How I spent my summer vacation, or 6000 miles on a WR250R

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by skierd, Aug 27, 2009.

  1. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,396
    Location:
    Fairbanks, AK
    Day 12 pt 1 - OK, NM, and CO, or I'm not quite as alone as I thought...

    Another day, another county road between fields. Open range has given way to farmland at this point, so no more barb wire to divide the scenery, just fields as far as the eye can see.
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    More vacant homes...
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    Hmm... the road's starting to fade... and turning to sand...
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    Ah bloody hell...
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    F U C K

    If you're gonna crash, it might as well be in foot deep sugar sand. I was doing about 20mph, got caught on the center mount, and after fishtailing for about 50 yards just completely ate it.

    It gets better of course...
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    It was not particularly fun trying to get out from under the bike, as if I lifted it up wiggle out, the fuel can dug into my lower leg just above my ankle and if I didn't lift I couldn't move. Fortunately I found a happy medium and got out to assess the situation. No damage to the bike, and no damage to me except for a few bruises on my left side on my ribs and general soreness for the next few days.

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    The road eventually became good again fortunately. At the next crossroads, the Garmin had me going straight on some nice two track again, so I motored along...

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    DAMN it.
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    Some back tracking and rerouting, back on the road.

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    Stopped for gas in Boise City, OK, the shell station there had a pretty decent little diner inside with damn good breakfast food. Looking out the window as I finish my coffee, and I see a newer loaded up KLR pull up to the pumps, take a long look at my bike, then roll over to the air pumps. The rider walks into the diner part of the general store, see's me, and asks me about the bike, the trip, etc. Turns out he's on the TAT too and has been chasing me for the last week or so. :lol3 So, meet Paul (for the life of me, I can't remember you're name and I apologize for it), another ADV'er.

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    There was also another guy on a nice GS whose name I didn't catch heading east.

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    Since Paul and I were headed in the same direction, we decided to ride together for a while, at least as far as Salida since thats where I was stopping on the TAT.


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    Out of Oklahoma

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    A little bit of pavement as a connector...
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    Then back onto the open range.

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    ...and the antelope play! Fast little bastards, missed on 3 other shots trying to get them.

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    Another abandoned homestead.
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    almost ran over some barb wire without noticing it, would have made for a nasty surprise for sure... watch where you put a wheel out here off the roads, lesson learned.

    Its obvious someone spent a lot of time building this, and a lot of effort. Hell, how far did they have to go to get the trees for the roof?! Paul snooping around
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    Getting into the canyons
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  2. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Fairbanks, AK
    Day 12, pt 2

    Remember what I said about do the trail now, because they're paving it? The west isn't immune to it either... I kinda get the feeling the cowboys must have had when they first encountered barb wire. The attempt at taming and dividing of the wilderness that simply refuses to submit. Still, its a nice view...
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    The pavement disappeared once we got down into the canyon
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    Go this way dummies!
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    As we both stopped to take a picture, we hear a dog barking and a tractor approaching. Meet Henry the rancher:
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    Had a nice long talk about the area, his ranch, and the amount of rider's he seen over the last few years. He actually put the sign up because people kept missing the turn and riding down a dead end road where some of his relatives live.

    The climb out of the canyon was on a nice wide little road, lots of elevation climb and rocks and sand and loose dirt. No pics as there was no where to stop, but it was easily just as difficult as Warloop imo.

    Finally, up on the Mesa at ~7000 feet.
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    Another abandoned home, right as you got up there. Judging by the size, this had to be a pretty nice place back in the day, just out in the middle of no where by itself.
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    Hmm... ominous clouds...
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    Branson, CO jail house
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    Dey gots me! (can't help it, I turn into a little kid around this kinda stuff)
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    Spartan accommodations, wonder if they'll let me use the hammock?
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    Note... don't get into Branson expecting gas cause there ain't any. Nearest gas is Trinidad, quite a ways ahead... more on that later...

    It drizzled a little on the way in to town, so she decided to pick up some trail makeup.

