Solo Continental Divide: The Hard Way

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Mountainman13, Oct 29, 2020.

  1. Mountainman13

    Mountainman13 Been here awhile

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    Being from Colorado that was one of my biggest complaints about the GDR/CDR. It passes through some of the dullest riding in Colorado, and isn't even close to the CDT when it does it. The COBDR covers a lot of the really good stuff you can do in Colorado on a big bike.
    #61
  2. JoToPe

    JoToPe JoToPe

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    Rode the GDR from Silver City, NM to Steamboat Springs, CO with a bunch of Two Wheeled Texans and it was one of my best rides yet. Looking forward to more of your RR and YT vlogs. I made a pact with myself to do two more BDR’s next year and want to include some of the GDR routes we did before and would love doing some of your trax, if you wouldn’t mind sharing. First week in June is my usual KSU run from Central Texas. Anyone interested?
    #62
  3. Mountainman13

    Mountainman13 Been here awhile

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    Colorado Part Two:

    The rest day in Buena Vista gave me the opportunity to do some bike maintenance. My wireless phone charger melted after being rained on and dunked but otherwise everything else on the bike was still working.

    Leaving from Buena Vista it was up and over Independence Pass and into Aspen, the fires further west made the navigation on this part a little tricky as some stuff had been shut down until very recently. Hagerman Pass down into Leadville was a lot of fun, I had come over this in July and there was still significant snow at the top but by this time of year it had all melted.

    After Leadville it was on to the high point of the CDT, literally in this case. Mosquito Pass would be the only time I would be above 13,000 feet during this trip. The pass is rocky, loose, and on the west face has four switchbacks. Three of them were fine, not as bad as stuff you'll see on the COBDR. One however had been seriously washed out and had several steps on the face. Unfortunately for me my line choice wasn't what it could have been and as I started up one of the steps the left side of my skidplate hit a rock and tossed me over. I landed directly on the existing bruise from a fall three days before coming over the Monarch Crest Trail, that one hurt.

    After a little help from a passerby I got up to the top of Mosquito and ran into a couple doing the GPS Kevin International Continental Divide Ride (not the same as the GDR). The wind was epic but they were pretty unhappy with GPS Kevin's route choices as they had also come over Webster Pass. Thankfully they were on WR250's and were past the hard part. Seeing the storm brewing in the background we said hello and goodbye very quickly and moved on our respective ways.

    Due to the weather coming in I bypassed Georgia Pass and took Boreas Pass road over to Breckenridge/Summit County. I lived in Breckenridge for several years and was familiar with the area. You generally don't want to try the northern side of Georgia Pass or any of the Swan River Forks after any kind of rain as they turn back into streams. I camped that night just north of Silverthorne.

    From there I continued north, skirting the edge of the Williams Fork Fire. Thankfully I got through without hitting any road closures and continued up pretty easy ranch roads and some fun two track trails into Steamboat Springs. From there it was more ranch roads and two track up into Wyoming, stopping at the Red Desert Rose Trailer Park in Rawlins. Highly suggest them, this was the second time I've stayed there and they are wonderful.

    Getting into Rawlins I just barely beat a storm so I hunkered down and got ready to take on the Great Divide Basin the next morning.

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    #63
  4. seasider

    seasider Just a rider Supporter

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    Watched your YT Videos today as a "suggested" item and now stumbled on this RR. What a day and very much enjoyed.
    #64
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  5. cactus_reese

    cactus_reese Been here awhile Supporter

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    Brady,
    You do a great job with your videos. I know that is a lot of work...as is mapping out a route like this. Really appreciate it!
    -BR
    #65
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  6. 75bronco

    75bronco Long timer

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    Thank you for the tracks
    #66
  7. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Nice @Mountainman13! Enjoyed the vid and update; great to see the variety of terrain you covered as you made your way into WY. Didn't realize the scenery would change back to sage and high desert upon leaving the mountains, love riding in that open desert with huge views.

    Curious as to the amount of asphalt vs dirt you would estimate you rode during CO part 2? Were the asphalt sections necessary to connect the dots for the route you laid out? I need to spend time looking at your GPX tracks in detail too, imagine there's probably a fair amount of private land you have to contend with while trying to make your way north.

    Look forward to the next update, appreciate you taking the time to keep this going!
    #67
  8. Mountainman13

    Mountainman13 Been here awhile

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    I ended up on a slightly different route than my GPX file shows, due to some of the fire closures and starting from Buena Vista I rode more pavement to connect through than you would if you follow the GPX route. On the GPX route in Colorado between Aspen and the CO/WY border is 314 miles, of that 200 miles is paved, most of that being from Aspen to the dirt on Hagerman Pass and between Breckenridge and Steamboat Springs. The longest individual paved section is 70 miles.

