Two Flat Landers, Colorado Mountain Passes on an F800GS and 640 Adventure.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by EnderTheX, Aug 21, 2010.

  1. TDubben

    TDubben Firing on 1 cylinder

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    Amazing ride report you got here!!! This ride report, along with your gps files, is everything I need for my trip there this coming September.

    Speaking of that, it looks like from a previous post you were just there at the end of September. How was the weather? I know it can be drastically different when I go but I'm just curious. I plan to be there the last week of September this year.

    Thanks again. Great Pictures too! I wish I could take pictures that well. Maybe it's time to learn.
  2. MatSubZero

    MatSubZero n00b

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    "Ya can't beat that with a stick..........Oh, wait... You DID beat that with a stick.!!!"

  3. CBAT

    CBAT occasional wanderer

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    Brown Dog, Do you happen to have tracks from this ride? Be nice to have for future planning. :evil


  4. Brown Dog

    Brown Dog North Georgia Dual Sportr

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    No sir :nono I'm Ol School & ride by feel & an
    Occasional peek at the map.

    I studied ride reports & maps very well before my
    First visit to the San Juan Mtns :clap

    We had a Zumo 450 with us but it was useless not having
    the offroad info in it.

    GPS Woulda been fine if I knew how to use one :lol3

    This should also help

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=612339

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=191772
    .
    .


    The owner of Silverton Hostel gave us some very
    Helpful info too :thumb

    This was the best area to stay in & ride well over
    600 terrific miles of gorgeous Dirt scenery :bow
  5. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    Thanks for the compliments :D I'm sure you will have a great time out there this September. You are right, we were there recently but haven't gotten the ride report done yet (it's a lot of content and we've been riding every weekend!!) :evil

    I've been lucky enough to go to Colorado three times now at different times of year and in several areas. Here are the conditions I experienced during these rides:

    Mid August 2010 - Good temps (50-65 at elevation during day, 40s at night), rain daily in short intervals was mostly guaranteed this year. We had to change gear frequently... on the ride to the pass we bundled up, when we were on the pass we took off layers, putting rain gear on and off several times a day. Rain would come for short bursts but if you didn't gear up you would be soaked. Water crossings and trails were definitely manageable and took the rain well, there were many more puddles than I saw on other rides, we had permanent wet boots the whole trip. This shouldn't dissuade you from this time of year, the rainy season could shift earlier or later and we still had a lot of fun. Camp sites were only partially full, still managed and we were able to get our favorite spot at South Mineral. No snow on any trails. This time would guarantee open passes.

    Late July 2011 - Perfect temperatures (50-60 at elevation during day, 30s at night), sparse daily rain rarely needing rain gear. Usually this time of year most passes are open but they had late snow and many passes were still closed (you must call ahead to local ranger stations if you plan on this time of year). I found my favorite camp site was completely full (South Mineral) and I camped at the alternate site, which was nice too but still crowded. The passes that were open (engineer, ophir, cinnamon, etc) had large snow tunnels that were fun to ride through, spots of snow around was scenic. The trails were in good condition, the snow melt doesn't seem to phase the conditions.

    Mid/Late September 2011 - We are still working on this ride report, we were there with the small bikes (WR250R). The temps and weather was unbeatable, cold at night (sub freezing) and around 55 during day. No rain during the entire trip but there was snow a couple weeks before we got here at high elevation. The trails were in good shape but there was a challenging snow drift at the top of Imogene Pass where we worked with another group of four riders to get all six bikes across. We encountered a threatening snow storm but it barely dropped a few flakes on us in the end. Campgrounds were mostly empty and not managed (no campground hosts and only one toilet open... could be no toilets open later, no wood to buy at campground) but we got our favorite spot and had a blast. In other parts of Colorado we primitive camped. During this time I would certainly call ahead to check local weather reports.

    That being said... I would recommend the later time of year (Mid September), possibly just after kids go back to school, especially if you want to be comfortable camping. If you don't care too much about camping the beginning of the season is very nice, just check with the ranger stations on the pass conditions (I found 9/10 of the ones I found to be very friendly and knowledgeable).


