Getting out west. 15 years in the making.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by windblown101, Aug 6, 2016.

  1. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    Day 3 - Time to finish the new bike shakedown and try to catch up from a couple of lost days. I got up early to the sound of rain and crash of thunder. Oh well, at least it would be cooler riding today! It didn't take long before I had the stormy weather behind me and sunny skies in front.

    I scanned the map to the west for a large city that would likely have a KTM dealer so that I could get my 600 mile oil change done and recorded for warranty purposes. Omaha NE had a KTM dealer and I called them and they said they would squeeze me in. I arrived mid afternoon and they got me in and out in good time. I had enough daylight left to make it out of the plains (At last!) and over to Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming for my first night of camping.

    Finally, things are coming together for me on this trip! :)

    My first western campsite.

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    Sunset was spectacular.

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    ... and the next morning during a walk around the place I came across these three locals.

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    I broke camp and got the bike loaded up. Turned the key and... nothing. No "click", no lights, no instruments. Well ain't this just great I thought to myself (actually, that's the "G" rated version of what I was thinking at the time). Anyways, I got the bike unloaded and started to dig in. Voltage at battery was good, but Ah Ha! Found the negative battery terminal loose. Got it tightened up, turned the key, and was greeted with the smooth purr of the motor.

    Life is good again. I breathed a sigh of relief and headed south to the Colorado border.

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    #21
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  2. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    Day 4 on the road.

    With Colorado now just a stones throw away I felt like I could once again afford the time to enjoy some off-pavement traveling. I found a long series of county roads that led me down into Colorado and eventually into the Rocky Mountain National Park.

    Passing into Colorado
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    Mountains!
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    Nice Elk bedded down close to the road.
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    With beautiful country like this to gaze on it's not hard to put the trials of the last few days behind me.
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    I made my way to the south end of the park and set-up camp. Things were looking up, the air was crisp and cool, and I slept like a baby.
    #22
  3. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    Day 5 started nice and cool and I opted to continue to search out more easy going unpaved county roads south and head in the direction of Leadville CO.

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    I pulled into Leadville and opted to get a Hotel room for the night. After a good meal I was feeling refreshed and a bit Froggy. Looking at the map I saw Hagerman pass was close by so I decided to take it on before the sunset. It was fun and a good warm up run for the days to come with the new bike.

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    #23
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  4. WYO George

    WYO George I have no idea

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    Nice report, you have my attention. :)
    #24
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  5. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    Day 6 - Woke up and decided I'd go ahead and make my way to Silverton a day earlier than I had planned in order to get camp set up for the upcoming RMAR Silverton Rendezvous. I really needed a down day or two to recharge the batteries.

    It was great to be at altitude and have cooler temps to ride in. Somewhere near Ouray (as I recall) I spotted this curious sight. I had an unexplainable burning desire to find out what lay on the other side of this odd doorway into a mountain. However the heavy padlock on the door kept me from finding out.

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    Ran into a road block between Ouray and Silverton. The flagman said it would likely be a 20 minute wait or more... I sat looking at the GPS and spied a thin squiggly line that intersected the road I was on just a few hundred yards behind me and then it swung back to Rt 550 past where roads crews were hanging nets to catch rock falls. With no great desire to sit and wait I decided to flip a U-turn and do a little exploring.

    So glad I decided to re-route! It was an awesome excursion that topped out around 12,000 ft and offered some amazing views. It was a pretty easy unpaved road with some steep climbs and switch backs but nothing I was uncomfortable with on a loaded bike. Here's a glimpse of what greeted me at the top:

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    As the map promised my re-routed course dropped me back onto Rt 550 and shortly afterwards I pulled into in Silverton. This would be my home for the next few days of exploring SW Colorado. I was pumped to be here!

    red mountain (1 of 1).jpg



    The owner of Red Mountain gave me the grand tour of the place and showed me the field where I could set up a camp. As I set up camp a local resident and camp thief immediately introduced itself and rummaged through my bags for any food. Sorry for the blurry picture. Even though it hung around my camp the entire stay it was pretty quick. ;) A member of the weasel family I believe.
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    It was great to be here. In fact I was still pinching myself that I had made it. As it turns out my trials weren't yet over, but for now I was just happy to be here surrounded by beautiful county. I knew I had made the right choice to not turn back when the Tiger decided it didn't want to come along for the ride. This was going to be a good time. :)
    #25
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  6. Colorado Uli

    Colorado Uli Must I?

