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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Ikeya-Seki, Jul 9, 2021.
Red pill. Cheers!
Would have been more entertaining if it was one of those killer hornets. And you were doing your part to take them out!
Keep living the dream, while the rest of us are mired in the nightmare that today's society has become. (damn rona)
Thursday, September 9
Nuts & Bolts: I break from Benny’s Cloville Inn as late as I can and make my way along the WABDR > IDBDR connector with the express intent of avoiding the U.S./Canada border. At the town of Tiger I leave the connector and enter the forest along Old Sullivan Lake Rd aiming for toward Upper Priest Lake and a way over to Bonners Ferry, Idaho. Road closures corral me along Harvey Creek Rd and up Fire Road 1935 yielding spectacular views before sending me down to follow the Pend Oreille River to the Washington / Idaho line. After an excellent Ruben & Space Haze, I continue to Bonners Ferry where I take at room at the Log Inn.
Total Miles: 10,157.8
Weather: 57-81F. Still smokey horizon with sun working through. Light breezes. Comfortable riding conditions in two layers. Dry.
Trail Conditions: A meandering slab ride to Tiger, WA and then traditional fire roads / county roads along Old Sullivan Rd. The ride along Harvey Creek becomes more narrow, with nearly every spur closed by gate. With elevation comes a more heavily eroded path with rugby ball and microwave oven sized rock.
Stops: Fay’s Riverbank Lounge in Old Town (just over the state line) for Ruben, soup & a brew. Can o’ tuna & root beer for dinner.
Lodging: Log Inn at Bonners Ferry
Observations: Front tire has a slow leak as it was fairly flat when I got up. It’s holding air still, 24hrs later but it obviously needs minding.
Note the archer streaking by on the 250
Not knowing exactly how much fuel was in the tank, I played the estimated mileage game for most of the day. The concern centered around potentially being turned back by fire operations or some other unknown obstacles. The estimated miles sat at 137 and my fuel gauge only indicated 118 miles of range. This elevates the decision making. As it turned out, I landed with 30 miles or so in reserve.
Two years ago I would have just done the double border crossing, but with Covid protocols, I wanted to avoid the hassle. On paper, it seemed feasible to pick my way through the forest and emerge somewhere close to Bonners Ferry. I am still convinced it’s possible, but not without skirting some gates and possible bushwhacking, neither an option.
To my delight, the route I wound up taking led me through terrain that looked relatively untraveled (at least lately) and included a number of small creeks, rock outcrops, tall pines and small meadows. The sweet smell of balsam and grass generated a soothing effect with bright rays of sun finding the forest floor in swaths. A great headspace.
At one point the trail began to climb steadily and became pocked large rocks with deep grooves of erosion, but spaced enough to pick a line through. The crest of the climb opens up to a fantastic mountain top view with pine treed & grass slopes below. A great spot to pitch a tent sheltered by trees sat just off trail. One of these nights I’m going to stop early and camp.
Keeping up with the times and still years behind
Once out of the woods I stopped at Fay’s Lounge for a bite and before long was jawing with a few local folks, one of whom knew well the ridge I’d just been on. He rides a Ninja and an older KX250, which he busts around the woods on. Eric, as it turns out, came out as I was leaving to check out my bike and offer me a token gift of Idaho hospitality, which I could have declined, but I didn’t.
From there the ride was an hour of slab to the Log Inn at Bonners Ferry, a comfortable and nicely appointed lodge with spacious rooms and tile floors, a nice departure from some of the swampy carpet pits I’ve encounter. Today I’ll make my way to the start of the IDBR and see how far I can go before a closure.
Mediation pond at the Log Inn
The original plan called for a September 15 start, so I’m nearly a week ahead of myself, which for Idaho I’m cool with. It’s too soon for Nevada and California on the other hand so I may find a place to linger some, especially if there’s a river. Death Valley hit 122F yesterday, a bit too hot to handle. I’ll be able to pause at Mammoth, CA, but that still leaves baking in Nevada.
