Conquest and Glory in Southern Utah

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by NotMinimalist, Jul 4, 2018.

  1. NotMinimalist

    NotMinimalist Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2015
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Idaho
    There'll be very little of two of those things, but plenty of Southern Utah.

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    We begin our journey in Michigan on a drizzly day, with my XR650L and the rest of my meager belongings stuffed in a rented van. Believe it or not, there will soon be a KLR650 stuffed in here too. I'll swing by my friends house to get him, his gear and his bike.

    I'm starting a job out west, so the natural transition into new work is to rent a van and drive 26 hours with a friend straight to Utah. Then spend a week camping off the bikes before showing up to work like nothing happened. My friend will take the van back to Michigan.

    FAQ:

    NotMinimalist, why the van? Don't you have a car? Nope, I sold my 1987 KLR650, so this 1998 XR is my only real transportation.

    NotMinimalist, why do you have a stack of old tires? Those are for when I don't feel like buying new ones. I can spoon on an old burner tire for commuting and get proper time out of it.

    NotMinimalist, can you tell us about who we'll be reading about in this report? Yes. Adam is responsible for my behavior. Not really, but he sold me his 1987 KLR650 a few years ago before taking his 1989 KLR on an awesome trip to Alaska and back and around solid chunks of the west. He comes from a road bike background, getting into the KLR as a practical long distance travel bike a while ago, digging further and further into the dirty dirt riding as he goes.
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    (above photo is Adams) His 1989 KLR is far from stock and I would argue it might be one of the best non-showy "SW-Motech-everything" KLRs out there and it actually gets ridden pretty good.

    I started out on a KLR and now I try to get myself and the XR into silly stuff and then back out.


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    #1
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  2. NotMinimalist

    NotMinimalist Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2015
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Idaho
    Day 1

    We leave from Michigan in the early afternoon, blast through Chicago, and work our way west on the I-80. Our goal is to haul tail through the Plain (and plain) states overnight and pop out of the darkness in front of the big mountains sitting just behind Denver.

    All goes as planned and we make it to Moab almost exactly 26 hours later, get some expensive food, some maps, some advice we don't follow (more on this later), some margaritas that shockingly don't hit the spot.
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    After some food, we load the bikes and look for a camp spot near the Gemini Bridges, where Adam got a recommendation to go check out.

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    Our small brains can hardly handle it.

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    The KLR is already dropping parts.
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    We sleep on the edge of a canyon after a cliff bar dinner and finally get some rest. The wind picks up big time, so I take my tent off the poles to keep it from moving so much.
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    Don't worry, non-iphone quality photos get taken for the rest of the trip.


    Car Miles: 1,560
    Real Miles: Not many
    Mental Status: Can't handle the scenery
    Margaritas: Brains and bodies didn't want them
    Visitors Center Lady: Very informative. Directions we didn't follow.
    Food: Expensive
    #2
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  3. NotMinimalist

    NotMinimalist Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2015
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Idaho
    We don't have a real goal for this trip other than to spend a week riding and camping in southern Utah. We choose Moab as a base to leave the van while we see what kind of things there are to see.

    We had zero direction out of Moab until a few days before, when a decision occurred to meet Adam's friend in Escalante on Thursday. Now we have a goal of where to be and when. If you plan too much, you just set yourself up to get frustrated.

    The Visitors Center Lady gives us a route recommendation through Green River (you have to cross the Green and the Colorado and there are only a few places to do it) and then a diagonal route southwest toward Escalante. More on that later.

    Bikes/Range
    We both have basically 6 gallons of fuel capacity, we're carrying 6 liters of water, and we've got enough food for a few days, but water is the limiting factor (oatmeal, ramen, tuna, instant rice, all need water to make and digest big time. Same with protein bars).

    Sleep Systems
    We're both in pretty lightweight backpacking tents. I'd use a bivy to avoid using tent poles, but haven't seen anything that blows my mind yet. Sleeping bags and inflatable pads. Adam is a big fan of his inflatable pillow, which I think is a little extreme.

    Cooking
    No stoves. If there isn't wood, then the foods gonna be cold. Adam might have a stove with him but I'm not really paying attention.

    Gear
    KLIM Dakar pants and jerseys because of durability, ease of use, comfort, keeping junk out of the boots, etc. Dakar jackets too, they're nice for mornings and pavement sections.

    Fanny Packs
    I'm never doing even a day trip without a fanny pack on the front (a crotchy pack?). It's a mega pocket that doesn't get in the way and all the things you misplace live in there. Headlamp, leatherman, knife, chapstick, nail clippers, toothbrush/paste, toilet paper, if I had any dignity I'd put it in there too!

