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A Visit to the Geological Wonderlands of Utah and Colorado - Apr 2015

Tourmeister

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Howdy,

:tab So... This is gonna be a LONG report because I took over 600 pictures... That would be why it is now early October and I am just now getting around to the report even though the trip was in mid April. So make sure your internet is running fast and you have some coffee.

:tab Many years ago I did a street bike trip out through Southern Utah and Southwestern Colorado. Since then, I have done a few dual sport trips in SW Colorado, but I have never managed to get back out to Utah. The whole area is like some kind of geological freak show. The mountains, canyons, rivers, forests and more just make for some spectacular riding. So while sitting around trying to think of where to do a trip with Roger "Rsquared", we settled on the Moab area. Some other TWT folks were planning a get together for early April and we thought we'd join them.

:tab Well that didn't pan out. April is BUSY time in Moab and there weren't any hotels with rooms available and I don't sleep on the ground real well anymore. So... I set about putting together a trip of our own a few weeks later. I found a hotel in Monticello, about an hour South of Moab on US 191. The plan was to spend a week of riding, based out of Monticello. We'd be taking our small bikes and our big bikes, alternating between them every day. This helps our old bodies keep from wearing out so fast. But who to take with us...? :ponder:

:tab I shot out a few PMs and didn't get much response. Finally, Steve "Desmo" agreed to come with us. Three would work, but four would be better. With the time approaching fast, we decided to put out an open invitation for a fourth rider and see what happened. In the past I have had pretty good luck with that here on TWT. So I posted. We waited. Finally, a few weeks before we were to leave, we hook a fourth rider, Joe "JoePieper". None of us have met him before, but how bad can he be... right?

:tab So here's our crew:

Tourmeister BMW 1200GS and KTM 530 EXC
Rsquared KTM 690 Enduro and KTM 450 EXC
Desmo BMW 1200 GS and KTM 690 Enduro
JoePieper BMW 1200GSA and DRZ400

:tab I get new tires mounted on both the bikes, make sure all my gear is present and accounted for, and then wait...

:tab When the day finally comes (April 17th), the guys all head to my place where we load up the big trailer to haul all eight bikes. The plan is to just drive straight through. Steve shows up first. He's always early for everything. We're standing around talking and he asks me what I know about Joe. "Nothing really. But I'd guess he's at least in his mid to late 40's seeing as how he has a DRZ and a GSA." Steve nods his head in agreement. A few minutes later Joe shows up and he's maybe in his late twenties or early thirties :lol2: No worries though. Right away he seems like a nice guy and I have little doubt he will fit right in with the Tres Old Farts.

Of course we have almost two acres and where do the kids want to play... :doh:


We've got it down to an art... Roger lining up Steve's GS


Two rows of three, one side ways on the back, and Roger's 450 in the bed of the truck.




Yeah... it was HUMID!!


:tab Finding room for all our riding gear and luggage takes a bit of creative packing, but we manage to get everything on the trailer or in the truck. I say goodbye to Beth and the kids and then we are on our way, right on time!
 

Tourmeister

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:tab There's not much to say about getting across West Texas... We headed up through Abilene, Lubbock, and eventually hit I-40 at Santa Rosa. From there we ran I-40 over to Gallup and then turned North to Shiprock, Cortez and eventually into Monticello around 9:30am. So here are some pictures from the drive.

I'm not sure where we are here because I haven't been driving, but this caught my eye in the parking lot.






:tab I never got a chance to speak with the driver of the truck hauling the bike. The bike looks like it just rolled off the factory line. Immaculate!

Somewhere out on I-40 maybe?


I think this is heading North from Gallup. I don't see many sunrises... :twitch:


That is a heavy cloud cover above, which hints at what is to come...


Anyone recognize this cool looking hunk of rock?


This is what we encounter as we get on up into NW New Mexico and SW Colorado


And we see that they just got some snow!




A heavy mix of ice and snow... No longer falling thank goodness!




I can't help but wonder what is in store for us... :-?


Getting near the end of the drive, looking NW toward Monticello and the Manti-LaSal NF.


Parts of my planned routes go up into those mountains...


