Soloing the CDT

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Scribe, Jul 7, 2021.

  1. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2003
    Oddometer:
    7,513
    Location:
    Mt. Vernon, Illinois
    I never head it called Crazy Cook---------but did a google search and it confirmed the fact that it is.
    Google is always right !!!!!!
    #21
  2. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    2,887
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Woot! Great to see you at Antelope Wells, kicking off the ride after the ride (lol). Hope you didn't have to use the facilities at the rest stop, not much privacy :lol2

    And good on ya for providing some water and being kind. Our world could use more kindness IMO. Imagine that encounter will be something you contemplate for awhile, tough not to given the plight of those less fortunate.

    Can't wait to see what comes next @Scribe!
    #22
  3. Scribe

    Scribe £Bob£

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Oddometer:
    13,883
    Location:
    In my natural state
    Thanks for the input. Helps to know that others are of the same mind.

    There are dirt options south of Hachita (see @Mountainman13's excellent report and videos), but the first dirt of the trip in my planned route was right at I-10. You jump off the pavement just before the interstate and run alongside it for a couple miles before crossing under at Separ Road. Then it's off into the wilds of New Mexico, where you soon realize that you are well and truly on your own.

    [​IMG]


    In another 30 miles or so trees began to appear, then Silver City. A few miles north of the city I came across the first of many CDT bicyclists, a pair of young women who had started in Antelope Wells, the spot I left that morning, four days ago. Their goal was 54 miles per day to finish in 50-60 days. It's hot out here. There is very little water to be found and almost no shade. I asked them what kind of training they'd done to prepare and they said none. They were training on the ride. Oh to be young again.

    Camp on the first night was at Black Canyon in the Gila National forest. Nice site, but quiet. Too quiet. The kind of quiet that has you constantly listening for noises. I slept like crap because another camper had the courtesy to come by my site and warn me that she was leaving in a hurry after her dog chased a bear. Great. Now I'm listening for bears all night.

    20210610_175116.jpg

    Bears are an issue on this route, but you have to come to terms with the threat. You're in their house, after all. Don't do stupid shit like bringing food into your tent and the chances of a problematic encounter are slim. At least that's what I told myself. I never saw a bear on the trip, but met people who had.

    Section two, Silver City to Grants, is LONG, some 260-plus miles without gas. And it seemed to take forever. New Mexico: Land of Entrapment.

    A 30 miles south of Pie Town I stopped to check on a bicyclist who was pulled over at the side of the road to check his cell phone. Didn't know it then but I'd met Kyle, one of the baddest bad asses I would come across.

    Pie Town is a big stop on the route thanks to the surplus of pie places. What you won't find in Pie Town is gas. For that you have to travel either 25 miles east, or 28 miles west on pavement. I wasn't going to make it to Grants on the trail and the thought of going 50-plus miles out of my way to fill up didn't seem appealing. So as I sat at the pie town gathering place contemplating my options, I noticed a guy in a jeep built for serious overland travel. I asked if I could buy a gallon of gas off him and he said no. I could have some, but he wouldn't sell it to me. That would be bad karma.

    Meet Dave, gas savior and all-around cool guy.
    [​IMG]

    Dave had recently quit his job and was doing the TAT and CDT in his jeep. He was tired of working and wanted to start living. Dave has his head on straight.

    I got chatting with a local who gave me the inside line on the terrain ahead. "There's nothing out there and no one to help you if you break down," he said. I learned that hikers drink from stock tanks out in the wild because there is no surface water to be found. The pro tip is to find a working windmill because it will be attached to a pump so you can drink the good water right from the well and avoid the skanky water in the stock tank. The ranchers don't mind.

    At that point it was getting late, past 4 pm, and I wasn't sure how much more I had in me. The Pie Town local suggested staying at the Toaster House, a hostel for any and all CDT travelers. A free bed and a shower? Yes please. Turned out to be a great experience, meeting and talking with CDT hikers and bicyclists. I was the only moto traveler and felt a bit out of place, like the guy who can barely run a 5k among marathoners. One young hiker there had pushed so hard he'd blown out his knees and was peeing blood. Another guy said he'd hiked all over the world and had never been as scared as he was coming walking through southern New Mexico due to the lack of water. Complete and total bad asses, all of them.

