*Note, this post was yanked from a Ride-Report on ADVRider.com. So while the content is the same, you may have a nicer reading experience by visiting this page instead – https://advrider.com/f/threads/3-blokes-from-new-hampshire-visit-colorado-and-utah-2020.1469006/ *
This may turn into a collaborative ride-report in that my riding buddies may choose to add their own remarks. This will appear out of order for those consuming this in real time. They wanted to do a real-time ride report but I prefer to package these up and share after the fact once all of the photos & videos are processed.
Oh and very important to mention that my ride reports are HUGE like each page is 250 megabytes of photos so don’t load this ride report on a cell phone unless you’re on WiFi.
Also, I usually ‘reserve’ thread spots but given that this may end up being collaborative with my travel buddies, I’m going to give a shout out to @jlevers Browser Extension that allows you to toggle ‘noise’ using a Chrome or Firefox and for those of you that come later, just install that extension and you can see the pure ride report without any riff-raff BUT I will link to all unique posts in this first post below:
- Trip preparation
- Day 1-3 (Travel to KS)
- Day 4 (KS to CO)
- Day 5
- Day 6
- Day 7
- Day 8
- Day 9
- Day 10
- Day 11
- Day 12-14 (Travel to NH)
My riding buddies on this trip are @Red Card who put this entire idea together and @MoXoM who gets 100% credit for getting my bike to Colorado in a trailer behind his Toyota Tacoma. Without him, I would have had to Iron Butt ride straight to CO then put on knobbies and then ride home. Would have made the trip way hard so he deserves all of the praise I give him.
This being only the 3rd Ride-Report on ADVRider, I do know that this one will be different because I’m very busy with work right now. Since we got home 2 weeks ago, I haven’t had a day off and I’m writing this at 10PM on a Saturday so I’m going to spend all day Sunday writing it and hoping it comes out with the passion and care that I usually have for these sort of events.
This trip planning began on July 20th at 9PM when we had a Zoom call about a “western ride” in which Red Card presented this plan:
This was a trip that he himself was going to take seemingly with or without the other 2 of us joining in the fun. Boy am I glad we went with him. On July 29th, I create a trip planning thread because the three of us had never ridden in CO/UT before and so I thought it’d be good to get some advice and this too was a great idea. You can read through the feedback there:
I’ve ridden with Red Card since 2017 and Moxom and I first met in March of this year and have done maybe 6 weekends together total on different day and overnighter trips. These guys are better riders than me, very talented as they were riding dirt bikes at a young age and I only started riding in 2016.
So with that, it’s time to start our trip:
This post should in my opinion serve to as the most valuable for anyone considering this trip. If you’re coming from the Northeast and you plan on arriving in Colorado in late-August and riding the passes listed below and Moab, Utah on a larger adventure bike (790R-1200GS), perhaps this will help you in what you pack and bring with you.
During this trip, we did these roads / passes:
- Monarch Pass
- Cumberland Pass
- Marshall Pass
- Tomichi Pass
- Corkscrew gulch/pass
- Alpine Loop
- Engineer Pass
- Animas Forks
- Lake City
- Tomichi Creek
- Tin Cup
- Shafer trail (UT)
- Onion Creek (UT)
- Potash Road (UT)
I’m probably forgetting some but we covered a lot of ground over this trip and the temperatures ranged from 37F to 97F and we all packed pretty light. This trip is made up of a KTM 690 Enduro R, 790 Adventure R and an R1200GS Adventure. I believe the other two guys were running Dunlop D606 rubber on at least one of the wheels and the 790R and a MOTO-Z tire of some sort. I opted for Continental TKC 80s on front & rear. These tires wear fast but a trip like this, I wanted to have a good time and was less concerned about the cost or wear as I’d be happy if the tires performed well and kept me upright. These are cheater tires. they’re so good in all conditions. There my go-to tire for any trip less than 2,500 miles where grip matters much more than mileage. My bike tips the scales at 670 pounds before luggage so I was happy to learn the day we were going to do a base camp style of ride basically bring the trailer to a site then live out of the trailer for 1-3 days which meant that instead of expecting my GSA + my luggage to get me from Salida to Moab and back at a rough estimate of around 750 pounds before rider of gear, I was able to drop everything I didn’t need and just take my tank bag and camera with me on these trips. This made for a much nicer experience so if you can, have a base camp and don’t do these trails without extra gear. You’ll have a much better time.
- Forma Adventure Boots (high)
- Klim Badlands Pro Pants
- Klim Dakar Jacket
- Darn Tough Vermont Socks (I have a weird body PH/BO but I didn’t wash these for 2 weeks and wore them every day. they never stuck or felt grimy)
- Klim 1.0 Thermals + CoolR Thermals (depending on temperature) but if I had to pack just one, I’d pack their 1.0 Thermals as the COOLR stuff was a little too cool.
- Neck Gaitor (great for COVID-19 and going into stores to buy a sandwich)
- Klim Dakar Pro Gloves used every day except one
- Klim Badlands GTX Long Gloves (used for Alpine Loop + Engineer Pass as it snow snowing at 40 degrees)
- Shoei Neotec 2
You’ll notice that while I had waterproof boots, pants and gloves, I did not pack a waterproof jacket. I checked the weather before this trip and with the knowledge that super dry weather would dry out my jacket after a rain pretty quickly, I decided to not pack a waterproof layer. I know the guys did and I would say that if you’re riding to CO and it’s a more normal year (as in not extreme drought conditions) then you may want to have a waterproof layer of some sort for when it rains. We were rained on once and my jacket was dry an hour later. No complaints at all.
