Denver to Portland on dirt

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by jhax, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. jhax

    jhax "No matter where you go, there you are" BB

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    Hello,

    I recently completed a ride from Denver to Portland on dirt. The ride took 10 days with a day of repairs in Gunnison, CO. The ride length was 2300 miles of which 1800 was dirt.
    I did no structured route planning, had no GPS, and rode by myself. I was tired of flying over Utah and Nevada, had told myself for years that I was going to ride it, and was in the midst of a relationship crisis. So why not?
    I guess an introduction is in order: i travel, a lot. Typically this travel takes me over Utah and Nevada. A few years ago I had helped a friend move back from San Francisco to Denver. We took Hwy 50 across Nevada. Rather than satisfying my curiosity the drive only increased my desire to see this region. I have a 79 R65 for years on work commutes, and had a long time ago ridden a Honda 185 from Ft. Collins CO around Lake Powell and back. But decided, spurred by a marriage crisis, to ride what had always been "fly over" country.

    Hope you enjoy and a few folks are motivated to try the route. Please let me know if you have questions.
    My next ride is Portland to Cabo San Lucas in March. Dirt of course.

    Day 1: I live right off HW 285 SW of Denver so headed out the door and 40 miles south on 285 hung a left at the first opportunity(first pic). The area was Lost Park and although beautiful, is a maze of summer homes and obscure little roads that either go in circles or dead end. Definitely the best way to navigate CO is with USFS National Forest maps. I headed south to Hartsel and from there picked up Rd 53 south to Salida, CO. This is beautiful riding!

    Attached Files:

    #1
  2. Colorado Uli

    Colorado Uli Must I?

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    You go!!!!
    Looking forward to seeing your trip.


    Uli
    #2
  3. BRUTSQD

    BRUTSQD 2 scoops of stupid

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    I'd love to do this ride, I'll be taking notes. Subscribed.
    #3
  4. Giddy Up

    Giddy Up Pedal, Damn IT!

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    :lurk
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  5. NotAllWhoWanderRLost

    NotAllWhoWanderRLost So Many Roads...

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    I'm in.... :beer
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  6. jhax

    jhax "No matter where you go, there you are" BB

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    Sorry for taking so long to update. I'm not sure how to add multiple pictures on a single thread so I'll add photos as new replies. Nice ride down 53 to Salida. Steep, loose gravel but nice aspen groves and views of the Collegiate Peaks as I dropped in to town. Was able to procure a room at the Simple Hostel of Salida. Unfortunately I had to share a room with two 24 year old girls;):evil Every 40 year old's fantasy. Of course I went out, stayed out till 1:30, and then came back to the room and crashed. Guess I blew it:) Oh well, I'm sure I'll have a similar opportunity on my next trip. Happens all the time right?
    Next day I headed up to St.Elmo and attempted Hancock Pass. Bad move! Nothing like a 400 lb bike on a torn up, ATV only road. Once the bike starts bouncing there is not much to be done. Either power thru or stop it on the hill. Well powering thru ended when I flipped the bike off the side of the road. As I landed on my head and watched the bike fly thru the air behind me I had a sensation fleeting vision of the poor guy in Monty Python and the Holy Grail right before the cow lands on him. Well fortunately the bike missed me by a couple of feet. Some guys on ATV's came along and helped me drag my bike back on to the road. After bit of contemplation I headed back to Salida and the Simple Hostel. Unfortunately the girls had left. At this point I was wondering if I was in over my head.
    Picture is of the road above St. elmo.
    #6
  7. Utah Bones

    Utah Bones Gas X ready!

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    Love this!! I want to do this next year....:clap
    #7
  8. NMDesertRider

    NMDesertRider Banned

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    I'm everywhere man!!
    WE NEED PICS, DAMMIT!!!:lol3
    #8
  9. Utah Bones

    Utah Bones Gas X ready!

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    This thread is worthless without pics!:deal
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  10. jhax

    jhax "No matter where you go, there you are" BB

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    Hey. At one am and the ADV server hanging my pic's not uploading I went to bed.

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    #10
  11. jhax

    jhax "No matter where you go, there you are" BB

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    The locals think of this section as boring. I had to disagree.

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    #11
  12. DirtDancer

    DirtDancer Slidin' Downhill

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    Lead on !! like the pic's and need the ride!!:evil
    #12
  13. jhax

    jhax "No matter where you go, there you are" BB

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    Must have been 100 ATV's on this road. St. Elmo is above Salida, CO heading up across the Collegiate Peaks. The Collegiates are a string of 14ers in central CO. The pass I was headed for was Hancock Pass, about 12,200 feet. I pulled in the to town of St. Elmo and it was crawling with ATV's. Every yahoo from Texas was up there. Well what was once a rideable rode had been turned in to a mine filed of 6-8 inch loose rock. I got about 4 miles up this road and flipped the bike. Thanks to the yahoos who helped me drag it back on to the road. I was glad they were along to help. Panyard ripped off, mirror smashed, big scrape down the front windshield. Having my ass kicked, I headed back to the Simple Lodge in Salida for another night. The women had left:cry Not a good day but definitely learned what myself and bike were capable of. Maybe a better rider could have made Hancock Pass. But a fully loaded down GS 650, IMHO, is too heavy. I tried being nimble on it, and I tried the power approach. Neither one proved successful. Going back down the pass was as bad as going up, if not worse. I was definitely questioning my riding ability after this day.

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    #13
  14. jhax

    jhax "No matter where you go, there you are" BB

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    One of many old mining structures above St. Elmo.

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  15. jhax

    jhax "No matter where you go, there you are" BB

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    Licked my bruised ego in Salida and decided to heady over to Gunnison via Marshall Pass and then Black Sage Pass.
    Nothing special about Marshall PAss. Salida up to Poncha Springs then over the pass to Sargent. Marshall Pass is fairly mundane for riding but offers nice vistas. Since people like pictures I put a crappy one in of me in Marshall Pass.)

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    #15
  16. stuckinUT

    stuckinUT I Wanna Ride!

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    :lurk
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  17. jhax

    jhax "No matter where you go, there you are" BB

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    Have to recommend this ride. Drop down Marshall into a town/truckstop/diner/ 8 cabin town called Sargent. From there 9 miles north on 285 and hang a left. Beautiful riding! Actually saw one other rider on a 1200. He was out with friends from KC. About the only downside is my beat up panyard would fall off my bike every 45 minutes or so. Especially when I was on washboard. I made it in to Gunny around 1:30 and found Gunnison Offroad. Had a new back tire put on the bike and they found that I was missing the sleeve for my front axle! So the whole time I was riding the front wheel stability was provided by my break pads. I also found a machine shop to fix the mount bracket on my panyard. Called it an early day, stayed in Gunny and ws now about two days behind schedule. Considering I was only gone 4 days and was already two days behind this was not good. But I was happy to get my bike back in good shape.

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    #17
  18. jhax

    jhax "No matter where you go, there you are" BB

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    and more dorky pictures of myself. This was just beautiful riding.

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    #18
  19. NotAllWhoWanderRLost

    NotAllWhoWanderRLost So Many Roads...

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    Great photos, thanks for the updates! :beer
    #19
  20. Comrade Art

    Comrade Art Working stiff

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    :lurk
    #20