    Day 1 for real coming soon
    #3
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  4. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2016
    Oddometer:
    1,071
    Backpacking mentality wins every time! Lighter is better, seriously.
    #4
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  5. smalls78

    smalls78 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2017
    Oddometer:
    233
    Location:
    NC/SC
    Nice, in for the read.
    #5
  6. NotMinimalist

    NotMinimalist Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2015
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Idaho
    You know it! The ideal setup is backpacking gear plus a tool and tire kit. Both of these bikes burn some oil so we're both carrying more of that too.
    #6
  7. NotMinimalist

    NotMinimalist Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2015
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Idaho
    Day 2

    This area is just as cool today as it was on Day 0. A quick pack-up and we head back into the zoo that is Moab to top off supplies and hit the trail for real this time. Moab is like a zoo where you can sit at a restaurant and the creatures pass you by. It's good entertainment.
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    Adam took the above photo

    After breakfast we head into Lockhart Basin to run what is supposed to be an "expert route" in the opposite direction, which is supposed to be harder. Some people on the internet said it was heavy duty, so we couldn't resist. It should now be clear that we're not following Visitor Center Lady's route advice.

    Rain incoming.
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    Super cool to watch the rain front move up the canyon.
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    We finally get off the tourist-minivan-friendly dirt road and get closer to the red stuff. Minds are properly blown. We're not even in the proper country yet, but this is the start of the more interesting stuff.
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    We meet some people on mountain bikes. They had already done 60 miles. We feel like chumps.

    NotMinimalist, can you contain your excitement? No, and I don't want to!
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    Adam took the above photo

    There are a few nice rock sections where you have to use your brain stem. These 650s are as big as I'd want to go with 1 or 2 people. For people with bigger bikes, bring a tribe of buddies or make zero mistakes. Plenty of chances to punch a hole in the cases or crush your leg. R1200GSes might not fit real well in some spots.
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    We take a break once we get through a section with a slim rock opening and a bunch of dusty baby head rocks to bounce the wheels around. This is where Adams bike calls it quits. No power to the ignition or anything. Bags come off and tools come out. Some shade would be nice (why did I think a black jersey was a good idea?)

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    Adam fusses with the wiring a little bit and that seems to do it. Back at it. Morale is good, the scenery is incredible. We'd be making better time if NotMinimalist wasn't whipping his camera out every six seconds.

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    Man, I hate when this happens...
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    These rocky slopes aren't too bad if you close your eyes and hold the throttle wide! But really, line choice and controlled momentum are your friend.
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    There are a few nice features to get sendy on. This route seems like the shiny adventure bikes would have a better time heading northbound instead of southbound. Just like the actual route is supposed to be. Imagine that!
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    Big time rocks. This place is incredible. Just don't get distracted too often.
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    Hurrah Pass done. Very fun route. A 350-500cc bike would've been a riot down here. Like I said before, 650s and bigger will take some work. Doing this solo on a 650 or bigger would be on the unpleasant side of uncomfortable.
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    Adam took the above photo

    We decide to quit messing around so much and head to find water and some food near Canyonlands. After talking to an awesome older fella at the Canyonlands outpost (they were closed but let us buy gas and some food and hang out. Very nice) we camp somewhere near Shay Mountain after dark. A solid first day ended with a perfect little cowboy-looking camp spot under some trees and near a half-dry stream! Does it get any better?!

    Miles: Decent amount for half a day
    Mental Status: Fully Torqued
    Electrical Issues: 1
    "Holy Shit" Scenery Exclamations: I can't count that high
    Dinner: Tuna, Instant Rice, Mac n Cheese, More Tuna
    #7
  8. NotMinimalist

    NotMinimalist Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2015
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Idaho
    More on the setups:

    We're both using Wolfman Enduro Dry soft luggage. He's got the newer, slightly larger version and I've got the previous version that's the perfect size for my stuff. These are really durable bags.
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    We both also use small Pelican cases for the cameras. Without the camera box on the back, it'd look like we're carrying a lot less stuff.

    I also like the Wolfman Enduro Pouch for my cell phone and a few other things like snacks. The GiantLoop Zig Zag handlebar bag is good too, but mine has gotten all but destroyed by putting hard and heavy stuff in there. Now it's just for spare zip ties, a plastic bag or two, and a paper towel for checking the XRs oil (dry sump oil in frame w/ dipstick).

    Also the handlebar bag is great for stuffing full of trash and gas station receipts!

