Continental Divide Trail, July 2016

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by WilsoDRZ, Jul 19, 2016.

  1. Yooper_Bob

    Yooper_Bob Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2005
    Oddometer:
    3,864
    Location:
    Da UP, eh! (Marquette, MI)
    Excellent video.....:thumb

    Like others have said, very hard to make a good travel video that does not put you to sleep in the first two minutes.
    #21
    extrememarine likes this.
  2. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator

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    Jul 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    29,828
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    SE Wisconsin
    You're a skilled and artistic videographer. Very nice. :thumb
    #22
  3. KTM Mike

    KTM Mike Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,288
    Location:
    Atlanta, Michigan
    Outstanding job on the video! I have literally hours of video from riding the northern portion of the CDR (Banff to Steamboat Lake) and have basically never found the time to do anything with it! I was considering not bothering to bring the GoPro for when I finish it off later this summer - but seeing your video makes me want to....to then leave hours more of unedited footage taking up space on my hard drive!

    I am looking forward to seeing more of your ride report.
    #23
  4. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2015
    Oddometer:
    88
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    It happens to everyone...for this 9 minute video I have about 90 hours of footage that I've never even watched.
    My days just north of Steamboat were quite eventful. When I get to that section, let me know if you've ever ridden those routes.

    Day 2 is coming soon.
    #24
  5. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2015
    Oddometer:
    88
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Day 2: Wall Lake Campground to Cuba, planned 327 miles, actual 435 miles

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    Today was fantastic with a little hiccup that meant a lot of unexpected miles, particularly on the stock seat of DRZ with a lot of pavement. Up with sun and on the road, the day was clear, the hi-vis garbage bags stayed stowed. A few miles and a little elevation brought me to thick, dense fog. It was eerie not being able to see much as the dirt two-rut twisted and turned through meadows and at the foot of mountains. After a bit I decided to stop and put the rain gear on as I could feel my long underwear getting wet through the mesh panels of my riding pants. Even the jacket was starting to soak up some of the floating rain disguising itself as fog. Over the next two hours, I found a Continental Divide sign, some gorgeous tree lined passages and saw a few elk, this time a bull with a few cows. I hit pavement at hwy 12 and headed for Datil. This was the first of many towns that I mis-pronounced during a year of planning and didn’t find out until arriving in the town. I stopped in Datil at the gas station, bought some elk jerky and saw a shirt with the words “Datil do”. My pronunciation used a long ‘a’, like “day-til”. This shirt clearly implied it was short, like “D-at-il”. Anywho, the clerk agreed with the shirt. On to Pie Town, one of the few requisites on the trip.

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    I rode the frozen black river (need new terms for pavement for some variety) at a blistering 62mph, waving at a couple on a Harley as they cruised by. I was in no hurry, pie isn’t ready before 11am, I checked the schedule. Entering Pie Town, I cruised the strip and looked at the variety of places, all advertising pie. One place, the Gatherin’ Place, was open and I pulled in. Turns out the Harley couple had breezed through Pie Town only to hit a rain storm, turn around and head back to wait it out. We exchanged hellos and introductions, I reveled in my first chance to tell people about my journey. The storm rolled through, we drank coffee and ordered BBQ beef quesadillas which were delicious, but the wood they use for smoke taste like something I shouldn’t eat. Too tangy, like potpourri smells good but doesn’t taste good…I assume. I politely refused pie, the pun-enthusiast in me knew that Pie-O-Neer would be open soon. The rain had cleared and the couple and I went outside to part ways on our separate journeys. The woman came over with a cloth and offered to wipe my seat…gotta love thoughtful people. Down the block to my pun-tastic destiny, I was greeted by a selection of berry, chocolate, fruit and other pies. Me? I over-thought the decision, figured I was in New Mexico, let’s try something different, apple with green chiles and pine nuts. I wouldn’t say it was awful, I ate all of it. But the scale tipped too far to the savory side; I really wanted to add some breakfast sausage and a runny egg. Oh well, next time, right?

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    The gravel road out of Pie Town to Hwy 117 is hard to describe. It’s as if somebody climbed into a big bull dozer, jammed it in gear, tied off the steering wheel and promptly fell asleep. I spent the time contemplating why I chose that pie…could have had strawberry, chocolate, blueberry…A short Eisenhower ride later, I turned at this intimidating entrance. BTW, flip down tinted visors are the bees knees.

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    My next and first metal band will be named Chain of Craters, tickets on sale soon. The weather was dry so I entered and definitely sensed how a little angel tears would turn this road into hell for just about anybody. There were standing puddles spanning the road with little paths around them. Sometimes I went straight, sometimes I went around. Desperately wanting to check out some craters, I held fast to my route, not sure of the difficulty that lie ahead. Luckily, I glanced over and noticed I was next to a lava field, a foreign concept to me. I stopped, set up the camera phone on the tripod and made my way into the field, realizing I had zero knowledge about the geological history of the place.

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    The final section to Grants is open, well maintained gravel with awesome curves through a canyon. I enjoyed the great weather, road, scenery and thought of the last short section for the day after Grants. (this is foreshadowing for you literature nerds).