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    the old church in Branson
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    Hmm... those clouds don't look any friendlier, lets ride!
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    Ended up stopping to throw on rain gear in Trinchero as it opened up pretty decently. This would be the last time I got seriously rained on for the remainder of the trip.
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    Waiting for another paving project, the construction workers had the road down to one lane... but the didn't have radio contact with each other. About 30 seconds after getting the go ahead and rolling out, a semi comes barreling down the hill. :eek1 The driver rolls to a stop next to me... "HEY, YOU GOT ANY SMOKES?"

    Why yes... yes I do. Tossed him my last cigar (bough a pack of cheapie Garcia Vegas in tubes to enjoy at a few campfires), pretty sure I made his day.
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    Liquid sunshine!
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    And I made it! Welcome to downtown Trinidad, Co.
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    I made it 155 miles from Boise City and used 2.021 gallons out of my 2.1 gallon gast tank, ~76mpg. No doubt the slower speeds on the trail helped, but still the bike isn't exactly unloaded as I'm about 200 pounds, probably 215-220 dressed, and carrying 50 pounds of gear. Did I mention I love this bike? Got dinner at the Main Street Diner, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Fantastic food, get your salsa hot. :deal

    Ended up bedding down at Trinidad State Park for a dissapointing night. Not only did the ranger over charge us for the campsite, I couldn't find a decent pair of trees to hang the hammock. The showers were nonexistent. The closest bathroom was in the picnic area a mile away. Lame...

    Tomorrow: Salida!
  3. Lerxstdawg

    Lerxstdawg Wait...what?

    Joined:
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    Keen to see the rest of this trip. How's the monkey butt factor on the WRR? Nice looking countryside too.
  4. twigsnapper

    twigsnapper How did I get here?

    Joined:
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    Westsylvania
    :clapGreat stuff, maybe if the school thing gets you down you can write a screenplay and turn this into a tv pilot... I remember watching a show as a kid, "Then Came Bronson" where he rides his sportster around the country, getting into situations--I think this is what started it all for me--"living what most of us can only dream".

    Mind me asking how you upload while on the road?
  5. NewHampWoodsRider

    NewHampWoodsRider Tag Captor

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    447
    Location:
    Way Down North, New Hampshire
    Great trip so far!
    Im very jealous!!

    Keep up the great reporting!:clap

    How did the other guys KLR handle the trip when you rode with him?
  6. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2003
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Eureka, Calif
    He's back already and posting the complete story in daily chapters, it would appear. From the first post:

    "My last summer class ended at 10:30am on August 6th and my first fall class starts on 8/31 at 11am, so I had just over 3 weeks to spend on the road."
  7. Jimmy the Heater

    Jimmy the Heater Dirt Farmer

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    Location:
    Eastern Washington State
    Excellent RR, thank you so much for taking us along. Very interested to see how the the R² does on this trip. And also how the small bike detractors react when it does it successfully!
  8. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Fairbanks, AK
    Yup, I've been home nearly a week. Ready to get back on the road again as reality starts creeping back in...

    Katie (as I've started calling her, the name came to me somewhere in the Ozarks) performed flawlessly. I think the majority of us WR250R owners have figured out just whats so special about this bike: its as close to a perfect 50/50 dual sport that anyone has made to date. Its got the road manners, dirt ability, and load/farkle capacity to take you anywhere your heart desires and do it competently and without fuss.

    Day 13 - Trinidad to Salida

    Dawn came way too early after a late dinner and slow camp setup the night before. The trees around Lake Trinidad weren't the best for the hammock, and its not the easiest thing to string up in the middle of the night (which is a big reason why it was sold in the Flea Market yesterday). Regardless, we still got on the road relatively early in the day for the relative short hop up to Salida.