:tab And then we are there! Our early arrival poses a bit of a problem because the hotel is not ready for us to check in yet. So we head to the local grocery store to stock up on supplies for the week and to burn some time. When we get back to the hotel, I find out that the manager had the cleaning ladies skip ahead to our rooms so we could get checked in earlier. Nice! She also informs me that they got 2" of snow last night :doh:

:tab We get all the bikes unloaded and get our stuff in the rooms, but we still have most of the day to do something. I suggest we head up to Moab and maybe go check out Dead Horse Point State Park, then grab dinner, and call it a day. Everyone agrees, so off we go.
 

Tourmeister

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:tab Okay, so the drive up US 191 to Moab is actually quite nice, the first two or three times you do it. By the end of the week, we will have done it a few more times than that...







:tab When we reach town, I am just blown away by how BIG and CROWDED it has become!! I was last here in 2001. I don't recognize anything at all. The streets are crammed full of traffic, especially the side by side ATV type vehicles. I guess they are street legal here. The number of adventure outfitters, bike shops, motorcycle shops, jeep rentals, etc,... is incredible. Then there are the people, just freaking everywhere. I also feel out of place because we seem to be the only people that don't have a dog with us.

:tab We roll through town and reach the turn off for UT 313, which runs out to the State Park. It twists and winds past some pretty cool rock formations as it gets up high onto the plateau that overlooks the Colorado River. We pay the fee and find a place to park. The views are amazing and can't be missed!

Looking East toward the Potash Ponds - See the people in the upper right corner of the shot?


Look in the red circle. Yeah, that's a person - about 1500 feet to the bottom...




Somewhere just below the center of the picture there is actually a small waterfall. I can hear the water and see parts of it, but can't get a good picture of it.


No idea what it is called, but there is a lot of it here


See the cars upper left?


Potash mines on left, Colorado river on right, and some dude WAY on the right


And introducing... Joe Pieper! Check out the road running from the right just above the rock wall toward the Potash Ponds. We'll be riding that later in the week. I'm getting all giddy just thinking about it!


My happy mug... really... that IS my happy face :mrgreen:


:tab Now I am not usually much of a hiker. I have knee issues, foot issues, and well... just issues! But for some odd reason we get the crazed idea to hike from the park headquarters along the rim to the actual spot called Dead Horse Point. It probably helps that I did not realize how far it would before I started off on the trail. But, the views were cool.

No way I'd let my kids get that close to the edge!! :eek2:


Joe and Steve... yeah, I'm already lagging behind... :help:




Joe is nice enough to wait for the old man... :thumb:


:tab We eventually reach the point where the plateau narrows down to a very think "neck". It is here where a fence and gate used to be in place. wild horses were herded onto the point past the narrow and the gate would be closed. The surrounding cliffs took the place of the rest of the fence, forming a kind of natural "corral". Well... it is a desert and there's no water way up here on the top, and occasionally the cowboys did not get back in time to prevent some of the horses from just leaping over the edge when driven bonkers by thirst. We walk across the other side to have a look West.

That little road way down there is part of the White Rim Road, another one that we will be riding later.


Steve just soaking it all in... That little road running up the center of the picture is Shafer Road. We'll be getting to that as well.


You can see it better here




See the people upper left?


:tab At this point, I am dreading the walk back. My feet are hurting pretty good. Like I said, I've got issues... Anyway, I start talking about maybe bumming a ride off anyone driving back from the point to the headquarters. Overhearing this, Roger volunteers to hike back and get his truck. Before I know it, he's off and running. So we walk the rest of the way out onto the point to take in the sights.

White Rim road heading toward the Potash Ponds


Nice view of the snow covered mountains on the East side of Moab.




This side of the river is the White Rim road. On the far side above and left of this guy's head, there is another road on that plateau that runs around that rock formation where the river bends.


:tab While standing here looking out over the vast distance, my ears detect the sounds of thumpers from across the river. I strain my eyes and see dust clouds in the distance. A handful of bikes race across that plateau and vanish around behind that rock formation. I believe that is Chicken Corners Road, one we will not be riding.

So this guy is kind of nuts in my book...


:tab I head over and talk with this guy. He has about $25K worth of lenses and bodies with him!! I am not exaggerating. The bodies alone were $5K and about $8K!! And he has ALL of that on the outside of the wall with him where it would be VERY easy for any of it... or him... to go over the edge. When he starts climbing back up, I offer to help by letting him hand me some stuff while he climbs, but he politely refuses. I guess I look like the type that might take off running... He just doesn't know about my issues :-P

It is an awesome view though


I sure hope they are hanging on to those kids TIGHT!