- Mosko Moto Hood Tank bag. It holds a Canon 5D Mark IV + 24-70 lens + 8 GoPro batteries, spare SD cards, ear plugs and wallet
- Lowepro Pro Trekker BP 450 AW II Backpack (strapped to the tail with Green Chili ADV Straps)
- Mosko Moto BC35s (v2) that I did not keep on the bike during day rides. these weren’t used daily which was great and kept my weight down a lot
The pre-trip Zoom meeting we had were huge. Red Card came in with a lot of great ideas and about 80% of the planning done and allowed the other two of us a chance to ask questions and provide feedback. Engineer pass was not on his list but we’re all glad that I suggested it. We also as a group had to determine when we could take off for 2 weeks to do this. If you’re coming from the east coast, it’s a solid 4 days on each side of the trip to get there if you’re trailering. it sucked but this is necessary unless you have multiple bikes and can ship your bike over to CO ahead of time and then just fly in. Honestly, if I did this again, I would ship my dirt bike over for $800 and buy a plane ticket. Gas + hotels and all of the things that you need to spend to get to and from Colorado at 2300 miles each way was a little bit less than shipping + flying but it also meant one extra full week off work that I really shouldn’t have taken off with how much is going on at work right now so riding for 10 days and just flying in would be my preference. I guess I’m in a place in life where I have more money than time. So we spent I think 12 hours talking via Zoom about our trip and this was a huge help for the entire group to feel out what we were all hoping to get out of it.
As for packing, if you’ve done enough 3-5 day trips off your bike, just pack that list of things. We were able to stay in hotels / cabins many nights but there were 5 nights of camping. as for shared resources, we shared jet-boil / cooking stuff, we shared lights, insect repellant, first aid kit and tools so that was a good savings of weight. Coordinate your packing list:= with the group. We listed out what we’re bringing then tried to find overlap to clear up the weight a bit:
I’m channeling Moxom for a second but he really instilled a philosophy in all of us from day one “think light” if you can, get rid of things that are heavy or at least make them lighter. I wound’t be surprised that he’d skip packing a matchbook and instead put 3 matches inside of a bag of some sort just to save 10 grams of weight. His bike weighed significantly less than mine not just because his bike is lighter but his gear is really light. It definitely had me thinking differently about how I pack things and I started leaving some camera gear home that I didn’t need.
Saturday August 22nd, I show up at Moxom’s house and we load the bikes up. Let’s start the trip:
By the way, don’t have time to read? Scroll to the bottom of each post to just watch the videos instead. Everything contained here is in the videos and you can lean back and just enjoy the ride.
Getting to Colorado was actually really exciting for me while it seemed like my travel companions just saw it as a necessary evil for 3 dudes to get to these amazing roads we’ve been reading about for years. Preparations were actually big for Moxom as he acquired an aging high mileage tacoma and proceeded with getting it ready for a trip. New AC compressor, added leaf springs, full suspension and new hoses, belts and more. He did a LOT before this trip so if he wants to share that, I’ll let him speak for himself.
Here’s our trip plan:
I arrived at Moxom’s house on Saturday morning, August 22nd. We went over our trip specifics, packing arrangements and I decided to name his bike (790R) the mountain goat since mine was a the fat pig (R12GSA). We also setup Splitwise, an app we were going to use throughout the trip. If you’re doing road trips with people, seriously give it a check. It’s free which is good. Every time I bought gas or a hotel room or a bottle of water, I’d add it to the app and indicate that I paid for the hotel and the 2 of them owed me back. WE did it at dinner, tolls and even hardware stores and at the end, it tells you exactly how much everyone owes to settle up. Since I paid for every hotel, I ended up getting $250 back from each of them. https://splitwise.com is the website and the apps are cross-platform. I’ve used it for 3 road trips with friends and it’s really nice.
My mom actually sent me the Ernie doll since I always do road trips with a co-pilot and he was on the bike for the entire trip!
Moxom had inherited a Koi pond when he bought this house and built that little house which was pretty cool. I always appreciate people who build things:
We headed out and immediately I noticed that the Tacoma’s AC didn’t work. About 3 hours into our trip with the windows rolled down the entire time on the interstate, we finally agreed to do something about it so we went to 3-4 different mecanics who on Saturday at 4PM were all closed so I thought well, let’s get a recharge kit and maybe that’ll work. $50 and a half hour detour later and we had blowing cold AC. You’ll hear in the video us setting bets about how long this would last. I betted 3 full driving days and he was more conservative on the estimates. Turned out the AC actually lasted over a week!
Truthfully, day one was designed to be a break-in day. check the bikes for strapping issues, check the trailer hubs for heat and wear, calculate fuel economy and deal with things like the AC failing so we only baked in 5.5 hours of transit time and it took us about 7 to get to the NJ/NY/PA border to stay with a friend of Moxom’s for the night. With COVID, we sort of ate distant from them but his friend made us an amazing dinner of steak, tomato, avocado and rice. It was REALLY good all grilled up with lots of spices and olive oil.
Given the nature of my job, I was going to hop on their wifi but unfortunately…..they lost power. There was a micro-storm that rolled in an hour before we arrived and the entire town lost power so no Wifi or cell phone service so I wrote down some thoughts on the first day in my journal and drank a beer. A neighbor brought over a generator which restored essential power to have some patio lights and the fridge running again.
We slept well on their living room floor and I woke up to a gift from the cat…a baby rat of some sort:
August 23rd, day 2 we woke up and headed out..today was a pretty long day. We were going to go to the OH/IN border but half way through our day we finally heard from Red Card who had left a few days before us to see some family. He said “I’ll be in Indianapolis tonight” so it was set, we’d have 700 miles of driving today and we were only getting 200 miles to a tank which was brutal for our trip budget. We were anticipating $675 in fuel and it ended up being $909 (thanks Splitwise) just for the Tacoma fuel as Red Card was driving himself.