    Passing by the power plant leaving Trinidad
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    On the old trail again... hard to imagine doing this by wagon... or horse... or on foot...
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    The skies started to threaten again, so we both made a stop to do throw on rain pants (and for me, my overboots as well) in preparation for weather that hopefully would never come. Gear decision number 2, I'm getting a 1-piece rain suit (Klim Stowaway sold, BMW Pro Rain 2 acquired earlier today).
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    False alarm of course, mostly...
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    More abandoned homes. This was probably a nice one when it was built, someone definitely put in a lot of effort. Guessing either miners or ranchers, and either the mine played out or the cows all died? Or just got tired of living out here...
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    Another one...
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    Whatever this used to be, it had to be important. Those steps were not small, and the foundation was substantial. A home? A bank? A mine office? Gotta wonder how it used to look, how long it took to get like this, and what it used to be.
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    Coming off the mesa.
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    I've got my head up in the clouds... approaching 10,000 feet for the first time according to the Garmin
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    Back down a little way...
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    Time for a pit stop, on the menu was the Main Street Diner in La Veta, Co. I'm kicking myself for not getting a picture of it, but if you're on the trail or hell just in the area, stop in. You'll get more food than you know what to do with, I guarantee it. Brunch consisted of a gigantic omlette stuffed with ham, cheese, potatoes, bacon, and sausage, all covered in red chili. Its the first time in as long as I can remember that a breakfast has gotten the better of me, just couldn't finish it! :tb

    After fueling up the bikes as well, Paul took the lead for a while.
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    Seeing a church in the middle of nowhere makes you wonder what once was...
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    I like where this is going
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    And into the San Isabel National Forest we go!
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    It was around this point that I started to notice something... I didn't like being behind someone. After nearly 3500 miles of riding alone, I was no longer content to share the view I guess? Part of the problem for me was also that Paul generally kept a slightly slower pace than me, particularly on the uphill and flat portions, slower enough that I was often and consistently put between gears and generally out of sorts. It was fun while it lasted, but I caught up to him and said I wanted to ride on ahead at my own pace, maybe see you in Salida, and rode on ahead. Part of the issue was I did NOT want to get caught out after dark and I still had my GPS set on Central time, telling me I was an hour later than I really was, and a lot of it had to do with I was anxious to get to Salida as I had someone to meet.

    The road continued UP UP UP! Crossed over 11,000 feet still running strong, but c o l d. I had to stop to throw on a thermal shirt, pull my rain shell out, and put on my windblocker glove liners to stay warm. Coming back down the mountain:

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    My maps had me continuing down this highway...
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    Screw that, I accidentally(?) set a waypoint on this dirt road that lead through Puma Canyon, and took a detour instead.
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    Its amazing how fast a town can rise and fall out here.
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    Just after my second fuel stop in Westclife, I got caught in either the remnants or the beginnings of a fairly strong storm, during which on the road out of town I had to stop to let the winds die down. They were blowing so hard that all the loose sand on the road surface was blown away in a mini sandstorm and I just simply could not see, or open my eyes, or anything. It felt like walking into a sand blaster. Snapped this after it cleared since I was stopped anyways.
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    Crossing US 50.
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    We're on the home stretch now!
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    Back up and over another few mountains, I'll let the pictures do the talking.
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    And finally...
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    Time to turn my phone on and rejoin civilization! Called my dad who had driven down and met him downtown at the Boathouse Cantina
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    Dad retired from the government after 35+years in February, sold the house and eventually moved to one of the islands in Pugent Sound near Seattle after wandering around the country for about a month with the only plan being to stop when he found someplace nice. Wonder where I get it from? :lol3 Since its only about a 2 days drive for him, he drove down and met me in Salida. :freaky

    Looking down the Arkansas River, waiting for dinner, anxious for the riding to come tomorrow...
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    ... time to climb some mountains!
  9. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly Supporter

    Joined:
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    Eureka, Calif
    Jack Bauer is your dad?
  10. H14

    H14 Live, Laugh, Love.

