Colorado BDR (Fargo, ND to Mesa, AZ) - 7 Part Series

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by everson65, Apr 14, 2020.

  1. everson65

    everson65 Intrepidnation

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    Inmates please be forewarned...this is my first attempt at posting a Ride Report detailing one of my trips. I have taken a couple of long distance rides, including one from Colorado to Argentina, but in the past I have never posted them for public viewing pleasure. That being said...have mercy on me:)

    First a bit of context.

    The first two days of riding were just to get to the start of the Colorado BDR (going from North to South) so if all you care to read is about the BDR then it is best to just skip to Day Three of this Ride Report. For those looking for the Clif Notes version I crossed the Colorado BDR in 5 days, but really only 4 of it was off road with the 5th day being on the black top of Section 1 on the Butler Map. If you are a good rider and wanted to push it I think the entire Colorado route could be handled in 3.5-4 days, but it is best to take in the sights and pleasures that the trail has to offer!

    I rode this trip solo on my 2017 KTM Adventure 1090 from Fargo, ND to Durango, CO. From there I picked up my wife at the airport and we continued 2-up to Mesa, AZ where I left the motorcycle at my parent's house for the winter. I plan to head back in May 2020 to ride the return trip to Fargo, most likely by utilizing the AZ and UT Backcountry Discovery Routes.

    Day 1 Fargo, ND-Nemo, SD 502 miles

    A year of planning, day dreaming and preparing the bike finally fell into place today. So far my relief of actually getting to do the trip are fat outpaced by the stresses that the trip has induced… namely, leaving with my business partner so close to her due date with her second kid and my right hand man threatening resignation, as well as the guilt of leaving the wife and kids behind for so long in search of solitary adventure. The kids are definitely the harder of the two to leave behind at the moment simply because their young age doesn’t allow them to grasp where I am and that it is only short term. Their brains still behave like that of a dog in that you can leave the house for an hour to run errands and upon your return both the kids and dog coming running and leap into your arms… a true hero’s return.

    The first day’s ride was one that I have been dreading for a long time. 500 miles and 7.5 hours in the saddle are too much for my boney ass. The usual 75 mph on-bike calisthenics session ensued throughout the day and only picked up intensity as I neared my destination in the Black Hills.

    It was an interesting time passing through South Central ND and North Central SD. I have never travelled those roads and I was looking forward to seeing the storied but historically maligned Standing Rock Indian Reservation. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by that section of road. The tarmac was pristine and more importantly the mind numbing stretch from Fargo to Bismarck gave way to hills, buttes, scenery and what’s this? Actual curves in the road!!! At least along the portion that I travelled I didn’t pass through any Indian villages with the sad abject poverty and car-filled-unmowed lawns as I am used to seeing in other reservations closer to my hometown. From what I have heard I know that it exists on Standing Rock, I just didn’t see it for myself.

    The site of the Black Hills was a welcome relief, and as far as my butt and knees are concerned I mean that in the most literal sense! A quick stop in the motorcycle mecca of Sturgis for fuel and FaceTime before the final 20 minute push to a dear friend's house high up in the hills 4 miles North of Nemo.

    IMG_0472.jpg They do things a little bit differently up in the Black Hills. Guns and fierce independence sprinkled with some granola folk from the Left Coast thrown in just to add to the comedic relief!

    To be perfectly honest I was dreading the FaceTime a bit because as soon as my 3-year old gets on the phone comes the inevitable question “Dad where are you?” “Hey buddy! Dad is out riding motorcycle for the next 10 days…without you.” Saying this felt nearly as sinful as having to break the news to your wife of an illicit affair, so instead I took the cowards way out and made sure that the camera wasn’t pointed at either the bike nor any of the motorcycle gear and simply answered, “I’m on my way to visit friends, I’ll be home soon.” Probably leaving my poor wife to gently unpeel the real purpose of my trip in a later conversation. In my pitiful defense however I wasn’t necessarily lying when I made it sound short term because as we have already established kids don’t have the same technical grasp of time lapse, you’re either home or you’re not.

