GRIT: The Great Ride of Idaho Trail

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by OrangeYZ, Sep 7, 2019.

  1. OrangeYZ

    OrangeYZ Long timer

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    A few years ago, ADV Member Birdcool put together this.

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    GPS tracks and maps of three trail focused rides in Idaho.
    One from Nevada to Canada up the Western part of the state, one loop that would cover the land from the Lolo Highway to Lake Pend Oreille, and one loop that would cover the mountains from Challis to Idaho City.
    Everything you could want is listed: gas, motels, easy trails, hard trails, roads, views, alternate trails, bonus trails, hot springs, cold rivers
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    I haven't gone camping off the bike in a few years and was getting the winter fever in March. By wild coincidence, Chad from Arizona found the Ridaho site and plans got forming.

    The Southern Loop checks all the boxes for us:
    It's a loop, check
    Shortest drive from Oregon, check
    Shortest drive from Arizona, also check
    Awesome mountains, check

    Aaaannnnnddd:
    Most single track at 330 miles, check
    Least road at 220 miles, also check

    Got my bike ready, check:
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    It's pretty much the perfect machine for tight single track, except for the camping gear, chainsaw, big tank and if you ever visit the Thumper Forum, being a 500.
    It's pretty much the opposite of perfect for a long highway drone though, so it goes into the Tacoma (sorry not sorry) for the long, but familiar by now drive to Pine, ID.

    Chad called around and found that the Nester's Lodge and Campground was probably the best place to spend a night, park the trucks and spend another night when we got back.
    Picture from their website, I think they're ok with dirt bikers
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    Actually that might have been the only place he called, but it only takes one shot if you nail it the first time.

    Anyways, I got a room, filled the sink with beer (they had both kinds, Coors and Coors Light) and hung out. Chad and Scott showed up about an hour later and we talked about how much fun dirt bikes are and how great the hot tub was going to feel when we get back late in the afternoon in five days.

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    #1
  2. OrangeYZ

    OrangeYZ Long timer

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    Wednesday, August 28, Day 1

    Unload bikes in the parking lot
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    Go Pro works?
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    And we're off!
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    Got all of the navigation tools anybody needs:
    Maps, the directions, and a vague memory of what the trail lines looked like on Google Maps
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    That worked for about 7.2 miles, then I had no idea where to go.
    Luckily, Chad downloaded all of the GPS files to some sort of GPS on his bike, and I was done leading for the week.
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    Since the land ownership in this area bounces between USFS, BLM and private, my NF map is kind of ho-hum

    I didn't remember anything about atv trails in the first run south to the desert, but here we are
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    The Trinity Mountains from up top
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    Singly tracky
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    "Hey what's your magic box say now?"
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    Neat campsite in the middle of the woods
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    No water in the summer now, probably better in the fall

    Some form of scenic thing
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    Don't Caarrrre
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    The furthest south we will go
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    Going to be heading back North into Lime Creek and President's Trail
    #2
  3. OrangeYZ

    OrangeYZ Long timer

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    First bike work of the trip, leaky fork seal
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    And stowaway
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    Didn't get any pictures or video of Lime Creek or President's Trails for some reason, but here's the ATV trail at the top, and Iron Mountain Lookout in the distance
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    Trinity Mountain again
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    Down the steep Switchbacks of Virginia Gulch Trail, we dunk helmets in the S Fork Boise River at the bottom and it's decision time.
    #3
  4. fuggy

    fuggy Canyon Explorer

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    Wow. Look at all those quadtards. Way to start off an Epic '2-Wheeled' Ride Report Joe!:eek7
    #4
  5. fuggy

    fuggy Canyon Explorer

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    I (Chad) should probably back up a bit. Scott and I have been traveling to Idaho for the last 8 years to meet up with Joe and his band of PNW's. We've exploited every trail we could find between Baumgardner and Stanley. I saw a cool video on the Tour of Idaho and got the idea I wanted to see more of the states single-track. Fast forward to 6 months ago I was doing a Baja Trip and ran across a guy named Dave Wonderly who mentioned R'idaho. Dave explained the R'idaho routes had more trails and less roads than Tour of Idaho. SOLD!