    Joined:
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    :lol3 I missed that at first. Nice trip, now you got me wanting another bike. Thanks for the excellent report.
    I hope your dad is enjoying his retirement, God knows he earned it the hell he's been through.
  11. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

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    Hmm, I guess he wasn't on vacation all those times after all. :rofl

    Almost missed this one... 0 monkey butt, did have some chafing from my choice of underwear (Under Armor Boxer Briefs) from the seams though. I'll get the LD comfort next time. Anti-monkeybutt powder every morning and stopped every 45-90 minutes, either to piss, get gas, or eat.
  12. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
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    Fairbanks, AK
    Day 14 Part 1 - Hancock Pass

    Up early enough to gorge myself on the continental breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express and got moving around 9am. Appropriate sentiment on the marquee...

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    As you can see, I left the side bags in the hotel room. I knew the day was going to be difficult, didn't want to make it any harder by adding width and weight.

    Time to do what I came all this way to do... ride to the top of a few mountain passes! Stay on target...
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    Nice long winding road up to St. Elmo. Note: the park service is starting to close off some of the roads and old townships are being closed off to close up the old mines and remove their presence. Get out there now before the greenies take it all away...

    St. Elmo!
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    See the KLR? Yup, ran into Paul again. This is good though, I was happy to not be on the mountain alone a little while later...

    More St. Elmo... this little town way up over 10,000 feet is the crossroads for the 3 main passes over the mountain. Go through town and turn right to go to Tincup, go left just as you get to town to go over Hancock and Tomichi.

    Lets go left!

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    Not so bad so far... wonder what all the fuss is about?

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    Another TAT monument.
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    Air's starting to get a little thin, and I'm feeling it. Its also quite chilly up here, so I stopped to throw on my rain shell for an extra layer. I was already wearing my thermals and glove liners to give you an idea.
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    Welcome to the ghost town of Hancock. Here's all thats left:
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    Right around the corner is the detour for the Alpine Tunnel trail. I didn't take the hike to the tunnel as I frankly didn't feel like walking several miles at altitude in MX boots.
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    Word to the unwise: When they say high clearance 4wd vehicles, they mean ATV's. Only. I got to the first switchback and turned around after dropping the bike twice on the ascent, and twice on the descent walking it down.
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    Head pounding from exertion, I had to stop for a few minutes to get my breath back. Keep in mind I'm still up over 11,000 feet here, 4000 feet higher than where I started my day.

    Ok, no more stalling. The road to Hancock:
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    I had left paul back in St. Elmo, but he passed me while I was farting around on Williams, caught up to him shortly after this pic and ended up riding with him most of the rest of the day. A little further along... both of these are the easy parts btw. I always wondered why I couldn't find any pics from any other RR's going over the pass to show what I was getting into, its because if you stop on the hard parts there's a good chance you get moving again between the slope and the surface.

    So, keep the moment up and GO GO GO! Ah fuck...

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    Nearly lost it as the bike pogo'd over two big ass rocks that I misjudged. The last mile or so was like this, and I had another half mile or so to go (going by how it felt, haven't looked at the GPS track yet). Now I'm stopped and somewhat trapped between two big rocks. I can get my feet down where the bike stopped thankfully, but if I start moving its all or nothing cause I won't be able to dab to keep it moving... deep breath... take another picture...


    Ok, gun it! Up and over without much grace, but I'm moving vertically again. Thanks again for the new rear D606 HF...

    Sucess! Then... as I was backing up to take a pic of the bike in front of the sign, I trip over a big ass rock and fall flat on my ass. :lol3 Fortunately Paul was there to grab my camera, tell me to stay put, and snap a pic. Orson fall down...


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    Made it!
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    I'm a little tired, but excited. The hard parts over... right?
  13. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    3,396
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    Fairbanks, AK
    Part 2 - Tomichi, Marshall, and Tincup Passes

    Ok, so where do we go from here? Oh, see that little ribbon of road on the mountain? Yep!
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    The descent from Hancock was more difficult than the ascent. Very few places to rest, very few places that weren't like this:
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    In general it was smoother "road", but it certainly wasn't a cake walk. Before the trip I added 4 teeth to the rear sprocket and to date this is the only place I felt I wanted it lower. It was just so steep and loose, when it comes time to change gearing again I think I'm going with a 13/46 or /45 and carrying a 12T for the gnarly stuff like this.