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    Fresh rubber mounted once I reached the Black Hills.

    The highlight of my day was spending all evening re-connecting with my oldest friend Rick and his dad Rodney. Their beautiful home on 10 acres of verdant green was the perfect backdrop for hours of conversation highlighted by the fact that not one of us had a drop of alcohol. After Ricky’s 6th D.U.I. he has cleaned up his act, temporarily at least, and hasn’t touched alcohol in 3 years. I know he is looking forward to drinking beer again once his probation is up in January but it was readily apparent to me how much better of a person he has become. I think it is a combination of factors: the passing of his mom last year, three years of sobriety, a peaceful life style in the Black Hills and finding his passion in woodwork. Regardless, he is a changed person. The hatred of everything/everyone highlighted by the F bomb punctuating every third word were both absent. The next morning I made it a point to tell him that I was really proud of him. I don’t know the last time that anyone has ever said that to him, but I genuinely meant it. I have become more convinced that as a man and father it is ok and even important that we say those words to our kids and to other men. We don’t hear that enough…
    IMG_0491.jpg This is the guy that got me into riding motorcycles and quads when I was but 4 years old!
    #1
  2. kirk824

    kirk824 Been here awhile

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    In! Great write up so far, we need more!
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  3. everson65

    everson65 Intrepidnation

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    The best is yet to come:) I will add the remaining posts every couple of days.
    #3
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  4. minisoda

    minisoda Been here awhile

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    This is gonna be good and I love your writing style.... coming from Minneapolis, gives me inspiration and route planning ideas!

    Also: pics or it didn’t happen!
    #4
  5. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Fantastic intro @everson65, I'm definitely in for this report and look forward to following along as you make your way to start the COBDR and the BDR itself. Great planning too; ride the BDR and then get some fun 2-up time to AZ for winter storage, then take the jaunt north with hitting the BDRs in AZ and UT...brilliant.

    Great sentiment about your friend and good on you for telling him you're proud. That's something we likely don't hear enough of.

    Looking forward to the next update :thumb
    #5
  6. Rips Millar

    Rips Millar capt. mediocre

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    in.
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  7. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

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    In
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  8. NCJ

    NCJ Long timer

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    :lurk
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  9. everson65

    everson65 Intrepidnation

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    Colorado BDR (Part 2 Fargo, ND to Mesa, AZ)

    Here is part 2. If there is a better way to post these threads to make them more of a "series" that are easier to follow along with then I am open to suggestions.


    Day 2 Nemo, SD – Hills outside of Encampment, WY – 422 mi

    After another 7.5 hour day of ass torture I found the perfect little bush camp in the hills a couple of miles outside of Encampment, WY, population 450 hardy souls.

    IMG_0506.jpg
    Great spot for a bush camp.

    The ground was far from flat and set amongst the sage brush just 50 yards from a wooded creek gulley. I chose this hillside specifically because it was eastern facing and I needed the warmth of the early morning sun as the lows were forecast to dip to around 30 degrees overnight. I chopped up several small logs and quickly had my fire burning shortly after sunset. My freeze dried lasagna MRE (meal ready to eat) was surprisingly tasty and after 1.5 beers I promptly passed out in my chair next to the fire. A small price to pay for this journey no doubt.

    IMG_0510.jpg
    Sinister Beer from Laughing Sun Brewery, Bismarck, ND. Not only delicious and easy to drink, but at 9% ABV a couple of beers is all you need! Sinister indeed.

    IMG_0516.jpg First light from inside the tent. Hello you big, beautiful WY sky!

    Man is made to travel. To explore. To seek adventure. It is such a sad thing when you meet the timid soul too afraid to step out of their comfort zone for fear of the unknown. I feel a strong sense of responsibility as a parent to instill upon my kids a spirit of adventure. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to travel often, though I think it would be better if they did, but rather that they aren’t afraid to peek around corners, talk to strangers with genuine curiosity, randomly stepping off the subway for a walkabout, and seek out the unknown in general. I am very much looking forward to the day when our kids are old enough and capable enough that we can create epic and unique adventures together God willing. That being said, I am perfectly content with them staying little and innocent for as long as possible.