Log Inn, Bonners Ferry
I’ll play it by ear.
Sit Rep: Section 8 of IBDR (from Canada) wide open, no closures. CORRECTION: Samuel to Trestle Creek closed.
Friday, September 10
Days: 62 & 63
Nuts & Bolts: Just before 11:00 a.m. I leave the Log Inn at Bonners Ferry and follow the blacktop the 30 miles or so to the border town of Porthill before u-turning onto the gravel IDBR south. The Roman Nose routes, now open again wind up along Myrtle Creek to the lakes and then along Ruby Ridge, (yes, that Ruby Ridge), and back down to the main BDR route. From there I ride alternating gravel and blacktop to Trestle Creek road, which is closed due to fire control operations. The ride then follows route 200 along the Pend River delta into Clark Fork where I check in at the Clark Fork Lodge for two nights. Rain is finally expected.
Total Miles: 10,296.8
Weather: 57-79F. Smokey skies with visibility ranging between 5-15 miles. Sun, very little wind and dry. Great day for riding.
Trail Conditions: Wide, hard packed gravel roads with fresh 5/8 to 3/4 inch rounded gravel on top. Easy rolling with some sliding. The Roman Nose sections included moderate climbs with some erosion groves folded in. The “expert” section included steeper grades with large rocks, deep erosion folds and some loose gravel.
Stops: Three Mile Corner Cafe in Bonners Ferry for a great burger & onion rings. The Cabinet Mountain Bar & Grill II for an ale, and The Squeeze Inn for ginger lime Mahi Mahi and an IPA, both in Clark Fork. Breakfast at My Cafe for a veggie omelette.
Lodging: Clark Fork Inn - 20$ discount/night for bikers.
Observations: I liked looking at Canada, just looking. The northern panhandle of the Idaho is bush country- Anheuser Bush country, and the mentholated aroma of toasted pine and dank hops permeated the air, intensifying my sense of smell.
An opportunity to break off the main route presents at FR 633 (from the north) and climbs up a more narrow dirt track before turning south and winding up at Roman Nose Lakes. Fire control operations wrapped up, all that was going on was dead wood logging. I found this out on one of the switchbacks as a logging truck with tandem trailer rounded the corner wide. I pulled right off to a stop while he continued to roll by. Skidders and haul trucks were at work the drivers of which waved me on. Once past that, I did not see anyone else on the trial until the parking area before Roman Nose trailhead.
I stopped at the lake to snap some photos and get the drone up. The lake I stopped at was probably 8 acres or so of fairy shallow, but crystal clear water with a greenish tone of pine. Fish were jumping.
The BDR map lists FR 632 as “expert in” and probably for good reason. It’s not especially steep or twisty but it is loaded with large and jagged rock. I had no trouble with it and didn’t learn until a later study of the map that it ran right along the infamous Ruby Ridge where a lethal standoff took place three decades ago. Rough country.
Headed to Roman Nose
So far the rolling has been scenic, but also mellow. I’m happy with that at this point. My body needs a quick time out. Having reviewed my travel plans with a Forest Ranger earlier who indicated that my route looked open, I was a little surprised to find Trestle Ridge closed to all but residents. Oh well, part of the ride.
Feeling beat and with the first promise of rain in the forecast I opted for a two night stay in Clark Fork at a local inn. Bill, the proprietor, cut my daily rate 20$/night for being a biker. We like that. Laundry, data management, body rest and sleep are all on order. I even bought a new t-shirt cause all my clothes stink so much I’dv’e been naked in the laundromat.
The Squeeze Inn
On the Bill the inn keepers advice I walked the four blocks into town for dinner at The Squeeze Inn. For a town of 528, who would figure such foodie menu? But it was. An eclectic beer yard decorated with artsy metal sculptures and colored lights set a cool atmosphere for the ginger lime Mahi Mahi, coconut curry soup, homemade bread and Starburst IPA. Crazy reasonable too.