    I've experimented with a chest setup with my camera box. It works amazing when on the 2strokes in heavier single track. There's that crotchy pack again too. Can't escape it.
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    #8
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  9. NotMinimalist

    NotMinimalist Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2015
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Idaho
    Day 3

    We wake up with the sun peeking through some trees and take our time getting packed. No cows bothered us, but it looked like they roam through this area pretty often.
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    The guy at the Canyonlands outpost told us there was a dirt way between Horse Mountain and West Mountain to get us down near the 95. Somewhere down there we're aiming to get to Hite for fuel and water, then make plans for the evening after that. I've located a road near a creek on the map that should work. We blitz down the pavement a few miles searching for this road.

    Found the road (I think...) and some cows. A cattle gate is all that stands in our way to an awesome day of riding, we're buzzing with excitement.

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    This road narrows down into a single track that flows along nicely. 2nd gear stuff.

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    This trail gets into the woods and the rocks start showing up. It's not too crazy at first. Pretty soon you're one slip-up away from careening down a wooded slope. The trail is wide enough for our bikes, but you'd be sweating it big time on anything larger. A 350-500cc bike would be ideal. When everything is going fine, these bikes are no issue. Bounce off a rock wrong, and they carry more inertia towards the edge of the dropoff than a smaller bike.

    I make it up a little section with some fun features and grab the camera to document the carnage when Adam comes through. But he doesn't. I walk down the slope and see him and his bike resting on a rock and he's shaking his head.

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    Looks like the bike is high-centered, no big deal, we'll scoot it off and get moving. Except it's doing the same thing it did in Lockhart Basin. No power to anything. Adam fusses with some easily accessible wires from where he's sitting, but no luck. Bags and gear are coming off.

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    The fix from the Basin doesn't work a second time. Turns out one of the connectors is horrifically corroded, so Adam swaps in a new one.

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    As Adam fixes his bike, I sit down with the map and my GPS phone app to see what we're working with. It doesn't feel right that a little singletrack like this would be drawn with the same color line used for graded gravel roads. Things are becoming clear now. I've led us astray. We burn up a solid hour (and some snacks and water) working on the bike in the sun, so it's time to adjust plans.

    It turns out that we actually camped right on the road we should've taken through the mountains. Earlier in the morning, assuming we weren't where we were, I just kept looking down the paved road for a southbound path near a creek and took the wrong one. I break the news to Adam and we plan to make a slight detour to Monticello because we don't know if Hite will actually have what we need.

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    Power is back! We load the KLR back up and get ready to move. But now it's dead again. WTF?! Alright, well, time to get back into there and see what's up. Turns out a second connector was loose. We tighten it up and now it's actually time to turn around and pick up a new route over to Monticello.

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    After some greasy gas station fried chicken, some overpriced sandwiches and fuel for the bikes, we head back into the mountains. The temp drops and the bikes are running rich as we near 10,000 feet.

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    We come around a corner on some cool red dirt roads and proceed to have our minds blown yet again by another vast expanse of geography.

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    Adam took the above photo

    Absolutely ridiculous how quickly the geography changes here. Come around a corner and bam, there's new stuff to stare at.
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    We keep truckin' through rapidly changing areas of red rocks, grey rocks, big trees, small trees, no trees, streams trickling across the road, mule deer (I think) bouncing around in the shadows, some annoying 4-wheeled vehicles.

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    We're making really good time on these easy dirt roads and stop at an intersection to talk plans. Adam says he thinks Bears Ears is near here and it would be cool to go see them. I tell him that we're not on track to see Bears Ears but we would've seen them if we did the original plan. We contemplate taking dirt roads further west or heading southwest to 95 like we planned earlier. We head toward 95.

    Less than 15 minutes later. Bears Ears! It's situations like this where I like being wrong.
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    I get to the pavement and wait for Adam. Can't even hear his bike or anything. He's either fallen off a cliff or chatting with a stranger or he's got a flat.

    Nice!
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    As per Joe Motocross flat tire standards, this one is a Class 1 Pinch Flat. One hole, likely from a rock, no pokey offender left in the tire. We toss his spare front tube in and that's it – no fuss, no muss.

    We get the KLR back on the ground, axle torqued, and begin packing tools up... psssssshhhhhhhhhh

    You gotta be kidding! We either pinched the tube on install, the valve core failed, or there actually might be a pokey thing in the tire... time to find out.

    This front tube has been his spare tube for years. Turns out sitting folded up for such a long time in all kinds of conditions led to a small stress fracture in the rubber, which finally gave out under load. Class 1. We put a patch on the newer tube and reflect on the perfectly shady spot with a nice view to enjoy while the glue dries.

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    Round 2. Seems good, lets roll. Officially the longest tire change I've ever been a part of, seeing as we basically changed it twice completely. And yes, if we were good at this stuff we could've left the wheel on the bike and just pulled the tube out the side and patched it there.
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    The golden hour for real.
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    We ride some nice pavement with the sun already dipping past the horizon. We don't get to Hite till after sunset, but because we stocked up in Monticello it doesn't matter.