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    Picture with the sign, a splash of dead dinos and up the blue path. Nope, closed gate. Back down to Grants to hit the green path, which I didn’t have on GPS, only in paper form. I went down one road that ended at a livestock yard, another went to a mining operation with very clear instructions about explosives being used on this private road (yet no gate), another road ended with a gate. Finally I took the road that should meet up with the closed-off blue path. Success!!! I was on the blue path for a few miles of muddy, pot-holed mountain road before hitting a closed gate. Damn. I give up, I want my tent and sleeping pad. Back down to Grants, more petrol, headphones in and slab the long way around to Cuba.

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    Adventurer karma #3: although I was on my least favorite road surface, I watched a desert thunderstorm ravage the area I should be in, all the while the sun sank behind me, washing the rolling New Mexico hills in beautiful evening light. Closing in on Cuba, the roads were wet. I was chasing the storm and the smell of rain filtered into my helmet as a rainbow appeared. It was an unforgettable moment.

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    Dropping into Cuba as the sun completely disappeared, I reloaded with fuel and water for the night, relieved that only 12 miles separated me from bed. Out of town, my GPS directed me off the pavement. Keep in mind I only loaded the most difficult sections from gpsKevin’s route. There may have been a road closed sign near the road, but there was no blockade, what could be so bad? It was rough. What used to be a two rut road was now a drainage ditch strewn with boulders and crevasses, ever-climbing and snaking its way into the sky. Now completely dark, my weak headlight being blocked by the fender bag was nearly useless. I toughed it out, nearly dumping the bike a few times, but finally met with the “open” road and breathed a sigh of relief. There were tons of campers (4th of July weekend) everywhere, this was not an official campground. I didn’t even try to make it to my intended campsite; I spotted an open fire ring and tent spot, turned in, heard the ramblings of drunk campers and knew I was home. Probably looking disheveled and acting half-crazed, I introduced myself to the next door neighbors, apologized for my late entrance and promised I’d be set up and asleep within half an hour. In this case, I was not a liar, out like a light.
    #25
    BackRoadNomad and uintamts like this.
  6. The Heathen

    The Heathen Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    274
    Location:
    The North State
    :lurk Great read.
    #26
  7. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2015
    Oddometer:
    88
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Day 3 Cuba to Trujillo Campground, 206 Miles

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    Today was absolutely perfect. It was exactly what I dreamt about when planning for this ride. My choice of the DRZ400 was put to the test on a couple red routes, I had some adventurer karma, fell in a mud puddle, explored the town of Chama, got to camp early and enjoyed every minute.

    I awoke with the sun as I did just about every morning and in the light of day I realized how nice my campsite was. The LED headlamp just didn’t do it justice. I sat in the door of my tent and made coffee of the little camp stove. It was chilly but not cold and the dew was thick in the morning. It was still before 6am so I quietly packed the tent and loaded the bike while sipping coffee. The sun filtered through the pine trees as they reached for the clear blue sky and I could tell I was getting farther north and higher in elevation.

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    Firing up the GPS and spot tracker, I rolled the bike to the road, hoping it would be less likely to disturb sleeping campers with the warm up routine. Being a popular spot for camping, the roads were well maintained gravel but with lots of elevation and empty switchbacks so early in the morning. I hadn’t put in ear plugs or headphones since speeds averaged 25mph and I started hearing excessive chain slap on the guide over pot holes. I pulled to the side and dismounted to investigate. The chain was definitely looser than before but there was no noticeable wear on the rear sprocket. I attempted to pull the front sprocket cover and realized I didn’t have an 8mm socket or wrench and the bolt head was too deep for pliers. There was also a dirt caked around the area which lead me to believe the counter shaft seal was weeping, not leaking, I always check under the bike each morning for any tell-tale pools of fluid. Not able to do much of anything, I took this picture of endless pine forest and kept riding.

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    A glance at the route through the Sante Fe National Forest shows a squiggly blue line of tight turns, ups and downs and vistas that appear out of now where. The conditions were mostly packed dirt and gravel that gradually shifted to a sandy base. I took a wrong turn down a slightly less maintained road but decided to ride it out for a couple miles where I came across the most perfect hairpin turn. Level, loose dirt, no rocks with a little run-out on the outside before the sheer cliff. I set up the camera phone for a close-up and rode the turn both ways a few times. This also where I took the “piss in the woods” shot in the video (first post) that garners me the most reactions. It’s funny, I ride 3600 miles up from 600 ft to 12,000 ft and people tend to comment on a 3 second clip where I filmed myself do a number 1 in the forest.

    Back on the route I came to a red route turn off. It didn’t look too bad, as if some sadistic a-hole gathered a group of people and said, “gather all stones between 4 and 12 inches in girth and place them side by side across the width of the road for the next 1000 yds of uphill climb”. On the pegs, the DRZ400 did all the work; I learned to only correct when veering toward the wall on one side or drop off on the other, otherwise just enjoy the ride. Along the way I stopped and spoke to an Aussie man on a bicycle running down the gauntlet I had just ascended. We exchanged details of what lay ahead for the other and I got the sense he didn’t approve of the idea of doing the trail on a motorcycle so I slipped my helmet back on and made an extra effort to speedily fly up the remaining hill.

    The ups and downs battle was gradually won by the downs, evident by the change from rocky to sandy soil and tall lush surroundings to brown scrub brush. I was in a good groove heading up to my 539th cattle guard crossing when I had to hit the brakes and barely stopped before plunging into a mud hole. There was an 8in drop and 10ft of mud puddle that could have done some damage; luckily I skidded to a stop on top of the guard. The pictures below show the view from 40ft and then 5ft from the guard. I labeled the way point “surprise” The coordinates are N36° 07.641' W106° 24.802'.