Here’s the entire trip breakdown of cost while I have it in front of me:
Moxom and I did get some White Castle which we later regretted but when in the midwest:
It’s getting a little bit flatter:
This day was rather uneventful and it was great finally meeting up with Red Card outside of a hotel in Terre Haute, IN and having dinner as a group.
The band was finally together and we had a mini caravan going which made the drives more interesting.
Here’s a screenshot of my Foursquare / Swarm check-ins for that day along our route:
The bar-b-q joint was very cheap..like stupid cheap so they have my recommendation if you’re passing by this area. We wanted to go into town as we found out Terre Haute had a university but with the trailers and COVID we decided to stick near the interstate.
After dinner, we drank some Vodka and went to bed. When 3 blokes travel together someone is always having to sleep in the ground. Since I slept on the ground last night, Moxom took ground this night..ground as in floor. It just works out that way:
Red Card every couple of hours got up to check on his bike. I got up at 5:30AM and saw he was already out uncovering it. Guess it’s time for day 3:
August 24th, Day 3: We pack up and head out from Terre Haute. While we thought about making it to mid-Kansas I was in charge of finding hotels and I reckoned that we could hustle and make it to Goodland Kansas, a town on the CO/KS border that puts us within spitting distance of our destination and possibly some riding on that 4th day when we arrive at Tomichi Creek Trading Post.
Here’s a chronological list of our stops:
A funny thing happened this day along our route…it started getting very hazy. It turned out that the wild fires in Colorado were causing a smoke plume covering all of western Kansas so we felt the dryness in our nostrils and the sun was blocked away by the haze. It persisted well into day 4. Here are a few photos I took that day:
Our first proper taco joint. I haven’t had real tacos in a very long time. Spending my earlier years in California, I missed a proper (and cheap) taco. This spot was AMAZING.
You’re also starting to see the haze I was talking about. It continued to get worse.
We have arrived in Goodland Kansas. I started to find that also in this part of the world, hotels are REALLY cheap. $58 with tax for a room with 3 beds! no one had to sleep on the floor and right next door to a place that had a full bar so we were set for the evening.
Little did I know that with this order of fried pickle spears, I started what was our appetizer of choice for the rest of the trip. Every time we sat down some place, if they had fried pickles, we had to order it. Some were memorable and most were just meh. This was just a meh dish.
My GF is allergic to shrimp so when I’m traveling, I order it. It’s the only time I get to have it without a risk of putting her in the hospital. That’s her test message reply to me saying “enjoy the shrimp asshole!”
Here’s the video for days 1-3:
August 25th, Day 4: We check the map and realize that driving straight to Tomichi from Goodland would be easy but there were 2 tourist attractions each of them wanted to see. Red Card wanted to see the great sand dunes national park and Moxom wanted to visit the UFO Watchtower so we added I think 3-4 hours to our trip to see those and eat up the day. Fine with me!
I woke up to my phone telling me it was my birthday tomorrow…big 34!
We also got kind of a late start today looks like we didn’t get fuel until 8:30AM.
A funny thing happened that I had not experienced before was a mild sense of vertigo while driving on the county highways through Kansas. The horizon went on forever, the flatness almost formed a concave view in my eyes and an intense headache and motion sickness set in. I didn’t puke but I just put on sunglasses, closed my eyes and let Moxom drive until we started seeing mountains again about an hour later and that helped a lot.
Before we left Goodland, I’m a huge tractor freak having grown up on a farm but these machines were out of this world. I’ve never seen one so huge before:
Kansas sure is flat!
The guys chatted it up with some locals:
Now that we’re officially in Colorado, mountains start to appear:
we make it to Blanca CO:
I love me some pickle chips:
..and finally, The Great Sand Dunes!
My girlfriend was really jealous of me being at the sand dunes so I sent her this with the caption, “Just looks like a pile of sand”
Unfortunately we did not have time to go to the Albino Aligator Park. I’m sure those gators are treated with the utmost care:
We have now arrived at the UFO Watch Tower. This is not a place I ever would have gone…just not my kind of thing but Moxom has wanted to visit it for years so we were here for over an hour talking to everyone about their UFO experiences and just taking in all of the junk…I mean trinkets people leave behind:
Finally back on the road, we find our first rain storm of the trip just a couple of hours from our final destination:
..and now we arrive in Salida. We hit Wal*mart to get our OHV passes and get some food for our first couple of days:
On Monarch pass, we see this car being recovered from beside the road:
Arriving at Tomichi Trading Post:
Their on-site restaurant:
This is a burger:
We cozy up in our cabin that sleeps 4 and passed out. Tomorrow is our first day of riding.
Oh and here’s day 4’s video:
August 26th, our fifth day of the trip but first day of actual riding. We wake up in Tomichi Creek’s Trading Post and honestly, I was very nervous for our first day out because I was so on the fence about bringing my 700 pound GS Adventure on this trip but we unloaded it from the trailer and every other cabin had KTMs out front, 2 and 4-stroke bikes and here I was with the biggest bike at the camp by over 300 pounds. I checked tire pressure and suited up after making a cup of tea on the JetBoil and some oatmeal.
Here’s my view as we load up on the bikes:
In total this day, we didn’t do that many miles. It was a break-in day. Still some technical challenges but nothing that I was uncomfortable with. Keep in mind when you come here there are 3 really important things to keep in mind:
- You’re at 8-14K foot elevation now. Do not over-exert yourself. if you drop the bike, wait..catch your breath and have a buddy help you out. Let yourself acclimate to the elevation
- Drink lots of water. it’s a dry climate and dehydration is no joke
- No hero business. Leave the egos at home. No one in this group of guys had anything to prove and we all supported each other.
