The Rain.

Today was another solo one for me. We were heading to Idaho for the first time. I was going to travel past the Teton mountains and into Yellowstone.

I have always wanted to see the Tetons and maybe Yellowstone but I suspected it might be quite touristy.

On the way I passed through Jackson, a famous asking town. It too was very touristy but quite pretty. I had a quick drink and fuel stop and wandered around the main square. The arches are made from dropped antlers and collected by the Boy Scouts.

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The ride past the mountains and up into Yellowstone was great. Quite cool and the worst rain of the trip.

Yellowstone is pretty but the size of the crowds and amenities around "Old Faithful" was off putting. It was huge.

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The road out parking area travelled along next to a nice river. The rain stopped and all was good.

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Our digs for the night were down a short track off the main road.

John had found us an amazing place.

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A great steak with homemade horseradish finished another top day.

The Long Ride.

We set off back towards Steamboat and then turned north. Nice riding through some very scenic spots.

Today was going to be a long one, both in distance and the events that unfolded. Distance wise it was around 400 miles for me. The others took a log way around through some back country while I hit the interstate. Not much fun on a 690 dual-sport!

 

Along the way we came across this place in the middle of nowhere.

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We thought it was a private house but it turns out to be a hotel. Looked very nice though.

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I left the others here so that they could travel faster over the tougher stuff.

I headed to the little town of Baggs to fuel up. Here I met some Harley riders who questioned me about how hot I got "wearin' all that gear?". They rode off with their t-shirts blowing in the wind.

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The roads now were getting bigger and wider. Turning left onto the Lincoln Highway I was swamped by large trucks and fast moving traffic. The KTM was fine at 70 MPH but at 75 it got a slight wandering of the steering. it was a long ride to Rock Springs to refuel.

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The final leg was north again to the town of Pinedale. I arrived at a very nice hotel, checked in and had a quiet drink. While waiting for the others I got a phone call from Jaks back in Oz. Ronnie, Scott's wife was trying to get hold of me as Scottie's Spot tracker had sent an emergency signal. As far as I knew Scott did not have a tracker. After speaking quickly with Ronnie we discovered that their location was actually in town. As I was about to leave to find them they all pulled into the parking lot. They were bemused by the whole situation. It turned out that Scotts phone had sent the message all by itself. 

We never found out how or why it did it.

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The tyres

I was dispatched to Steamboat springs to grab a couple of new tyre for the 690 and the 950. It was a lazy 250 km ride for me today. Clear skies but getting warm was a problem.

Steamboat was much bigger than I expected but still nice. Big houses covered the sides of the wide valley. 

 

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The photos above are not Steamboat!

After collecting the tyres it was an easy but warm run into the town of Craig.

 

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The 400

More passes were on the cards today so I again declined. Seeing the others go up steep slopes on bigger bikes than mine is very impressive.

So my plan was to head down to film the others on the tricky start to their track, then have a look at the town of Ouray. A detour down to Telluride for a coffe then back through Montrose to Buena Vista.  

That morning Tim had to work for a couple of hours so I would collect him on the way back and we would hit Telluride before heading east.

I filmed the other heading off on their track and had a chat to a local who confirmed that my bailing was the right thing to do.

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The chap I chatted to said I should go all the way to Silverton. It's called the million dollar highway for a reason. The small town of Ouray was really nice and mountainy.

Out the other side the road gets very curvy with no guadrails and drops of many hundreds of feet. Scary stuff if you are on that side!

 

There are remains of mining operations scattered all over the place on the sides of the road. The road itself is great, but the only problem is the traffic. I got stuck behind a trike who would not move over as the cars banked up behind him.

Eventually I got past and shot down into Silverton . Wide streets and packed with atvs. 

I stayed long enough to put my liner in and headed north to meet Tim. 

He was just finishing up when I returned to Ridgeway. We headed west to Telluride. The ride was ok but the town just a tourist trap. Spectacular mountains but beautiful people being beautiful everywhere.