    Next came the planning and organizing for a trip like this. We don't have a lot of experience camping off the bike for a week but we had the gear and motivation.....while the good guys at R'idaho laid out some killer routes. I took their GPS routes and traced all their harder options and 'tests' between the start and finish towns. Mileage for each day ended up being around 120-130miles. Harder than I thought with three guys and plenty of single-track! On the days we started at 9AM, we struggled to make it to a nice campsite out of town before dark. Our itinerary looked like this:
    Day 1: Pine to Smiley Creek
    Day 2: Smiley Creek to Challis
    Day 3: Challis to Stanley
    Day 4: Stanley to Idaho City
    Day 5: Idaho City to Pine


    This year driving from AZ we made record time in the Chevy not having a trailer in tow and chatting with a nice Sheriff out of Utah. IMG_0460.JPG


    Scott and I arrived in Pine in about 14 hours of driving with daylight to spare. We got a good nights sleep at the Pine Motel. Here is a pic of us starting our adventure with no QuadTards around. :lol3 IMG_0473.JPG


    The first day was surprisingly fun. We started out on some narrow quad trail on the most southern part of the route that led into some awesome viewpoints. Ended up dropping down into South Fork of Boise River via Presidents Trail and Virginia Gulch (Presidents was new to me and it was great! Joe told me we had avoided it on past trips since it was 'warmer' on that side on the mtn) :dunno Scott pulls a wheelie to test out the new gear bag weight distribution....
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    Smiley Creek Lodge is out there somewhere....
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    #5
  6. fuggy

    fuggy Canyon Explorer

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    Who wants some video? Here is some short clips from our 5 days or R'idaho:
    #6
  7. OrangeYZ

    OrangeYZ Long timer

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    So Chad's not kidding, we've been coming to Idaho for a few years, and a lot of the time we camp about 6 miles up the road from this spot.
    Which means we've ridden some of these trails a lot, so it's not too hard to justify going off script about 5 hours into The GRIT

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    The GRIT normal route: Go East on this road to Skeleton Creek Trail, then up and over Conant Trail to Paradise Creek. Fun, but a bit whoopy. Paradise is super fun, and then either choice to get to Smiley is pretty good too.
    Optional challenge test: go straight North up Willow, then South down Skunk Creek and rejoin the route at the top of Conant. We haven't done Skunk Creek many times, but we have done Willow, and it's super rocky with not many views.

    Oooorrr, we can take Little Water Trail which is a pretty easy trail up to the top, and then it gets super rocky, but with views, then it turns into a Jeep road over to the other valley, also with views. We all agree that saving energy for later trails that we've never ridden would be smarter than beating ourselves up now.
    Skip the rocks of Willow, skip the whoops of Skeleton, and when we get to the top it will be easy to get back on the route and ride Paradise if we want.

    View and trail at the top
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    Looking down on the next valley
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    One year we saw an Early Bronco at the campsite at the end of the road up top, this is an easy section of the 20 or so mile long road he drove to get up there
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    Couple miles of normal road, couple more miles of Jeep road and we're back onto some single track
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    There's like a billion rocks on this whole ride, but somehow I didn't get pictures of very many of them. Here are six or seven.
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    Right around here my poor planning reared its ugly head, but moron that later.
    #7
  8. OrangeYZ

    OrangeYZ Long timer

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    Ok it's later.

    Like I said, I haven't done a "camping off the bike ride" in a long time, and wanted to make sure I still knew how packing camping gear worked. So I packed the stuff up a week or so before this ride, and on Sunday went for a ride to shake everything down. About 90 miles of local forest roads, easy stuff. It's all good, I strapped my sleeping bag differently halfway through, but nothing really needs to be changed. Throw the bike back in the truck, go home, unload it.
    Bike usually gets 55-60 mpg, so my 4.5 gallon tank now has 1.5 gallons of empty space in it. Don't want to make it heavier before loading it again, so I don't top it off.
    Get to Pine. They have a gas station. For some reason I think we're only going to ride 60 or 70 miles to Smiley Creek. No sense in making my bike heavier for all this single track, so I don't top off.
    When we got to the bottom of Virginia Gulch and had gone 60 miles, that would have been a perfect time to reevaluate my gas, and ride the 4 miles of road into Featherville and get some more.
    Didn't.

    Get up to the top of Little Water Gulch Trail "Hey if we rejoin the route and take Paradise, I'm definitely going to run out of gas. We should probably stick with the shortest way out of here possible."

    So we did, and I still ran out of gas a couple miles from the top of Johnson Creek Trail.

    These fuel injected bikes are a pain to get gas out of for sharing, but Scott planned ahead by bring the extra fuel line so you can pump it out, and Chad planned ahead by turning one of the fuel pump bolts into a drain.

    "That little rubber cap is the only thing holding all of your gas in?"
    --"Yeah, but the rubber is rated for gasoline so it will be fine. I've got a spare in case it gets knocked off"
    "In about five minutes I'm going to be talking major shit about how sketchy it is to have that hanging out there in the open, but right now it looks like a pretty good idea."
    Three cans worth should be enough to get me to the station at Smiley.
    Scott had plenty of his own gas and was talking shit immediately.