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    I have lived here, rode here and camped here a lot of years now, I have never been lucky enough to have been visited by a Long-tailed Weasel -- the Black Bears seem to prefer my company.
    Happy so see you're enjoying our hills. Best of luck.
    #26
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  7. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    Day 7 - Woke up before dawn freezing my tail off. The lightweight sleeping bag I had brought with me for it's compact size and a pair of thin thermals was not enough to keep me warm. I thought this was due to having become accustomed to wearing full gear in 100 degree temps over the last several days. When it started to get light out the desire for a cup of hot coffee outweighed my desire to stay buried in my sleeping bag so I reluctantly got up and poked my head outside. I then discovered why I was cold. It was below freezing out here! Both tent and bike were covered in a coating of ice. I would make a run down to Durango later in the morning to rectify this situation and get a cheap sleeping bag to stuff inside the one I had brought with me.

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    After getting back from Durango I decided a quick easy ride around the area was in order. Another rider who had come in early for the Rendevous and I headed out for a quick spin around the neighborhood. Sure is pretty county (Yeah, I know, I say that a lot, LOL)



    Mine remains up on the mountain east of Silverton.
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    Just a short Spur trail up to a waterfall.
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    The town of Silverton from up on Rt 550.
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    With an easy ride out of the way I went in search of supper at one of the local restaurants and then came back to camp. As darkness fell some of the RMAR riders in camp got a fire going and broke out a bottle Makers Mark. Man, Bourbon sure does sneak up on ya at altitude. This flatlander found himself "Three sheets to the wind" way faster than I have ever been put under by Bourbon. I made my way off to the tent to get some much needed sleep.
    #27
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  8. keithg

    keithg Been here awhile

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    GREAT STORY................
    #28
  9. mica

    mica Weekend Adventurer

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    I'd of lost my mind when the KTM didn't start.

    Could you comment on why you decided on the 1190 v AT?
    #29
  10. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    The first official ride day with the RMAR riders I joined a small group of riders with a plan to do an easy going loop out of Silverton to include Cinnamon, Engineer, California, and Hurricane passes. I went over the bike before leaving, set the air pressure in the tires, eyed my supplies and made some decisions about what to bring along in my smaller than normal rear bag.

    I opted to sweep on this ride which is a position I usually prefer when riding with folks I haven't ridden with before as it allows me get a feel for the group vibe. I was a little apprehensive about what a couple of these passes would be like but from most of what I had read it didn't seem like they should be too hard. We got to the top of Cinnamon Pass without incident took some pics and headed down the other side towards Lake City for a bit of lunch. Suddenly noticed the front of the bike feeling a bit off and the hits on rocky trail trash seemed to be harsher. Hmmmm.... I pull to a stop and lean over to glance at the front tire. Yep, completely flat. Naturally I didn't have my usual quotient of supplies.... no air compressor, no CO2, no worms for these new-fangled tubeless rims.

    I got the bike up on the centerstand and pondered my fate. In a moment a rider from the group that noticed me missing in his rearview circled back, and unlike me, he had an air compressor. I was hoping I had just blown the bead temporarily and that had caused the loss of pressure, but after a few minutes on the air compressor it became obvious that I had bigger problems as the tire was not getting over about 12lbs of pressure. I investigated and found where a sharp rock had pieced the TKC 80 at the base of one of the outer knobs. About that time a jeep came by and I asked if they happened to have a tire plug kit. The driver promptly produced the biggest fanciest plug kit I've ever seen. I made short work of getting a plug installed and thanked the jeep driver and we pumped up the front and checked to make sure the plug was holding air. The other rider that had circled back for me and I caught up with the group only to find out that another rider in the group had been struck with a bit of bad luck as well, his bike was spewing oil out of a tear in his clutch cover gasket. Our group limped into Lake City and Rick, our ride leader, went to work making a temporary patch on the KTM riders leaking gasket. After allowing time for the sealant to set we discussed options and decide it would be best to head back to camp by going back over Cinnamon pass rather than continue on.

    As we started up the mountain I felt the front tire go flat yet again. I had feared a plug would not hold bouncing through rocks and sadly I was right. This time I accepted the offer from Rick to use his spare tube and we proceeded to convert my tubeless front tire to a tubed front which worked great. (That tube is still in my front tire as I write this and I have no plans to go back to a tubeless front anytime soon on a bike ridden over rough terrain.) Another rider in our group was leaking coolant and went ahead to get back, and the rider with the patched clutch cover gasket started spewing fluid again, but we all made it back to the top of the pass and I stopped to take another picture. Except my camera which had all the pics so far from this trip was no longer inside the pouch in the rear bag on my bike. Fack... Perhaps some idiot (me) didn't zip the pouch back up after taking a couple of pics of the tire repair operation.