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    The mountain roads settled into a straight flat rip across the valley floor where temps were warm and I started to feel the heat for the first time all trip. The dirt roads coughed me out onto a hwy near the Abiquiu Bode’s General Store, aka gas station/liquor store/hardware store/sporting equipment store/grocery store. I went inside to the bathroom, stripped off my thermal underwear and washed my face for the first time in 3 days before perusing the aisles for a lunchtime snack. I settled on Kettle brand chips in Red Curry (a good choice), chapstick and a few liters of water for the camel backs. Rolling the bike in the shade, I filled the bladders in no hurry, eating the chips and watching the steady stream of vehicles. The general store is clearly the place to stop before heading to the Abiquiu reservoir. People were lining up for the pumps with everything from zodiaks to jet skis to bass boats and some drivers were clearly agitated with the lack of organization. A friendly man approached and asked about tires, a common occurrence throughout the trip. I choose to run aggressive DOT knobbies because I like to take the difficult routes at the expense of jarring pavement ride and short life. He rode a large BMW bike and I found it hard to advise because there is no right answer, everything is a balance, choose what fits you best and then experiment. He also noticed my Texas license plate and seemed surprised, however the reactions would linearly become more emphatic the farther north I traveled.

    Out of Abiquiu I entered the Carson National Forest greeted by empty twisting two track through the forest. A fire had been through recently and the campsites were all empty which means I alternately between cruising and pushing hard through the turns. The riding was perfect as I steadily climbed and I hit that point of no time for pictures as I thought to myself “okay, what will happen next to re-route or delay this awesome section?”

    Now above 10k and into proper mountain terrain the road degraded and had many mud holes and standing water, I’m assuming from snow melt. Sadly, there were many drive-arounds leading to essentially a 3 lane highway of destruction through the forest. I picked my way through the puddles until I found one that fooled me. I thought I could edge through this particular puddle but the far side was too vertical. The front tire was about halfway up when my momentum ran out, I rolled back and my left foot was unable to find ground until the bike was too far over. We fell into the muddy mess and I urgently reached to kill the motor to avoid sucking in any water. It was slick, my lungs achingly protested the thin air, and the loaded bike was at my dead lift limit. After a few tries, I got the bike upright and had to figure out the best way out. With all the luggage I can’t really swing a leg over so I usually do this awkward hurdle maneuver that leaves my seat all scratched up from my boot. In this case, shin deep in water with a precarious bike position, I chose to start the bike and run along like a small dog being jerked by his leash. Success, if that’s what you want to call it.


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    Shaken out of the dream ride and brought back to reality, I traveled another 200 yards and found a closed gate. The road continued off to my left but without GPS routes or roads I had no idea where the road ended up. I pulled out the paper maps and compared lines. GPS Kevin didn’t have an obvious alternate without back tracking miles to hwy 64. I was approaching the 100 mile ‘turn around, don’t run out of gas” limit and made the decision to back track…for about 20 yds before I changed my mind to take the chance of a few more miles down perhaps a dead end road. A slight descent and around the bend I discover this:

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    Hundreds of sheep blocked the road and I immediately came to a stop as I heard a whistle from the shepherd. In a moment of bizarre juxtaposition of new and old, the shepherd motioned for me to take a picture, which I did. Then I motioned for the man that I wanted to talk and he waited why I rumbled up, killed the bike and removed my helmet. He was an older Mexican man who spoke no English and I spoke no Spanish. We had an unforgettable conversation where I attempted to ask if the road lead to Chama (I pronounced it K-ama) and he looked very confused before he nodded and said “Chama, si!” (pronounced with a ‘ch’ as in chart). He indicated that there was a sign by stabbing his shepherd staff in the ground and motioning one way for Chama and one way for Antonito. I thanked him but didn’t want to end the moment so I pitifully asked where he was taking the sheep. Instead of using Spanish, I just leave out the little words “Where take sheep?”. He understood and responded with words like “el campo”, "corral" and motions for grazing. Not wanting to disrupt his herd, I pointed up the road and asked if I could continue. He made a few whistles and shouts to the dogs who then ushered the sheep off the road and into a small group. Amazing. I road through and rejoined the original GPS route within another 200 yds.

    Reliving the experience in my head I continued over a pass (can’t remember the name) and as I descended I encountered many more campers, UTVs and ATV’s. The clouds were dark in the distance but I didn’t want to stop for rain gear until the last minute. Rain drops hit my visor and the air went noticeably chill when I pulled over. Unstrapping the roll of rain gear, I hustled to get the jacked over the armor and camel back and forced my muddy boots through the rain pants. Hurdling on the bike, the drops turned to rain and quickly to hail. I turned around hoping to be invited under a camper’s canopy I had just passed. Too busy running from the booming thunder, the camp owners ignored me as I headed for a tree. I searched through my limited knowledge of high-altitude storms and couldn’t decide if a tree was the best place to be with lightning charging the sky. The hail was pea-marble size but came down fast and thick, blanketing the ground in minutes. I ate cliff bar and soaked in the moment.