    Believe it or not, it's more difficult to find a camp spot in the dark than it is during the day. We always plan on getting to camp before the sun goes down to have time for a relaxing dinner on the fire and some drinks, but the days so far have had us exhausted and riding late.

    It should be bedtime, but I can't stop messing around with the camera. The moon offers some good light tonight!

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    By the end of today we've got a more dialed-in plan for where to meet Adam's friend. The goal is now to head to Torrey instead of Escalante, where we'd hang out for the evening and start making plans for the rest of the week.

    Miles: Could be more, could be less
    Mental Status: Finger Lickin' Good
    Electrical Issues: 2
    Breakfast: Cliff Bars
    Lunch: Grease and a sandwich
    Dinner: Cliff Bar and some peanuts
    Unexplored Trails and Roads: Too many
    #9
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  10. smalls78

    smalls78 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2017
    Oddometer:
    233
    Location:
    NC/SC
    This is a great write up dude, thanks for sharing the adv.
    #10
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  11. NotMinimalist

    NotMinimalist Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2015
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Idaho
    Thanks for the kind words!
    #11
  12. NotMinimalist

    NotMinimalist Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2015
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Idaho
    Intermission. Ride report will resume tomorrow. As we know, riding takes precedence over writing and that's exactly what happened today.

    The bike is facing the wrong way here. A group of us tried to go up this little connector atv trail yesterday but one guy burned up his clutch. I had to go back today for redemption and got stopped 150 yards from the top of the trail. Just couldn't keep momentum and traction up on this loose stuff. After 2 tries I eventually cheated with a little single track trail off to the right where traction was far better. You can kindof see the patch of dirt here on the right.
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    A little hazy out here today. My fuel was running low (fine with me for the hill climbs) but that dictated how I was going to spend the afternoon.
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    After coasting down from the higher elevations and telling myself I'd just head to the nearest gas stop, I got enticed by a little climb that proved to be a 2-trier. A little more goose and I made it up the second time.
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    #12
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  13. NotMinimalist

    NotMinimalist Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2015
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Idaho
    Day 4

    This is a good one. It's gonna be a hot day and we've gotta make it to Torrey by the evening. Early evening, like before the sun goes down, which has been a challenge for us so far.

    An uncomfortable amount of pavement miles take us through properly mind-boggling territory with huge rock walls and little side canyons dipping off away from the road. Makes you think of the cowboys and settlers back in the day, not knowing which canyon is going to box them in.

    A quick stop at the Colorado River bridge and the overlook above Hite and then we put the hammer down. Hite used to be a big time houseboat spot when Lake Powell reached up this far. The water level has dropped so far that it's now kindof a ghosty town. The massive boat ramp doesn't even reach the water anymore.
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    We didn't eat breakfast at the camp spot to save time, so now it's time to grease it up in Ticaboo. It's not every day you see millions of dollars of house boats sitting in the desert. (this is the second or third batch of these boats that we've seen this morning)
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    Adam was here three years ago and remembered the famous Burr Trail leading from Ticaboo to Boulder Town. He recalls it being mostly open and fast gravel, so we should make good time on it.

    Double-checking tire pressure. The patch in the front still seems to be hanging on.
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    These gravel roads are easy and open, which is good, cause it's easy to get distracted by formations like this. Check out the gradient of soil colors! (this is called stratification, if I remember correctly)
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    Pro Tip: Be sure to take a selfie in case you finish losing your mind and forget what you look like. It'd be much safer to ride in areas that aren't as scenic.
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    Even though it's kinda touristy, you feel morally obligated to stop for some photos on the switchback. We feel somewhat insulted when people in shiny street cars drive by with selfie sticks and GoPros out the window. We definitely aren't off the beaten path even though it looks rugged.
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    Minds getting properly blown. Just imagine being one of the first pioneers through here and searching the seemingly endless wall of impossible rock formations. Eventually you come across this section that looks like it might be passable. But there's still a practically immeasurable expanse of desert out there. Crazy.

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    Adam was here on his Alaska trip and got a photo of this same bike up on top of the switchbacks. Re-creating the photo is an obligation.

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    What the heck is NotMinimalist talking about? He probably doesn't even know!
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    Adam took the above photo

    After a quick bit of cruising on the open dirt roads, the pavement starts again. WTF? Adam said this whole trail was unpaved nearly all the way to boulder (more on this later). I pull off to check the map and turns out only a small section was dirt/gravel. We don't want to burn more pavement yet again, so I plot out a little loop to the south which adds more miles but bypasses some of the annoying pavement. Guess they gotta help the tourists and their minivans every chance possible. And the people on GSes with street tires, can't forget them either (easy there!).