    Just as it was getting dark, Kyle rolls in off the desert seriously jonsing for a Dr. Pepper. Something about Dr. Pepper and long-distance biking, I guess. He'd ridden 100 miles that day. I was amazed. And it wasn't the last I'd see of Kyle.

    Meet Jefferson, the Toaster House manager. He cooked us all a chicken dinner.

    [​IMG]


    When in Pie Town, stay at the Toaster House. You'll meet some interesting folks and find quality reading material in the outhouse.
    [​IMG]
    #23
  4. Scribe

    Scribe £Bob£

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Oddometer:
    13,883
    Location:
    In my natural state
    The next day got off to a good start with a ride through the Chain of Craters on the infamous CR 42. The beginning is marked by an Internet-famous "you are going to die if you enter when wet" sign. You see similar signs periodically throughout New Mexico.
    [​IMG]

    It wasn't wet, and the road was fun and twisty. But there are deep ruts that bear witness to epic struggles to get through.
    [​IMG]

    Things were going swimmingly until I got north of Grants, where my track took me smack dab into the middle of a ranching operation. I saw, and stupidly ignored, a sign that said the road (track) was private. It wasn't until reaching the heart of the ranch, surrounded by agitated cattle, that I realized this was no longer a viable track. Cannonshot's notes indicate the section was "possibly private." The tracks are from 2010 and I can say with certainty that they are private. I expected an assload of buckshot as I beat a hasty retreat. Take note if you are using these tracks. I ended up on a long, pavement slog to Cuba because I was getting frustrated and could not find the alternative route.

    [​IMG]
    #24
    liv2day, Ladybug, GringoRider and 3 others like this.
  5. mpusms

    mpusms Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2015
    Oddometer:
    214
    Location:
    Saint Simons Island GA
    I've compared tracks from several riders and thus far @Mountainman13 seems to be the most promising.

    Thx for the update and for helping out those in need.
    #25
  6. Bill Dirt

    Bill Dirt Trooper

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    236
    Location:
    Florida
    The BDR track between Grants and Cuba is mostly identical to the CDR. Would the BDR track solve the problem?
    #26
    Scribe and crownhorse like this.
  7. Mountainman13

    Mountainman13 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2017
    Oddometer:
    269
    I've ridden my route which bypassed Grants (went up through the reservation), and hiked the CDT section from Grants to Cuba. I can confirm the NM BDR route would be a viable alternative. I saw quite a few motorcyclists along that section while hiking.
    #27
    Scribe and mpusms like this.
  8. Scribe

    Scribe £Bob£

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Oddometer:
    13,883
    Location:
    In my natural state
    Thanks for the intel on alternate routes :thumb

    Camp that night was alongside the actual CDT route a couple miles south of Cuba. A couple cows were my only neighbors.
    [​IMG]

    Right after I snapped the pic the bike toppled over, the only drop of the entire trip. The T7 may be considered a middleweight, but it's still damn heavy. I had to unload it before I could get it back upright.

    Had a little extra time that bright and beautiful morning, and some empty two track at my disposal, so I tried my hand at a little action photography Joe Motocross style. I need more practice.
    [​IMG]


    Things get a little hairy south of Abiquiu, as noted on Cannonshot's tracks. After riding through the first rough section I came to a hill climb and backed out. I thought tackling this hill, the first of several, was not a good idea solo on a big bike that I couldn't easily pick up. At this point I was dreaming of doing the ride on a Honda CRF450L or something similar. Pic does the hill no justice, of course.
    [​IMG]

    The work around to Abiquiu is forest road 315E (labeled something else on my Osmand map) to 316, which is actually a pretty fun ride. Personally, I think the CDT needs a little work in New Mexico. The reroute I took should be the blue route and the rough section and hills should be harder red options. Then again, I'm old and slow. Others have blasted right through this section on bigger bikes. I would have tried it if I wasn't solo. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

    North of Chama I finally escaped the Land of Entrapment. Almost had tears in my eyes when I saw this sign.
    [​IMG]


