BT2011: 15 Days of Ridin' through CA, NV, UT and CO with dirt and weather

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by surferbum, Jun 1, 2011.

  1. surferbum

    surferbum Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
    840
    Location:
    Relocated to Scottsdale, AZ from SF Bay area
    See THIS thread for the trip's prep work.

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    The trip lasted for 15 days and covered 3000 miles with 550 miles of dirt/gravel, 2200 miles of 2-lane and 250 of I-70.

    The start and end point was the SF Bay area. The first two days were used to get to Utah. Day 1 was fun roads with twisty's for 40 miles near the day's end approaching Kernville. Here's the route.

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    Day 2 was very bizarre weather. The route was from Ridgecrest, CA to Caliente, NV. The day started out into Death Valley. The previous day was very windy and this day was even windier with constant 30 MPH gusting to 50 MPH.

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    During the ride through DV I was hit by a sandstorm which ended after about 30 miles. As I approached Tonopah, NV, the temperature dropped to 34* and it started to snow. 5 miles past Tonopah a sign said next gas was 170 miles so I returned and filled up. The wind was now into my face and MPG dropped to 30. The gas gauge said empty so I was deciding whether to use my spare 2 gallons when I noticed someone watching me.

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    I punched the Garmin searching the nearest gas. It was 15 miles away in Alamo so I decided to keep going and made it. My conclusion is that any Nevada town which doesn't have an interstate going through it is brain-dead and on life support. Tonopah and Caliente have 4 out of 5 businesses closed and empty. Too bad. :cry:cry:cry:cry

    The next day I used some inmates suggestions such as going to Toroweap Falls on the North rim of the Grand Canyon.

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    90 miles of rutted dirt/gravel going in from St. George, UT and 60 miles of gravel exiting near Fredonia, UT. The route is shown here on Google maps.

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    The road was rutted badly for 40 miles by some 4x4 which was determined to make it on the (then) muddied road. A couple of panoramic shots of looking over the country and one of the Grand Canyon. A couple of the old school house and remote area ranger building.

    Here's some signs used to warn (scare) people.

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    The next day took me from the Toroweap Falls to the Pink Coral Sand Dunes State Park. During my trip I camped out in Utah state parks, national parks and Forest service campgrounds. The Utah state parks are by far the best of the three with water, picnic tables, hot showers and good campsites. A panoramic view of the dunes is below:

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    This park is a haven for sand dune riding on 4-wheel and 2-wheel vehicles. These parks have a strict quiet time so I got a good sleep. Here's a photo I took while talking to some riders.

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    The next day was a short ride to Zion NP. It began raining midway through the drive and I became acquainted with the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel and its one-way traffic. Basically large vehicles must drive down the middle of the road through this tunnel. The traffic from the other direction is held up soooo I sat for 20 minutes in a downpour on my turned off bike while I waited. Once at my campsite in the Watchman campground, I luckily got help from a neighbor to quickly pitch my tent in the rain (which continued for a few more hours).

    My plan the next day was to do a narrow canyon run. I was going to drive to the White House and leave my bike; Hire a taxi ride from a local to the Wire Pass Trailhead. Here's a writeup on the hike. Well ... I was told it would take 12 hours for the hike and 2 hours to get from Zion to the White House AND 30 minutes for the taxi. All-in-all I would be getting up at 5:30AM and getting back at 11PM. Was up for it but then I was told I would need a dry-suit because most likely there would be swimming a portion with water temp of 40*. Well I decided to abandon this hike. Instead I went to Zion Adventure (where I was going to rent the drysuit) and asked what they had going. They told me about canyoneering and I signed up for the 1/2 day lesson which entailed going down 50 foot cliff faces and narrow vertical slot traversing.

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    Here are some pics:

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    That afternoon I hiked up to Angels Landing in the rain :bluduh but got some exercise and pics:

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    Day 7 was a quick hop up to Bryce Canyon area and staying at the Kodachrome State Park campsite. Originally I was going to go via a neat forest service road to Cedar Breaks NM. A call the day before confirmed my fears. The roads had snow on them and not open. I had to drive through snow anyway with accumulated amounts of 6" for 5 miles. I attempted to stay in truck-carved snow ruts while keeping the rubber side down. Crossed some high passes that day and by the time I arrived at Bryce for a quick drive through, I was cold even with heated vest & grips.