:tab While I am standing around taking pictures, Roger shows up... Seems he already hoofed it back to his truck and it's out in the parking lot! :brainsnap I was thinking we'd have a bit more time to goof off before he returned, but I guess he was in a hurry! No matter. I have enough pics and we head to the truck. It does feel good to sit down and get off my feet :mrgreen:

:tab We head back into town and start looking for food. All those years ago, I ate at a place called Eddie McStiffs. The beer and pizza was great. So we start looking for it. Well, it turns out that this is one of those places that changed as well. Now, rather than there just being a restaurant, there is a whole Eddie McStiff Plaza with the restaurant in the back of the parking lot. Roger manages to get his giant truck parked in the cramped lot and we head inside. The food is decent. Apparently, dogs are allowed inside. At least he was calm and just stayed under the table next to his owners. After dinner we head South back to Monticello and call it an evening. I go over the planned route for tomorrow just so I will have it fresh in my head...
 

Tourmeister

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:tab Okay, so were up to the first day of riding. When I walk outside I am greeted with COLD dry air and beautiful sunshine!! Cold I can deal with... We set about to getting the bikes ready to roll and getting on our gear. Today will be a big bike day.

The view out the back of the hotel. Yesterday, all that pretty green grass was covered in snow...


We took over a corner of the parking lot with the truck, trailer, and bikes.


:tab I go to fire up the 1200GS and it cranks reluctantly... Hmmm... maybe the cold has got the battery feeling a bit down. I try a few more times hoping it will fire, but no joy. Fortunately, I carry a small set of jumper cables. That does the trick and we are ready to roll. Today's route will take us into SW Colorado to do a nice loop up through Telluride, Ridgway, Ouray, Durango, Cortez, and back to Monticello.

:tab We head East out of town on US 491. There's not much to see up close, but there are snow capped mountains visible in the distance. We cut over to DoLores on CO 184 and pick up CO 145 North. This is a great road and one I have done quite a few times before. It runs along the DoLores River and winds its way up into the mountains. There is almost no traffic this morning. I set a brisk pace. The cold finds its way through my gloves and despite the heated grips, my fingers are still a bit chilled. The heated vest however does a great job of keeping the rest of me warm.

Still early for the non evergreen trees.


Steve and Joe approve of this road


Roger is happy on most any road as long as he's riding


As we get higher, there is a LOT more snow...


My GS






:tab We keep going and it keeps getting colder as we climb higher. My GS doesn't have an ambient air temperature gauge, but I am pretty sure it is getting down into the 30's. For the most part, the road is clear and dry thus far. Hopefully, this is a good sign for the rest of the day. When we reach Rico, we pull over at a local gas station just to warm up a bit. There's not much in this town, but there is gas and food if you ever find yourself here.

At the top! A hair over 10K feet I believe.




:tab I'm a bit worried about the stopping and starting, but we rode a little over an hour at highway speeds before the first stop. That seems to have done the trick because the bike fires right up every time now.

:tab As cold as it is now, I was once much colder on this pass. Way back in 2001, I rode this pass on my VFR 800 with Beth (my wife). It was the ONE day of the entire trip that we did not wear our riding pants or have rain gear on us... So you know what happened right? :doh: We were in jeans with a Cortech jacket when the sky opens up. The rain came down so hard that the road down from the pass into Telluride looked like a shiny mirror. It was also in the mid 40's. It was not until we reached Ridgway and stopped for gas that I could finally feel my knees again. But, that was not a good thing as they were BURNING as the feeling came back into them!! It was a good hour or more before that stopped. Still, it was a fun ride!

:tab Back to the present, the views running down into Telluride are great. However, I am really focused on the road because there are still patches of slush and potentially ice in the shaded areas behind the mountain. In one set of corners I reflexively switch sides of the lane as I setup for the next corner. As I cross the center of the lane, I hit small patch of ice/slush and both ends of the bike do the Hokey Pokey and shake it all about :eek2: It's over in a fraction of a second, but it is definitely enough to give me a massive shot of adrenaline!! The rest of the way down I make sure to stay on the inside of the lane and just forget about moving side to side like I normally would.

Looking back up the valley toward Telluride - Look close and you can see the road coming down from Black Bear pass.