Hey cool RR! Just returned from some big bike ID BDR action myself. Wow. Incredible recreation state, albeit smokey, as an ex-NH'er'ite I was incredibly drawn to all their water and trees. Solid mint, onion, corn and potato harvesting happening on section 1!! Enjoy your ride..and great camping ahead for you!!
Thanks for reading, I’m looking forward to spending a few days camping and fishing. Some much needed rain just passed through and hopefully it cools the fires (and firefighters ) some. Where from in NH?
I was born and raised on the picturesque shores of Lake Sunapee. After college i moved to nearby Croydon where I had a F800 bmw. Then, about 10 years ago I moved to Colorado. Finally upgraded to the 1250gs bmw. The riding here might not be as good as in Idaho!! Do proceed with caution and watch for large bovine creatures standing in your path- my approach: go real slow..Also the gravel will turn to like a lava rock. Lighter and more squirrely
Monday, September 13
Nuts & Bolts: After a rain day at the Clark Fork Lodge, I say good by to Bill & Shelly and proceed south on the IBDR, catch dinner and a room at Wallace before continuing onto Pierce the following day. Fire control operations dictate alternative routes both days.
Miles: 106.6 / 214.4
Total Miles: 10,617.8
MPG: 53.3 / 56.8
Weather: Day 65: 48F - 60F. Grey, cloudy skies as rain comes to a stop. Low, wet clouds/ fog with elevation. Visibility reduced to 75 feet before improving with descent. Cold, but not brutal riding. Day 66: 50-73F. Dryer, more sun, some smoke. Chilly, low slung clouds in the morning slowly give way to sun and warmer temps. A good day for riding.
Trail Conditions: Damp to wet hard pack with loose / soft spots on inside switchbacks. Potholes all water filled. Firm ground with good traction. No dust. Several hunters sharing the trail. M&M sized gravel. Both gavel & slab ‘go-arounds.’ Some dual track that was dry, easy rolling. Nothing too challenging - except for the one wrong turn I took - a steep, rocky climb.
Stops: City Limits Pub & Grill in Wallace for pork chop, potato and IPA. Main Street Bistro & Espresso in St. Maries for a grilled chicken sammy & 3 shot cafe Americano. The Timber Inn at Pierce for “an award winning burger with no goddamn frozen meat” - Rob. Elk back straps coming up next.
Lodging: Stardust Motel, Wallace. The Pioneer Inn, Pierce.
Observations: Bill & Shelly from the Clark Fork Lodge are exactly the kind of owner/operators I really enjoy doing business with. Their lodge is modest but well appointed with little touches like actual coffee & fixings, napkins, some sweets and just stuff where it should be & where needed. A nice set up with at the end of town with everything in walking distance. But beyond this, these folks are down to earth people who express a genuine interest in their guests’ experience and stay. I’ll be back.
Shelly’s pride & joy - Clark Fork Lodge
The ride out of Clark Fork was damp and cold, but still a good one. With the exceptions of some softening in corners and shoulders, the roads were firm with plenty of traction. Clark Fork to Wallace, only a 104 mile run, was not interrupted by fire control and includes 3 - 4 gradual climbs up to at least 4000 feet. While the roads were wide, easily sloped and not at all difficult, the terrain was still quite steep and although unlikely, sliding off trail would be a long, unrecoverable drop. The pines were draped in gauzy clouds, sometimes cutting visibility to 50 -75 feet.
I didn’t get to see much of Wallace, but from what I could gather, it’s a on old mining town now aimed mainly at tourism. Downtown activity buzzed with pedestrians, shops, cafe’s and cars searching for parking. Some parts of the town included vacant spaces but I got the feeling that it’s getting a second life, maybe 3rd or 4th. The Stardust, on the other hand, has seen it’s better days…. Like when I was a kid.