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    Made camp at Kodachrome where the weather had warmed up a bit. All during the trip my JetBoil worked flawlessly. Starbuck Via instant coffee in the morning. A gourmet occasional evening meal and delicious oatmeal in the morning. The one inconsistent item was making certain I had a cold beer to cap off the day. Hiked the next morning in Bryce.

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    In the afternoon, I hit the dirt/rock road to the Grosvenor Arch. The overall ride was round trip around 25 miles but it went up/down three rocky, curvy road. The ride made the arch viewing worth it.

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    The next day I rode to Singletree campground in the National Forest. This route takes you close to 10,000 ft. with the campsite at 8,200 ft. My site had a stream running 10 ft. away from my tent. It was perfect for keeping my Busch big can at right around 45*.

    Who could forget about Dan and his Hummer-rescue vehicle (10,000 lbs of 4-wheeling brawn and luxury) plus the cold beer tasted just right.

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    I picked this campground because it close proximity to Cathedral Valley.

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    I went to the Capitol Reef National Park visitor center and talked to a woman who told me that the Cathedral Valley 60 mile loop was impassible currently. She said that they tried both entry points from UT 24 and turned around after a couple of miles.

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    Please find below the secret map document. :huh

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    I went down and looked at the river crossing entry but the afternoon sky was dark so I didn't cross. Went to the other entry/exit point 7 miles down the highway and rode a few miles down the dirt road. Decided to eat and go to my camp, saving the loop for the next day after some more scouting.

    Got up early and headed to the local county visitor center and coffee.

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    The guy behind the counter said that it would be no problem for me with my GS to make the Cathedral Valley loop so went next door to Subway and got my lunch for the trip. I started at the river ford entry point. The secret is to stay to the right going down stream and after 30 yards make a left. The water was right around 16" deep through the majority of the river but thankfully no drops. I have video which will follow from my GoPro.

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    From the pictures above, you can see the weather was very volatile. I got rained on; got hailed on and lighting was hitting around me three separate storm clouds. I was doing 50 MPH over the open valley floor spots in order to hide near a mountain rock feature. The road was quite rocky in the hills and became mud slick in parts of the the valley. Many washes had water flowing but nothing dangerous.

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    Here's some panoramic shots.

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    Here's some clips of the road immediately following a rainstorm. Note the hail on the ground around the 45 seconds mark.

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    I drove over to Pagosa Springs to visit some friends. The Utah 95 (aka Bicentennial Highway) is a fun route which goes through Glen Canyon. Funky Hite Crossing Bridge shows up at the 3:40 minutes mark.

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    The weather was all over the map from sunny to dark clouds with rain. Stayed overnight and enjoyed a good set of meals, hot shower and a real bed (for the 1st time in 8 nights). The next day I rode up the Million Dollar Highway from Pagosa Springs to Montrose, CO. The weather was very severe the previous day on the highway with blowing snow. The passes are nearly 11,000 ft. Thanks goodness that the snow was gone but the temps were still cold and had my concerns for black ice.

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    I wanted to do more dirt so I arranged with Elite Motorcycle Tours for such a ride from Montrose to Moab. The overall trip was 209 miles with the significant portion on 2-track dirt going over three mountain ranges at over 9000 ft. My first guide from Montrose to Gateway was Darren Paterson and Dale Parriott took me from Gateway into Moab.

    The ride was fantastic with the challenges and mountain areas were traversed. I was riding my fully-laden R1200GS (approaching 850 lbs incl. rider) and they were riding Honda XR600 or 650's (maybe 520 lbs). They were expert riders with Dale winning Hare & Hound titles.

    Here's a Google map link for our route below:

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    This was the most challenging dirt riding I have done. Darren took me on Green routes (similar to skiing with Green, Blue, Black, Double-black and Red designations). Reds and double-blacks are single-tracks next to a cliff edge. The ride took the entire day with the most intensity being in the AM as it should be. I fell many times and would wait for Darren to realize I wasn't still following him and double-back to help me lift the bike. I knew if I would be lifting the bike every time I fell I would be exhausted.

    • One steep, rocky hill I made it 1/2 up before driving into a bush.
    • Darren came back and we extracted the bike. He asked if I wanted to continue up the hill and off I went.
    • And into another bush 3/4 way up. Hell yes I want to do it again (but am getting tired).
    • Execute K-turn and start at the bottom of the hill now.
    • Almost make it but near the crest, into another bush.
    • This time I let Darren take it to the top.
    He said that my technique was at fault and should be using the clutch (rather then the throttle) when I feel lack of steering. He told me that I was doing wheelies. See the pics below and note the bear (maybe cougar-not the 35+ year old female) tracks we saw. Darren cautioned me about tire inflation (especially the front) with the many sharp rock clutters we encountered. I ran 30/30psi for front/back.