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    After the quick storm, I saddled up and rode through a fantasy world where steam rose from the patches of dirt between beds of white hail. The border crossing into Colorado was unceremonious and the rode became more and more civilized before climbing up to hwy 17 at a large lookout where I could look back on the variety of clouds marching south over the mountains. Damp and fatigued, I appreciated the windy pavement down to Chama where I filled up with gas and cruised the little old rail town before choosing a bar with a porch. It was empty, I ordered a beer with an alien on the label and a green chile burger and sat on the porch. A made small talk with a couple of ladies drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes, they had forgettable tie to Texas. Seems like everyone has a tie to everyone else’s past location in one way or another. I just wanted to sit on a seat that wasn’t continually trying to eject me and drink from something that didn’t come from a bite valve. I was uninjured, it was still daylight, the bike was top notch and my camp ground was 12 miles of pavement away.

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    #27
  8. lets_go_adv

    lets_go_adv Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2016
    Oddometer:
    15
    Location:
    California
    Awesome video!

    I saw you shaking your head at the base of "John's Hill" at 7:08 -- at least I think that's what locals referred to it as. I went down that damn thing. Holy hell. You were right not to go up that after/during the rain. Though, I'm slightly bummed it wasn't dry for you. It would have been awesome watching your footage of you going up that.
    #28
  9. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2015
    Oddometer:
    88
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Thanks! I'm glad to know that hill has a name. I'll write in more detail on that day but I did attempt the hill and about halfway up I got bucked off the trail and dumped the bike. I decided downhill was the best course of action, still dumped it again, tried to route around but couldn't find a way. I think the trauma of the event had me scared so I re-routed all the way back to pavement. There was a straight skid mark all the way down the hill...I couldn't even ride the rear brake down hill, I had to squeeze the front and rear to keep from locking up and sliding out.
    #29
    lets_go_adv likes this.
  10. EXEBECHE

    EXEBECHE Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2010
    Oddometer:
    10
    Location:
    HUDSON VALLEY


    I salute you for even attempting the hill. I rode down the hill at the end of June because by the time I realized how steep it was we were too far into it and would have had to go further just to find a spot to turn around. Had to do the two-bike shuffle even though Mrs Exebeche offered to ride hers down. I did not want to risk her losing control, so she walked down and I wheezed back up to get her bike. Was kicking myself (weakly) for missing that in my research! I am watching your report intently as we are to pick up our bikes in Bozeman mid September and continue southbound on the Divide.
    #30
    lets_go_adv likes this.
  11. jna

    jna Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    113
    Location:
    Fruita Co
    Beginning July 1, 2016, I rode the Continental Divide Trail from Mexico to Canada. It was beyond description. The ups and downs, both physical and emotional, the endless scenery, the challenges, the people, the experiences. I’ll have stories to tell for the rest of my life. I put together this video and it barely even captures 1% of it. I’m writing this daily report after the ride to add more detail and maybe inspire others.


    Excellent video, restores my faith in the ride forum.
    #31
  12. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2015
    Oddometer:
    88
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Day 4 Trujillo Campground to Salida CO, 251 miles

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    I ended yesterday’s post in the town of Chama before I got to camp. The turnoff for Trujillo Campground went from pavement to the construction phase just before pavement: a wide, graded, packed base that climbed and twisted a couple miles over a ridge. Coming over the ridge revealed an area seemingly inspired by my alien beer bottle that afternoon. The entire campsite succumbed to forest fire recently and the majority of trees around the sites had been cut down. Hundreds of one-foot-tall, faded orange cones were scattered on the ground no more than 15 feet from the next. My mind reeled at the sight; what could these be? Alien mother ship landing zone? A vigil set-up to mourn the loss of pine trees? Clearly mental exhaustion had set in, otherwise I would have immediately realized the cones were merely protection for newly planted seedlings. This picture is from the next morning, note the frost on the jacket and ice on the picnic table.

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    Finding only a few campers, I idled up to the campground welcome board to find zero information about the campground condition other than the cost of $18 per tent, how to pay said amount, and the typical “bear aware” warning. After some debate, I decided to take a lap before slipping such a large amount of cash into the little steel payment tube. It was deserted with an awkward charm and I caught a peek of the reservoir downhill so I made up my mind to stay. With so many open sites, I was able to choose one with a good view, near but not next to the bathroom and near another camper in case of emergency. The neighbor’s dog ran over, barking at the two wheeled stranger. The mother and two children followed and the little girl introduced herself in the way only innocent 5 year-old children can. I learned that the water was shut off to the campground, hence the lackluster turnout, but they had planned the trip and didn’t want to disappoint the kids. I set up the tent before taking a ride down to the gorgeous Trujillo reservoir. I spent some time walking the shore, soaking up some sun and talking with some fisherman, one of which had a daughter that just started college at Texas A&M, my school’s arch nemesis…always some small-world tie to strangers.

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    At 10,000 ft is was definitely the coldest night of the entire trip but my 18F bag kept me toasty. Morning frost covered the ground and I made my coffee as the sun rose into a brilliant blue sky. I packed the still wet tent and got on my way, starting with a brisk and twisty ride steadily downward toward the Conejos River. Crossing over and back upward on a well maintained dirt road, I came to the turnoff for one of the red routes. It was clearly single track but looked approachable. I made it about 100 yards and two steep uphill switchbacks that took a 3-point turn before deciding not to risk the 42 mile red route. Back on blue, the road was just challenging enough over Stunner Pass, past the sparkling Platoro Reservoir and down into Del Norte (not Del Nort-ay).