Here’s our day and that GPX file is attached to this post if you want to download it:
One mile into our ride we stopped for a pee break and took in the majestic of where we were:
The views were outrageous every single place we went. Seriously there was never a bad site to see at any point.
Half an hour later, Moxom who topped up his ‘low oil’ on his 790R then realized that it had too much oil. So we had to stop to siphon some oil off and back into a container we had at the same time a man came up who was looking for a geocache and had a lot of questions about our trip. He didn’t notice the oil emergency we were having and we’re glad he didn’t. Turns out the geo-cache was a foot from our bikes under a rock. Great place to stop!
There was also this old railroad stone bridge:
We went to Salida because well…I have 4 jobs so one of them absolutely cannot give me a day off. It’s a service job and I don’t get days off so the guys allowed me to bring my iPad and we made a pact that lunch had to be a place with wifi nearby so I could read and respond to emails & phone calls with clients. We found a cafe with a delicious food truck outside.
Seriously zoom in on that special of the day! that’s what I ordered. It was delicious.
…and thus begins the 2nd foot item of our trip that carried through until the last day. Green Chilis. I love them but in New Hampshire, I can only get them in cans. Green Chilis just aren’t something we have here but new rule was henceforth
1. If there’s fried pickles, I have to order it
2. If there’s a dish with green chilis, I also have to order that
I had Fried pickles once a day and green chili twice a day. You’ll notice on last night’s Tomichi Creek menu, the “smother” burger I ordered was toped with cheese & green chilis. AMAZING!
With our bellies full of food & coffee and my clients satisfied for the next 5 hours, we headed back out the way we came into Salida to do a more challenging bit of single track road up a mountain and it was some FANTASTIC RIDING! Seriously, watch the video.
check out this view!
What goes up…must come down:
and thus began a really fine descent of about 2,000 feet without any proper switchbacks. just 5-10 miles of decreasing elevation on loose rocks and some wash outs. it was a lot of fun but my front and rear brakes started to squeal after a bit of this.
At the bottom of the hill, we came to a clearing with a suitable off-grid campsite and a cool little stream. Moxom took a big gulp of that delicious mountain water:
I marked this spot for future camping if we ever come back. It was very serene.
Back at the campsite, every took some downtime. I ate some food (of course), Red Card chilled out solo watching traffic and Moxom went to work fixing his neutral switch which had failed basically making it require I think having to have the bike in neutral to start it? Something like that but it required taking apart the entire top control area of his 790 R:
More travel lessons learned here this time from our Texan neighbors who brought this awesome propane griddle setup. I gotta get one of these!
Now we settle down for the day and mostly spend our night solo working on different personal stuff. I worked on emails in the restaurant using their very slow wifi and the guys did various other bike projects.
August 27th, Day 6! This day our plan was to hit a few special areas and we ended up going down the hardest trail I’ve ever been down in my life and didn’t drop the bike. Some things, only a video can show.
This was also the day that each of us really started to get our bearings with adjustment to the elevation but also the group sort of had that “we’re on vacation” vibe that I had not felt yet. I think our 2nd day on our bikes it started to set in that we were here to relax and have fun and I think we slowed our pace a lot versus day one because we weren’t in some huge hurry. Of course, later in the day, this easing of the clock watching did mean we got back to camp way later than we wanted to but it was still a fantastic day.
Here’s our GPX Visual and the file is attached for those who want it (Revver dates don’t match ride report dates. Just ignore the date and trust me that the screenshot = our 8/27 ride):
Also, I have to admit that only the black section is our ‘ride’ because the grey section on the west is our drive from Tomichi to Ouray CO. See I have a Revver GPS Logger on my bike always tracking so even when in the trailer, it’s tracking so it makes it hard for me to dump just the parts of the ride where I was on the bike. I’m sorry.
Today’s plan was:
- Tincup (town, not pass)
- Taylor Park
- (added later)….Alpine Tunnel / Tomichi Pass
The ride to Wanita Hot Springs was great. 70 mile per hour dirt roads. Flat, smooth, predictable, well groomed. I loved this little morning section ride to Pitkin. We were going way faster than we should have.
Just look at it!
now this section….hmm once you turn left toward Pitkin from Waunita hot springs, take it easy. This is deceptively 2-3″ of sand. You guys know hot to ride sand. Maintain throttle and balance and don’t do anything reactionary. when in doubt keep that front hub light and floating and you’ll be fine.
We kept stopping at old collapsed homes:
This is Pitkin:
An hour later, we were on top of Cumberland Pass:
it was on Cumberland Pass that I started thinking “this isn’t very high” and I noticed off in the distance…a higher part of Cumberland mountain:
Looks like I had succeeded in going an extra 300 feet on top of this rocky area..technical but not too hard and higher than the other guys..this is what’s most important, letting your ego run the show.
But wait….that other hill! WE CAN GO HIGHER! WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY!
That hill seems small but when you watch the video…it’s not. It’s another 400 feet up and is 100% loose rocks and dirt. You see where this is going?
Here’s a screenshot of the video showing just how high up I was compared to the guys:
They were not very happy with me.
But I relaxed, took a seat and Waited for both guys to come up the mountain and then we each caught our breath then got the bike down the hill. I was called a few names, rightfully so and then we continued on to Tincup. Oh for people who don’t drop their GS bikes often, here are a few things that happen when these bikes are side-ways for a while..particularly when the wheels are above the motor. These bikes don’t like that very much.