    Spectacle Lake, first camp in colorful Colorado. Elk Creek was a closer option, but nearly full on a damn Tuesday. I reasoned that Spectacle Lake would be less crowded being six miles down a dirt road, and I was right. I had the entire place to myself. Which of course made me think I was going to be eaten by a bear. Note the Adventure Thermos in the foreground. Fill it with beer at your last stop of the day and enjoy a cold celebratory beverage upon arrival at camp. Works with coffee in the morning too. A brilliant idea I stole from Sterling Noren of Motorcycle Travel Channel fame.
    [​IMG]
    #28
  9. Bagooba

    Bagooba Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    22
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    Really enjoying your RR! I have a buddy, both of us will be 60 when we try this next year on our Tigers, 2005 for me & 2017 for him. Are you finding that this is mostly fire roads and gravels roads so far? Neither of us want to tackle single track on big, heavy Tigers. If some of the Routes lead to the single track that looks questionable, are there reroutes available. Which .gpx files did you download?
    #29
  10. Mountainman13

    Mountainman13 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2017
    Oddometer:
    269
    I know exactly which hill this is and it stays pretty bad most of the way down the other side into Abiquiu. If you had wanted to try it there are good lines on both the far left and right, but it is VERY rocky for about 200 yards, going down into Abiquiu you follow an old stream bed so lots of rock steps and sand in between. I agree this should be marked as a red route, it is very not big bike friendly.
    #30
    Scribe and cementhead like this.
  11. Scribe

    Scribe £Bob£

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Oddometer:
    13,883
    Location:
    In my natural state
    I'd say 75 percent easy dirt roads, 23 percent pavement, and 2 percent questionable stuff that you can pretty easily route around. I used Cannonshot's tracks which you can find in his CDT thread.
    #31
  12. Scribe

    Scribe £Bob£

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Oddometer:
    13,883
    Location:
    In my natural state
    Spent the last few days riding my bicycle 120 miles on a charity ride. Training for a 2022 bicycle CDT run? Could be. New Mexico would scare the crap out of me on a bike though. No way to carry enough water.

    So anyway, the next morning I hear what I thought was a motorcycle whiz down the road as I'm prepping to leave. "Cool," I thought. "Maybe I'll meet another rider somewhere down the trail."

    Fifteen minutes later I see a giant, brand new BMW GSA pulled off to the side of the road, every possible bit of gear you could need for every conceivable scenario strapped on, in, and on top of it. Of course I pulled over to make sure the rider was OK. Glad I did, too, because I'd just run into Keith Lecker, the coolest, most inspirational person I'd meet on this whole trip.

    Keith:
    [​IMG]

    Tiny bit of backstory before I get into why Keith is so amazing.

    I've been kicking around this trip for three years, and others even more adventurous since 2004 when I joined this site, but I could never quite screw up the courage to make the break from a safe, secure office gig to a life better lived. I grew up with the idea that your worth to society and your place in it is directly linked to your occupation and the notion that you are a hard working individual who stays within the lines. And anyway, if you don't work what the hell would you do all day? It's a Midwestern thing, and it's plain stupid but some things in your head you can't outrun. At the same time I understand that all I really own, all you really own, is your time and you shouldn't sell it cheap. I'm going to die. So are you.

    For the last 1.5 years I've worked at home like many others, and guess what? The world didn't end. My employer, a large state bureaucracy that highly values butts in chairs, didn't cease to function. People might have actually been a little more productive. Shocking. But all good things must end and the decree came down that everyone would be back in the office by June 14. We'd be sitting in our offices doing meetings on Zoom with the people right next door, but our butts would be in the chairs to which they were assigned, by gawd.

    That seemed like a fine time to make a break. A sign if you will. I put in my notice. I would not returning to the office June 14, thank you very much.

    So I made my trip and found Keith on the side of the road. On the day we met it was five weeks since he'd been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the esophagus. He didn't want to do radiation or chemo, he wanted to ride a motorcycle from his home in Arizona to the Arctic circle. So he went out and bought a brand new BMW with all the trimmings. But Keith had never ridden a motorcycle before, on road or off. So he took lessons, and took off.