 

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On returning to Montrose we thought a little longer ride would be good. Instead of heading east we turned north towards Aspen.

The ride took us along lakes and through some amazing scenery. Massive stone hotels and log cabins the whole way. 

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We arrived into Aspen at around 6:30. We passed around 50 private jets sitting on the runaway at the airport. Big dollar town.

As Tim and wandered around the beautiful people could not tell if we were famous or just scruffy. The open air restaurants were full of sixty year old cougers all botoxed and plastic surgeried. Their eyes were almost shut the skin was pulled back so hard.

The town itself is very pretty, but it was late so we pushed on.  

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The road out of town is wet, windy, and single lane. It winds through groves of Apsen trees and we had a ball blasting up it.

We reached the top of Independance Pass at 12095ft. Getting dark but not too cold.

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Only the the long run back to Buena Vista to go. We covered over 400 miles and they were all great. We finally arrived at the hotel at a bit after 8:30.

 

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The pass.

Today was going to be the first of the pass rides. As we headed out across a few tracks the was a small altercation of a couple of bikes. Two had stopped and a third tried to pick the gap between them. The result was a couple of smashed panniers and some ego.

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A quick blast through a smaller wooded and rocky section brought the animal up. A coyote ran across the rack in front of me and disappeared into the woods. Also on the track was the pannier from the other side. 

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This one was roped on with some spectra so it should stay put for now.

We had a quick bite to eat in Lake City which wasn't a city and then moved onto Cinnamon Pass. The first section wasn't to bad but it then turned up and kept going. We'll beyond my skill level. Tim offered to come with me and we rode into American Basin before retreating back to Lake City to begin the long ride around to Ridgeway.

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The ride ok of Lake City was nice and we found a shortcut over the hills which dropped us down into a large city, Montrose. It was hot and moist so we got out and rode the last section into Ridgeway. The others had a big day trying to get through closed passes. I had made the right call as the track had got stepper and rockier the further up it went.

We attempted two large pizzas for dinner but never even got close to finishing them.

The rest

The others headed off to explore some tracks to the north. Today was a rest day of sorts so I quietly ambled up Buena Vista for a look. A nice little town that reeks of of roasting coffee.

The view of Salida. 

The view of Salida. 

I then headed back to town and rode up the Spiral Drive to a lookout over the town.

The others returned and we rode into town to have dinner at the Boathouse. A top spot by the river. On returning we popped in to say hi to John just as the were closing. 

An hour or so later we toddled off to bed. 

The serenity

We left Charma in beautiful but slightly chilly weather. The road wound through the mountains and down into green valleys.

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The others headed off over the mountains and I took the highway towards Salida. The road followed the river with log cabin dotted along it. Turning north things flattened out and the roads straightened. 

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I crossed the watershed at PonchaPass and travelled the last few miles into Salida.

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I booked in a tried to get some sleep. A quick visit to Walmart was scary but I did obtain some great pluggers.

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The heavens opened up later in the day. Torrential rain and hail.

Tim took cover on his way back to town and the others missed the brunt off it. 

A very entertaining dinner with John as our server. We can recommend the The Bounty in Salida.

 

The rocks.

We left Cuba early and headed into the forests. Long fast flowing roads with specify views. We reached around 9000 ft.

After 30 km I came across a State Trooper who had the road blocked. He looked about 17 but had a very large gun.

He informed us that the roads were closed and we would have to backtrack to Cuba. 

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A long run on the blacktop followed until we turned north to pick up the trail again.

 

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Up over the mountains and through some spruce forests, we followed the track.

Lunch was at an abandoned farm building in a green valley. Very picturesque. 

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The track wound up the mountainside and out onto the ridge line. There are lots of mountain bikers doing the trail north south and they were feeling it on some of the climbs.

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Coming down off this ridge there were a couple of steep rocky descents.. Getting up them would be challenge!