Section 6 of the IDBR has been the most impacted by fire control thus far. Wallace to Avery was fine with plenty of enjoyable forest riding, much of which following river. However, the entire forest between Avery and Piece (except the southern most tail) is closed off and the go-around took me 50 plus miles west to St. Marries, about another 50 to Elk River and a final 50 plus to Pierce. There’s another 50 in there somewhere too. I’d estimate a 50/50 split between slab and a pretty good, fast rolling gravel section. Lots of hunting activity.
Bill from Clark Fork had recommended The Pioneer Inn at Pierce and I took his advice. Clean, comfortable and affordable - perfect. I ran into another IBDR rider on a KTM who, after some flat tire work ended up lodging here as well. We’ve shared trail intel and both found ourselves back at the Timber Inn around dinner time. At the pub I found good conversation with some of the local folks, one of whom, Jessie, when he heard I’d never tired elk, took me out to his truck and plied me with a sample of back straps. Awesome. I’ll be excited to grill it up tonight on the trial.
Cool mornings favor late starts and today will be no exception. Lolo Motorway next.
Finally logged on and found your report. It was awesome to bump into you in Wallace at City Limits. You would have been better off staying in one of their cabins than at the Stardust. LOL!! Safe travels!!
Sit Rep: Rode as much of the Lolo Motorway as allowable - plus and extra 40 miles of awesomeness. Staged in Darby for Mcgruder Corridor tomorrow.
RR to follow.
Inspiring! The lolo highway has been on my list since reading Undaunted Courage by Ambrose.
Wednesday, September 15
Days: 67 & 68
Nuts & Bolts: Midmorning departure includes gas, a power wash, air in the front tire and water before I attempt to ride as far as possible on the Lolo Motorway before being turned back by fire control operations. I make it nearly 50 miles before I backtrack 20 and then find a new, amazing 40 mile route out to highway 12. Less than 100 miles but a full day of off-road nonetheless and with a pound & a quarter of elk back strips thawing in my chill box, I make camp early at Knife’s Edge Campground. Two Hazy Little Things helped the elk slow thaw and were still chilled when I broke them out for dinner. The following morning I break camp and ride to Lolo for a burger and then Darby for a bed.
Miles: 94.3 / 179.4
Total Miles: 10,892.3
MPG: 51.5 / 57.2
Weather: 57-74F. Cooler start with mainly cloudy skies turns warmer and more sunny as the day goes on. Low to now wind. Visibility 50 miles. A perfect day for riding, especially in Idaho.
Trail Conditions: Beautifully groomed fire roads (500 - Lolo) and then some more challenging and more twisty sections, somewhat similar to Roman Nose area. Firm hard pack and gravel as usual but also some large rock, deeper erosion, longer & steeper climbs, and mountainous water bars and a 50 inch two track.
Stops: Knife’s Edge Campground for Pan seared elk tenderloin with olive oil, sea salt & black pepper, sautéed red onion with chili and garlic pan mashed potato. Hayloft Saloon in Lolo, Montana for a burger.
Lodging: Knife’s Edge Campground, Travelers Rest, Darby Montana
Observations: Hella ride & views. While in town, Jessy, a hunter from Pierce overheard me saying I’d never tired elk and before I knew it, we were standing at the back of his pickup truck, him poking through his cooler, me accepting a package of back straps. Life in America is good.
In the morning I gassed up, put some air in the front tire, went to the car wash and shoved off in the direction of the Lolo Motorway. About 50 miles in (from the north) I came upon a sign saying road closed 18 miles ahead. Damn - not enough information. Is it closed with no option? I knew there were drops down to Route 12, but unsure if I could catch one or not, so I went on.
After continuing at least 16 miles I came upon a group of elk hunters, ironically. Just as surprised to see me as I them, they assured me the road was closed to fire control operations and there was no way down to route 12 ahead. I’d have to backtrack well beyond the “closed ahead” sign. Oh well, at least I was riding the IDBDR right? They also said as long as I hit left turns, I should find the 12. So I did.