    More trail
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    Normally I'm of the opinion that highways are trash, not even worth riding let alone take pictures of, but this stretch is ok.
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    Fuel light came on again on the road passing Alturas Lake, got to Smiley with about 1/2" of gas showing in the bottom of the tank.
    Good burgers. Grab some sodas for the morning, fill my camelbak with ice for the warm beer I've been carrying all day and we're off on an easy 7 mile road ride to the first campsite of the trip.

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    We've stayed at this one before and wanted to go further up the trail to get to something new and not truck accessible, but it was getting dark and I was out of energy with the Day 1 slump that I always seem to go through.
    #8
  9. fuggy

    fuggy Canyon Explorer

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    Camping near the Grand Prize Trail Head was a nice treat. Had a nice stream and campfire to lull us to sleep. Scott tried sleeping in a hammock the first nice and said he was a little cold and uncomfortable and joined us poor folk on the ground the rest of the trip. Joe was able to secure some fresh Mt. Dew in Smiley Creek Lodge the night before and was looking much more chipper starting Day 2.

    Grand Prize/Germania Trails were fun, we've done them a bunch and know all the short cuts around mud holes and how to hit the rocky sections and switchbacks. Little and Big Boulder creek gave us no issues, but we were hungry and hit the Old Saw Mill.
    We had heard there was no gas at the Old Saw Mill, we went up the road anyway hoping to grab some food. They were closed. The next turn up Peach Creek Road was hard to find! I passed it twice, hard to see from the road. Joe found it and we followed this road up into the hills until we hit the Razors Edge Trail. Trail 162 did not disappoint! It was narrow with super tight switchbacks. Reminded me of Rhyman Creek in Rico, CO with its tight switchbacks. This trail starts at 3:26 in my video.

    Razors Edge, Ramey Creek, up Cinnabar to the L.O. was super fun yet challenging. I had only done Cinnabar from the other direction, so it was nice getting to see the area from a different perspective.

    Nice place for a snack break after finishing Germania Trail:
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    Of course we went past the Custer Look Out and did the challenging Cinnabar Trail
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    Joe was a dedicated fire maker for the trip. Not only does he have mad chainsaw skills, he can get a fire going quickly with just a buck knife and some tinder. He was also insistent on dumping lots of water on the fire in the AM.
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    #9
  10. BobcatSig

    BobcatSig Single Track Beater

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    This TR = most excellent.

    This is only adding fuel to my must-ride-Idaho fire.
    #10
  11. OrangeYZ

    OrangeYZ Long timer

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    View from our campsite in the morning
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    Single track
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    Single track with some view
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    Would like to have camped in those trees
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    Downside would be that to stay within the letter of the law, we would have to park at the sign and carry our junk 100 yards over there. There are some other spots further down the trail right on the creek, probably end up at one of those one of these years.

    Hypothetical morning view from that campsite
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    Single track with more serious view
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    Up and over, I don't even know the name of the summit. It's the one between Grand Prize Trail to the south and Germania Creek Trail to the North. I didn't take any pictures at the top, I'll find some old ones when I get home tonight.

    We head down stream on Germania Creek, hitting three or four crossings right away and then smooth riding to the road.
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    #11
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  12. OrangeYZ

    OrangeYZ Long timer

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    Little Boulder Trail has been part of the Tour of Idaho since its beginning, part of R'Idaho since its beginning, and probably part of most people's day rides if they happen to be in the area.

    On the trail near the start, looking back
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    Further on the trail, looking forward
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    From way back when: The Gang Rides Little Boulder Trail, 2016, colorized
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    Somewhere in between the two
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    Nother neat view
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    We rode through the Livingston Mine ghost town, then up and over the mountain to French Creek Trail.
    Down the fun, easy single track of French Creek, until near the end, then down the field of giant red rocks of French Creek. We got to the highway and headed over to Old Sawmill Station hoping for lunch and a beer.
    #12
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  13. Bt10

    Bt10 Been here awhile

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    Some of your pics are hosted on a site blocked by a lot of employers, jus sayin'.
    #13
  14. Car Sun Key

    Car Sun Key Pick a direction and go

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    Looks like an epic ride for sure. How many times did you have to use the chainsaw?
    #14
  15. OrangeYZ

    OrangeYZ Long timer

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    Yeah, another friend just wrote to me saying the same thing. Annoying, but I already have them all uploaded and want to avoid doing that twice. Hopefully they work for you at home. He was able to see them on his phone.