We entered Colorado and only had a few miles to go to reach the sealed roads and the run into Charma NM.

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The place we are staying at is run by Aussie called Richard. He's from Melbourne so this is probably a better spot.

187 miles covered today. Mostly off-road.  

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The mud.

We left John in the rain at Silver City and set our sights on PieTown.

We climbed out the forests and open meadows. Beautiful stuff. Long flowing roads through amazing scenery. 

We hit our first bit of mud, and after extracting Scottie we all got through. A bit further along we found out why the roads are impassable after rain. Super slippery mud patches. There were only a couple of short sections so not a big deal. 

After fueling up at Quemado I took the highway while the others did a short section towards Grants. We were planning to stay there, but instead we slabed it the 200 miles to Cuba NM. I rode Johns 950 and he took the 690. The bigger bike was heaven on the highway. 

A quick Mexican meal and off to bed.  

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The Gunk

We left Sierra Vista early and travelled towards the Mexican border.  We followed the border fairly closely and found a large number of border control guards. They are spaced along the fine line regularly and it's weird coming across one sitting in the middle of nowhere. Breakfast was at a cool little town called Bisbee

The plan was to head to the start of the CDR at Antelope Wells. There was a track marked that John km found but they were turned back by Border security.  We met again at Animas where we filled up. From there it was north to start CDR proper, or so we thought. 

John km   bike developed a miss which got increasingly worse. We retreated to an interstate truck stop to try to determine the problem. After removing the left fuel and pump it turns out that some non petrol safe sealant had been used to seal it. This had clogged the filter.  After cutting open and cleaning the filter we hoped that the pump would be ok. No such luck. The bike would not rev.

So we black topped it all the way to Silver City to see what could be done. The only pump in America is in Cincinnati and we could not get until Tuesday.  

So John has rented a van to take his bike back to Scottsdale and will then come north to meet us in Salida.

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The start.

Dust storms and rain threatened as we headed off to bed last night. Thankfully it cooled things down a bit and as we got organised at 6, things were looking good.

Today sees us headed east for Sierra Vista.

We left Phoenix while it was still cool and aimed for Coolidge for breakfast. No problems so far. After a good breaky we used a bit more bitumen to get to the start of our off roading for the day.

We passed through Oracale and past Biosphere 2 on the way to the Coranado State Forest. A long climb up to 8000ft was only broken by Johns KTM losing power after rounding a corner. A loose terminal was found and fixed quickly.

At the top of Mt Lemmon it was considerably cooler than the plains below. 4th of July parades were going on over the top of the mountain. There are ski fields up here! 

A great run down sealed roads shot us out into Tuscon. Hot again. We slabed it down towards Nogales before turning back onto the dirt. A short run brought us out at Sonoita. From there it was up over another range in the Huachuca Mountains. This looked a lot like the plains in Africa!

Along the way we spotted Several Border Control vehicles just parked in the bush. We must have been close to the border. After climbing the last hill to a lookout the were more Border guards and a very flash camera setup on the back of an F150.

The rain arrived on the final run into Sierra Vista. We only had 10 minutes of it but it was enough to soak us. It will interesting to see what it does to the tracks tomorrow.

Scottie skiing to Canada

Scottie skiing to Canada

Breakfast at Coolidge

Breakfast at Coolidge

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John

John

Broken

Broken

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The Heat

We were woken by the phone at 8:30 am. 

John Km (as Canadian John will now be known) and Scottie had been downstairs waiting for us. 

We headed off two-up to visit a couple of bike shops and pick up the other bikes from John km parent's place. Oh it's around 47 again after a low of 28 overnight. 

Phoenix is flat, and hot. Riding down the freeway is like sitting in front of heat gun going flat out. The guys found some bits and pieces that they needed and we retreated to hotel.

John km headed out to locate some new rear brake pads, Scottie went north to Micahs while John and I fiddled with our bikes adujuting bits and fitting gps mounts.