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    I also fell over in a mud-hole and got intimate with 5 bulbs of a cactus into the inside of my leg. But it always was fun.

    Dale road with me into Moab where I ate then passed out.

    Made an executive decision and headed from home the next day. I was over saturated with natural arches plus Arches NP was teeming with people. My planned White Rim ride was now relegated to be an out-and-back because high water had caused portions of the road to be closed. My original plan was to get back in 3 days at 1000 miles. I decided to make it in two days (550 miles in the first day) and pick a route which would only be a little of 900 miles total.

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    The route went over Senora Pass on Hwy 108 (Hwy 120 through Yosemite was still closed for the winter). Senora pass is at 9600 feet and had 8 feet of snow on either side. It was a chilly 33* at the summit with some wind. I didn't feel too bad because I passed 2 bicyclists riding, standing up on their pedals near the summit where the road has a slope of 26 degrees. I just put it in first gear and hit the gas.

    I camped for 8 of the days with the remainder staying in motels.

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    Always tried to eat one substantial meal per day in a restaurant and found some very good ones with the help of TripAdvisor, etc: Handlebars Restaurant & Saloon Silverton CO, Rocking V Cafe, Kanab Utah, Slackers Burger Joint Torrey, Utah; Spurs Grill, Kanab Utah; Whiptail Grill Springdale Utah; Cafe Diablo Torrey UT

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    Some excellent ones which don't have a photo are El Jimador Restaurant Montrose, CO and Pasta Jay's Moab UT.
    #1
    CoatsEast likes this.
  2. Signal

    Signal it's such a fine line between stupid and clever

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
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    11,455
    Location:
    Utah
    Nice. :evil

    Slacker's Burgers has always been solid. Whiptail, the waitress calls you "hun."
    #2
  3. surferbum

    surferbum Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
    840
    Location:
    Relocated to Scottsdale, AZ from SF Bay area
    Added some more. More to come.
    #3
  4. surferbum

    surferbum Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
    840
    Location:
    Relocated to Scottsdale, AZ from SF Bay area

    Added some Youtube video.
    #4
  5. surferbum

    surferbum Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
    840
    Location:
    Relocated to Scottsdale, AZ from SF Bay area
    Added some more plus music to some.
    #5
  6. surferbum

    surferbum Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
    840
    Location:
    Relocated to Scottsdale, AZ from SF Bay area
    Done with the 1st pass. Hope you enjoy it.
    #6
  7. Whitey Jr

    Whitey Jr Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    151
    Location:
    Strathcona County, Alberta
    Looking good Surferbum! I've been wanting to run the Million Dollar Highway for a few years now. That Canyoneering looked like a blast. Thanks for sharing!

    -Whitey Jr
    #7
  8. surferbum

    surferbum Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
    840
    Location:
    Relocated to Scottsdale, AZ from SF Bay area
    Some people have asked so here's a list of what camera/SW I used:

    1. GoPro Hero HD w/ LCD BacPac (2 batteries, 3 32GB SDHC cards). Recharged on my bike via USB. Handlebar mount and chest-strap.
    2. Canon PowerShot S95 10MP camera (8GB SDHC Memory Card). Need to find a wall socket to recharge this camera.
    3. MAGIX Movie Edit Pro 17 HD V10.0.0.1 for video edit
    4. Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 V9.0.3 for still images
    5. iPhone 4 for occasional stills
    #8
  9. Bob

    Bob Formerly H20Pumper Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2002
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    3,493
    Location:
    Corral de Tierra CA, Ketchum ID
    Nice report thanks.
    #9
  10. surferbum

    surferbum Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
    840
    Location:
    Relocated to Scottsdale, AZ from SF Bay area
    Thanks Bob. Darren from Elite Moto Tours sent me some photos he took and I have added them near the bottom of my trip report post.
    #10
  11. lookatdirt

    lookatdirt Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2009
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    Arizona desert
    When did you make this trip? I'm assuming late May?
    #11
  12. surferbum

    surferbum Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
    840
    Location:
    Relocated to Scottsdale, AZ from SF Bay area
    Yes, the trip was the second half of May.
    #12
  13. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    24,879
    Location:
    Burbank CA
    very nice RR matt.

    hope i can do this route this year.
    #13