    The paved sections in a lot of places are the only way through without significant diversions. North of Montezuma, CO the CDT goes nearly due north and through Rocky Mountain National Park before coming back west. If I attempted to parallel the CDT along that section it would be 250 miles of paved roads, you can't get through RMNP without riding pavement. The longest section of pavement is along HWY40 going through Steamboat Springs. As you say, the issue there is private property, I had to divert around locked gates and go up HWY40 to get into Steamboat. Even the COBDR when it goes through there has a fairly long paved section due to private property and no other roads.
    #68
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  9. mpusms

    mpusms Been here awhile Supporter

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    Not for nothing but I kind of enjoyed the pass/area you indicated Kevins track goes through where you fell which BTW it looked painful. Nice action shot though. Looks fun as long as it's on a mid to small size bike. Then again I rode the COBDR on a KLR with a friend who rode a GS1200 and he made it look easier than me. Great RR and appreciate you sharing the tracks which I'm downloading to Basecamp and titling "Mountainman13 GCD". :clap
    #69
  10. seasider

    seasider Just a rider Supporter

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    I would be interested in your tracks as well (@Mountainman13) for a ride beyond the basic CDR. It seems your tracks worked well and there's been a bit of controversy in opinions of GPS Kevins tracks that I would rather avoid.
    My plans are for a solo ride starting early September.
    #70
  11. Bearded Hooligan

    Bearded Hooligan Moto Addict

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    Great stuff! Looking to take my wife on the Continental Divide Ride in the next couple of years on my Super Enduro. Anxiously awaiting your next update! Great stuff keep it coming!
    #71
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  12. Mcahron

    Mcahron Feeling Fluffy, don't ruin it!

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    Very nice report
    #72
  13. jdsmetx

    jdsmetx DR Rider

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    Currently planning my trip for 2021 summer. Really enjoying your RR and thanks for the gps tracks!
    #73
  14. Mountainman13

    Mountainman13 Been here awhile

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    Wyoming:

    Waking up in Rawlins I was treated to frost on the bike and tent, a cold front had moved in overnight and dropped the temperature to the high 30's. From Rawlins it was into the Great Divide Basin, an interesting geologic gap in the continental divide. Water in this region doesn't flow to either ocean, it exists as a high desert with sand dunes and limited vegetation. I found out shortly after getting off the road and onto the CDT that they weren't kidding about dunes. Deep sand two track for miles was about as tiring of riding conditions as I could imagine. The sand didn't have a bottom and reminded me of the volcanic sand on the AZBDR, but worse. At least the AZBDR was generally packed down, this was churned up from hundreds of cows and antelope which made up the only real wildlife in the area.

    Amazingly I only fell over once, though I would have preferred dunes overall. At least on dunes I could have picked my own path, with nothing but two track you had a very small margin for error. I pulled into Boulder, WY 200 miles later and ended up getting a motel room due to winds so strong I probably wouldn't have been able to put my tent up. The rooms at the Boulder Store were actually incredibly nice for how cheap they were and I was really glad I chose there to stop for the night.

    From Boulder it was fairly relaxed and enjoyable ranch roads until I started getting closer to Grand Teton NP. A short loop around Fish Lake had some technical but not super difficult two track and there was a good long section of two track along the CDT with stunning views of the mountains on all sides. Lunch ended up being at the top of Togwotee Pass at the Wind River Lake. A short off road section was a lot of fun coming into Grand Teton NP and then it was all pavement until I left Yellowstone NP into Montana the next day. This was the longest single stretch of pavement on the route and it was unavoidable if you want to follow the divide. The CDT and divide both cut straight through Yellowstone (and actually go right by Old Faithful) so I took the opportunity for a tourist day and took lots of pictures on my way through Grand Teton and Yellowstone. On the way out of Grand Teton I ran into two guys riding the GDR and we chatted for a bit. In Yellowstone I stopped for lunch at Isa Lake, a unique feature on the continental divide. This is a lake which sits directly on the continental divide and drains to both oceans. The really unique feature of this lake is due to the geographic features surrounding the lake the drainages are reversed. The east drainage runs to the Pacific and the west drainage runs to the Atlantic.

    The crowds of Grand Teton and Yellowstone made me a bit anxious to be on my way and I was happy to be into Montana and back on my own for the next day.



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    #74
  15. outbacktm

    outbacktm Bullrun Bison Supporter

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    Great RR and videos
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  16. KYwoodsrider

    KYwoodsrider Been here awhile

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    Really enjoying the RR and the videos. I had my first opportunity to ride Colorado last year and plan on going back in Aug.
    I may use some of your tracks.
    I also had the opportunity to spend 10 days hiking in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons in 2019.
    The view of the Tetons and Jackson Lake is something I'll never forget.
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    I hope to get back there on a bike some day.
    #76
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  17. Mountainman13

    Mountainman13 Been here awhile

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    Montana Part One:

    Out of Yellowstone and it was shortly time to get back into the dirt, and into Idaho. The trail crossed back and forth along the ID and MT border for basically the first day, to the point where I wasn't sure which state I was in most of the time. I saw more cyclists on this section than anywhere else, even ran into a lady riding the GDR southbound with her dog. She had previously ridden to Alaska the same way, badass lady and really nice dog.

