dinosaur. Ancient.
The 3 Step Hideaway is not to be missed. A stop in 2017 made the return an easy choice. Hunger took hold of my handle bars and pulled me into a local pub & grill in Dove City where I started to get the feeling the 3 Step was nearby. I was right: about 40 miles to be exact. So I called and Julie, one of the owners, offered me the Family Cabin for a sweet rate. I said, “I’ll take two.”
Scott, who happened to be off in Idaho on a ride, and Julie, his wife, own and operate a motorcycle oriented, western themed ranch just off the TAT. They’ve got bunk houses, teepees, cabins and tent space, although you’re gonna wanna bunk or teepee - It’s sand & gravel with scrub oak and prairie grass. These folks have gone along way to create a little slice of old west heaven, a mini Mecca for TAT riders.
There’s a bath house with a wood-fired hot tub for cooler months, a well equipped livery where you can work on your bike complete with tools, lifts and a clean, dry space. You can even pick up & install a new or used tire here. A green house with outdoor cooking facility might be your thing or you can opt in for Julie’s home cooked dinner. Just listen for the dinner bell so you’re not late.
While I’m hitting a high spot here at the 3 step with my giant private cabin and hot H2O on demand with a wrap around porch and charm galore, Katy M got a little pampering here at the ranch herself. For starters, I finally got the skid plate off to inspect this chain contact thing. It didn’t seem like there were any strong wear marks, but I opted to nick some off with a file anyhow. Adjusting the chain and kicking up the preload on the rear shock a little should also help.
Also got a better look at the hit that broke the fuel spigot. I’ll include a few shots.
Heeding Adam’s observation about my panniers, I retightened all the fasteners and there were some loose ones, so thanks Adam. The starboard side does sit a bit of an angle, but that’s how it came and although they look heavy, my bags are not bad. Maybe 20-25 lbs when carrying water. I pack a lot of pillows.
Finally, I inspected the brakes - okay for now - cleaned the fork seals, cleaned & oiled air filters, adjusted my Cycra guards and whatever else I could find. Tuning and maintaining your steed goes along way to enhancing the experience and well worth the effort. Peace of mind,
Well, breakfast call is coming shortly and I got one more cup of coffee to enjoy before I pack everything up and roll out. Oregon in 12 days is doable, but not definite. Time to roll.
One last thing about the 3 Step Hideaway - you won’t any phone service or WiFi, but if you set for a minute and tune your ear to the sky, you will find yourself deeply, deeply connected.
….. Utah coming……
Wow, beautiful photos and an epic ride so far! Keep it up. It seems you've chosen the right bike for the ride and I have to say I'm honestly impressed with the fuel mileage thus far. How do you like the luggage setup? You're gone for many hard miles and for quite a while so it seems to be working well for you, but would you change anything?
Imogene is not part of anyone's TAT
"You're not riding the TAT!" (TAT purists say that)
Glad to see you've made it your own TAT++
PS. glad you gave us an update on 3Step.
Gonna stay there next week...
Hey dmski, thanks for reading. Yes, so far I’d say the 790R is a great choice for this style or riding. When & if I get to Oregon, I will post a breakdown of my luggage / kit, the bike set up, what’s working what’s a concern. It should be a little more than half way and a good time to evaluate.
Quick overview of 3Step
Saturday, August 14
Nuts & Bolts: I leave the 3 Step Hideaway and ride through dinosaur land to Green River, Utah
Total Miles: 6453.8
Weather: 69-104 F. Hot, sunny, bright and dry. Temps rise as elevation wanes. Baking heat. Light breeze. Very little shade.
Trail Conditions: Dry, dusty roads with intermittent gravel, thicker in places, but generally open dirt road. What gravel there is tends to be rounded and makes for a little wheel travel. Patches and some sections of sand. Hard, slick-rock like sections with exposed stone with some heavily stratified and metamorphic rock. Tricky as it is unyielding and can divert the front tire.