Tomorrow we head off early to avoid the heat, ha!

 

Bryce's 690

Bryce's 690

 

Scottie's 

Scottie's 

John G 

John G 

 

John km's

John km's

The Wait..

They broke the plane. The brand new airbus had troubles with the a/c so we were delayed in Melbourne for 3 hours. 

The flight, once we got going wasn't too bad. A bit bumpy in spots. A few movies and a little bit of sleep later we arrived into LA. 

3 hours late. 

So my flight to Phoenix had already gone. I wandered around LAX for while and decided to try to get on the same flight as John who was arriving in a few hours time.

My flight booked successfully, I wandered down to the Delta terminal to be confronted by millions of passengers milling about.  I gave up on trying to book and retreated back to arrivals to wait for John.

After finding him we booked in and headed for a beer to wait for our flight.

The flight to Phoenix was uneventful but it was on a tiny puddle jumper.

Getting off the plane at a bit after 8pm the temperature was a mild 47 deg C. We taxied to the hotel to find John and Scottie at the bar. 

We had a few beers and turned in after 36 hours of travelling. 

Not good news.

Not good news.

The broken plane.

The broken plane.

Phoenix Airport

Phoenix Airport

The Off

Fortunately Zoe decided that she would wake up at 4:00a.m. so the alarm was not needed. I had tried to check-in online the night before. Remember people, read the question.  I ticked the box saying I had dodgy items in my check-in baggage when I thought it said I had not. 

 I got as far as changing my seats ( who would choose that second seat in on the middle rows??), and then the site said I could not print my boarding pass. Bugger.

So an early arrival at the airport to sort it out resulted in an anti-climax. The seats I had chosen had been saved (phew) and after the standard questions I was in and my bag is headed to LA.

Delayed of course. 

 

 

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A bit early!

The Route.

So we kick off from the Mexican Border near Antelope Wells. This is the "official" start of the CDR. We might go all the way there or join a little bit further north.

The route follows the Continental divide closely and crosses it many times. We cross the northern border at Roosville and will then decide which way to go. There are few sights up the road in Canada that are worth a look. If time permits a spin up the Icefields Parkway might be on the cards.

Thanks to Big Dog on advrider for the gps route.

The Gear.

As we are not camping on this trip the amount of stuff to take is greatly reduced. I'm going to take the small bag I took to Africa and my Camelback. Thats it.

I will have to wear my bike jacket and boots on the plane but thats not really a problem. Everything else fits nicely into North Face bag.

The bike has soft panniers on it i'm told so fitting it all on the bike should not be a problem.

 

The Beginning.

It came as a surprise when John rang and asked me along on their trip. He roughly described the route and it sounded great. It wound through lots of the US that I have not been to, and some of the places that have been on my list for years. 

Jaks approved my leave pass which is way beyond awesome of her. Leaving her and Zoë behind for a couple of weeks will be hard. 

The route starts at the US- Mexican border at a little places called Antelope Wells. From there it's all North. Crossing the Continental Divde many times the trail passes through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. We cross the border into Canada at Roosville then onto Calgary. 

Apart from me the other riders are John, John, and Scottie. John kilometres (as he is known) has provided bikes for Aussie John and myself. I'm on a KTM 690 and Aussie John on a 990. Its an all KTM trip so I hope my BMW status is retained! 

Along the way we will be joined by some Africa veterans. Tim and Jim will travels from other parts of America to join up with us in Colorado. We are hoping for a guest appearance from Micah if he can get a way from work. 

So there you have it. It's a very long trip on mostly gravel roads and tracks. My skill level is way below the others so I might bail on some of the harder bits and go my own way and meet up with the others when they hit a main again. Time will tell.

 As usual I will try to put photos and video up every night. As we are hoteling the whole way it should be possible. We thought about camping but to carry all the extra gear from Oz would have made it much more of a mission.

It's going to be great trip.