    The southern loop gives us some nice spots to wick it up a little bit.
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    Adam took the above photo

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    We're happy about the re-route. Open, fun dirt roads and the scenery still makes us giddy.
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    Tourists and all, we can't be disappointed with a view like this. Pavement will take us from here to Boulder Town, where Adam remembers a grill/burger spot. We learned that the majority of Burr Trail got paved a couple years ago after Adam had been here, which explains why he recalled it being fully dirt/gravel.
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    Oh man. If this was still a dirt road I might not have been able to handle it. Just imagine roaming through this canyon with little else besides a revolver, a bedroll and your steed. Back in those days areas like this were dangerous wilderness and humans were uninvited guests. Nowadays children and snack-dogs roam around like they own the place, and we ride well-equiped motorhorses that don't need water and rest.
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    There's a KLR down there somewhere.
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    You pop out of the red canyons and all of a sudden it looks like another planet for the 14th time today.
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    Motorcycle parking so close to the seats we can practically smell our bikes, nice!! I have to park my XR against trees or signs if the surface isn't perfect for a number of reasons: 1) the sidestand tab is bent inwards so it doesn't have the same tripod stance as before 2) the weight of the desert tank and luggage squishes the suspension so it tips over easily.
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    Bonus: check out that bent frame (The frame/subframe is one welded unit on these bikes. Had to shim the exhaust out to keep it from rubbing on the tire) Maybe I should stop tossing this thing around like a dirt bike...

    Now we're talkin'! Craft burgers and beer, and some nice people to talk to/listen to at the Grill. When you're craving a beer and you get a beer that just scratches that itch perfectly, it's called "hitting the B-spot" You better believe this beer hits the B-spot big time today.
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    We've made solid time to Boulder Town and have our sights set on a campsite in Torrey. After hauling some serious tail up the pavement over Boulder Mtn we get to Torrey.

    Yes, campsite, because we're meeting Adams friend who is getting ready to do a multi-day bicycle tour through the area and is using the campsite as a spot to leave his truck.
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    Adams friend gives us some history lessons on the area as we join him in his truck to drop off some gallons of water in a secret location for their bicycle trip. Some talking leads us past midnight and we call it a night having outlined a bit of a plan for the next day.


    Miles: Proper Amount
    Mental Status: I'm Lovin' It!
    Electrical Issues to Date: 2
    Breakfast: None
    Lunch: Grease and grease
    Dinner: Burgers and Beers
    Patched Inner Tubes Holding Up: 1
    #13
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  14. NotMinimalist

    NotMinimalist Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2015
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Idaho
    Day 5

    A shockingly regular morning start gets us heading east for the first time since we started. There's no sleeping in when the sun starts showing up. Here's the plan: today we'd aim for Hanksville via the Henry Mountains, which means buzzing south a little bit before cutting east again. After that it's a rough idea with the ultimate goal of (sadly) returning to Moab and the rented van, which hopefully is still there.

    After a few decent pavement miles and a few indecent pavement miles, the mountains start showing themselves.
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    If you don't mess around on little features like hills, you're not doing it right. Especially at the start of a day with plenty of riding ahead.
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    Adam took the above photo

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    It's around this time that Adam notifies me his front tire is losing air again. Hot wind and hotter sun make us reluctant to change it again in the open areas, so I give him my pump so I can go up ahead and look for a better tire changing spot. Sounds like he ends up pulling over every few minutes to air up to keep from smacking rocks too hard.
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    Check it out! Nice little shady spot with ample rocks to prop the bike up. Turns out the patch failed (probably an installation error).
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    Pro Tip: Bring NotMinimalist along on all your motocamping trips, he likes changing tires!
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    After a quick inner tube swap (I forgot to mention, Adams friend brought a new tube up. We still had my spare, but might as well take advantage of the opportunity) we're back on the gas and scooting along the open gravel roads at a nice pace.

    Check it out! We were just down there!
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    The temperature drops nicely as we gain elevation. The dirt/gravel roads get more switchback-y so the speeds come down as well.

    At least if you blow one of these corners out there's a few larger rocks to slow you down so you have time to realize how screwed you are. Some of the slopes off the roads here are pretty good.
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    Adam took the above photo

    Wondering what would happen if we tried to get up to that ridge up there...
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    We'll settle for something a little more reasonable. Glam shot time! The weather up here is perfect. Breezy and much cooler than down on the floor.
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    This fella (what's the female version of fella? Gal?) was surprisingly patient with me.
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    "Ladies, get you man who looks at you like NotMinimalist looks at his bike" (This XR gets put through the wringer.)
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    Adam took the above photo

    That mirror got cracked on the singletrack by smacking a tree branch on Day 3.