    I told the group I was heading back to look for the camera on the off chance I would get lucky and find it and told them to go on. I headed back down towards Lake City once again and despite asking several folks coming up the mountain and searching both sides of the trail the camera was not to be found.

    Lessons of the day (Both of which I already knew but guess I needed a reminder)
    1) Don't ride without the tools AND supplies to fix common issues.
    2) Never be in so much of a hurry that you fail to check that all your belongings are properly secured to the bike before you throw a leg over the saddle.

    Two flats and one lost camera. A beautiful day tainted by a lack of proper preparation. I'd been in better spirits.

    Note: The reason I have pictures to post up to this point in time was that I had uploaded some to Facebook in the previous days. I lost a bunch, but at least I have some of them! I would use a cheap backup camera for the balance of this trip.
    #30
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  11. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    I was in a very foul mood for a few minutes when I found I had a 2nd dead bike... As to the reasons I went KTM, PM sent. ;)
    #31
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  12. kojack06

    kojack06 Long timer

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    I think you're doing a great job with the bike switch and events that arent going the way you intended. It makes the adventure!
    #32
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  13. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    Friday dawned clear and crisp yet I was till brooding a bit and angry with myself over the loss of my camera and having to rely on the kindness of strangers to get the supplies needed to make ordinary field repairs the day before. I decided I would just explore on my own today. I had read up on a couple of routes that I was interested in exploring and after removing clothes from a drybag and filling it with the proper amount of field supplies I felt prepared to go off on my own. As I finished my coffee I spoke to another rider that had helped me out with the air compressor from the day before (Dave I think? I'm terrible with names) about my plans and he said he would be interested in the ride as well. That's cool I thought. Always good to have someone to ride with. We decided to set out once the temps warmed a bit more. By the time it got warm enough to want to go we ended up with a total of 8 riders with myself included that were interested in the ride I had planned. Looks like I was going to be leading a ride today. Not my original plan but hey, go with the flow!

    So our ragtag group headed up to Clear Lake to start the day. It wasn't a difficult route but it had some long loose rocky uphill stretches that required not loosing momentum and some sharp switch backs as it climbed towards the lake high in the mountains. We all got up without serious incident. But I did drop my new ride for the first time. It happened as I was headed up one of the long uphill climbs between switch backs. I had glanced down the mountain below me and saw the rider running sweep had dumped their bike in a switchback far below. I signaled the other riders to go on up and I got my bike turned around and started to head down the mountain to assist. I looked down again and my sweep had gotten his bike back up and signaled he was ok. When I went to turn around once again I simply lost my balance and dumped the bike, naturally wheels facing uphill.... I took one look and said to myself "yeah, not even going to try that at over 10,0000' of altitude and unceremoniously spun the bike around while on it's side to put the wheels facing downhill. As I was puffing myself up to lift it another rider gave an assist and we got the bike back up with little effort. A note here: I wasn't concerned in the least about the small amount of rash on the bike. I buy this type of bike to rde in places that I know it will get dropped, run through brush and scratched, and in general get a bit ragged looking over time. This drop just broke the ice on what I expect will be many more character marks over time. ;)

    A few pics from our ride that day.

    Clear Lake portion
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    Ophir Pass
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    And lastly "The Brooklyns" a route we actually ended up riding twice. The 2nd time as a few afternoon storm clouds started to gather which luckily didn't catch us out with a thunderstorm above treeline. Nonetheless, we didn't dawdle around during the 2nd pass thru.

