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The Great Western Enduro Challenge - 5,500 miles of dirt out west

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by CoyoteThistle, Aug 20, 2017.

  1. CoyoteThistle

    CoyoteThistle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
    191
    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Edit: Attempt number 2 starts at Post #89

    Okay, the time for another long ride is here. This one, at least as planned, is really big. It looks like this from space:
    [​IMG]

    The original plan for the "Great Western Enduro Challenge" was to ride 500 mile of dirt in each of the 11 western states with a 90% dirt/10% paved goal. Why those numbers? No reason, just seemed like an interesting challenge. It was conceived as a ride on vintage dual sports with my brother. He's too busy (and frankly smart) to make it so I go alone. I scrapped the vintage bike idea too - would take too long with the archaic suspension, 1,000 mile oil change interval, breaking parts, etc. etc. (see my other trip reports if you want to know how I know this :D)

    Anyway, most sensible choice for me was to go as modern as my budget would allow. Here's the bike, loaded and ready to go.

    [​IMG]

    2013 WR250R. 1,300 miles on the clock. I added a big gas tank, led lights, aluminum handlebars, skid plate and barkbusters. Otherwise it's all pretty stock.

    I'll mix camping and cheap motels. Tried to pack light.

    I leave on Tuesday Morning. Will ride across the awful desert to start the official loop at the Colorado River (good symbolic place for a loop of the west :thumb) and go counterclockwise. I need to be back home on Sept. 14th. That's a lot of miles per day. Not sure it will be possible. Will need good luck and good weather. Fewer wildfires in Montana would make that leg easier too.

    I'll expect to update regularly from the road, internet-connection-gods willing :lol3

    matt
    #1
  2. misterk

    misterk Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2008
    Oddometer:
    787
    Location:
    DFW Texas
    in
    #2
  3. larryboy

    larryboy Stable genius.

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Oddometer:
    30,001
    Location:
    Über Alles,California

    :stupid
    #3
  4. Sharkdog

    Sharkdog Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2013
    Oddometer:
    177
    Location:
    Denver
    Awesome.
    #4
  5. woodzrider

    woodzrider Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,342
    Location:
    anywhere I happen to be
    looking forward to this! 5500 miles of ALL dirt? Hell yes....
    #5
    alfunction likes this.
  6. 10ecjed

    10ecjed Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2011
    Oddometer:
    356
    Location:
    Frederick, MD
    I will tag along on this ride too.
    #6
  7. CoyoteThistle

    CoyoteThistle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
    191
    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Great to have you all along!

    Spent the last couple evenings re-routing most of Montana. Fires are closing lots of national forest areas, especially along my originally-planned route. Re-route looks okay for now - may have to get creative when I get there...

    Few other fun facts about the planned route. Largest town/gas stop has a population of about 9,000 (Grants, NM). Several gas stops are just gas stations in the middle of nowhere (pop=0). Half of the towns have populations less than 500. Yeah, if you really want to avoid pavement, gotta avoid places where people live.

    Here's the full list of planned gas stops and mileages between them:
    [​IMG]

    And the official logo :D:
    [​IMG]

    All set to leave early tomorrow AM...
    #7
  8. BLucare

    BLucare What could possibly go wrong?

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2016
    Oddometer:
    3,847
    Location:
    Green Bay, Wisconsin
    Subscribed! Looking forward to it :thumb
    #8
  9. bomose

    bomose Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    4,321
    Location:
    Dixie
    Should be interesting. I would love to be going with you. Since I'm not, take lots of pics.
    #9
  10. alfunction

    alfunction Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2014
    Oddometer:
    30
    I'm bummed I'll be missing this one.. Just made a 24 hrs straight drive in a 26' Penske truck.
    Elko, NV to st. Joseph, MO. The entire drive I kept thinking how much better it would be on dirt.
    With 2 wheels.
    And no doors.
    And not dragging a stage full of equipment crammed into a box van.

    It Is, however, much easier to find fresh coffee on my current trip.

    Be safe Matt
    #10
  11. econwatch

    econwatch Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    May 14, 2011
    Oddometer:
    526
    Location:
    SLC,YVR/YYC,LGA
    Pavement Ends
    #11
  12. oregonsurveyor

    oregonsurveyor Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2014
    Oddometer:
    272
    Location:
    Oregon
    Looks good. I'll watch this one.
    #12
  13. CoyoteThistle

    CoyoteThistle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
    191
    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Wish you were going along too little brother! Our crazy schedules will sync up again someday and we'll go on another big ridiculous ride. Start looking for a nice XR650 - that'd fit you just about right :nod
    #13
    alfunction likes this.
  14. CoyoteThistle

    CoyoteThistle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
    191
    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Made it to I-17 south of Flagstaff. Some tough roads, hot weather, dead ends and a "discretion is the better part of valor" moment. Good stuff. Will post pics and details when I get good service.
    #14
    alfunction likes this.
  15. JoToPe

    JoToPe JoToPe

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2014
    Oddometer:
    319
    Location:
    Henly, Texas
    In and will you share your tracks?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #15
  16. CoyoteThistle

    CoyoteThistle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
    191
    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Day 1 - Ventura to Haulipai Mountain

    Left home at an impressive (for me) 7am. First part of the great desert crossing wasn't bad.
    Early lunch in Barstow at 11am. Not too hot yet.
    Rode some of the old Route 66 to avoid I-40. The miles droned on. Temps got crazy as I dropped in to Laughlin. 107* they said. Sat in a Taco Bell to hydrate and cool off. But, no time to lose!