Just in case you don't see it, here ya go ;-)


:tab So the plan is to ride the Last Dollar Highway from Telluride up to CO 62. This is a dirt road that runs through some absolutely beautiful country. If you can ride it in the fall when the Aspens are changing, you will never forget that ride. We start up the road and it is wet. The first few miles of the road are pretty well maintained and there are some incredible homes along the way. But then we reach the sign warning that the road ahead gets worse. I press on a short way, but soon decide that we should probably err on the side of caution. Other than Roger, we are all on 1200GSs with more street biased tires. Just getting to here I have already been sliding around a bit. The others don't argue one bit, so we backtrack to the highway and run 145 on up to Placerville and pick up 62 there for the run over to Ridgway. 62 runs up a nice valley as it climbs up onto the North side of the San Juan mountains.

The view from a scenic pullout


Forgive me for all the shots of my bike, I plan to list it for sale after this trip and I need lots of great pics of it for the for sale thread on TWT :mrgreen:






Given all the snow seen here, it is probably a good thing we bailed on the Last Dollar Highway. Unless it is plowed, it would have likely been impassable anyway.


:tab We run on down into Ridgway and stop for gas. From here we will be running US 550, The Million Dollar Highway, through Ouray, Silverton, and Durango. If you have not ridden this highway, it should be on your bucket list. The run from Ridgway down to Ouray is not much to speak of, but it is nice. It runs along the Uncompahgre River through a fairly straight valley. Ouray sits at the end of the valley nestled among many large mountains and steep rock walls. It is right at 8000 feet. The real fun starts on the South end of town where the highway climbs up out of the box canyon and begins to climb up toward Red Mountain Pass.

Just South of Ouray




Steve thinking he's gonna just lean out of the picture... :lol2: Notice the lack of guard rails...


In a few places, there are actually wrecked vehicles still down at the bottom rusting away... It's a long way down!


The road has obviously been plowed, but there is a lot of sand and some slush still. We ride a VERY conservative pace!


Frozen snow melt - it's all over the place.


Tunnel at an avalanche prone section of the highway


Fun curves a few miles before we reach the pass


Steve heading toward the pass, which is a tick over 11K feet.


:tab The views coming down off the pass into Silverton are great. There are a LOT of old mines in this area, many of which are easily visible from the highway. I had hoped to do a few little side roads in this area to see some of the mines that are not visible from the highway, but the snow precludes us getting off onto those roads. They are completely buried. So we head on down into town and look for a place to eat. It is now that I learn that mid April is not a great time to visit Silverton. Pretty much everything but the gas station is closed.

Joe in front of the city hall, likely not the original since the town was established in 1874 after gold and silver were found in the area.


:tab Not finding anywhere to eat, we head out of town and start the climb up to Molass Pass. Silverton sits right around 9000 feet and Molass Pass is 10900 feet. The pass is not far from town, so it is a pretty quick climb. We pull over at the top to take in the view.



Steve loves having his picture taken, such a poser :-P






:tab The next few miles of 550 are also really pretty as we wind around the East side of Engineer Mountain. However, once we reach the South side of the mountain, the road enters a long valley and straightens out. Here there is more traffic because there are many homes and ski areas. Also, because Durango is a large city, there are plenty of places open for business.

As if there were any choice in the matter... :roll: :eat:


:tab The BBQ is actually very good. They get their sausage from Elgin, Texas. It really hits the spot!! As cold as it was up in the mountains, I think I heard Joe mention something like 28F, it is actually quite warm here in Durango. So when we suit up to leave, I open some of the vents and let some air flow through my jacket. I also switch to my thinner gloves. We gas up the bikes again, then head West on US 160.

:tab US 160 over to Cortez is not about the curves. It is about just kicking back and enjoying the big sweepers and big views. Down here, there is little evidence of snow or even cool weather. The plan is to head over to Mesa Verde and check out the cliff dwellings. It's about 3:30 or so now, so I figure that will take about an hour or so and then we'll be back in Monticello by 6:00ish, giving plenty of time for Roger to do his ritual hot tub soak and then grab dinner.

:tab When we reach Mancos, I pull up to a stop light and wait for it to turn green. As I am waiting, Joe pulls up behind me and is honking and hollering at me. Confused, I turn around to try to figure out what the problem might be. He's waving at me, pointing at his GPS and motioning that we should be in the turn lane here to stay on the route. I am not sure why, but I pull into the turn lane and head off on in the direction where he was pointing, not realizing that he thinks that we are just heading back to the hotel. I guess I am just lost in my thoughts because I don't realize that we are now heading back toward Dolores rather than Cortez. By the time I realize where we are, we are already back to Dolores :doh: Well, backtracking now will make us get back to the hotel pretty late, so we just keep heading West toward Monticello.