    :freaky
  6. snow

    snow Adventurer

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    Great report, I am looking forward to August and the rally.
  7. Loutre

    Loutre Cosmopolitan Adv Super Moderator

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    Have seen all your reports but this one is still my favorite... everytime I see these pics I get sparkles in my eyes
  8. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    Thanks :D We are still working on a ride report from a while ago... going through not only Colorado but Utah as well. I am anxious to get something out there since we have been lagging behind. The weather in Texas is amazing and we have been riding every chance we get almost every weekend! :freaky
  9. Iron Rey

    Iron Rey Wingnut Extraordinaire

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    Hi Chris and Oliver, I won't try to hijack your thread, but this thread is the one that got me thinking of the times in the early 80's when I was stationed in Colorado (Navy, teaching at Lowery AFB). Me and two of my buddies used to hit the old jeep trails, my friend had a CJ and I usually rode my KX 400 with the nut-buster steel tank, it wasn't the newest but it was an incredible dirt bike.

    We usually rode in the Front Range part of Colorado but we made one memorable pilgrimage to the San Juan's, what I remember best was the shear joy of blasting up Engineer's Pass like a heathen with my hair on fire, now I was a very accomplished enduro rider at the time who competed extensively in California, of course this was nothing like that, I was hooked. I would have loved to have ridden more in that area but by the time I discovered it, Uncle Sam told me it was time to move to my next duty station.

    Anywho, having read this thread earlier in the year, and this is a GREAT thread by the way, I decided I was going to see what I could make of it on my GSA...Now I would still consider myself an above average rider, but 2 years shy of 50 and considerably heavier, I knew this would not be easy.

    I set up base camp in Durango (great KOA if anyone is interested) and was going to do day trips from there, I wanted to mix up off-road with some serious pass-blasting. I followed your example and started "easy" with the trail to Bandora Mine and Clear Lake, well, things got off to a rough start, I was on my way to the mine and I came into an area of the trail that was rocky (baby heads are a perfect description of the size and shape of the rocks), I was up on the pegs, watching my line and the next thing I knew the bike was bouncing like a bronco and I was off the road! I kept the bike up and ended up 20 feet off the road (and 20 feet down!) I tried walking the bike up but only succeeded in sliding farther down the hill...I laid the bike on it's side, but the hill was so steep it still looked like it was on it's side stand :D after about an hour and a half, a guy with his son in a four wheel drive came by and helped me push/pull it back onto the road. I had made a rookie mistake and had my suspension dampening set to stiff and did not turn off the ESA or ABS. Honestly, anywhere else on the passes and the mistake could have been fatal. The biggest indignity was I had perched my helmet on a rock on the side of the road, but not well enough and it proceeded to tumble down the side of the hill, there went my $1100 C3 (with com module) bouncing 500 feet down, other than some minor dings, the worst part was climbing back up the hill after retrieval.

    I was a bit shaken after this so I just used the rest of the day to work the pavement and have some fun at speed, the next day I rode Ophir pass, it was fun and I gained much of my confidence back, I also realized that stock shocks with ESA leave a lot to be desired, I actually had my best control when I set dampening to normal, and further dampened by staying seated! Just at the end (I headed out of Ophir toward 550) of the talus shelf when you get to the switchback just before the summit I had caught up to a jeep, no biggie here, but it would have important implications later. I loved it, I used many of the same skills I teach students in the BRC, watch your line, not the obstacle.

    The next day I was going to tackle Engineers Pass, starting at the entrance on 550, it is considered the toughest part (of Engineer's) it was brutal on the GSA, but I kept going, the problem came from the jeeps, they move so slow (and the have every bit as much right to be there as I do) that I was forever having to stop to let them get ahead of me, those that have been on that particular portion of the pass know that stopping and starting is not the easiest, the issues came down to the clutch, I was doing it (barely) but I was toasting the clutch so badly (it REALLY stunk and was starting to slip) that I made the decision to pull the plug after about two miles up and head back down. I really didn't feel like I failed, but it would have been nice to finish (I ended up going to the summit the next day from Silverton).

    So why the write-up after I didn't even do hardly any of what I planned? (My goal was to do all the stuff you two did and then some more) I wanted to give some feedback, encouragement, and warning to anyone who wants to do this on a big bike, can it be done? Sure, and if you have the requisite skill I encourage you, after all, there was that local who did Imogene on a Strom! But please, these are not rides to see if you "have it" I do, for the most part, and it still could have ended badly. If you do, the stock shocks that come on the GSA really aren't up to the task, I would think Wilbur's or Ohlin's would be a much better option, as would a slipper clutch from A&S. I know that some of you will say I am a novice and that you could do these in your sleep, good for you. I know that if I had a more dirt oriented bike it would have been mission accomplished.