1. Oil will seep out of one of the bolts holding the cylinder head on. these are torqued less than 20NM. it’s just a little bit of dripping. Don’t worry about it
2. Your fuel will read low or empty. Tip the bike opposite direction and it’ll be fine
3. You’ll blow some white-smoke for 5 minutes after. It’s fine it’s just oil that went into weird areas and it’s now working its way out of the system. You’re safe to just keep going on your journey.
tincup was pretty cool looking. We were not going to do Tincup pass today though. I heard too many stories it was too hard.
Taylor Park, supposedly great single track but we were actually slightly behind schedule so we had some food, my first Elk burger!
Don’t worry! Those are Fried Pickles AND the elk burger had green chilis on it. I didn’t want to let you guys down.
After some quick map-review, we realized we were too far away from home with no clear loop-back to get back home and it was 1:30PM roughly so we started to head back the exact way we came. But Red Card was kind enough to use my camera to take some photos of me going up the hill:
Some more photos on the other side of Cumberland Pass:
We then stop at an information sign and read about the Alpine Tunnel – https://www.uncovercolorado.com/alpine-tunnel-west-portal-pitkin/
We were excited to check it out so we went down a road that supposedly when done, took us back to Sargents. Well…Alpine Tunnel was closed due to a washout and the only other way was Tomichi Pass which…seemed hard but passable until we got to the top. You’ll have to watch the video (Sorry)
That big mountain..that’s Tomichi:
While there, we got hailed on!
about 2 inclines before the Tomichi Pass itself, we hit a section that was the deepest and thickest dirt & rock I’d ever ridden on and a straight incline and at the end of a switch back so you had no chance to build up momentum. All 3 of us agreed it was too much. We spent about 15 minutes deliberating over attempting it with me being the only person feeling all about it then I walked it and knew we’d have a tough time on it. Really a bummer because turning back meant going back through the hardest trail I’d ever ridden on and back down to Pitkin and basically we’ve wasted 2 hours on this section and had to turn around. We were all very disappointed but this was day 2. No heroes and everyone in the group needs to be on board.
Not to mention, Moxom already dropped his bike going around the switch back that you have to ace in order to have enough momentum to make it up the hill. It was too narrow for 2 people to spot you going up it too…failure is an 800 foot drop.
Unfortunately, I slammed into a pile of rocks with my shift lever and broke it on the way back down the pass. More on that tomorrow but here’s a screenshot of the killer rocks:
We returned back to Tomichi Trading Post and hopped in the cars because we were heading to Ouray!!!
We met these 2 brothers doing the Trans-America Trail from NC to OR. I see them THREE MORE TIMES on this trip which was pretty cool. We meet them at Corkscrew Gulch, back in Ouray and again in Moab.
Here are some photos along the route there:
The Ouray scenario ended up being a total cluster-f**k. It’s an adventure so we persevered but we got there a day earlier than planned with no reservations for accommodations and we learn after arrival that it’s the Jeep Jamboree this weekend so everything is completely packed up. an inmate John was with us from 6PM until almost 10PM trying to find us a place to sleep going to all of his stealth spots and we finally decided to just park and Moxom would sleep in his trailer, Red Card in his car and I would go out into the forest to find a spot to camp and I did. I went into the national park campground, went passed that down a trail that was blocked with a flurry of logs and rocks and found a clearing on a small 5 degree hill and setup my tent there at 10:45PM in the dark with a headlamp. It worked and I slept well.
I took this photo trying to find a spot to camp. it’s pitch dark and this Is a handheld SLR photo so it’s a bit shaky:
August 28th, Day 7. We wake up in Ouray and we go down into town to meet up with John again as he has another possible camping spot for us to use…his property up in the hills that’s only accessible by bike or horse. We park at a public area and venture up a mountain to this really nice clearing. He plans on turning it into a camp spot for motorcyclists at some point. Rustic, just pay online and you get a code to camp there. Will go really well. Getting there in itself is an adventure. nice creek crossing and technical 2-track with some very loose switchbacks. If you haven’t had your morning coffee yet, it’s a tough ride.
Here’s today’s route: (ignore the date, it’s one day off) and note I uploaded the GPX to this post for people who want to download it.
Today we did
1. finding a proper camp-site
2. Fix my shifter
3. Corkscrew Gulch / Pass
5. we also got rained on at corkscrew / Silverton
corkscrew was challenging but fun. Our Ouray liaison told me later that I’m a “very good rider” if I did Corkscrew on my bike. that made me feel really good. Other than my self-inflicted single track drop a day earlier (hero moment), I had done really well so far and the day on corkscrew freed up every cobweb I had left in me.
We head down to Ouray and wait in line (freaking hipsters) for a ham scone and coffee:
Here’s the road up to our new campsite:
Here’s that beautiful shifter note a 4mm allen is needed to remove that bent piece so I had to bend it back to get to the allen hole that’s only on the front. Guess SW-Motech didn’t expect someone to bend a break-away shifter.
Now for a ‘repair’
This got me through the rest of my trip. Didn’t eat away at the boots as much as I thought it would.
These texans actually helped. I was having issues bending the thing back to get to that bolt hole and they told me “use the hub wrench in your toolkit” it was the Enduro Engineering Wheel Hub wrench that’s for my dirt bike. I stuck it on and bent the thing back. worked perfectly. Here’s a photo of my new friends:
With that out of the way, we head to Corkscrew!
Now we head down to Silverton!
and during lunch (a salad if you’re curious), there was a live band!
Which went great with our beer:
We made it back to Ouray just in time for dinner and you bet your ass I had a dish smothered in green chilis! This dinner was at Colorado Boy Southwest Pub in Ouray for those who want to sample this fine cuisine.