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    I stopped at the trailhead where the red route re-emerged and it looked just as gnarly on that end. While pumping gas I noticed Three Barrel Brewing across the street. Wood fired pizza and craft beer? I think I can make time. It was very good, not great but put a smile on my face. Quickly back on dirt, I headed into a desert type landscape with fast roads and occasional rocky surfaces. A sign pointed out a Natural Arch only two miles off route so I signaled left (habits are hard to break) and headed that direction. This is the arch from the end of the road:

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    Maybe the already depleted oxygen levels in my brain lead me to attempt a quick hike up to the arch. I bounded off in full gear sans jacket until about halfway up where I slowed to walk and then began breathing hard and feeling my heart pound. Determined to make the top and trudged on knowing how ridiculous I was being. Finally in the opening (and shade) of the arch, I sat down, leaned over and really thought it was going to end right there, 100 yards from the motorcycle that some people think is the real danger. The bike is down there somewhere:

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    I eased down the path, drank deeply from the camel back and coughed a nasty cough for a few minutes. Back on the bike, I opted to bypass the next red route and continue enjoying both functioning lungs. The roads were fast and effortless, great scenery and weather but apparently not photo worthy. Rolling into Sargents, I met a group of 6 riders on KTM’s and BMW’s who were out for the day doing the various passes. My mismatched gear and filthy DRZ made me feel a little sad especially when I didn’t know the name of the pass I was headed to. Hey, I just follow that blue line. But then I explained I was coming from Mexico bound for Canada and the playing field seemed to level. Sure enough Marshall pass was a great trip through the aspens on a fine road. Knowing that there was a well-traveled road to my intended camp at O’haver lake made the ride that more stress free, even when the campground had a “full” sign at the entrance. I took a lap around the lake and although beautiful it had a certain Pleasantville feeling to it; too contrived, too manicured.

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    I went back to a primitive roadside campsite where I met a couple two-up on a BMW GS. We talked for a minute about the mosquitos and possible rain and how they were undecided on where to go. I sat for a few minutes with a Cliff bar as they rolled off. In a crazy moment of fate, I chose to move on to Salida and just go with the flow…not something I normally excel at.

    I’d heard good things about the town of Salida so I turned toward the historic downtown area. Being July 4th it was bustling to say the least. Normally, I’d be stressed about traffic, parking and endless people. Instead I found a spot in the middle of the strip, parked the bike and began to strip off clothing right there. I kept the moto pants on but had to get out of the thermal top and put on some deodorant and a T-shirt representing Revival Cycles (my employer). Entering the nearest bar ordered a jack and coke, fired up the cell phone, checked in with the girlfriend before the battery died and asked the bartender where to eat. Now, I understand that the service industry hates this question but if they can’t give a quick answer, it really bothers me. I don’t expect a detailed rundown of every restaurant, just an honest opinion. She came through. Boom, $3 tip on a $5 drink. Thank you, red head at a random bar in Salida.

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    I took her suggestion of Currents although I kept thinking of currants as opposed to the namesake river less than 2 blocks away. Sitting at the bar with my craft beer and fish tacos (excellent) I get a shoulder tap…it’s the couple on the GS! I make room at the bar and they sit as we share our stories and exchange information. Really great people and conversation. I have their number somewhere but can’t seem to find it. Peter and Wendy, if you’re out there, let me know! Finishing my dinner and not wanting to continue keeping them from theirs, I wandered down to the river and watched some rafting action as the sun sank. Fireworks would be starting in 30 minutes, time for another drink. I chose the Fritz randomly and sat at the bar, ordering an old fashion this time. Another shoulder tap, this time it’s EigerClimber, who I met through this forum and met in person back in Austin a couple months back. We recalled each other’s trip plans but didn’t realize we’d both be in the same Salida bar at the same time. He had seen my bike out front and then recognized me when I sat at the bar. I explained my “going with flow” when he asked where I planned to stay that night. His host, BluesBob was kind enough offer tent space at his place with Eiger’s referral. Adventure karma #5,-10. We met up after the fireworks and caravanned to his house where I happily set up my tent via head lamp. Many thanks to both of them! An amazing end to an amazing day.
    #32
  13. ybracing

    ybracing Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2006
    Oddometer:
    713
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    Great Video Chris, I am thoroughly enjoying the ride report. Looks like you got your monies worth. Keep up the good work. BTW, do you find it difficult to get back to the daily grind after an adventure like that? I sure do.
    #33
  14. rally roo

    rally roo Total poser

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Oddometer:
    704
    Location:
    Smuggler's Notch, VT
    Awesome RR so far! I'm at work so I'll check out the video when I get home. CDT is high on my "eventually!" list....

    I see cheap DRZ's bring out the ingenuity in selecting a worthwhile tank bag. I hope yours was as useful as mine!
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    #34
  15. chudzikb

    chudzikb Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2016
    Oddometer:
    812
    Enjoyable reading, thanks for taking the time to do an articulate and well written report.
    #35
  16. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2015
    Oddometer:
    88
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Day 5 Salida, CO to Breckenridge CO, 112 miles

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    Today was a planned and executed as a relaxing day. I have a friend in Breckenridge that was willing to host me for the night as well as open his garage for some mid-trip maintenance. New tires, oil filter, underwear, socks and coffee filters were sent his way before I left Texas so planned to get into Breckenridge early in the afternoon. Up with the sun, I got to see my campsite in daylight, my tent a few yards from a cliff that tumbled down to the Arkansas river. I can’t thank my host enough for the hospitality.

