The Montana Dirt 501

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by rebelpacket, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. rebelpacket

    rebelpacket four-stroke earth-saw

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    752
    Location:
    Missoula, MT
    The Plan: L-Train, Rebelpacket, an XR600R, a KTM 625 SXC and 500 miles
    of unexplored dirt roads. Leave Friday evening, come home Sunday evening. A trip inspired by a certain ride report on ADVrider.com: 10 Days of Utah Desert Madness

    The Prep:
    Ultra-Minimalist Camping protocol. We packed only what we'd absolutely need. Some instant food, aluminum foil to cook in, metal cups to drink/cook in, sporks, big knifes for cutting things, trowels and metal files to dig shit-holes with, tarps in case of rain, tools and tubes. Our only luxury item was flip-flops. After a day in moto-boots, sometimes you need to let the feet air out.

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    L-Train had scored some Voile straps, but every shop in town didn't have
    any when rebelpacket went to buy some. These are ski straps recommended by our idol in ultralightness, Joe Motocross. Rebelpacket ended up having to use nylon cam-buckle straps, which proved to be a big-pain in the ass every time he needed to unload anything.

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    (Note the green bag lashed to the KTM. This would later be referred to as "the steak-chucker 2000").

    We did a basic check to make sure we had remembered everything, and took off into windy, cloud-filled skies.

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    Our route took us back behind Logan, which we refer to as "The Baja Training Route". Its a seldom-used road that has huge ruts, and generally nasty road changes. The Gallatin valley has had an unseasonable
    amount of rain, and the road was completely in shambles. This made things pretty interesting. After we got back there was a newspaper article about "the worst hailstorm ever" in Manhattan, Montana....which damaged many county roads. Golf Ball Size Hailstones. Ouch. Last time we did this route flat-out at close to 70mph. With many miles, and two days ahead of us, and 3 ft deep crevasses and many big rocks in the road, we tamed it down to around 50mph.

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    We stopped just outside Logan to check everything over after the
    high-speed roost, and make sure nothing was loosening up... and...
    disaster! Our nights dinner; two steaks that had been dirtbike
    marinating in southwest sauce, had been forcibly ejected from rebelpacket's wet bag, and were now lying on a trail somewhere, giving immense joy to some hungry coyotes...

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    L-Train was not psyched about the windy weather, or the loss of tonights dinner.
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    No worries, we stopped at a store in three forks, and picked up some
    replacement steak. This time, we secured it in Lincoln's backpack, to be
    sure we wouldn't loose it. Some water and a few phone calls to family
    letting everyone know we'd be off in the wild for a few days, and we
    took off again. A few miles of pavement, and then we hit more ranch
    access roads.

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    The roads here, normally quite pleasant, were also completely wrecked.
    The previous night, golfball hail and torrental rains had washed away
    more of the road, and left a nice slick layer of silt and rock over
    everything.

    On a lame, flat part that was covered with slick mud, rebelpacket took a dirt-nap with the 625. This wouldn't be a big deal, except it bent the shifter up at a un-natural angle. We viewed this as a Good Thing, considering the
    last time he took a spill on the left side, the shifter snapped off
    cleanly. A couple minutes with a 8mm wrench, and some cleaning of the
    splines on the gearshift, and we were rolling again.

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    Next up... cylindrical refreshment, dirtbike lean-to's... steak in tinfoil, and day 2...
    #1
  2. Putts

    Putts Gettin' there.

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    11,861
    Location:
    Bozoman, Montana
    Oooooo baby! Local boys make <s>good</s> dirty.

    I'm in.

    :lurk
    #2
  3. TwilightZone

    TwilightZone Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    7,041
    Location:
    Behind the Redwood Curtain
    IMHO. Front Page Photo Here...

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    #3
  4. rebelpacket

    rebelpacket four-stroke earth-saw

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    752
    Location:
    Missoula, MT
    Thanks Twilight! We've got some great photos the other day that may do better than that one though. :)
    #4
  5. sproutxj

    sproutxj Bikeless..ok with it

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2006
    Oddometer:
    146
    Location:
    MT
    :lurk
    #5
  6. Mad Kaw Disease

    Mad Kaw Disease Dual Sport Diseased

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    534
    Location:
    Vancouver (NOT BC), Washington (NOT DC)
    :lurk :lurk

    Love the Gallatin Valley, reminds me of the glory days.... Sgt Rock and Moo U!!!

    Can't wait for more.
    #6
  7. MTrider16

    MTrider16 Ridin' in MT

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,870
    Location:
    Eastern Montana
    :lurk I'm in also. BTW, what weekend was this?

    David
    #7
  8. neumie

    neumie Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    130
    Location:
    Grand Brapids, MN
    More!
    #8
  9. Mtnjohn

    Mtnjohn Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Oddometer:
    788
    Location:
    SW Montana
    Yea, Whats up with hot week days and rain and hail on the weekends. Looks like your headed to the Tobacco Roots. Hi from Whitehall.
    #9
  10. BeeDub

    BeeDub Havagoowan

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,025
    Oh man, I love Montana! I spent the summer after high school there (Wilsall, outside Livingston) building fence, and those roads take me back. Didn't have a bike while I was there, but I'd love to return one day with one.