    More rocks, one of many little creek crossings that were mercifully smooth.
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    Ok, time to climb again. And... fuck
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    The cliff on the right had me trying to stay left and hug the mountain. The deep pea sized gravel on the left rut had other ideas and I washed the front end out. Got it back up easily enough, but this is where I decided to sell the rotopax rack after it tried to dig into my leg again. To those of you who ride off road with hard cases, well, you're braver or dumber than I am.

    Up and over the hill, then down a little, before making the ascent over Tomichi. Looking back over a road "repair" to cover up a washout.
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    On the other side of the mountain, sorry I didn't stop at the summit of the pass but that really wasn't going to happen.
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    Getting smoother, and much lower in elevation...
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    Made it to the Tomichi Graveyard... looking back again, NOW they tell me.
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    A closed mine on the road out.
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    On the road to Sargent, no pics at the gas/lunch stop. Paul and I parted ways here, his road taking him to the Pacific and mine taking me back to the Atlantic. Keep an eye out for his RR!
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    Think I'm done yet? Nope! There's two more passes I want to hit... on the road to Marshall
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    :clap
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    Marshall was so much easier its not even funny, and its still a quite scenic and fun ride. Unless you're a DAMN good rider or a glutton for punishment, don't go over the others with a big bike.

    Coming back down:
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    Back to Salida to make some plans. Took advantage of the help of another forum member and stopped by Hayduke's shop to grab my street tires that I was going to swap out too the next day at another inmates house (RAMZ).

    Gotta love the Life is Crap T's, I had to buy this one:rofl
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    Ok, daylight's fading... but I think I've got time. Lets do one more... Onward to Tincup, mush!
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    It was also pretty easy, at first. Then you make a pretty hellacious climb and pop out above the treeline into an alpine moonscape. I dropped the bike up here too, same deal as what happened on Hancock.
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    The road to Tincup...
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    but thats as far as I got. Two reasons, one it was getting dark. Fast. I did NOT want to get stuck on top of a mountain after dark. Second, these signs:
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    Not sure if it was referring to the area directly behind or the road itself, but I decided to err on the side of caution and head back to Salida.

    So long!
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    Back to Salida to meet my dad for dinner and rest up for tomorrow's maintenance and short ride
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    So, some reflection... Hancock and Tomichi passes combined are the most difficult pieces of road I've ever ridden. I've done worse around home, but at 8000 feet less elevation and not some 40 miles of it. This day was erring a little close to work on the work-fun scale, but it was still a blast to ride it. Additionally, these trails got me rethinking my gear setup start formulating a plan to drastically reduce weight and bulk. The experience of the next few days really crystallized it...
  14. Jedediah

    Jedediah Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    822
    Location:
    Riverside County, California.
    What a beautiful ride! so far! Along for the remainder. Really appreciate this thread.

    Riding TAT next year is sealed. Trying to get my mind on board the WR250R.

    Thank you for posting.

    Jed
  15. Boxall

    Boxall Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2005
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    Location:
    Northwest Georgia
    Your ride was fantastic. I've been almost late for work twice this week because I can't pry myself off the computer and get out of the house to go to work. VERY INTERESTING!:clap
  16. HighFive

    HighFive Never Tap-Out

    Joined:
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    Okiehoma
    :lurk

    HF :thumbup

    p.s. Then stay away from Hayden Pass down by Coaldale.....you'd probably die.
  17. LeeU

    LeeU Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2004
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    364
    Location:
    Casa Grande,AZ
    skierd,