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    Rather than fire up the camp stove, I drove downtown to Brown Dog Coffee for a raspberry scone and latte. There was one barista in the whole place and she was pulling shots, steaming milk, running the register and greeting each of the customers in the 8 deep line. I was impressed and the scone didn’t disappoint either. If you’re in town, stop by the place and spend some money.

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    The dirt road began climbing right outside town, eventually opening up to rolling green hills with a beautiful dirt road artistically carved and well maintained. Knowing that a hot shower awaited me hours away (so I thought), my mood soared. I put the headphones in, cranked up my Randy Rogers album to drown out the thumper racket, and opened the throttle. A nearly bald rear knobby kept the turns entertaining and I pushed 85mph on the barren straights (do as I say, kids). Stopping for gas in Hartsel, I put on the rain gear as the clouds menaced over the peaks and the wind picked up. Experience has taught me this a sure tactic to prevent rain. My pace slowed as the road turned narrow, rocky and twisted, gradually climbing toward Boreas pass. I stopped at the pass for a photo with the sign and sure enough some folks from San Antonio saw my Texas plate and then heard my rambling story of leaving El Paso 5 days prior. The reaction is usually a mix of awe and “are you okay…in the head?”.

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    The Garmin GPS was dead, my GoPro and phone memory cards were full, and I probably had visible stink lines emanating from my body as I headed into Breckenridge and faced my biggest challenge yet…tourist traffic. I didn’t mind, I like the town a lot and I was already ahead of schedule. I showed up at my friend’s house around noon and we proceeded to get lunch, buy some oil and return to the garage to battle with fresh knobby tires. He is a fellow engineer and good friend from my high school days and we caught up as he helped get through both tires without issue. I mentioned starting some laundry and grabbing a shower and he responded with “we have a softball game at 6, do you mind playing?” I definitely wanted to play but I didn’t pack cleats, shorts, a glove or any talent. Good thing he is my doppelganger in body type. We loaded up in the Jeep with his amazingly athletic wife and headed to the field. I started out playing okay but then committed a few errors that I blamed on the altitude and exhaustion. My girlfriend and her friend, who were on a road trip of their own, showed up just in time to miss the display of softball magic as the sun set behind the ski slopes. She originally planned to ride the trail, then decided to drive and meet every night, which then lead to a tour of the National Parks and “I’ll see you in Breckenridge and Washington”. Burgers and booze followed the game, where I learned that our pitcher was an X-games medalist in snowboarding, and we discussed which was more extreme, the CDT or half pipes.
    Back at the house, I started uploading photos to flash drives while drifting back in time with highschool photos from the late 90's. I finally got my shower and passed out on the air mattress.

    The next day ended up being the most difficult and frightening day of the trip. I promise it will have more two-wheeled stories.
    #36
    BoneDigger and snarf like this.
  17. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2015
    Oddometer:
    88
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Thanks! I'm very lucky to have a job I really enjoy 95% of the time and I get to work with custom motorcycles so I was eager to get back to my projects. The hard part has been fighting the urge to tell a trip story to anyone that will listen, especially when they are gear heads that will appreciate a different perspective than most.

    Indeed! I spent enough on other gear and just wanted something to pack the regularly used items (phone, ID, tiny tripod, chapstick, ear buds, knife, etc). I may not have splurged on the drink holder version like you, but my $6 walmart special survived the whole trip. I've had zipper pulls come off $200 Thor pants on the first day, but this little fanny pack was as flawless as it is fashionable.

    Thanks! That was my goal and I'm glad I've met it so far.
    #37
    rally roo likes this.
  18. Walternate

    Walternate Strawberry milkshake!

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2016
    Oddometer:
    34
    Location:
    North Carolina, USA
    Great ride! I am glad you are including the ups and downs of an adventure like this. Rootin' for ya! :lurk
    #38
  19. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2015
    Oddometer:
    88
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Day 6: Breckenridge CO to Rawlins WY, 316 miles

    Today was the epitome of adventure for the entire 12 day trip. Through the heart of Colorado I rode on spectacular trails through indescribable scenery, pushed myself up to and past my physical skills, and hit this euphoric mental state that put everything in perspective.

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    With a kiss from my girlfriend and many thanks to my hosts, I saddled up with fresh socks, undies and rubbers (tires, of course). Since I’ve traveled this area on many winter ski trips, I forgot to turn on the GPS so the track is a bit deceiving. GPSKevin’s route goes on I-70 from Frisco to Silverthorne, however I strongly suggest Dillon Dam Road. It isn’t much but I always enjoy rides with water on one side and drop-offs on the other. The rising sun also made a nice photograph for me but I can’t seem to find it amongst the hundreds of videos and images. After fueling up in Silverthorne, the route progresses from borning pavement, to twisty pavement and finally dirt. Warm and sunny, the DRZ happily shuttled me through postcard-esque scenery.