    Riding in the high desert and mountain trails of Idaho nowadays I'm at a rate of 1 handlebar/fork/upper triple tweak per month, 1 rear disk guard broken per month, oil change every 800 miles (shifts badly after that), rear tires way too often. It's nice.

    This dude can somehow take his KLR just about anywhere, it seems. And somehow his phone manages to stay in that holder.
    [​IMG]



    Intermission: I'm posting this now because I might not finish all of Day 5 today. Might be a 2-part deal on this one.
    #14
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  15. silverdog

    silverdog Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2003
    Oddometer:
    743
    Nice report. Keep it coming....
    #15
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  16. silverdog

    silverdog Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2003
    Oddometer:
    743
    Nice report. Keep it coming....
    #16
  17. NotMinimalist

    NotMinimalist Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2015
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Idaho
    Day 5 continued....

    We're totally geeked on this little hilltop lookout. Down there you can see roughly four or five different geology types. So freakin' cool.
    [​IMG]


    Try to look cool for the camera! Cooler than you actually are! fullsizeoutput_d28.jpeg

    Ok, now that we're finally done messing around for the dang cameras it's time to get back on the move. We hit a fork in the road and take the path I think we're supposed to take. It's got a sign for ORVs that says "moderately difficult" or something like that. The one in Lockhart Basin said "most difficult" and was labeled "DD" on the map. Visitors Center Lady said "DD" means "Don't Do." Well, we did it and had a nice time, so we don't think anything of the sign here.

    The road gets a little chunkier but after some nice climbing we make the pass here at 10,500 feet. Officially the highest this bike and I have ever been. Neat. The overlook treats us to an awesome look at the red desert floor on the opposite side of the mountains. Juxtaposed against the green of the mountains it looks even redder.
    [​IMG]

    Just look at the scale of this place! There are so many little tiny roads trickling across the desert floor down there it's enough to make you crazy.
    [​IMG]

    A quick forestry lesson here. See how this whole slope has dead trees tossed around like twigs? I'd assume this was an avalanche at some point. Now all these bright green aspen trees are repopulating the slope with tremendous speed. Aspens are what's known as a "pioneer species" because they swoop into a new area and quickly establish themselves. Eventually slower growing species with different ecological needs will join in and eventually overtake them (see the coniferous trees in the undisturbed areas).
    [​IMG]

    Hills must be climbed.
    [​IMG]

    Time to try to look cool again! (We may notice a trend today)
    [​IMG]
    Adam took the above photo
    [​IMG]

    Heading north now to Hanksville I came across this gravel quarry area. The surface was almost perfectly level and nicely slippery. 3rd gear, up on the pegs, you can really feel like Mr. Dakar Rally Racer scooting around in here. I do a few passes and stop to pee cause I'm so excited. What a truly magnificent area to get some action photos!
    [​IMG]

    Adam pulls up and I try to keep one word in front of the next as I explain how cool this little spot is. I give him my camera to see what we can muster up.

    [​IMG]

    I should let off here but it feels so good.
    [​IMG]

    Not anymore. A few split seconds before this I get that sinking feeling.
    [​IMG]

    Adam stopped pressing the shutter for a moment (perhaps out of concern for the crashing moron?) so the camera lost focus. But you can see my right arm, helmet, and right saddlebag out of the dust.
    [​IMG]

    By the scratches in the dirt it looks like the XR slid maybe 30 feet before coming to a rest. I tumble a good 10 feet past where the bike lay. So far nothing hurts...
    [​IMG]

    Play stupid games, win stupid prizes, as they say. The tent poles I've been gambling with on the side of my luggage bit the dust (ha!) and broke the elastic in two places. Magically they don't appear bent. The bag is torn up too, but I flip it upside down and strap it all right back where it was. Gonna fix it later maybe. My backpack has a hole or two in it, the Dakar jersey has a few scuffs and a small hole (shockingly solid) and the Dakar pants have some scuffs and a larger hole (not too bad, I'm impressed by how durable the stretch material is). Best of all are the gloves, which saved my left hand completely. The leather is scuffed all over but my hand is untouched. Very very satisfied overall.
    [​IMG]

    Also I broke a D-ring holding the lower front mounting strap of the saddlebags. That's expected, I use small flimsy D-rings to make those the weakest link and keep the straps from tearing. I search for my spare D-rings but must've left them back in Michigan somewhere. Extra spare straps to the rescue.