    The riding was fun, beautiful, though not challenging. Lots of open spaces and long stretches without seeing anyone. Some two track and trails along the actual CDT just to mix things up but nothing I would even really consider a challenge after NM, CO, and WY. The first day I happened to be stopped looking at the map when an inmate stopped and asked what I was up to. He gave the great suggestion of the Wagonhammer RV Park just outside of North Fork, ID. I had been keeping an eye on the weather reports and it appeared a significant low pressure system was moving in and was expected to bring a storm in about mid-week. I made the decision to try and push for the border and see if I could beat the storm, otherwise I was going to either be stuck in place for a day or two or have to divert around on paved roads to be able to make the border. From North Fork I pushed hard, I made an attempt at Fleecer Ridge near Wise River, MT because I knew I would be going past it. It lived up to expectations and I ended up not including it on my proposed route. When it comes down to it the ridge is not near the CDT or Continental Divide and was only on other routes because the GDR went down it. I don't feel anything is really lost by avoiding it.

    Continuing north I finished the day nearly 300 miles later as the sun was setting in Lincoln, MT. This day was also the last day I was able to ride on the actual CDT. From here the CDT travels into the Bob Marshall Wilderness area and then into Glacier National Park so no riding on the actual trail. Only one more day to Canada, then to see if I can weather the storm and get home in one piece!



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    #77
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  18. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

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    Did GPSKevin’s ICDR two years ago through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and the north half of Colorado. The parts I did on my F800GSA weren’t too tough, but I had constant issues with road closures and tracks across private property. Some of my workarounds put me on real technical trails (took me two or three hours to pick up and turn around on one hillside...) but his routes that are actually legal to ride weren’t too bad. But at least three or four times a day I had to figure out my own way. Would not recommend it at all unless he’s done a significant update.
    #78
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  19. seasider

    seasider Just a rider Supporter

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    Putting rider skill aside what is the reality of a Boxer Gs being able to navigate "the Hard way"? North to South if that make a difference
    #79
  20. Mountainman13

    Mountainman13 Been here awhile

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    Coming from the north you'll have some technical sections and difficult areas around Swan Lake and south of Lincoln but nothing ride ending, I know people have ridden 1200's through there and talked about it being difficult but doable. In ID and MT there are times you're on single and two track but nothing particularly difficult. The biggest issue in that area is whether it will be clear of blowdowns or washouts. It was clear when I went through, but there was significant evidence of trail work, and I had a saw with me if I needed it. Around Fish Lake Mtn there is some pretty technical two-track with steep climbs and descents. The first area I would consider impassible for a 1200/1250 GS would be south of Atlantic City, WY in the Great Divide Basin. The sand is two track hell for about 20 miles, there are accessible roads around those sections though if you look at Cannonshot's route. Into Colorado it gets pretty technical pretty quickly. Right near the border are some technical 2 track and water crossings, they are difficult but have definitely been done on big bikes. Georgia Pass/Middle Fork of the Swan, Mosquito, Hagerman Pass, and going into Taylor Park are all doable but difficult on a 1200. Mosquito and Georgia are the worst out of those. Tincup Pass is very borderline on a 1200, the Rawyde guys did it and it took them 3 hours to do the 7 miles from the town to the top:

    Hancock is borderline, Tomichi Pass is impassible in it's current condition on a 1200 and it gets worse from there. The Monarch Crest Trail single-track is absolutely impassible on anything bigger than a 790R, you would have significant portions of that trail where the headers would be touching on both sides. Much of NM would be very difficult but doable on a big bike. Getting into Cuba I would consider borderline but possible on a big bike, especially with help. I think the only bit in NM I would say is truly impassible on a 1200 is the bit near White Signal/Burro Peak because the washes are not wide enough to get the bike down.

    With a lot of skill and a fair amount of help you could probably do the vast majority of the route, you would just need people with you to help out and the understanding there will be areas you might move a few hundred yards an hour. Coming southbound the stuff that is harder than northbound will be Fish Lake, Georgia Pass/Middle Fork of the Swan, Mosquito Pass, Tincup Pass, Hancock Pass, Tomichi Pass, the ascent south of Abiquiu, and White Signal/Burro Peak. Each of those are areas where you will be going up the harder direction vs descending.

    Hope this helps, if you do decide to try it on a 1200 I wish you luck and hope you're bringing help and light luggage.
    #80
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