    Rode over to get the official start of the GWEC selfie.
    [​IMG]

    Aired down tires, got gas and headed east. First dirt, woohoo!
    [​IMG]

    Few miles of this dirt then over Oatman Road. Nice view from the top.
    [​IMG]

    Down the other side and hit some sand. Getting used to the feel of the new bike loaded with luggage. Felt fine.

    Across the valley and up to a rad following a pipeline. It's one of my general rules to not follow pipeline or power line roads - the necessity of going straight over rugged terrain generally equals steepness. I looked at this one closely on google earth it it looked fine up to a point where I could exit the road towards some houses. Started off good.
    [​IMG]

    Got to my "exit" road without trouble. Then, trouble. Locked gate in view of graded dirt road.

    Back to the pipeline road. And yes, it got worse.
    [​IMG]

    Dropped the bike on this one. Then buried the back tire. Power walked it up to that firm spot at left. Sweating, cursing and panting, I sat down and regrouped. Drank hot water out of the bladder. Already braking my rules about how difficult to ride when solo.

    Lots of rocky steep stuff. Slow progress. No roads showing on my topo maps. Mansions were visible from time to time above me (where I was supposed to be). Finally hit a sandy wash with tire tracks. Gave it a go. After about a mile (now I love sand after those rocks!!) there was a bridge crossing the wash high above - the road I expected to hit. Thought I was screwed but a steep ramp appeared at the last moment and up I went. Back on track. Whew.

    Got in to Haulapai park. Everything was closed (5:30). Rode down to wildcow campground. Blm promised water but there is none to be found. Not really enough left on board to cook dinner. Ate some bars. Couple pulls from the flask. Bedtime.

    Crickets were deafening.
    [​IMG]

    325 miles of desert crossing and 75 miles "on route".

    Matt
    #16
  17. CoyoteThistle

    CoyoteThistle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
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    191
    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Day 2 - Haulapai Mtn to Kachina Village

    Rose early and headed back up the road 4 miles to the resort. Kitchen wasn't open yet but I filled up my water and hit the road. Long way down a fairly rough road headed/ east.
    [​IMG]

    Pretty/ views of mountain ranges stacked up to the horizon. Very green for the desert it seems to me.
    [​IMG]

    Eventually reached Hwy 93 (I believe). Short jog south and I was on dirt headed east. Main road was smooth but fine gravel on the surface made for a couple exciting corners. I both cases there was a little dirt berm to bounce off of. Better slow down a bit.

    Turned off the main road after about 20 miles on to a two-track. Half a mile in to this:
    [​IMG]

    Yep, locked gate. I went back to the main road and carried on for another 5 miles or so. Going the wrong way. Consulted maps. I'm screwed. All other roads seem to dead end. Wilderness area it looks like. No choice but to head back to the highway. Only workaround I could figure was north to I-40 and take that to Seligman (my next planned gas stop). Ugh, another hour on the tarmac. Aired the tires up and got down to it.

    First decent meal in a day and a half in Seligman, whose main industry seems to be catering to Route 66 tourists. They come by bus, by rental car or rental Harley. Quite a scene.

    Several miles East on old 66 and then turned off on to dirt. Got on a road paralleling the railroad. I know, railroads are pretty straight (like gas and power line) so I should be wary. It was a rough road but never overly steep. Tensest moments were getting through a deep sloppy mud hole. Could have gone either way - success or failure. Came out of it a true 90-degrees to the road, but I did come out. Whew. Soon enough I was on to good gravel in the pinions. Nice.
    [​IMG]

    Little bit of tarmac back towards I-40 then east on FS roads. 10 or 15 miles in, the road got steep and rocky - way beyond anything I want to try on this trip. Backtrack.

    Back to Ask Fork and south on US 89 for a few miles then back on track. What else, power line road. Not too bad though. Eventually turned east on FS road 4. Seems like normally a forest service road with a single digit number is a main road. Not this one. Never real steep but always really rocky.
    [​IMG]

    After quite a while things got a little better road-wise. Getting in to the big pines again - good.
    [​IMG]

    After some more puddle and rock dodging, was pretty happy to see this:
    [​IMG]

    I think so far on the dirt roads of this trip I've passed maybe 3 cars. Strange. Up here there are lots of big RV's set up and folks enjoying the forest. Good to see others around.