Before bed, I noticed that my Mosko Moto Backcountry V2 I bought before this trip had a rip in it. Luckily and I’m amazed they did this, they replaced this bag when I got home. Super nice of them. I still have no idea how this happened:
That’s it for today! The video is below, good sections like Corkscrew are worth a watch.
Oh and I forgot to mention, we saw the Beta guys!
It was a good day.
August 29th, Day 8: sigh. We wake up fully planning on spending another day and night in Ouray and it’s pouring raining. I was actually woken up by it at 4AM and at 9AM it was still raining. The guys got up and headed down to the trailer and I just stayed in my tent until 9:30AM until the rain stopped. They were working on their bikes and so I went into town to get breakfast and gasoline.
I met this great couple from Denver, he was on a Himalayan and she was on an NC700 if I remember correctly. Both were doing some dirt roads and finding out how ill-equipped their bikes were for it but they were having a blast anyway. I met them and struck up a conversation because the breakfast place I went couldn’t seat me but they had a table and saw my helmet and invited me to sit down and share breakfast with them. We talked about tech and COVID and riding. It was a good half hour.
Don’t worry, my breakfast burrito was smothered in green chilis:
When I walked outside, the guys were there and said “we’re outta here” They discussed how bad the rain was and how wet everything would be and more rain would be coming so we decided to head out and go to Moab a day early. Being able to adjust a trip schedule is why we didn’t book anything early but you bet your butt as soon as we got in the car, I started hunting for places to sleep in Moab this time I wanted something closer to town and..well I’m getting ahead of myself. Other than the ride into town for food, this was a non-riding-day so you’ve been warned.
Here’s our map and GPX file is uploaded:
I was feeling very patriotic after visiting a truck stop:
Yes that’s “made in USA water” with a screaming eagle on the front.
The drive out to Moab was great:
You’ll notice I’m getting better at taking photos out of a car window. I started rough but I found a higher ISO and ultra fast shutter speed helped the shots look less handheld and more well…steady.
I found a wicked cool camping spot that’s great for motorcyclists. It’s downtown so you can walk to all of the bars and restaurants, it’s affordable (unlike most campgrounds now where they want $40 for a motorcycle and $15 for firewood) and it has a great business model.
- No Pets
- No Kids
- No RVs
- No motorized vehicles past the parking area.
You park, grab a hand cart and walk your panniers over to your spot. There are no people. You book and pick your spot online, pay and show up. They have showers, bathrooms, a wash sink with soap. It’s quiet and accessible. Great cell phone coverage. Just super nice.
Definitely stay here if you’re going through Moab – https://www.moabcampground.com
After dropping off bags off, we went out to Poison Spider Trailhead in the car and went to hunt Petroglyphs well they did. I just flew my drone around:
A rare photo taken by Red Card of me doing my camera thing:
Here are some photos I took while the guys were walking around:
We got back to the campground and Red Card had found a wallet in Ouray and showed it to us:
We emailed her and reconnected. Red Card mailed her wallet out to her before we left and I assume she got it safe & sound. All kinds of IDs and credit cards. I’m sure she’s stoked we found it.
I went out on foot to take some photos and I also needed to buy some new shorts…I didn’t realize my only pair of shorts had a huge hole in them:
Every restaurant / food truck we planned to hit was ‘closed for 1 week’ I have no idea what was going on. I don’t think Burning Man happened in 2020 so that’s the ONLY thing I could have thought was that people shut down and went to burning man but other than that..yeah, no where to eat in the downtown area.
So we found this bar:
and ordered some food:
The portions were HUGE. The ‘plate’ of nachos was exploding off the edges. DON’T YOU WORRY, I ADDED GREEN CHILIS TO IT!!!
Red Card was really enjoying the band:
and we met this girl
That’s it for that evening out and concludes a non-riding-day (sorry). There’s a video anyway that you may enjoy.
The day we left for the trip, I thought we were still going to leave our trailers in Sargents CO and do all of this on bike. the 200 miles to Moab, the day in the saddle to Ouray, these were going to be 8 hours days on the Beta and I personally can’t sit on that bike more than 4 hours or so before I start getting ass soreness that lasts for days later so I was concerned in two ways
1. My stamina to live on the beta’s seat for 8 days was going to be really hard
2. My ability to live OFF the beta and only 40 liters of storage for 8 days was going to be hard. I’d have to leave all of my camera gear, drone stuff at home and probably also my iPad and it would have really made the trip harder or next to impossible for me to come to terms with a lighter load (call it millennial anxiety)
It wasn’t until I rolled up to the trailer on 8/22 that Moxom told me “we’ve decided to do hubs where we park and ride” Had I known that, I would have trailered the Beta to his house and packed as much as I wanted and just did day trips off the beta but I still would have had to leave all of the camera gear home and still likely would have had issues with butt comfort.
Overall, I’m a very slow rider so I don’t ride any faster on my beta than I do my GS and in fact, the beta is less planted due to my speed meaning I actually find the GS’ weight to make me more confident on trails where the beta moves around so much under me that it often makes me more nervous than the GS. I’ve only been riding for 4 years and I think my beta issues would go away if I rode faster but I’m just not a fast rider so the thought of living off the Beta, leaving stuff home and not really going any faster sort of convinced me this would be a GS trip.
Not really a quick answer but it’s why I’m considering getting a larger single like a 690 because the beta is just too small for me. I like how light it is but I have a rather huge ass and I’m 6’3, 250 pounds and the Beta just feels smaller under me and even with Seat Concepts largest seat (XL comfort), it’s quite literally just my asshole sitting on that seat my but checks just hang off the side and it’s really a very uncomfortable place to be multiple days in a row. I’ve done 2 days off the beta with a tent and I have less fun than just bringing the GS.