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    The road splits near Williams Fork Reservoir and winds around the fingers of the lake like that game where someone attempt to stab a knife between the fingers of an outstretched hand as fast as possible. Except dragging a foot at full oppo-lock on the outer edge of a blind curve is probably less dangerous. I stopped for about .8 gallons of gas in Kremmling, knowing that I may need that small amount later in the trip. Back onto the trail, the road wound through grassy meadows and eventually took a hard right turn around the picture rock formation. I couldn’t resist the chance for a downward camera angle, so I parked the bike in the ditch and began climbing. Near the top, a marmot and I had a staring contest before deciding that the other was no harm and he allowed me to set up the mini tripod. I pressed record and hustled back to the bike and took a couple passes. The video clip is in my YouTube video linked on the first post. Notice the cow checking out the bike, probably wondering about my tire choice and suggesting a different weight of oil.

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    The road picks its way down to the Colorado River where rafters paddled the calm waters. Crossing the river, the trail turns to loose two track and climbs steadily upward. The smaller trees at this elevation afforded awesome views of the valley below. Excuse the gratuitous shot of my Revival sticker, I was attempting to get Instagram worthy views.

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    Perhaps the scenery change was foreshadowing what came next, lulling me into a false state of “all the pretty trees”. With very few obvious turnoffs, I stopped looking at the GPS as frequently, trying to fully enjoy the moments. When I did look down, my little black triangle was wandering on its own trajectory and no longer hovering over the blue line. Back tracking I could see the path so I took a little short cut to get there. It was nothing more than a cattle trail that was once a road. The GPS triangle was on the line and I didn’t see any “no trespassing” signs so I cautiously continued down the midly challenging path with a few downed trees. Coming to a creek crossing, I stopped and weighed my multiple options, cross here, turn around, find another crossing, construct a bridge. The crossing looked do able, I’d been through worse before. Pictures never show the true degree of difficulty, but I think it’s obvious how steep the drop-in is where as the take-out is pretty reasonable.

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    I went for it but didn’t commit, stalling out halfway up the far bank and unable to get a good foot down, we Jenga’d our way into the creek. First thought: kill the engine. Second thought: the right half of my body is soaked in rather chilly creek water. Third thought: Pick up the bike. Fourth thought: my hip seems to be in pain. I realized I couldn’t pick the bike up with it halfway on the bank so I grabbed the front wheel and hauled her down into the creek. It can’t get wetter, can it? I reached into the water to grab the left grip, uttered a strength-inducing grunt and righted the bike. In shin deep water, I weighed by less numerous options: up bank #1 or up bank #2. There was no way I was continuing into the unknown, so me and Mr. Adrenaline, mounted the bike, twisted the throttle and dumped the clutch. With a short approach and questionable traction, I was happy to have the bag on the back; it kept me from sliding off as the bike lifted the front wheel up the bank. With an odd mix of emotions, I congratulated myself for getting out before cursing myself for stupidity. I wouldn’t make that mistake again (this is some of that foreshadowing thing). Licking my wounds, I motored back to the main road where I found the actual turn-off with a large downed tree intentionally set to block the closed road, probably because of a difficult creek crossing I suppose.

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    A couple more miles, some connecting slab and I was onto a sandy two-track that really exercised the new rear knobby. It climbed through a relatively ugly forest before turning back downhill into a glorified drainage ditch that didn’t seem to get much use. Sure enough I came to a turnaround and this road closed sign.

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    I back tracked my way to where the alternate green route split off but decided to stick to pavement and look for another track back to the blue route. The decision led to a fun, twisty, high-speed paved section with near perfect asphalt. I shifted my weight around and tried to get some lean on the DRZ as I clicked up and down the gear box. I made a few unsuccessful attempts to get back on track but resorted to head phones and some pavement miles to Steamboat. Stopping for fuel and dismounting the bike, my hip decided to remind me of the time fell on a creek and smacked it on a rock. It was sore and made walking a chore, good thing I had 400cc to do my walking. I hobbled into a bar and had some whiskey and a salad with fried chicken, it was a rough morning and I still had 130 miles to go. I pondered how my perception had changed regarding time vs. distance. In a car, 130 miles = 2 hours. On this trip 130 miles = 3-10 hours.

    The road out of Steamboat was wide graded dirt through pines, aspens and scattered houses. I once again looked down to see the GPS triangle off its rails. This turn off was a red section which became blindingly obvious when it took to 3 passes to find the trailhead. It was one of those little brown stakes with a picture of a horse, a mountain bike and a dirtbike. Luckily I was on a dirtbike so convinced my hip that if a mountain bike could do it, so could we. The trail was a well-worn single track literally 10 inches wide and about 4 inches deep. This video is about 100 yards into the trail when I realized I should be documenting this so it could be played later in a Blair Witch style movie. Surrounded by gorgeous aspens with a lush carpet a green all around, I was hopeful for a memorable if uneventful 20 miles through the back woods of Colorado. The fallen trees across the trail had been recently cut. Towards the end of the following video, I start to descend some steep rough sections which triggers the thought “turning around here would be near impossible” that quickly leads to “riding back up this would be near impossible”.



    I like this photo because it truly does show the steepness. In the bottom left hand corner there is a creek. The trail is mildly steep but a fall to the left would be lengthy.