    [​IMG]

    He started in Antelope Wells the same day I did, but was in so much pain that he had to go to the hospital for a few days to get shots that would allow him to continue. Back on the trail, he'd dropped his behemoth of a bike "hundreds of times," and had a pulley system to right the beast. He loved going down dirt roads that led anywhere to see what he could find.

    Death was no abstraction for Keith, but he the was the happiest, most enthusiastic rider I've ever met. He understood the idea that you are going to die, I'm going to die, in a very personal and direct way.

    "I've worked my whole life, and for what?," he wondered.
    "What's the prognosis?," I asked him.
    "Death. If I go in my hammock somewhere in the woods, I'll be happy."

    I met Keith June 14, the day I would have been back in the office. I don't believe in preordained events, but holy shit, once and awhile it seems like the universe really is trying to ram something through your thick head.

    Keith, being the amazing human being that he is, was raising money for Make a Wish with his trip, which he called Last Ride.

    Be like Keith.
    #32
  13. Scribe

    Scribe £Bob£

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Oddometer:
    13,883
    Location:
    In my natural state
    Keith's card. I've tried to get in touch with him since without success. I hope he's still out there exploring dirt roads on his 700 pound bike, making his way to the Arctic circle.

    20210726_185433.jpg

    Attached Files:

    #33
  14. adventurebound9517

    adventurebound9517 Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,128
    Location:
    Lake Havasu City, AZ.
    What an inspirational story. May be the best thing I have ever read. God speed Keith and all the best to you. Thank you scribe.
    #34
  15. Champe

    Champe Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,238
    Location:
    Belmont, NH
    I am a little busy on my own ride in Colombia, but this story has a great subject, good photos and is very well written. Hope to check in frequently. Good luck and have fun.
    #35
  16. cb200t

    cb200t Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    381
    Location:
    Zanesfield, OH
    #36
    Scribe and GringoRider like this.
  17. Scribe

    Scribe £Bob£

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Oddometer:
    13,883
    Location:
    In my natural state
    Thanks. I'm following your report closely for intel on my next Colombia adventure, which I hope happens soon.
    #37
  18. Scribe

    Scribe £Bob£

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Oddometer:
    13,883
    Location:
    In my natural state
    After I bid Keith farewell the sky looked bluer, the clouds puffier, the sun shinier, the birds chirpier. It was a really beautiful day to be riding a motorcycle in the Rockies. I didn't gloat at all about my former coworkers back in their offices. No, not at all.

    Stopped for lunch at one of my favorite Colorado brew pubs, Three Barrel Brewing in Del Norte.
    20210614_123126.jpg

    North of Del Norte the CDT follows some sandy, two-track nonsense for a few miles then straightens itself out again. It was super hot and I nearly dropped the bike a few times, guess I worked off lunch.

    Today I started seeing a lot of CDT cyclists, maybe 10 in all. Most were headed north, a few were headed south. There is a cycle race that starts at the border in June and the current record holder for the entire run, Canada to Mexico, is just over 12 days (I think, correct me if I'm wrong). That's insane. You'd have to do 200-plus miles per day, every day, up and down mountains and through the blistering heat of New Mexico, to keep up such a pace. I can't imagine. On a moto, 150 miles feels like a big day on the CDT.

    Once I got close to Salida I jumped on 50 and pushed through because I was meeting the wife for a CDT vacay break. I vowed that I would come back and hit Marshall Pass because it's both super easy and super beautiful. For five days I lounged in my hammock, slept in my glamper, drank too much beer, did some kayaking and a little mountain biking and generally was a lazy ass. Felt great.

    I did make it to Marshall Pass, though.
    [​IMG]
    #38
  19. Scribe

    Scribe £Bob£

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Oddometer:
    13,883
    Location:
    In my natural state
    Back on the CDT, the Salida to Steamboat Springs section was one of the best so far. Boreas Pass is drop-dead gorgeous and there are some really amazing camping spots just north of the pass, including what has to be the best free van camping spot in the entire world. I've noted it for future trips.

    Silverthorne was a traffic-clogged mess and the camping options there a little too foo-foo, so I chugged on to Blue River. The wife was tagging along in the van for a few days and we needed van-friendly camping options.

