Mexico to Canada on Dirt - The Continental Divide Trail

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by bwanajames, Apr 18, 2017.

  1. Pdrhound

    Pdrhound Been here awhile Supporter

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    BJ
    If your riding your bicycle on the CDT in New Mexico, you should be on 112 heading for el vado and Chama. Look us up on Google

    Starrynightranch.com

    You'll be riding right by and I got plenty of room for your tent and a respite.
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  2. Pdrhound

    Pdrhound Been here awhile Supporter

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    Also, 1 mile north of cuba on 550, there is a new "campsite" with showers. A young man purchased the property and has done a spectacular job.
  3. joenuclear

    joenuclear Still here....

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    In the words of......

    :-)
  4. bwanajames

    bwanajames Moto sapien

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    Eakins,

    I'm glad you found the report worthy of archiving. After a couple of days, they get buried pretty quick. Warms my heart to know others can access the information for inspiration and planning long after the last post is made. Thanks for breathing a little life and longevity into the adventure.

    BJ
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  5. bwanajames

    bwanajames Moto sapien

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    Pdrhound,

    Isn't this something... Haven't even pedaled a single revolution and already an invitation.

    After being a motorcycle gypsy in my youth, and extended hiatus, I returned to riding after deciding it was the best possible way to see the world. Little did I know, it was also the way to meet the world's best people.

    BJ
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  6. gianttrack

    gianttrack Adventurer

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    I just finished this report (so far) after reading your Alaska RR. Both are amazing reads! I am heading for AK in August and may have to replace it with the CDT on the bucket list. Thanks! This is no small effort!
    bwanajames likes this.
  7. flyrodder

    flyrodder nothing bugs me except insufficient applause Super Supporter

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    Bwana -- just simply outstanding. Currently sidelined with a significant concussion, I've only been able to read small portions of your report before having to 'tag out'. But the self-administered headaches are worth it. CDT is on my short list; your writings have changed it's priority.
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  8. Ninemmsig

    Ninemmsig n00b

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    Fantastic RRs-I enjoyed the Alaska report and the CDT both! It's still snowy here in Washington, was nice to tag along on your rides! Thanks for taking the time to share the adventures!
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  9. Daffey

    Daffey Sans Bon Mot

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    It's been raining all weekend here in NorCAL I enjoyed the cerebral get away from beginning to end. I'll be up in Glacier this summer and now have expanded my riding itinerary to include parts of the CDT. Kudos on an eloquent RR.
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  10. Daffey

    Daffey Sans Bon Mot

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    You really don't need the 1190 qualifier, ho chicks dig dudes on KTMs......

    Oakland really!?
  11. bwanajames

    bwanajames Moto sapien

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    “You can’t get so hung up on where you’d rather be, that you forget to make the most of where you are.”

    - Arthur (android bartender in Passengers)


    Like something from the Old West, Rimini’s main street was dirt. Rain had filled potholes to the brim. Exiting town on a slalom course of pizza-sized lakes, the road wound up the mountain, drying as it went. Fog lifted, the forest opened up, expanding ones view on the world. It was a moment to take a deep breath, cast a glance upward, and breathe a silent “thank you” to whoever may hear it.

    Nothing technical here; the Basin Creek Road was a smooth, earthen path to glide on – freeing eyes to take it all in. Complacent, relaxed, mesmerized by the pulsing engine beneath me, I came around the corner grabbing a hand full of brake!

    The rain, it seems, had loosened soil, allowing a pair of lodgepole pines perched on the embankment to unceremoniously belly flop into the road. Nature’s Checkpoint Charlie.

    While not sequoias, they were more than this smelly biker could manage. But after rearranging things a bit, I was able to slither around them.


    IMG_0820_Resized_Sig.JPG



    IMG_0824_Basin,MT_Resize.JPG
    A Montana fixer-upper.

    In a high, narrow canyon, halfway between Butte and Helena, lies humble Basin, Montana. Beginning life as a boom-and-bust mining town, today Basin’s claim to fame are its radon mines. Marketed for their reputed health-giving benefits (a curious paradox, since the EPA considers radon a potential carcinogen) each summer tourists flock to the defunct gold and uranium mines to immerse themselves in radon gas, treating arthritis, lupus, asthma and other various ailments.

    This small community of 250 residents has also become something of an artist’s refuge, hosting a variety of painters, musicians, dancers, potters, and writers.

    I hope someone can cook.


    IMG_0826_Basin,MT_Resized.JPG

    The Leaning Tower of Pizza beckoned. Leaning against the Leaning Tower of Pizza were two bicycles whose faded panniers promised good stories. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’d seen these bikes before.