    I do encourage everyone to go to the area and ride the great mountain roads and I still did hundreds of miles of gorgeous dirt and gravel where the bike was really at home, and met some other like minded riders and great locals (eat breakfast at the Brown Bear Café in Silverton, tell them Ryan says "hi").

    I will leave you with a couple of pictures of Engineers...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Thanks again Chris and Oliver for the fantastic report, it was inspiring!
  10. child

    child poop is fun

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    Nice! Always good to see big bikes being ridden! That first stretch of engineer on a big bike and street tires would have been pretty interesting! Sounds like you made it past some of the hardest sections before turning back. Pretty cool! We never waited for the jeeps, they're way too slow. I think we'd still be in Colorado if we waited. Most of the time there was plenty of room and we scooted past no issues. If it was tight we'd just hang close til they could move over. I think we only ran across one small pack of jeepers that didn't seem to want us to pass. Bikes don't need a whole lot of room so we still got by, just a few corners later than ideal.

    Thanks for all the kind words! Glad we could pay some of the info and entertainment back here at ADV. Like Oliver has mentioned, we've got another ride report from last year (almost literally last year now!) coming. Just gotta quit riding on weekends and start hammering it out...
  11. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    It sounds like you got through the difficult part of Engineer’s Pass from the 550 entrance? Unfortunately we didn’t document this section very well but from what I remember it was a hellish hang-on-for-dear-life start on a big bike, then one rocky switchback that was a bit iffy and then it smoothed out. I want to do it again on my WR250R but I probably won’t be back with my F800GS. I’m sure that was the closest I’ve gotten to pinch flatting on the trip!
  12. woodzrider

    woodzrider Long timer

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    This is an awesome RR. Your photos are most excellent. I have been riding that area for the last three years and have covered all of the same trails plus maybe a few more. Reading your report made me feel as if I were there riding
    these roads again. Fact is, I'm leaving tomorrow morning for Pitkin Colorado, only this time i'll be on an atv instead of bike (sold KTM 450 exc last august but will be on a new one soon). Can I do an atv RR? kidding.....Can't wait to get there and smell the crisp mountain air and pine forests.....Just drooling thinking about it.:happay
  13. gravityisnotmyfriend

    gravityisnotmyfriend °.°.°.°.°.°.°.°.°.°.

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    There was several times while reading through your RR report that I had to actually slow down and admire your pictures. Almost everyone of them are on par with art. You posted so many of them that it's easy to skim over without appreciating them, but there is so much really good content there. I feel tempted to wax poetic about the way the light reflects off Oliver's many piss streams. But that would just be weird.

    I appreciate the fact that you guys slowed down and took the time to document your adventure so thoroughly. I always find myself caught up in the moment and always regret not taking the time to get more pictures and video.

    I'm in the embryo stages of planning a trek through the Colorado mountain passes myself. It won't be next summer, and probably not the summer after. But, hopefully by the summer of '15 I'll be able to put this wealth of knowledge to use.

    Thanks!
  14. Secondtear

    Secondtear Secondtear

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    Wow. Thanks, guys! Fantastic writing and photos. Hey locals...how likely are any of these passes to be open in late May? (I know...just have to ask.) My brother is coming into town and I'm hoping we don't have to go to Moab to get in some good riding.
  15. malloy

    malloy Long timer Super Supporter

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    Bump for a great report!!!!
  16. W. Boyter

    W. Boyter Been here awhile

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    Awesome ride report!
    Me and a few other Texicans are headed there in about a month, and this was a great primer.
  17. W. Boyter

    W. Boyter Been here awhile

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    And I think that this was my favorite pic of all!


  18. gravityisnotmyfriend

    gravityisnotmyfriend °.°.°.°.°.°.°.°.°.°.

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    It's the summer of '15! Me and two buddies are heading west this Friday and planning on hitting many of the same passes. Just gotta get through the work week. It's fun to re-read this thread since it is really what got us planning our trip.
  19. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

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    Thanks everyone for the kind words! I'm glad this ride report is inspiring people to get out there and see these cool trails.

    I'm envious of anyone getting to go this year! I heard there was a lot of snow late but I'm sure everything is open by now... Ranger stations are always helpful of course.
  20. MotoVentures

    MotoVentures Stromaholic

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    I just finished reading all 22 pages - AWESOME images and such a great adventure! Very well done!