August 30th, Day 9…..our first full riding day in Moab. I was very excited to ride Colorado from the technical enjoyment of it all but I was more stoked to witness the majestic wonder of Moab in how it feels to feel so tiny among the giant rock formations. I was really excited to see Moab up close and personal and it really was as majestic as I thought it could be but if you haven’t been, you gotta go because picture and film do not capture it.
We woke up in the urban campground and I took Red Card’s car down the road to grab coffee for the group since I was sort of ready before everyone else.
I returned and we planned out our day which involved:
- Shafer Trail
- Potash Road
- Onion Creek Trail
I think Shafer is a part of the white rim trail but I’m not sure. I would recommend anyone visiting for the first time do these as your first day. You will have a blast. On a smaller 250, you may not like the 30 minutes of slab to get out to onion creek but it was a fantastic ride for adventure bikes. Challenging but crossing the same stream 50 times was great fun.
The GPX track is attached to this post if you want to download and ride this.
Photo from the cockpit on our way out to Canyonlands National Park:
Here’s an iPhone Panorama just a mile into our ride on Shafer:
Getting here, you don’t really gain altitude but instead you stay on the same grade and then reach these huge monument canyons thousands of feet down. You sort of don’t expect it then suddenly you’re the highest elevation for hundreds of miles. It’s a feeling that makes you feel really small in the world.
The first few miles, we stopped a LOT because everyone just had to get lots of photos and looking at these later (shame I can’t post the full versions), it’s really glorious:
By the way, those roads down there is where we’ll be in an hour or so:
Here’s a few of the switchbacks we’ll be on soon:
Moxom told us that the Thelma and Louise cliff jump was ahead so we found it and did our best re-enaction..yeah I get it that our hands are messed up . we didn’t have google to confirm just how the jump happens:
A few more photos before we start a descent that will follow the Colorado River and some of the Salt Farms:
Those 2 photos look like Moxom & red card are walking around on Mars. It’s kind of surreal.
I got a few drone photos too:
On our way out, I caught a photo of two Big Horns!
We went back to camp and had some lunch and hydrated (a lot) and then Red Card sent us out on the slab for about 30 minutes until we got to Onion Creek Trail which is 13 or so miles and unfortunately, we could not find a way back without going way down a trail that got worse and worse so we had to turn back but still..great riding and worth the adventure down there:
When we got back to camp, we started eating some dinner and a family of deer walked through our campsite. What a site to see!
August 31st, Day 10: We wake up and the group is going to pack up and head to Lake City Colorado so we can do the Alpine Loop and Engineer/ Cinnamon pass tomorrow. They’re going to go on a 2 hour ride so I decide to hang back, maybe buy some shirts, eat some tacos (with green chilis of course) and just relax for those couple of hours. They were gone for about 2-3 hours total and it was great to get some alone time on my bike just exploring Moab. The video pretty much is the whole day until we leave for CO and that’s linked at the bottom.
As for the Revver view, well none of the riding is in there because the guys didn’t have trackers installed on their bikes like I do so I don’t have their tracks…maybe they can post them?
The guys go out for seemingly a fantastic day of deep sand riding. neither of them got back and said I would have loved it on my bike and I LOVE sand riding but when I was editing their video clips later, I agree. Looks terrible. Red Card never drops his bike. Hot, dry and sandy. I would have loved Riding it but I’m glad I stayed home.
While they were out riding, I found a fantastic cheap taco joint:
I also noticed my knobby tires were getting pretty beat up after not many miles of riding so far:
They get back and we load our bikes on the trailers and head out and start making our way to Lake City.
This timing pretty much paints the entire day:
Rolling into Lake City, CO was cool. What a fun and quaint little town. One of the locals said “you should see it during 4th of July” Supposedly it’s the “most American city in the country that week” I should come back I guess!
Red Card found the most amazing campground. at least 2 of us agreed it was the most picturesque campground we’ve ever had. Wupperman Campground should be a place you go…here are a few photos of us getting setup.
Finally, we start cooking dinner as the sun starts to set:
Not bad for 3 dudes at $15 a night which is 2 cars, 2 trailers, 3 tents. seriously amazing spot. I could have stayed here for a week. Also I didn’t photoshop my tent all bight like that, I use LED Mountain Glow lights from Big Agnes when camping. Makes finding the tent easier after dark.
Even though I didn’t do much riding today, it was not a forgettable day.