Stops: Milts in Moab for a bison burger & coffee/caramel shake.
Lodging: Shady Acres Campground in Green River, Utah
Observations: The ride into Moab morphed from a straight line, dusty gravel & hard pack to winding and hilly ride trough a tall and at times, burned out pine forest. The riding was pleasure paced and included plenty of tight turns, shallow, long-sighted turns and lots of dips and rises. Just fun.
The aromas and fragrances of the desert blooms mixed with a scent of burnt cedar, something perhaps missed in the automobile experience. Sometimes the nose encounters the rank and rotten, but today was like a stroll through nature’s outdoor mall.
Julie from the 3 Step recommended Milt’s in Moab as a must, so I did. Milt’s dates back a fair stretch and you can get that feel. It’s a walk up & order burger, fries & shake place with a shady selection of picnic tables to the side. They provide cups and coolers of water, but it’s hard to say if that’s normal or COVID. Didn’t matter, the bison burger & shake were excellent. I’d by lying if I said I didn’t have any of he potato wedges, but there were too many for me to finish.
The ride out of Moab and into Green River could be describes as an other world experience. The rising red monoliths, segmented layering, red wrinkled and rounded mauve landscape of Moab would suite the backdrop of any dinosaur flick. I half expected a T-Rex to lunge out or a tetradactyl to swoop down a snatch my helmet. Hopefully the GoPro caught some images to go with some stills…. maybe even a surprise.
The approach to Green River presents a new pallet of colors and shapes. Some of the crumbling mountains expose sheer cliffs, flat tops, alternating layers of creams, pinks and grays. Others are dome shaped or cone shaped covered a layer of powdery green earth. Mars comes to mind. Or some other planet at least.
The west can change one’s perspective. The sense of scale changes in such dramatic form it can alter your sense of significance. It does me anyhow. I like it. Anyway…..
Heat sapped and trail tired, I fell asleep fast and woke up early. As a matter of fact, I misread my watch and popped up at 4:00 a.m., so I am making the best of it and hitting the trail a little early.
We ride on,
Looking forward to the synopsis! Enjoy and keep up the great ride report.
Sit Rep: Slayed Black Dragon Canyon and flew through Eagle Canyon. Lots of steep climbing after. Most challenging day of riding yet. My body is wrecked.
RR to follow.
The large KTM fuel tank is also good at catching dripping sweat.
More challenging than the passes in Colorado?
Monday, August 16
Days: 38 & 39
Nuts & Bolts: I ride from Green River (w/o killing anyone) through Black Dragon & Eagle Canyon, over a few 10,000 foot passes to Salina, Utah. The following day I depart Salina early and ride a long, full day to Lund, Nevada through wide open desert & over several passes around 7-8000 feet. I experienced my first wipe out & Wild Horses.
Miles: 159.9 / 352.6
Total Miles: 6986
MPG: 58.1 / 55
Weather: 68F - 96F. Sunny with a smokey haze. Hot & dry in lower elevations, down to low 80’s at elevation with a light passing shower. Some fuller clouds late. Cooler in the evening hours. Nice day for riding.
Trail Conditions: Dry, dusty. Ran the entire gambit of broken asphalt roads, hard pack, loose soil, lots of sand. Bull dust. Jeep track with hard & loose soil. Lots of loose stone, large gravel 4-6 inches in spots. Ledge, slick-rock, stone steps, rough bedrock. Technically demanding. Some Jeeps & pick-ups. No other motorcycles.
Stops: El Mexicano in Salina for a deluxe burrito. None second day - I ate dried berries & seeds, water.
Breakfast at Lanes Coffee Shop in Lund. Bacon & eggs with a sidearm.
Lodging: Econo Lodge (terrible) in Salina, Lanes Motel in Lund, Nevada (everything I expected).
Observations: Most intense back to back days of riding so far. Canyons, climbs & wild horses.