:tab Let me just tell you right now that the stretch of highway between Dolores and Monticello (or Cortez for that matter) is a whole lot of boring. It runs along the SW edge of the San Juan NF. All the little side roads are laid out in a perfect grid of squares. While it only takes about 45 minutes or so, it seems like an eternity by the time we reach town.

:tab Let me say a bit about the hotel. We are staying at the Inn of the Canyons. This is easily the nicest hotel in town, however the prices are quite reasonable at around $125/night. They have done a major remodel of the entire place. All the furniture and beds are new, in fact the chairs were replaced today while we were out riding and the old ones are stacked up outside in the parking lot by the building waiting to be taken away. The bathroom is extremely clean and nice. The pool is HUGE and the hot tub is great. The breakfast is good. There is a LOT of parking, so having a truck and trailer is not a problem. There are also a few good eating places withing a very short walking distance. Were I to come to this area again, I would definitely be staying here. The other places in town are a bit cheaper, but they are no where near as nice. Most are just the old run down motels with 10-20 rooms and aren't much to look at from the outside.

:tab Anyway, once we are done with the hot tub, we head across the street to a nice little cafe that has great Mexican food. With dinner out of the way, we head back to the hotel. I check over the routes for tomorrow, a small bike day that will be taking us into those snow covered mountains behind the hotel. The ride today was great. I've never been in the mountains with so much snow on them and they were just incredible. The pictures fall utterly short of the reality. I am a bit concerned about temperatures tomorrow though because I can't run any heated gear on the KTM. However, if the route is any good, I'll likely be working hard enough while riding that I won't need it :trust:
 

Tourmeister

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Well... I just lost a whole days worth of the report for some reason :headbang: There's four hours down the tube... :argh:
 
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Wow it sure looks different with all the snow and slush. Tim and I rode some of the same roads you did but in June. Took some of the same pictures you did. Interesting to see the same pic in a different season.
 

Tourmeister

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I had the message editor window open and had just refreshed the preview. Then I opened a new tab to download the latest version of AnyVideoConvertor so I could convert my AVI vids to MP4 for uploading to YouTube. When I installed the new version of the program, it jacked with FireFox and installed the BING page as my homepage and apparently crapped out the open tab where I had my report going... The old version I had did not do that kind of covert nonsense. I HATE programs that install other stuff, even if they ask for permission.

Smack me for not being smart enough to save the report before installing a program :doh: It is so hard to go back and redo it. It's like once I write it, it's out of my head and going back and recreating it is tough.
 

Rsquared

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Scott, it amazes me how much detail you can remember about a trip, especially one that happened 6 months ago. I remember going to Utah in April, and I know I had a blast, but the rest is a bit vague. The beauty of getting older I guess. I'm really enjoying reliving this ride through your ride report and looking forward to the next installment.

Somewhere in Utah. I think...

DSC03414.jpg


Colorado. Maybe...

DSC03317.jpg
 
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Snow covered red rocks. Definitely a special place to be. Thank you for your diligence in shsring your trip with us.


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Tourmeister

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Scott, it amazes me how much detail you can remember about a trip, especially one that happened 6 months ago. I remember going to Utah in April, and I know I had a blast, but the rest is a bit vague. The beauty of getting older I guess. I'm really enjoying reliving this ride through your ride report and looking forward to the next installment.
The pictures bring back the memories,so does looking over the route, and so do the aches and pains that still seem to linger... :twitch:

Somewhere in Utah. I think...

DSC03414.jpg
Almost to UT 95 before Hite Marina at Lake Powell.

Colorado. Maybe...

DSC03317.jpg
Utah on UT 128 heading along the Colorado River back to Moab after visiting the colorado Nat Monument outside Grand Junction.

Shirley you took more pics than that! :-P
 

Vinny

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Sorry for your loss (ride report); I know too well how that feels.
Great report so far.
I love those KTM 690's .
 

Tourmeister

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Sorry for your loss (ride report); I know too well how that feels.
:tab It has been a few days now and I have passed through the denial, anger, and moved into acceptance... :zen:

Day two of riding, Monday.