- September 1st, Day 11, today’s GPX Upload is skewed because it is accurate for our day but it is Alpine Loop + our night drive to Colorado Springs on our way back home.Day Riding – Alpine Loop:
Full day of riding / driving:
There were a lot of internal emotions this day because I was bummed the trip was over and I really had to get back to work…like really couldn’t be away much longer but I also was so happy today was full of great memories and just exceptional riding.We did:
- Alpine Loop
- Cinnamon Pass
- Engineer Pass (the easy way)
- Animas ForksWe started our day with snow….seriously:
Jeez. Like some travel ad or something. it really is times like this that I’m so happy that I have the ability to own a full-frame camera even if I don’t really know how to use it to its fullest potential. I just LOVE how these photos came out. If you can go to my Flickr page and open these full size, they’re truly extraordinary.We did go into town and got some breakfast and I took a photo of a dog on a quad and of some very unique snack food:
The breakfast spot was pretty good. Food was great, just no one was in town. Turns out the town’s tourists were clearing out! The restaurant I went to later in the day said they were closing in a week until next Summer. The population of the town goes down to I think they said 800 people in the Winter time. That’s gotta get pretty lonely depending on what kind of personality you have. Oh…I forgot to mention I took a few drone photos too:
—Then we headed off for the Alpine Loop. Freaking gorgeous! Every shot was just so great today. I’m really impressed I was able to capture everything so well. Must be all of the snow photos I take in New Hampshire
We came across a man living at the top of the mountain with a small Hutt surrounded by 250 sheep, 2 horses and a momma and puppy sheep dog:
Climbing Engineer pass:
…and we freaking make it! the trail started getting pretty slushy. Turns out this was their first snow of the season and the ATVs did us a favor by breaking up the ice and making the climb easier:
A few photos from the Drone:
We make our way now down the mountain to Animas Forks. I completely agree with some advice we heard before our trip that riding Engineer pass from Lake city is way easier than from the other direction. there are some pretty technical shelves you’ll need to navigate and then immediate switch backs that require some momentum with loose dirt. Going down the hard side was much easier on a big R1200GSA:
Then, while the guys were peeing, I started heading up cinnamon pass thinking they’d catch up but I actually beat them there by about a minute which made for some good photos:
The guys playing with a snowball:
My last photo of the guys as they look over American Gulch:
This day was so memorable. Just thinking about me makes me want to close my eyes and replay the ride all over again.https://www.youtube.com/embed/DL0UEcwktM4?wmode=opaque —–
I get to enjoy this delicious BBQ sandwich and sweet tea after our awesome ride:
Red Card got this great photo of me:
We get back to camp and Red Card tells us he’s going to stay another night and enjoy some quiet solitude. I don’t blame him. Moxom and I load up and started to head back east first dropping by Colorado Springs to stay in the cheapest hotel of the trip but also one where we were concerned about the trailer getting broken into. On the way out of there, we did have a slow leak on the Tacoma and the Moto Pumps took a long time but it got the job done!
No other photos or videos that night. We got a bit of sleep then we got up to continue our journey.
- September 2nd – 4th…the 2400 mile drive home!Phew, I admit I didn’t capture many photos or videos on the way home. Work was overwhelming me, I was pretty tired and we were all feeling a strain of tight remaining funds in the budget and trying to just eat cheap and fast and make it home. If you skip everything below, here are our remaining videos in the series but I have a surprise.Red Card did a great job recording his last day of Riding so while Moxm and I were driving across Kansas, he was riding around Lake City still and so he had some clips I was able to make into a video. Unfortunately, these videos are quiet and sped up because he plays copyright music into his Sena camera which embeds that audio into the video and when I upload it to YouTube, it gets blocked from playing everywhere. I guess Rolling Stones don’t like me using their music? So I just muted his clips. Makes it less fun but maybe we can get him over to a GoPro next time:
https://www.youtube.com/embed/T7rjpiPp95c?wmode=opaqueHere are videos that basically take us home minus the last one where I do a VoiceOver narration of the photos you’ve all seen but Youtube people have not that video goes up tomorrow at 8AM and I’m linking it below but it won’t work until tomorrow:
https://www.youtube.com/embed/mynDwBYEMbE?wmode=opaqueWe crossed into Kansas:
and I had my first Dairy Queen Blizzard in years:
Moxom convinced me to go Twin Peaks. it’s a famous establishment in the midwest very similar to hooters. Their taco left a LOT to be desired. This is a buffalo chicken taco. It’s a chicken strip. I was starving but this thing sucked!
They served me a Belgian saison on a frosty mug…another fail: Will I go back to Twin Peaks. no but I’m glad I got to experience it.
Moxom and I rolled into Columbus OH and we had decided upon leaving Colorado that honestly, Columbus was where we should split if we could. My tires were okay and while I had a broken pannier bag, it was about 800 miles from Columbus to home so we unloaded my bike, checked into the hotel and then went out for dinner. I headed out solo to get some photos around town. Living on the NH/VT border, I see some black lives matter signs but I’ve never seen a protest or artwork or demonstration in person. In fact, since I left San Francisco 10 years ago, I haven’t seen any sort of picketing or demonstrations. People up here keep to themselves or maybe they post it to Facebook and therefore I don’t see it since I don’t use that shit – hole service since 2011 when I closed my account. so…it was cool to see the art. I love street art so ignoring the politics of it all, this was really well done and worth capturing:
This photo, I didn’t realize there was a state police officer standing guard. He yelled something at me and I couldn’t hear through my helmet. Turns out he was asking me if I wanted him to move out of the way so I could get a photo. Honestly, after our exchange I thought “this guy how did he know I didn’t have some sort of projectile?” he then yelled again that this was a one-way so don’t pull out the direction my bike was facing…oops.
I was in bed at 11:30PM and was on the bike at 4:30AM, boots up and heading home. I had to stop an hour in to top up the tire pressure front & rear from our off road pressure of 32,39 to 36,42 which is OEM pressure and I also added my wool layer to so I could stay warm because it was around 55F. I thought it’d be 60 degrees and 55 was BRRR Cold when it was dark.I rolled into the house around 5PM or so EST and man that felt good to be home. I noticed my horn also broke on this trip:
First thing I do when I get home, my GF asked me if we can go for a ride so we did:
:)Thanks for following along everyone. It was nice to share these stories with you all. In total I broke:
- SW-Motech Shifter (I’m on my own on replacing it, out of warranty)
- Klim Badlands pro Pants Zippers (replaced by Klim)
- Mosko Moto Bag (replaced by Mosko Moto free of charge)
- Denali Horn (I just replaced the connector, it’s working for now)
- Clearwater Darla (water in the housing but it seems to have dried out and started working again)Not a bad cost to pay for an adventure such as this. total driving time home (trailer + bike):