    [​IMG]

    Now that NotMinimalist is done making a fool of himself, we can get back on the road. We came from somewhere through those mountains.
    [​IMG]

    After a solid dinner and some beers in Hanksville we head west down the pavement in search of a northbound dirt road we got a recommendation for. Found it.
    [​IMG]

    We're in search of a camp spot but also want to check out the sunset for a minute. A little side dirt road leads us to the edge of a basin – holy sh!t look at this place!
    [​IMG]

    Now I need to go down in this basin thing and check this stuff out. It looks like a real life moto playground!

    [​IMG]

    This place is nuts.
    [​IMG]

    There are some peculiar life forms over there across the way. Gonna have to check them out after the sun goes down past that massive butte formation to the west. Remember how the minds have been getting blown pretty regularly these days? This is another such situation.
    [​IMG]

    From a ridge there are some dirt bikes and cruisers and pickup trucks and little pop-up tents that make me curious. I circle back to tell Adam that this may be the night we meet some fellow dirtbags and stay up late sharing tales of conquest and glory with other reprobates. From his vantage point we can't see any of this stuff so he might think I'm smoking crack. I go back to the ridge make sure I'm not hallucinating and sure enough, the characters over yonder are still there.

    This really is a landscape that looks like a different planet. I feel a bit like Spaceman Spiff from Calvin and Hobbes.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    The big ball in the sky does it's thing and heads off to warm other parts of the world. We head in towards the activities and discover a welcoming group of choppers, dirt bikes, adventure bikes, cruisers, a cafe racer or two, and the makings for a massive bonfire. Yup. This is where we're staying. We toss the tents down and head over to hang out long into the night.


    Miles: Not as many as it feels like
    Mental Status: Have It Your Way
    Electrical Issues to Date: 2
    Breakfast: Cliff Bars
    Lunch: Cliff Bars
    Dinner: Brisket Salad and Beers
    NotMinimalist Stupidity: Above Average (take that as you may)
    Patched Inner Tubes Holding Up: 0
    Kindness of Strangers: More than we deserve!

    PS: I managed to fix the tent poles (a few dented ends) and get the elastic strung through again!
    #17
  18. NotMinimalist

    NotMinimalist Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2015
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Idaho
    Another bit from Day 5 I forgot to add yesterday

    [​IMG]

    You can see how those tent poles got busted up easily. That weird finned thing under the left fender is an oil cooler (a repurposed automotive transmission cooler). Typically these bikes have a massive, heavy battery and battery box under that left fender. It carries the CDI, fuses, starter solenoid, and battery. Swapping to a lighter/smaller lithium battery means you can ditch the whole box and rearrange the wiring under the seat and tuck a few things under the right side fender.

    Day 6 coming in a moment.
    #18
    chudzikb likes this.
  19. NotMinimalist

    NotMinimalist Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2015
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Idaho
    Day 6

    If I recall correctly, we go to bed at an hour that is technically the morning again. So we wake up later on the same day. On that fateful eve of Day 5, we decided this was the crowd we'd spend the next day with. Last night, the plan was for a few of us to take an adventure bike ride in the morning (10am) and return for a dirt bike ride in the afternoon.

    200-300cc 2-strokes were the dirt bikes of choice here, and based on conversations around the watering hole it sounded like the afternoon dirt ride was gonna be a little on the heavy duty side of the spectrum. So I'm looking forward to a nice easy adventure bike ride in the morning and then a relaxed afternoon.

    The view when waking up is even more promising than it was last night: additional folks rolled up at odd hours of the night to add to the show. (This photo is from later in the day but imagine the sun being at a different angle)
    [​IMG]

    Cliff bars for breakfast? Nah, we scoot into Hanksville with some cool Harley fellas for some coffee and grease and more coffee.

    Now that it's lighter out check this thing out. The badge on the side indicates there may be a 6.2L LS3 stuffed in there. And I believe that's a CX500 with come cafe action going on.
    IMG_7922.JPG

    Upon returning to camp, Shane the fearless leader (http://chainsikle.com) informs me there'll be no adventure bike ride. One of the adv bikes is heading to Escalante and people in general woke up a little later than planned. Dirt ride is happening instead. Decision time. No way am I riding street miles to Escalante and back, so I guess it's the dirt bike ride for me. Better put my pants on, cause that 650 ain't a 2-stroke.

    I take the bags off the XR, air the tires down, remove the lone mirror – not gonna mess around here. HA! Riding around like a handful of hooligans, climbing hills, snaking through washes, there's plenty of messing around when everybody's on 2-strokes!
    IMG_7923.JPG

    Here's how the day starts: Shane and Seth have been around here a bit before, so they lead us up some cool hills, down some wide ridges, generally warming up to a good day of Poker. Poker? Yes, here's how it works: Everybody puts in $5 at the start of the ride. You can't join later, so just commit at the start. When everyone makes it up a gnarly obstacle (making it up a hill with an overhang at the top and a washout on the run-up, for example) we all get one card. Best hand at the end of the ride wins.