:tab Day two is to be a small bike day. The plan is to head into the mountains West of town and then head on out to the Dark Wilderness area. This will be an out and back run with no gas, services, or civilization of any kind along the way. It is routes like this that make me appreciate the 6.6 gallon tank on my 530 EXC. It gives me a 300+ mile range, which frees me up to worry about other things.

Still a lot of snow. I had hoped more of it would have melted since yesterday.


:tab I roll the 530 out away from the trailer and go to fire it up... It barely cranks!? This battery is barely even a year old!! I put BOTH bikes on the chargers before leaving for this trip, so this is particularly annoying. The 530 does at least have a kick start, but I have issues with kick starters. Well, specifically, my knee has issues with kick starters :twitch: Anyway, we do eventually get it running and all seems well for now. So we head West out of town toward the mountains.

:tab We are looking for Johnson Creek Rd, which heads up into the mountains in a generally Southwest direction. It should get us to the South side of the mountains where we will start the run out and back. When I go to check to see if we are getting close to our turn, I notice that my GPS is off. This is strange because I know I turned it on and loaded the route for today :ponder: I turn it back on and continue down the road. I look down again and it is off again! No doubt, this has something to do with the battery issue. It futz around with it a bit and it soon becomes obvious that it simply will NOT stay on. It sits in a powered cradle which cannot be unplugged without simply removing the power leads from the battery. With the GPS in the cradle, it will not run on internal power for some reason. It is as if the GPS thinks I am stopping and starting the bike, so when it detects a low voltage, it prompts me to see if I want to keep it on or let it turn off. Even if I select to keep it on, a few seconds later it will do it again, and again, and again...:doh: It is going to be hard to lead a ride if I have no idea where I am going.

:tab Despite my GPS woes, we do eventually find the turn for Johnson Creek Rd. We turn down it and almost immediately things get interesting. There is a good bit of snow, ice, and slush covering the entire road. There are a few tracks in it, so someone had been up here in the last day or so. The road starts climbing and twisting almost immediately, which makes things challenging. The bike wants to slip and slide all over the place. Keeping it upright requires quite the balancing act.

I'm guessing a single ATV came through here before us


:tab We are soon upon the first set of switchbacks. The road climbs pretty quickly from 8500 ft to just over 10000 feet at North Creek Pass. I make it around the first real curve and see just how tight and steep the switchbacks become. I stop to look back for the others.

Here is Steve giving me that, "He's out of his mind!" look. I get that a lot from him :lol2:


:tab After a quick pow-wow, it is decided that we'd be better off saving this route for later in the week in the hopes that the snow will have melted by then. So we swap plans and chose to run the Lockhart Basin route instead since we are basically on the beginning of it now. We carefully slip and slide our way back down to the paved highway and continue West on North Creek Lane, which is all paved and eventually runs up to UT 211.

Nice views along the way, and it looks warmer :sun:


Imagine this on a really clear day...


Some people think of the desert Southwest as bland and colorless... I disagree


Getting on down into the canyons... lots of BIG rock faces!


:tab We hit UT 211 and head West toward the Canyonlands Park Headquarters. The road is all paved and quite nice. The views are vast and endless. Everything here is just so big. We soon pass by the start of Lockhart Basin Rd., which runs off to the North and disappears into the rocks. I'm all giddy just thinking about it, but first I have a little side trip planned. Just a short ways past Lockhart Basin is the park headquarters for the Colorado River Overlook. We pull into the parking lot to take a break and check out the headquarters which is a gift shop, museum, educational facility all wrapped into one.

:tab Inside I spot a really cool 3D topographical relief map of the area. The roads are painted on to the terrain. I can see the little road I want to take and I can also see Lockhart Basin twisting in and out of some cool looking terrain. There is a ranger standing nearby so I strike up a conversation with him about the road out to the overlook. He confirms that it is open to the public and we can ride the bikes on it, but we should be careful because it is a very primitive road the closer it gets to the actual overlook. SWEET!! We're on it!

:tab I head back outside where the others are waiting and give them the good news. We start gearing up and I go to fire up the bike... nothing :headbang: I've had the bike running now for over an hour so the battery should have at least some charge!? At this point, we figure the battery is just toast and won't take a charge. The GPS issues haven't stopped. Roger comes up with the genius suggestion of putting a piece of paper between the bottom of the GPS and the power contacts in the cradle. I grab a little scrap and wedge it in there. I get the bike kick started, which is easier once it has been running a while, and we head out.