    Edit: uploading them is easy, going back and redoing the links like the time when Photobucket went to hell is what I really don't want to do.
    #15
  16. OrangeYZ

    OrangeYZ Long timer

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    A bunch. On a couple of days I quit counting around 8 or so.
    #16
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  17. OrangeYZ

    OrangeYZ Long timer

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    NO FOOD! NO BEER! NO GAS! No nothing at Old Sawmill Station. A guy who was stopped there with a travel trailer said they pretty much open for about two weeks a year around elk season.
    He offered gas in case we were in a bind, but we were all doing fine there. I asked if he had any burgers, but he said all he could do was gas :(

    This changes our plans a little. We were hoping to get food here, then we could camp wherever we want tonight and hit Challis in the morning. Chad and Scott have freeze-dried meals, and I have a pound and a half of jerky that could pass off as dinner (it's really good jerky) but we would all rather avoid that and resolve to not dilly dally and hit the trails fast enough to do the Ridaho Special Test and still get to Challis in time for dinner and in time to get back to the woods for a nice campsite.

    We ride the highway for a bit looking for Peach Creek Road, miss it, find it, and head up until it turns into a trail

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    The routine:
    Der's de log
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    I get de saw
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    I get de log
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    And we get to ridin
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    #17
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  18. OrangeYZ

    OrangeYZ Long timer

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    http://ridaho.info/the-grit3-stage-5/
    Whatever man, I ain't skered!

    Hell yeah, that's what I'm talking about!

    Pretty good trail
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    Good climb, I had to use my clutch a bit
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    Neat sidehill, I guess
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    Starting to feel a bit ripped off here, there's nothing super crazy...

    Wwhhhaaaattt????
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    AAAAHHHHHH
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    AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
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    AAAAAHAHHHHHHH!!!!!
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    Rocky climb, not gonna die on this
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    Pretty good view of the lookout up ahead, 2016 colorized
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    AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!
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    Rocky climb, might die on this one
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    [Catches breath]
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    AAHH!
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    Oh where were you five minutes ago?!?!
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    Ok we're here, just don't look down
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    AAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
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    #18
  19. OrangeYZ

    OrangeYZ Long timer

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    If there was more time we would have hiked the last 50 yards up to the lookout building and enjoyed the view, but the woods are dark and lovely and deep, and I have miles to go before beers I drink.
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    A little bummed to be leaving this scenic cliff-trail-wonderland so soon.

    "It's alright little brother, there is more!"
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    The rest of the trails to Challis were safe and easy compared to that. We hit Five Mile Trail down to Yankee Fork Road and a mix of bike trails and atv trails and roads into town. We passed Buster Lake and decided it would probably be a good camp for the night later because of how close it is to the route, and even though it's truck accessible, it's at the end of a long, rough road and would probably still be empty when we got back.
    We passed the West end of the Lombard ATV Trail, part of the route, but decided we should get gas and dinner and then see if we have time to ride it on the way out of town.
    Get gas at 6:30, lots of daylight, we're fine
    Order burgers at 7:00, lots of daylight, we're fine
    Wonder what's going on at 8:00, still some daylight, getting worried
    Find out at 8:30 that our order got lost, it will be done in 8 minutes. It's dark. Not like it's going to get darker at this point, might as well ride this adventure out.
    Get our burgers at 9:00, they were really good, and we got some free beers for our troubles
    On the bikes at 9:04 and we're all going to find out together how good our headlights really are!

    Mine is ok.
    I got a couple of those Amazon LED running lights clamped to my saw carrier. One spot and one flood, but for this trip I've got the flood wired to high beam, and low beam just charges my Go Pro
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    It's pretty good on a trail at lighting everything up, but doesn't reach very far on the road.

    Scott's handlebar mounted LED light bar is very bright, and pointing at Jupiter. Chad has the stock XCW-F dirt bike light.

    So it would be way better if the sun was up.
    But it's not, so we skip Lombard Trail and take the road straight to Buster Lake.

    I missed a black cow by about 3 feet. Not through some spectacular evasive maneuver or anything, it just didn't happen to be standing where I was riding, and I saw it when it was about 3 feet away.
    #19
  20. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Bummed I missed this when you first posted @OrangeYZ, fantastic so far and definitely looking forward to following along. A couple shots of that sketchy single track reminds me of riding Juniper Ridge in the Giff, falling down isn't an option...damn. Wouldn't cause me too much trepidation on my little GG 2-smoker, but on a loaded bike...woof.

    Fantastic images and it's so cool to see both perspectives of the guys riding.

    Can't wait for the next update :thumb
    #20
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