Finding a trail out that was by far more technically challenging than what I’d seen so far, I followed it out. It included many fantastic views, several climbs and descents, a variety of trail conditions (even some mud) and finished with a 7 mile 50 inch trail with huge water bars. All in all it added nearly 40 miles of choice off-road. Nice.
I hit the 12 after 4 pm and with dreams of elk in my head, I stopped at the first riverside campground - Knife’s Edge. I had the campground to myself and took my time setting up, scoping out the river and preparing dinner. I thought about bears and did my best to keep my area clean after cooking. The signs said to put game that is not in a bear proof container at least a half mile from camp. I put all of the elk in my belly.
Reasonably warm all night, temps dipped into low 50’s by dawn and a fresh brew of coffee did much to brace agains the chill. Everything was dry and packed up easy and fast.
Getting back on the Motorway would mean riding all the way to Lolo and then riding south for a while and then backtracking - an option I wasn’t interested in, so I just pressed onward along the 12. I’d missed an alternate route and despite fuel range questions, I turned back for it and was glad I did. The last section was twisty, wooded, some climbs, views and great riding.
I’m in Darby now at the Travelers Rest packing away some vittles for the Magruder Corridor, which I believe is fully open.
We ride on,
YEP Those are the kind of roads I wanna ride.
You will love it!
Lolo motorway was built during the depression by the CCC. It somewhat loosely tracks the route of Lewis and Clark through the mountains. I NEED to do that route!
Sit Rep: Dead bike. I suspect side stand switch as I am getting a “side stand” warning even when in neutral. I have a spare switch, but: 1) it’s a bitch to get at and 2) I’m not even sure it’s the issue.
I’m in Elk City. No phone service, but some WiFi.
Could be worse.
Sit Rep: not the side stand switch.
Sit Rep: RR will have to wait some until I do some more riding! I will report on the Magruder ride once Katy M gets her dance shoes back on.
Here’s what’s going on: After the Magruder Corridor I rolled in to Elk City and pitched a tent at Travelers’ Rest and made some tasty chicken tacos. The next morning I turned Katy M over and she would not catch. I suspected that perhaps I’d damaged the side stand switch as I did not recall the yellow warning light coming on when the bike was in neutral - I could be wrong - but in the moment I was not sure so having a spare with me, I opted to put it on.
Harold does drive his quad on the backroads.
The job was not overly difficult but did involve some tight work so the battery & tank came off. It did not resolve the issue. Battery voltage is good and even with a shot of ether in the air box, nothing. Not a pop.
Good time to scrape some cheddar off
BMW guys really love to watch KTM guys work on their bikes…… talk about rubbing it in!
Well, there’s not much KTM technical expertise to be found in Elk City and the nearest & most practical KTM big bike repair shop for us is 283 miles from Elk City. So, being the generous, kind hearted (despite his cantankerous front) and reasonable thinker, my new friend Harold offered to tow Katy M behind his Jeep Rubicon to Nampa, Idaho on one condition: I drive. Harold has difficulty with his vision and does not drive. How could I say no?
Secret man cave miles & miles into the woods.
We loaded up the Jeep and began our journey south when not 15 miles in we encountered the notorious Jeep “death wobble.” We got into it another 3-5 times before stopping at a Les Schwab shop to get it looked at. Beyond a blown stabilizer shock they could find nothing wrong so onward we drove, albeit with concentrated driving. We arrived at Harold’s friend Sharron’s home where dinner and beer were waiting. We capped the night with cigars and a outdoor fire pit. Not bad.
If you’re gonna fall, fall on you feet, eh?
As of this moment, Katy M is in the shop - hoping to get away with a valve adjustment or plug and not something ECU or an unobtanium part. Either way, it will be fixed at some point. In the meantime Harold is chasing down a steering stabilizer shock replacement and an oil change. With any luck we will be on the return tomorrow and I will be able to finish up the IDBDR and onto the NVBDR before my next respite at Mammouth Lakes.
A great way to end a bad day. I love our country & it’s people.
With a little luck, we ride on.