    The adrenaline is starting to flow. Feels good. And feels good to have the luggage off the back. It'd be cool to have my actual camera with me though.
    IMG_7924.JPG

    Adam goes to Escalante with the Harley/chopper/cruiser/cafe folks. He meets the famous Desert Doctor! And gets a new front tire to replace his old D606.

    At this point we're both hanging out having a good time, so there aren't as many photos. I apologize for that, it always seems to happen at some point.

    After a nice bit of riding, a snack stop, some riding in the wash areas, we face this hill that turns one of the guys on a CR250 around for a second try. Uh oh. It looks loose but wide enough for the big pig to do some wiggling if she needs to. So far I've had good luck on the climbs.
    IMG_7936.JPG
    It's too bad the camera doesn't show the angle. I get it moving into the top of 2nd gear (the jump from 2nd to 3rd is uncomfortable for climbs like this) and hold on tight. That's a good rush right there. You get a false sense of confidence making hills when you might not deserve to.

    (more coming in a moment)
    #19
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  20. NotMinimalist

    NotMinimalist Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2015
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Idaho
    (Day 6 continued)

    Another obstacle to earn a card: You've gotta clear this creek bed. Shane gives us two options, A and B, to cross this 8-foot rut. No lip to jump off, keep the speed up and the front wheel light. No video of me doing it, but I cased the XR pretty hard on the front edge of the rear wheel and the bottom of the skid plate. A nice cloud of dust and a card and fist bumps are earned. IMG_8080.PNG

    This is a still from the video from today. (Embedded at the bottom of the post)

    *** WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS VULGAR LANGUAGE THAT MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR ALL AUDIENCES ***

    Seth takes us up some seriously thin little ridgelines, also called spines, with a nice crosswind to mess with your brain. The consequences for falling off aren't really terrible, but oh man does it get the blood pumping! Three of us get to the end of a spine section and wait (clips in the video). No sign of the others. Finally one more shows up, he says Shane had to talk him down from the ledge. The dude was ready to bail out and ride straight back.

    But because Shane stopped it was gonna be tough to get going again on whatever thin little spot he stopped at. We hear a loud shout carry over the ridges. Sounds like Shane. Not good. We can see the last guy in line and he doesn't freak out, so it can't be too bad. After agonizing minutes of waiting and wondering, Shane pops up on the side of one of these freakin' ridges. Wild.

    The last guy in line, Edward, he set his bike down to go help Shane and now that meant he had to commit to riding it down the side, into a wash, and somehow back to camp.

    Our remaining group follows Seth down a ridge that appears to lead back to camp. Except it doesn't. Right as my front wheel slips off the edge and seals my fate, Seth slows and looks back, explaining this is it. We're gonna have to find our own way down the hillside.

    IMG_7940.JPG

    I wrestle the XR down this 100ft hill, having to drag it down instead of walking with it. Just turn the fuel off and drag. This is where I discover my rear wheel bearings have some play in them. There really isn't a moment of clarity that I'm dragging the only vehicle I own down this hill on its side.

    We regroup and head back to camp. Interesting characters all around.
    41087277390_3601e5b52f_o.jpg
    Adam took the above photo

    After some snacks and some ice cold beers under an awning we feel somewhat refreshed to go out for another ride. I get an offer from one of the guys at Salt City Builds to let me ride his CR250. Awesome, lets do it! No sense in destroying the vehicle I'll be riding to work next week, I guess.

    IMG_7967.JPG
    Tyler took the above photo (His instagram)

    Fun stuff!! But I'm not qualified for this. I don't make it up a hill on this CR250 that I could've done on my 650, which tells me I'm tired and riding worse than usual. Before I hurt myself a this graciously borrowed bike, I split off and head back to camp. The guys said they had a great ride and tell me I should've gone - makes me wish I had just gutted up and taken the 650 out again. Oh well, next time.

    [​IMG]

    Adam returns in an excellent mood and the night starts to shape up to be even better than the last. A DJ shows up with some music, the bonfire gets turned on, the endless conversations and drinks start flowing faster and faster and next thing you know, Adam is dancing with two hot dogs (the food, you sickos) and everyone is having an excellent time. See the hot dog action at the end of this video from today:




    Miles: Not many. It's the quality not the quantity here.
    Mental Status: Think Outside The Bun
    Breakfast: Coffee, Grease, Coffee
    Lunch: Cliff Bars and Coors
    Dinner: It happened
    Electrical Issues to Date: 2
    DJ: Can't complain!
    Bonfire: Made with all natural gasoline
    Poker Winner: Shane
    #20
    chudzikb likes this.