    IMG_0827_Ben_Isabel_MT_Resized.JPG

    Meet Isabel and Ben. Actually, you’ve already been introduced. This is the charming couple found huffing and puffing their way up Huckleberry Pass five days earlier (Post #382). It seems my romantic diversion allowed them to catch up.

    Bewhiskered Ben hails from The Land Down Under. This intrepid Aussie started pedaling Alaska and swung down to the Lower-48 just to knock-out the CDT. After that, he’ll point his bicycle towards sunny Southern California and pay a visit to (gasp!) Los Angeles.

    Ginger-maned Isabel is equally impressive. This innocent looking girl-next-door with the toothpaste commercial smile, loaded her bicycle into the cargo hold of a jet in her home province of Ontario, Canada and flew to the no-man’s-land of Inuvik – the northernmost drivable outpost in the Yukon Territories. Then, from polar bear country, began pedaling south to Butte, Montana all by her lonesome.

    Every once in a while, we do something noteworthy. Something to puff out our chest about. Then along comes someone who makes our grand accomplishment look like a trip to the grocery store.

    But despite their unfathomable accomplishment, both were just as polite and unassuming as could be.

    Just seizing the moment. Out seeing the world.
  12. jathkajoe

    jathkajoe Been here awhile

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    Exceedingly glad to read your continued RR. You’ve a gift!

    Jathkajoe
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  13. Daffey

    Daffey Sans Bon Mot

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    hot chicks, well I guess the ho's do too
  14. Daffey

    Daffey Sans Bon Mot

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    Jim,
    Count me in as one of the amused inmates. Welcome back

    D.
  15. 10ecjed

    10ecjed Been here awhile

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    Glad to here another one of your stories. Thank you once again. Always a treat.
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  16. Helmsman

    Helmsman Been here awhile

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    I have enjoyed reading your RR, have read this one and your Alaska one. A friend of mine and me are just starting to plan a trip, and right now have it narrowed to either Alaska or the CDT.

    Which would you do first? :)
  17. bwanajames

    bwanajames Moto sapien

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    Helmsman,

    Interesting question. Both are epic, yet quite different. If you were to ask me which I would be most excited to revisit, it would be a tough call. Both are enormously appealing, but for different reasons.

    (How do I love thee, let me count the ways…).

    Scenery:

    Reflecting on both trips, nothing compared to the staggering beauty of rolling through Alberta’s Icefields Parkway on the way to Alaska. The towering crags, glaciers and turquoise waters were a sight to behold. However, the northern reaches of the CDT also introduce you to the Canadian Rockies. Heading south from Canmore, Alberta will not disappoint.

    Challenge:

    This is the power and fascination of the CDT. Alaska is a long and glorious ride on a paved (frost-heaved) highway, but how can you compare that to 3,000 miles on dirt? Breakdown on the Alcan and someone will be along soon to help. On the CDT, you may be there a while. If you love being lonely, in the middle of nowhere, rarely seeing or dealing with cars, you will thoroughly enjoy the CDT.

    Exotic Feel:

    Some will find this silly, but while riding to Alaska, I delighted in having Canadian money in my hand . Currency from a foreign land... Loonies and toonies… Kilometers instead of miles… Accents… Gas by the liter… I loved these things. All symbols that I was on a special trip far outside my little world.

    Perhaps I have read too many sporting magazines, but the very air in Alaska seems to whisper “adventure”. It is such a different place. And the people who call it home, are, by necessity, a little different as well. Even in Anchorage, bush planes constantly drone overhead. Salmon, Dall sheep, big bears, marine life, glaciers, northern lights… Yes, Alaska wins the “Exotic” category easily.

    Time Element:

    This is tough to gauge, as we all seem to travel at a different pace. Some live to make miles, others like to slow down and breathe it all in. Ultimately, both Alaska and the CDT will likely consume about the same vacation time.

    However, unlike Alaska, CDT is closer to home and offers the advantage of being strategically attacked in pieces: southern portion this summer, the northern section next.

    The First Big Ride?:

    Unless you have a lot of dirt riding and navigation experience, coupled with a backcountry camping background, I would not recommend the CDT for someone’s first big ride. Even with today’s technology, it’s pretty easy to get turned around on the small, often unmarked, logging roads that make up the CDT. And while some may be able to arrange lodging at the end of the day, nature may have other ideas. Count on packing a tent and food for wild camping.


    Thanks for the thought-provoking question. The best answer, of course, is to do both! Just take active, daily measures to breathe life into your dream until you find yourself living it.