    Even the obligatory sheep traffic jam.
    [​IMG]

    Mostly decent roads through the forest from there. Smaller roads impacted by the recent rain but no problems. Final water break before getting to I-17 and hopefully dinner.
    [​IMG]

    Apparently this spot is known as Kachina Village. Gas station with Subway, Dollar General (of course) and a bunch of houses. Suburb of Flagstaff? I guess. Got a sandwich and a Fosters oil can and headed a mile or so up the forest road and found a camp site. Tent is up and chair deployed just by dark. Called home, which was nice.

    Stars are out, but lightning is flashing from literally every direction. Seems far off though, hope it skips me.

    First drops fell just as I closed my eyes. Slept until about 3:30AM when the cracking thunder and dumping rain become too much for my unconscious mind to tolerate. Rain stopped at 5:30. All is dry in the tent. Long day and short night.

    Tale of the tape:
    [​IMG]

    At least 80 miles of pavement, 200ish of dirt.

    Matt
    #17
  18. CoyoteThistle

    CoyoteThistle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
    191
    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Yep, plan to.
    #18
    advrockrider likes this.
  19. Romero

    Romero At Cinépolis or OXXO Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2016
    Oddometer:
    761
    Location:
    Morelia
    Awesome! In! Have fun in New Mexico!
    #19
  20. CoyoteThistle

    CoyoteThistle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
    191
    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Day 3 - Kachina Village To Pinetop/Lakeside

    Up after the rain stopped. Packed up the wet gear. Put it all in one leg of the Giant Loop bag and let it drain.

    I headed back to the gas station for coffee and breakfast. Smoothie was best choice for the latter.

    Well, time to see what the rain last night did to the roads. Started off very wet but good surface made riding okay, if not a little slow.
    [​IMG]

    Radar last night showed less rain to east. Indeed, roads got drier the further east I went. Reached Lake Mary Road. Plan is to more or less parallel this road to the south for gas at Happy Jack.

    Route quickly hit natural surface roads (non-gravel) but they were dry enough to be good fun. Soon hit another power line road. I guess I don't actually have a rule about this. Turns out this one is okay, curved along the line instead of straight.
    [​IMG]

    Eventually got on to rougher roads and muddier surface. Got too slippery for me. Time for another turnaround. Found a gravel road back to Lake Mary Road. Poked back on to dirt a couple times as I worked my way south. Anything with natural surface is slimy around here. Gravel roads are fun but are running east-west. need to go south. Eventually cut my losses and did the final few miles in to Happy Jack on the tarmac.

    Got gas and a snack. Next, it's time to head towards the Rim Road - it runs along the Mogollon Rim for basically 100 miles.

    As I worked my way towards the Rim Road on various dirt paths (pretty dry now), the pain in my butt got too great to ignore. This seat is killing my bum. Finally broke down and decided to check on the damage. Pulled off on a side road and found some solitude. Hmmm, how to assess the damage? Well, I've found the the iPhone camera in selfie mode is pretty hand for "looking around corners" so to speak - works like a mirror. Quick check to make sure no one was around or coming and I dropped my drawers. Now, this was something of a medical emergency so I feel justified in what I did. That being said, never, ever attempt this unless you have to. Just not a pleasant view in any way shape or form. Anyway, I'll spare the details of what I saw. Matching spots rubbed raw. Pulled out the gauze, tape, neosporin, etc. and did a patch job. Certainly glad nobody came upon me.

    Nothing to do but carry on and get to Pinetop for more sophisticated first aid supplies. Hit the rim Road. The views along the western stretch are epic. I rode this a couple years ago so didn't stop a lot for photos this time. Beautiful day though so I snapped a few.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    When the Rim Road reaches Hwy 260, there is a gap for 10 miles or so. Followed 260 then cut back. This eastern part of the road is - not as stunning as the western part. Lots of this.
    [​IMG]

    Eventually came to a pretty badly rutted section that lasted off and on for 10 or 15 miles.
    [​IMG]

    As long as you choose a good high line and stuck with it, it usually worked out okay.

    After it crosses Hwy 60, it turns in to a real mess. Followed the mess for several miles until a swimming-pool sized mud bog (well used) crossed the whole road. Bugger it, Backtracked a few hundred yards and escaped in to the suburbs (?) of Pinetop/Lakeside.

    It was only 2:30 when I got to Pinetop but I needed to invest some time in finding a fix for my butt issues. First, need some sort of extra padding on seat. Then More medical supplies to treat/protect my butt.

    Hit Ace Hardware and looked for padded things. Finally settled on this:
    [​IMG]

    Nylon with Thinsulate (for keeping faucets from freezing) and a few little bungees. Might help.

    It was close to 5 by the time I finished my shopping so I decided to get motel, dry camping gear and tend to butt. Good choice.

    Tale of the tape:
    [​IMG]

    About 20 miles of pavement.
    #20