    Nice RR!! I rode the TAT from OK to Nevada last summer. Enjoyed looking at the same pics once again.:lol3
    I remember the exact place in OK where you hit the deep sand!!:eek1 My KLR washed out after about 1/4 mile or so-- a rancher in a 4 wheel drive pick up came along and asked me; " Why are you on this road?":wink:
    I asked him the same question!! He said he was taking a shortcut home.
    We couldn't cross Hancock or Tamichi Passes because of snow last July, we crossed Marchall & Cinnamon Passes instead. Later got a dose of Ophir Pass on the way out-- got our attention!!
    Your R2 is the best light weight dual sport out there right now-- hear that Suzuki is coming out with a 400cc version soon!! I'm looking to down size weight!!:clap

    Lee Ullmann
  18. GetYourOwn

    GetYourOwn Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Nowhere great
    Sweet ride report. Leaving for the TAT tomorrow on a WR250. Will be moteling all the way to the Ark/Ok border and then running the same roads back to NC so I am packing pretty light.

    My riding buddies are riding a KTM 950SE and a KTM 640. We will see which one of the three was the better choice.
  19. crackhead

    crackhead Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2007
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    1,270
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    Waay NW Washington
    Id be interested as well.. RR please..
  20. skierd

    skierd Wannabe Far-Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,396
    Location:
    Fairbanks, AK
    Day 15 - Maintenance, Phantom Canyon, Mining Towns

    Of course, like an idiot, I forgot to take my camera with me to Ramz's house to do some much much needed maintenance. The night before I cleaned my air filter again because it was filthy after just over a thousand miles of sand and dust (last time was at HF's). In the morning I made a run to the Yamaha dealer near Salida and picked up 2 quarts of Yamalube and a 14T front sprocket to make the ride back easier, then picked up the tires (Kenda K761 for the road ride home) Threw the tires over my shoulder and rode out, of course getting there a little later than I expected. Did a MUCH needed oil change, Ramz was generous enough to change the tires and show me around his fantastic garage. Sorry about the oil spots again... got all buttoned up around 2pm, loaded up and rolled out of Salida on US 50 East.

    Into a nice stiff headwind of course. I was very happy to have the 14T as the new rear tire was significantly shorter than both the D606 and stock deathwing, gave me enough gear to pull into the stiff headwind but still cruise at 65mph comfortably.

    Looking back on US 50...

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    Further along.

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    further still.
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    Made a quick pit stop in Canon City for gas and lunch, then headed out to Phantom Canyon on CR-67, which follows the old railroad grade to Victor and Cripple Creek.

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    A short bit later, the road turns into a beautiful and smooth gravel road and heads into the canyon. There was some traffic, thankfully RV's are not allowed.
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    The first of several old rail road tunnels
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    The whole ride was just stunning.

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    After the last pic, the road curves into this narrow gorge that was one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. Just like on the plains, I just had to stop and soak it up. Once I cut the motor, pulled the helmet off, and took out my earplugs, the only sound was the slightest trickle of the creek running beside the road.

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    I was unfortunately snapped out of my reverie by a Dodge Ram roaring around the corner and tearing off in the direction I was headed. :cry Oh well, its starting to get a little late anyways.

    Approaching the old mining town of Victor
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    Old mines were everywhere!
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    Downtown
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    City Hall

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    More old mines, there were easily dozens of these scattered through the surrounding hills

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    Leaving town... there still be gold in them thar hills! No really, thats part of a very active gold mine.
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    Approaching Cripple Creek...
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    What a disappointment, very touristy and main street was nothing but casinos and cowboy or miner themed bars. Not my speed, I was happy to be out of there quickly.

    One last mine on the hill over looking the town...
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    Looking back
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    From there, I rode up to Mueller State Park to meet my dad again and camp for the night. I was in for a rude surprise... though the campground had plenty of wonderful trees to hang the hammock from, they did not allow you to tie anything to trees for fear it might damage them. Never did I ever think I would be in the woods and not be able to use the damn trees. Set the hammock up as a bivy by tying it to the picnic table and a big rock and slept horribly on the ground. Also, because the campground was just over 10,000ft in elevation, it got quite chilly at night. Fortunately my REI Halo +40 bag was up to the task and I stayed nice and warm.

    Tomorrow... top a 14er! And a major disappointment...