The ride out of Green River took me first to Black Dragon Canyon. A bridge along the way belonging to one of the adjacent hunting ranches had been damaged by fire and the re-route had me approach from the south. I’m glad though as I encountered some crazy rock formations.
I’m not sure what they are called, but obviously denser material in the shape of clouds becomes exposed by erosion of the softer surrounding soils. The effect is visually stunning.
Black Dragon Canyon presented a number of challenges. First, it’s a wash so there are plenty of spots with deep, soft, fine gravel. Hard stone sections, ledges, steps and some hard pack as well. The sides of the canyon rise more than 300 feet in some spots. I know cause I got the drone up. Looking forward to reviewing those shots.
Black Dragon Canyon
I only saw two other explorers in Black Dragon Canyon, a couple in a Razor who had turned around because it was too rough. It was pretty rough, but beautiful.
Eagle Canyon was equally challenging from a technical standpoint and also visually impressive, just not so narrow and tight as the Dragon. The colors are different too, more blonde than red & black. Between both canyons I think I rode 30-40 miles of intense obstacle course.
After the canyons, I started hauling over mountain passes - up to 11,800 feet I believe. While not so visually intimidating or death defying as parts of Engineer or Imogene, the climbing was every much as difficult, if not more so. Tight, rock infested switchbacks of dry soil snaked their way up the extreamly, steep sides on Nevada’s southern mountains. At times, doubtful thinking crept in, but to my surprise, Katy M just kep’ on climbing. Atta girl.
Lower section of a mountain pass
I have some Hero 9 footage of this, just need to review.
Hitting my 152 mile minimum and body aching, the Econo Lodge in Salina fit the bill. Usually I’m good with just about anyplace to sleep, but the staff at this particular motel were special, champions of the unenthusiastic. All I can say is to my eye, every corner that could be possible cut was taken. Glad to forget about this stop.
The ride out and over to Lund, however, no corners were cut. Riding 352 miles of Utah & Nevada range & mountain landscape is no joke. Plenty of sand trading was had, not to mention a few ponds of bull dust. Katy M kicked her ass end out many times, twisted and spun like a wild bunk horse, but we together we managed to stay upright and push through the nasty, nasty.
White stone formation
A lot of the riding second day was rather pleasant - easy, meandering fire roads and tight dual track with larger radius turns, wide enough to take in 3rd gear. Sweet times.
Crash: Had my fist wipe-out of the ride. Firstly I don’t count drops. Maybe an “off,” but this was neither. I just wiped out, plain and simple. In 3rd gear traveling about 25 mph, I got caught between the “humps” in an eroded spot and wend down low like a power slide. No damage to me or the bike. One of the Steel Core cable locks popped it’s plastic fascia, but I kept it for later repair. Ten hours of riding in and I got caught tired and sloppy. That’s it.
A couple of elk
GPS Kevin’s tracks (I have Sams also) for this leg of the journey seem to be significantly less traveled than the previous shared sections and at times difficult to follow. Generally, not bad however. One set of Jeep tracks deep with sand and middled with prairie grass & flower took me into a wide open plane where I encounter a group of wild horses at play.
As I approached, the mares - maybe 5 of them, which were spread out about 200 yards apart all at once began to gallop inward toward the stallion in the center. It had the visual effect of an umbrella closing. Then, as if by design, maybe 100 feet in front of me, the stallion led the group on a lightning fast charge directly across my path, nostrils flaring, manes blowing, kicking up a trail of dust. Stunning. I missed the shot with my GoPro, but I caught the image firmly in my mind and I’m doubtful it will ever fade.
Sun’s hand salute to Sunday
It would be easy to write a chapter or two on these last two days alone, but my body is a little broken from it and I need a day or two to recover my energy. I’ll be happy with 150 today.
We ride on,
P.S. - Andi from Lane’s Coffee Shop, my new favorite waitress. Better watch what ya order!
Andi won't take shit from anyone!