    Carry on! :D
    #10
  11. rebelpacket

    rebelpacket four-stroke earth-saw

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    752
    Location:
    Missoula, MT
    After the minor get-off and mechanical fixing, we rolled off down the road into Pony, MT. The roads were well maintained, but completely saturated with water, which made the tight turns and twists interesting. Really had to flat-track style most of the turns to keep the front wheel tracking at all.

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    Rolling into Pony, we came upon the Pony Bar, voted one of America's 50 best bars. It was well past five o'clock, so we figured dropping in for a beer was a good idea. Some map reading, and blah-blah-blah with the locals, and suddenly it was 9pm, and time to camp. We rode a couple miles up the hill outside of Pony to the National Forest land, and set up camp at Cataract Lake just as it started to sprinkle.

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    The rain subsided, and we cooked up a delicious steak dinner over the fire in tinfoil. We broke out the Jim Beam, and started blah- blah-blah'ing with full stomachs and cups of whiskey. One important lesson in after-ride refreshment, is always wear your moto-gear when drinking. Rebelpacket had a little stumble down an embankment getting firewood, and was grateful for this rule.

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    Morning broke to blue, clear skies and great sunlight. The awesome-ness of our selected camp area was shown to us in full glory.

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    Rebelpacket was a little late packing up in the morning, sleeping off the whiskey. The mornings are when the cam-buckle luggage straps really sucked compared to the Voile straps L-Train was using. It would take a full 20 minutes just to strap the gear onto the back.

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    All set, we started roosting early. Down the road past pony, and off to some pretty nice trails marked "4WD only".

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    The 4WD trails are sweet. Rocky, steep, and pretty wide, which allows for multiple lines through the mess, and some real sweet roosting. Some nice berms have built up over the years, which means through the twisty bits, you can tip it over, stick the foot out and grab big handfuls of throttle. Of course when the terrain is that much fun, one isn't very inclined to stop riding to get photos, so we don't have any of that section....

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    On the way down, we passed some real sweet views too. We're high enough up here, just above Sureshot Lakes, that there is still snow from last winter on the peaks!

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    The way down was pretty tame, fast well maintained dirt roads. We moved on and down towards Alder, hoping to find a good place for breakfast. Unfortunately for this part of it, we did have to hit some pavement. At least the views and the sky we're alright! Numerous storm cells were moving through the area, and we got some sprinkles here and there.

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    Alder had no breakfast options, however 5 miles up the road we found a little place with some options (and hot coffee). The lady running the shop was real nice, and didn't seem to have a problem with smelly, dirty, armor-clad dirtbikers sitting in her fine furniture. We proceeded to consume huge bowls of Potato Cheese soup and then some burritos for dessert!

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    Filled up and ready for more action, we headed into a expanse of BLM land, hoping to find a route to connect us through into Butte, MT. The route was uncertain, as was the trails. But we found ourselves on some awesome routes through the middle of nowhere, fast-paced 4th and 5th gear stuff that wound over these sagebrush prairies and through old mines. This is some of Montana's finest dual sport terrain, this rolling open country, no people, old roads, the occasional antelope or deer, and the mountains all around.

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    Most of the old mines were blocked off with fences and warning signs, presumably to prevent people like us from hurting ourselves. Still pretty neat though.

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    At this point, our spirits we're very high. Our heads were exploding with the views. Bikes were running great, and we were having the time of our lives. A few miles up the road, all that would change quickly.

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    It started pouring rain. Not a drizzle, not a steady rain. Pouring. The roads turned into a solid creek. L-Train busted out his PVC tarp, and we set up a mock shelter on the side of the road. The rain continued, and the temperature really dropped. Not good.
    #11
  12. contacterich

    contacterich Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2006
    Oddometer:
    179
    Location:
    California
    ...and awesome ride with beautiful photos! Thank you. :clap
    #12
  13. 9Dave

    9Dave Bazinga!

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2005
    Oddometer:
    13,533
    Location:
    Central Ohio
    Very cool.
    #13
  14. Jarvis

    Jarvis DC GSer Administrator Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2002
    Oddometer:
    14,487
    Location:
    Washington DC
    :lurk
    #14
  15. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    67,743
    Great adventure riding! :thumb

    :lurk
    #15
  16. Poodoo

    Poodoo PooYie

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    57
    Location:
    Abbeville, Louisiana
    :lurk

    Your making me wanna go to Montana and I can't cause I'm broke. :ken :dizave
    #16
  17. Arch

    Arch Incurable Gearhead

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2001
    Oddometer:
    11,706
    Location:
    Katy, TX
    Excellent pics, beautiful country! Me loves Montana...
    #17
  18. klrbaer

    klrbaer Tim

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2006
    Oddometer:
    283
    Location:
    Eureka, Illinois
    I love Montana, I just got back from 3 weeks of fishing and riding with the family in Mt. Up on the Yaak river and on Rock creek south of Missoula.

    Great report.
    #18
  19. dirtrider

    dirtrider Dusty Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2003
    Oddometer:
    3,366
    Location:
    Kalispell, Montana
    Cool!
    #19
  20. L-Train

    L-Train Dirt......Good.

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    181
    Location:
    Livingston, Montana
    Many thanks to Dirtrider, and Chadx, for route help....I read some old ride reports of Dirtriders and got good info for the Butte to Rimini section....and Chadx got us from Helena over to White Sulphur.....Thanks Guys!!!
    #20