    IMG_0492.jpg
    Lakeside lunch in Glendo, WY

    I was a bit disappointed today in my route planning. I was anticipating a lot of offroad but ended up with only about 120 miles worth…and of that 85 was uninspired. At any rate, I did enjoy the Black Hills at the start of the day, a beautiful lakeside lunch in Glendo, WY and a nice climb into the mountains with a brief stop at Laramie Peak trailhead. Apparently Laramie Peak was the first mountain that the settlers could see on their travel west towards a better life. Their pace of 15 miles/day without maps/internet/restaurants and through Indian territory was true adventure. Here in 2019 we desperately search for that same innate calling, but we have to cram it between our work schedule as quickly as possible and then catch a flight home. How sad…

    Attached Files:

    #9
  10. everson65

    everson65 Intrepidnation

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    Colorado BDR (Part 3 Fargo, ND to Mesa, AZ)

    Day 3 Encampment, WY – Gore Pass, CO via Steamboat – 209 miles

    I finally reached the beginning portion of the CO BDR this morning and as I tend to do I turned a simple one hour ride into about 2.5 hours. The lowlight for the blooper reel was me managing to dump my bike and roll myself down the hill about 10 yards from where I had just packed up camp! Short legs, a tall saddle height and a stubborn clump of sage brush were just enough to throw me off balance. At least there was nobody around to laugh at me or worse yet capture the whole scene on GoPro!

    Before picking up Route 70 I spotted a small trail through the trees posted as “Trailhead – 2 miles – 4 wheel drive strongly recommended.” As such I felt that my 1-wheel drive was equal to the task. I was fairly certain that it was a dead end but wanted to explore the possibility of it connecting through so I could get off the forest road. 15 minutes or so later my hunch was proven true as the path dead ended. I will say that this was, by far, the most technical and challenging of my 1100 miles so far and was a good warm up for what I expect to get into further on. Rocks, mud, numerous water crossings and ruts led to a hell of a lot of fun… and my second spill within the course of an hour.

    IMG_0528.jpg
    Trailhead

    Half an hour later, I found the start of the BDR. It runs west to east along the WY-CO border alongside a story book perfect valley dotted with quaint little ranches, green pastures and a slow moving creek. Quaint little ranches that is until the road passes through gates marked “3 Forks Ranch.” After riding for a couple of miles I came upon THE RANCH. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the grounds surrounding one of the largest houses I have ever seen “Ranch my ass” I thought to myself out loud. I don’t know of my ranchers with the money, desire or flamboyancy to drop what I have to guess is $75+ million on living quarters. Several more miles down the road was the rest of the compound with several more multi million dollar barns, shops and houses. It was quite the sight!

    IMG_0533.jpg
    The main "Shack". They really know how to slum it at the 3 Forks Ranch!

    Two hours of easy riding later and I was in Steamboat Springs tired, sore, hungry and low on fuel. As I stopped to top off with 91 octane the guy at the next pump over comes by and chats because he spotted my plates and he is originally from Jamestown, ND just 100 short miles from where I live. Small world. Not 30 seconds after I get done talking to him, I hear someone holler, not once, but twice. I finally look up and J. Berg is driving by on the street and somehow spotted me. What the hell are the odds of seeing my old college roommate in Steamboat?!? He was on his way from Fort Collins up to Columbine elk hunting with his father-in-law and just happened to be driving through Steamboat at the same time as me. Now that is some next level small world stuff!

    Steamboat was so full of energy that I debated bunking up in town for the night and walking around to soak it in, but quickly decided against it as the point of this trip is solitude and time in the wilderness. After a beer and delicious shrimp burrito from Taco Cabo the rig was loaded back up and ready to ride when I spotted not one but both of my front fork seals leaking oil. The bike only has 4,000 miles on it! Not cool KTM. Not cool. As it were there isn’t much to do about it on Sunday except to ride on.