    Radium Springs area was a real charmer with some interesting roads and not-typical Colorado scenery. I've done most or all of the big passes in Colorado and I love that this trail is showing me things I haven't seen before.

    Got to the legendary water crossing, which was pretty much a nothingburger when I was there. Maybe 10 inches deep, rocky bottom.
    [​IMG]

    Note the different luggage and lack of a tail bag. I was able to offload some crap into the van which made the ride all the more interesting. I decided I really dig the Giant Loop Coyote that I bought for my wife's bike back when she was going to make the trip with me so I slimmed down everything to make it work for the rest of the trip. Jettisoned some clothes and my cook stove, meaning gas-station burritos and coffee from here on out. I'm not sold on the idea of carrying a stove. Maybe for a really long trip where food is hit-and-miss, but on this trail, where you come across towns several times a day, it seems like a stove is just extra weight.

    Right after the crossing is the internet-famous stage coach station.
    [​IMG]

    Met these nice folks at Lynx Pass.
    [​IMG]


    They came from Oregon and started the CDT at Chama. The guys were riding a KTM 1090, 790 and an Africa Twin. The woman was riding a KTM 390.


    Tire change day at Dry Lake campground in Steamboat Springs. The stock Pirelli had 4,245 miles on it at this point and at least 1,000 miles left. Quite impressed with it, actually. I replaced it with a Shinko Big Block 805, a great tire for the money. But let's not turn this into a tire thread.:D

    [​IMG]
    #39
    eRdd, snglfin, bomose and 3 others like this.
  20. Scribe

    Scribe £Bob£

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Oddometer:
    13,883
    Location:
    In my natural state
    I took a little detour on the Steamboat to Rawlins leg. It had been a few days since I'd seen the inside of a shower and I was starting to offend myself, so instead of going directly to Rawlins I detoured to the "hobo" hotsprings in Saratoga, Wyoming, so called because it's free. It's also awesome. I thought I would melt into a pool of clean happiness. A shower feels amazing after a few days without one, a hot spring soak is like an extended orgasm. (Thought I got a pic of the actual hot spring, guess not. Here's the outside.)

    [​IMG]

    Saw this on the way. I didn't even know he was a camper.
    [​IMG]

    Next day in Rawlins prepping for crossing the Great Basin, 230 miles without fuel or water. I added the gallon container of gas which I ended up not needing. With some judicious twisting of the throttle, the T7 will return mpg in the 60s, meaning I had enough gas without carrying extra. Peace of mind though, 'cause there ain't shit out there between Rawlins and Atlantic City but a bunch of cyclists and they are notorious for not carrying extra gas.
    [​IMG]

    Looks like this for 200-plus miles. I was playing chase with a huge, nasty looking rain storm the whole way but I ended up going around it.
    [​IMG]


    A few miles outside of Atlantic City I passed a lone cyclist. Didn't think anything of it. Got to Atlantic City, but the general store was closed.
    [​IMG]


    I was feeling a bit low at this point. The Great Basin has a way of beating you down, making you think that all your efforts are in vain. The wife had split for home base and I was facing more days sleeping in the dirt. Mine is a sad tale. At this point I honestly thought of throwing in the towel because every mile I continued on the CDT was a mile farther from my home, a mile I'd have to cover again headed southeast.

    I sat in front of the closed general store and decided that was it, I was headed south. I'd finish the CDT another time. I was just about to pull my helmet on when the cyclist I passed on the desert rolls up. We look at each other and realize we've met before. It was Kyle, the cyclist I met more than a week earlier in Pie Town. While I'd been lazing in my hammock drinking beer on my vacation from vacation, Kyle was chugging up and down the mountains, over the passes, alongside the roads, cranking out the miles. And now he'd caught up with me in Atlantic City. He spent one night in the Great Basin, so tired he just threw his sleeping bag on the ground and went to sleep. Got rained on, insulted by a head wind and just generally had a difficult time. He did it in two days because he said there was no way he was spending another night out there.

    Kyle, a true bad ass.
    [​IMG]

    I bought him lunch and thanked him for the inspiration. He was going to take a break in Jackson, Wyoming, where he lives, before finishing the CDT. I have no doubt he made it.
    #40
    aspad, Tadpole, bomose and 9 others like this.