    BJ
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  18. Helmsman

    Helmsman Been here awhile

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    Thanks
    Thank you for putting some serious time into your answer.

    My friend is Canadian actually, our plan is to do a 7 day trip, and camp much of it. Hit a hotel a couple nights to smell a little better. I don't have a ton of wild camping experience, but he does. I am certainly not an expert off road rider by any means, but having ridden with many others, i know i am respectable. my buddy is probably less so. We are planning on using smaller dual sport bikes. Don't have much navigation experience. Do you struggle even with the GPS tracks? I am following RTWPauls 500EXC build for long distance off road. I like that route a lot. Between 2 of is we can carry tools, and some spares, and both can wrench enough to fix things we can trailside. We figure if we did CDT we would do the 1/2 of it now, and other half later.

    We want the ride to be a challenge, not a "just putting the miles in" ride, and dirt heavy, but the right ride could make us change. We are both more then willing to buy a bike for the job, and then sell if after. Buying a used bike for ride usually ends up being cheap rent. My wife and I did that for a 5 day ride last summer. Sold bike for what i paid for it afterwords. I certainly plan on doing both eventually, but young families and businesses for both of us, mean we have to pick one for now, and another at a later date. Just the way life works sometimes.

    His house is basically on the route I would take if going to Alaska from my house, so there is that. We have also discussed shipping bikes to the start of the best parts of the rides....have no real desire to spend ride a small bike across the plain states to get to good riding. Time will probably be more of a constraint then spending a few $ to get bikes and ourselves to a good starting location.

    Right now i think i am leaning CDT, and he is leaning Alaska, lol.

    I know what you mean about riding into Canada, I rode to his place a few years ago, and i wasn't expecting it, but it was sort of exhilarating to ride in another country.
  19. bwanajames

    bwanajames Moto sapien

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    Buying Your Freedom

    "Trailers are for Boats!" according to a humorous sticker in the motorcycle shop. Unlike the sissies who trailer their bikes to Sturgis, I thought, I don't need a goddam trailer...

    So, about a year ago, I sold mine to an older guy in the club, who made half the payments before reneging for health reasons a couple of weeks ago.

    Fast-forward to Tuesday night. After a productive day in Denver's 22-story cube farm, I stroll out to the parking garage to find the rear tire of my 1100RT swimming in an ominous pool of oil.

    I knew immediately; the final drive was gone.

    Dead RT on Trailer_1250 Resize.jpg

    Sixty miles from home, I scurried back up to the 7th floor and fired up the computer just in time to discover I'd missed the last bus to Colorado Springs.

    $110 later, I was camped out at the Motel 6. After a #5 combo plate at El Tapatio and stiff margarita, I walked to Target for a toothbrush.

    After considerable shoe leather, one train and two buses later, I was home at 2:00pm the next day. The next order of business was to repair the recovery vehicle, which had been steadily leaking coolant. Hmm... the drips were coming from the thermostat housing. Bad gasket?

    New thermostat in hand, I noted an indexing tab. Clever. You can't install it incorrectly.

    Lowering the trailer hitch...Lights working... lug nuts tight... tire pressure checked. Equipped with four brand new industrial quality ratchet straps, I'm all set.

    6:30am the next morning, I had just reached the I-25 on-ramp when the temp gauge pegged. I pulled over as fast as rush hour bumper-to-bumper traffic would allow. Much steam, more cussing.

    Limping home in 1/2 mile increments between cooling cycles, I wondered: Bad thermostat, or... (ominous background music...). Once home, I discovered that, even with the indexing tab it was in fact possible to put the thermostat in backwards.

    By 4:00pm, I was in Denver and ran up to the office to be sure they'd received my tardiness messages. Then my boss said: "Oh, by the way, tomorrow will be your last day..."

    Being the good soldier, I postponed my happy-dance until the parking lot.

    At long-last, my 6-8 week contract job, which had turned into a 77 week ordeal, was finally coming to an end. No more 3 hour, 120 mile per day commutes. No more winter nights in the Walmart parking lot. (First year record: -2 degrees F. Second year record: -4 degrees F).

    For the last decade, people who are no longer with us had been preaching: "Jim, retire as soon as you can..."

    So, with a decent nest egg and everything paid for, I've finally bought my freedom.
  20. BJMoose

    BJMoose that trick never works Supporter

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    Ok, you have been given a second chance; do not flunk retirement. We have confidence that you can do it.
    BTW: I really enjoy your writing style and look forward to more of it. Happy trails.