    IMG_0556.jpg
    Historical cabin that you can walk around. Located on the BDR just south of Steamboat Springs.
    IMG_0568.jpg
    Gently winding roads make for easy riding. Nothing too challenging on the northern portion of the CO BDR.

    Camp on night 3 was 6-8 miles beyond Gore Pass. Even though the elevation is similar to last night, it doesn’t feel like it is going to get as cold. Fingers crossed because a can of beer exploded in my side pannier thoroughly soaking my gloves and beanie. Doh!

    IMG_0561.jpg
    With no chance of rain I decided to simply sleep in the hammock and not bother putting up the tent.


    IMG_0559.jpg
    There's just something about a fire when you are sitting all alone with your thoughts.
    #10
  11. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Fantastic couple of updates @everson65! Crazy that your an into your college roommate in Steamboat, just think of the odds of that :eekers :eekers

    Good shots of your travels, really like that you're camping along the way. It's been a couple years since I did a solo trip and though I thoroughly enjoy getting out and doing trips with the guys, there's something therapeutic about rolling solo. Reminds me of reading Call of the Wild when I was a kid.

    The weather looks like it's cooperating with you so far, I hope it stays that way - especially when you're up in elevation. And having a beer explode in your pannier is no bueno, it's ok to mourn the loss of good beer.

    Knobby side down and keep the updates coming :thumb
    #11
  12. Ol Man

    Ol Man Long timer Supporter

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  13. everson65

    everson65 Intrepidnation

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    I took this trip last September 2019 so I am not currently on the road, though the writing style might be deceiving since I am pulling it from my journal. There is something special about solo travel and I love the peaceful, almost Zen like state you can reach when the technology is turned off and you have time to think. Below is a quote that I love from a true pioneer of ADV riding. I highly recommend the book to title One Man Caravan about a young man who took a solo trip around the world on an 8 horsepower Norton motorcycle in the early 1930s!

    All of us have hopes of being poet, artist, philosopher, discoverer, scientist; of possessing the attributes of all of them simultaneously. Few are permitted to achieve any one of them in daily life. But in travel we attain them all. Then we have our day of glory, when all our dreams come true, when we can be anything we like, as long as we like, and, when we are tired of it, pull up stakes and move on. Travel - the solitude of the mountains, the emptiness of the desert, the delicacy of the minaret; external change, limitless contrast, unending variety. ~ Edward Fulton, One Man Caravan
    #13
    72 Yamaha RD350, Aces 6 and scfrank like this.
  14. everson65

    everson65 Intrepidnation

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    #14
  15. everson65

    everson65 Intrepidnation

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    I mis-spoke. The motorcycle that Edward Fulton rode wasn't a Norton but a Douglas I believe.
    #15
  16. lamastrom

    lamastrom 2 wheel addiction

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    So in on this ride report as I was hoping to do some bdr's myself this summer.
    #16
  17. everson65

    everson65 Intrepidnation

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    Which one's are on your agenda? I plan to tackle the AZ BDR starting 5/24 heading north and then do the UT BDR probably around 5/27 or 5/28. From there I need to try to plan an offroad route through Wyoming on my way back to North Dakota. If anyone has good suggestions for western Wyoming heading north bound I would love to hear them!
    #17
  18. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Yeah, I kinda figured that, but generally respond in the present tense :D And I almost always include keep the knobby side down, used to be keep the sticky side down when sport bikes and track time dominated free time, now it's more about living in the dirt :-)

    Looking forward to the next installment!
    #18
  19. scfrank

    scfrank Old farts riding club. Supporter

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    A buddy and I had the UTBDR planned in May/June. That’s on hold now. Even though we’re camping some, still need some accommodations.
    #19
  20. everson65

    everson65 Intrepidnation

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    Definitely understandable. I think by then the restrictions should generally be lifted, but even if not completely I would feel more comfortable in the remote wilderness than in the city so for now my plan remains on track unless something else shifts for the worse.
    #20