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    I cross the creek at the bottom and round the next corner to find a hill that forces me to stop, dismount, scout and seriously question if I learned anything at all from the earlier episode at the creek. Steep hill, loose rock, downed trees, root steps, you name it. I pick a line that runs to the right of the largest of roots and say a prayer. Just kidding, I probably said a line from a cheesy movie like, “I feel the need…”. I get up the steepest section, navigate the rocks and head for the edge of the trail to bypass the biggest area of step up when something grabs the bike. It may have been a stump on the peg or a small tree under the skid plate or maybe the worm-thing from tremors, I don’t know. But I it stopped me solid. In the video, the sound of clutching and engine revving is followed by the bike rolling backward has I locked the front brake. I almost saved it but end up toppling over. I tend to pick the bike up in an immediate state of panic whereas others see it as the perfect time to snap a photo. There’s something about fuel pouring out of the carb and gravity leading oil in directions it shouldn’t go that pressures me into acting quickly. I also tend to have car-lifting-baby-momma strength in those moments. Back upright, there is no way I can get on the bike so I can’t reach the rear brake. As soon as I pull the clutch, the nearly weightless front tire slides (look at the shadow in the video) and I dump the bike again. Trying to catch my breath but reasoning that the fuel bowl needs to fill, I sit for a couple of minutes. The bike doesn’t fire up immediately like it usually does. The cylinder might need clearing but my anxiety forces me to continue cranking and twisting throttle until it fires or the battery is dead. Luckily it fires this time…my jump starter is dead and I failed to install that kickstarter before leaving. I was able to get on the bike and do a clutch roasting launch up the rest of the hill. My video editing software isn’t cooperating so here’s the full video. Feel free to watch the first 8 seconds and move on.



    I’m happy to bore any reader with more details upon request, but just imagine the same story happening 3 more times over the course of 15 miles. Except each time I get more panicked and really start worrying about having to use the SOS button on my spot tracker. The trail widened to a ATV width but also became more of a roller coaster with dense forest and muddy sections. According to the GPS it took 2 hours and 5 minutes to reach US Forrest Service Road 551, the longest 2 hours of my life. The 2 hours of the entire trip that would be responsible for the change I felt in myself at the end of the trip. Not far up the road, I hit the border and saw this elegant and official sign.

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    Fairly secure in my safety, I stood there drinking deeply from my camelback as an old white pick-up truck rumbled up the road. I flagged them down, hoping for information on road conditions to decide if I should re-route. As he slowed down, I noticed the black lab on the flat bed and the lever action 30-30 in the back window. Wearing a white felt Stetson, he struck me as a cross between John Wayne and the Quaker oats man. Not the guy on the box. This guy, Wilford Brimley. Incidentally he also lives in Greybull Wyoming.

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    He informed me the roads were passable all the way to Rawlins except for a few “crick” crossings that wouldn’t be a problem on my “scooter”. Yes, he called them cricks and my bike a scooter. He asked where I came from:

    “I left Steamboat at lunch but came over the mountain trails”

    “Out of the trail just down the road? Damn, son” Where you comin’ from”

    “Austin, TX”

    “What the f**k?”

    “Yessir, I’m headed to Canada”

    *shakes head*

    We parted ways, each with a story to tell over a beer. The roads were indeed passable, not exactly paved in gold, but decent. I attempted the first creek crossing. The bottom was a mine field of loose softball-size rocks so I had to ease through and when I needed to put a foot down I couldn’t get a could purchase and went down for an icy bath. At about 18 inches deep, the snow melt filled my boots and I again had to reach into the water to get to the grip. At the next creek, I opted for this foot bridge that had a 10 inch step at each end. I’m not sure why there is a foot bridge. There was no well-worn path to the bridge, the far end was surrounded by tall grass and swampy mud that made for a stanky rooster tail as I headed back to the road.

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    The road gradually improved, eventually crossing Hwy 70 and coming up to an extremely pleasant surprise. I’d heard of Aspen Alley but didn’t know it was even on my route. I instantly recognized it, pulled out the camera and made a few trips up and down. I’m sure it’s prettier in the leaves turn yellow in the fall or more spectacular with snow on the ground in winter, but I guarantee that there was no better sight following the trail I had just conquered (survived is probably a better word).

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    It was a few more miles in the trees and twisties before the road opened up into the beginnings of the Great Basin. An open scrub brush environment with rolling hills, it had a beauty of its own in the light of late evening. The road surface looked like it was prepped for pavement any day so I ignored the ridiculous signs for a limit of 45mph. I watched antelope sprint alongside with only one instance of them crossing in front of me. I stopped just long enough to find and route to the KOA in Rawlins. I had tentatively planned to camp near the border with the option of getting to Rawlins. Even with the added mileage, I wanted a decent meal and a worry free campsite. After claiming a spot and setting up the tent, I cruised to a tacky Hooters knock-off bar that had a decent burger and poured a mean Jack and Coke. I prefer my meals to be mono-chromatic and bookended by whiskey.

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    Wow, I just wrote a whole lot of words, I hope you enjoy them. If you’re thinking about doing this trip, DO NOT do this red section alone. I was foolish and lucky. Except my horn stopped working...that was a bummer.
    #39
    #1Fan, i4bikes, lets_go_adv and 2 others like this.
  20. WilsoDRZ

    WilsoDRZ Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2015
    Oddometer:
    88
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Youtube link added to Day 6 post above.
    #40