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    It was an enjoyable day with a great bunch of riders. I think everyone had a good time. Tonight would be Ribeye Steak night at camp with a raffle drawing afterwards for some cool prizes later. We headed back to camp to get cleaned up and ready to eat!
    #33
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  14. mica

    mica Weekend Adventurer

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    This is certainly an adventure.
    #34
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  15. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    Friday Evening: Tonight was the official RMAR dinner and everyone has brought their appetites. We all got to cook our own Ribeyes over the grills that were setup and we get down to the business of cooking and eating. Afterwards we got the opportunity to listen to some speakers discuss the challenges we face as riders to keep OHV areas open and what things we can do to help. As a finale came the drawing of prizes supplied to the club by both national and local vendors. Sometimes the winds of fate blow favorably and my number got drawn first for a full set of Butler maps which are a really cool way to get a line on roads to make a point of hitting when traveling out west. Then at the end my number got drawn for a sweet GoPro Hero4 Black! Next trip I'll be able to add some video to my report. Quite the day it's been! :)

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    #35
  16. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    Saturday morning I'm up early and checking the forecast. The odds of a low coming in on Sunday has increased and I decide with so much more of Colorado to explore including my families old stomping grounds along the front range it's time to break camp and get moving again. I run up to the campground owners workshop to swap out my now shagged rear tire for a fresh knobby that I had bought from Apex Motor Sports in Colorado Springs that Matt from RMAR had been kind enough to swing by and pickup for me before he came out to Silverton. With the tire swap done I broke camp, said my goodbys, took a last look around, hoping to be back one day to see more of this section of Colorado, thumbed the starter and headed east. I had decided to run up Engineer Pass out of Silverton since it was the most direct route east and so far I had not managed to get a chance to ride it. It was a fun run up to the top of the pass. A few spots where line selection mattered on a big loaded bike but nothing extreme. It was also a great way to start what would end up being another fantastic day of riding.

    First part of the day on Engineer. Up to the top!
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    And then down the other side:
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    Got down into Lake City for a bite to eat and then stumbled by accident into some of the best Colorado riding I'd experienced yet on my way out of Lake City which I'll describe in my next post so I can add more pics!
    #36
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  17. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    After lunch in Lake City I decided to take Rt 149 to the east. It looked like a nice twisty paved route to make time on. It is a really nice road but as I rose out of Lake City I ran into more construction delays. I spied a dirt road off to the right running into the Aspens and took a closer look at the GPS. Well now, looks like this little dirt road goes up the mountain and then connects back to rt 149 several miles down the road. That's sounds worthy of a short detour BTW, I do "Short Detours" a lot when I ride. I never seem to stick to a route or end up where I think I might at the end of the day, LOL.

    Here's the start of my mystery road. Looks like a nice easy going diversion.

    [​IMG]

    Then things got just a touch muddy as I moved in and out between woods and open ground but the track was a smooth one that the KTM was eating up like a fine desert and I was moving along at a nice clip.

    [​IMG]


    Eventually the route started to take me straight towards the top of the mountain on what turned out to be the longest continuous hill climb I've ever been on. A scattered shower had dampened the ground which made for great traction on the dirt, but made things a little slick in sections of babyheads as I made way up. Momentum was the name of the game here and I worked hard to keep things moving at a fairly quick pace as much so that I could make the top before I, not the bike, ran out of steam. I came close to making it in a straight shot, but as I got near the top I saw another round of babyheads in my path that I'd need to cross over before reaching the peak. I was tired and the picture below was the best piece of ground I could find for a short break before tackling the last section.
    [​IMG]


    After a good rest I got back on the bike and finished the climb in good style and popped out onto the flat topped mountain at an altitude of just under 12,000 ft. It had been an exhilarating climb for sure, and was enhanced by my isolation and unfamiliarity of my surroundings. It felt great to be up here! As an aside, I never saw another soul on this entire 15 mile or so long track.
    [​IMG]


    I won't bore you with all the pictures I took as I wandered the track in my new private playground but I thought this one was kind of cool because it shows just how faint the "road" on my GPS got for awhile.
    [​IMG]

    Anyways, I did finally make it back to pavement and continued my route east for awhile feeling content in the day. I ended up holed up for the night in a hotel whose name escapes me but put me in a good position to hit the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado and Medano Pass to challenge the sand which were next on my bucket list.
    #37
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  18. badguy

    badguy Susan

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    I was a little confused when I saw the pics of the KTM but I just figured you'd gotten a new bike before the trip. Sorry to hear about the problems but it looks like you made some damn good lemonade!

    You have a good eye for the photos too, thanks for spending the time on this report!
    #38
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  19. CaptnSlo

    CaptnSlo Long timer

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    I'm sorry about your Tiger, but I'm glad you made orangeade out of lemons! Really digging the report.
    #39
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  20. Zepphead

    Zepphead Ride,explore,camp Supporter

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    Hope your liking that R. There's discussions about the air box and it's seal in effectively keeping out /dust bypassing the filter. Might want to check ? Like your trip, and posts :)
    #40
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