:tab The road starts right at the edge of the parking lot. It passes through the fence and there are all the "OMG You're gonna die if you don't have high clearance 4WD vehicles," signs. Perfect. Right away the road is sandy and rocky, rolling with the terrain among the scrub brush. The park headquarters is soon out of sight and the road becomes two deep sandy ruts. We twist and squirm our way along for a few miles and then reach the rocks. I am not talking about rocks in the road. I am talking about the road being the rocks... BIG rocks.

:tab Our pace drops now to a line choosing crawl in places. There are ledges, gnarly tree roots clinging to the rocks, and round wash holes that we have to weave between. Where the road is more of a two track "road" it is still pretty rough. We come up on one set of ledges that look like a series of stairs. While I am sitting there contemplating how I might do this, Roger rolls on by me and heads right up it. I only wish he had waited so I could have gotten the camera out to get a video of it. As always, he makes it look easy so I follow his line and make it up without any issues. At the top is a large rock area covered with lots of the wash holes. Some we go around. some we go through. After a few hundred yards we come to what looks like a good place to stop for a break.

The "road" is between the bikes and that rock wall


The haze is thinning as the day progresses




Joe taking in the sites. You can see the lighter colored rock road behind him running along the base of the wall


See the little pile of rocks far left? Sometimes those little piles are all that confirm we are still on the right path. Steve provides some sense of scale.


:tab After a nice break, we mount up and keep going. We quickly encounter some more tricky spots and I have a "moment" where I think I am about to launch off into the rocks, but I manage to keep it going. As is the case on many of the trips I've done in the last few years, this becomes one of those times where I remind myself how glad I am not to be riding my KLR 650. It would get it done, but with much more effort required and probably a good deal more drama! A little further and we reach the end of the road.

Joe coming up to the end


Steep drop just to the left


The Colorado River is just beyond and below that outcropping




Salt Creek down below. That rock formation actually has a name that eludes me at the moment.


All that, done by a creek!


Salt Creek Canyon joins the Colorado behind this big rock


The mighty Colorado... FULL of silt


The consistency of the thickness of these layers over great distances is interesting. Being laid down over millions of years, I would have expected a greater variance in the layer thicknesses within each layer. :ponder:


Yours truly


Joe, Steve and Roger, waiting for me to stop taking pictures


:tab Well I can take a hint as well as anybody... unless it is my wife dropping the hint and then I am totally clueless... :mrgreen: We pack up and start back. We still haven't even started Lockhart Basin and the day is getting on. I admit I am a little anxious about getting back through the stuff we just came through, but there is no choice about it now. So I push those worries to the back of my mind and continue.

Here's one of the smooth easy sections where I can stop for a shot


:tab We get back through all the washes and steps without any problems. A few times I have to stop and ponder which line to take because once started, changing my mind will be pretty difficult. Shortly, we are back into the sand, which I happen to like, and are zipping along on our way back to the headquarters parking lot.

I am a sucker for cool rock formations


Even the little stuff here is big and makes me feel really small


:tab We regroup at the headquarters and then head out for the start of Lockhart Basin. We soon reach the intersection and turn North. NOW we start the real core of today's route. From all the information I've gathered on the internet and various guide books, Lockhart is rated as difficult. However, this is because of a few short sections. The bulk of the road is quite easy.

Typical of the road surface on the South end




Roger


Joe


Steve










:tab We play leap frog as I run ahead and set up for pics/vids, then chase the group down and do it again.



This hill is a LOT taller in person than it looks in the picture






[ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=536UAnKJ-7U"]MVI 9919 x264 - YouTube[/ame]

[ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RHDIcFtlnM"]MVI 9920 x264 - YouTube[/ame]

[ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FM_47fTQJ1I"]MVI 9921 x264 - YouTube[/ame]

Miles and miles of this...




An indication that the road surface may be changing soon...


Oddly, no "Watch for falling rocks!" signs here... :shrug:


I've never seen one fall, but obviously they make it to the far side of the road


Getting interesting!


Here come the guys






The road climbs up from the valley floor to start running along the wall for a bit


Barbed wire gate in the middle of nowhere!! Roger was first one it and fortunately was not hurt trying to stop in time for it.


Roger waits to close the gate behind us




Steve soaking in the view... pretty wild rocks


My 530 dressed for a typical day ride in the middle of nowhere




:tab If you look at Lockhart Basin Road on a map, you'll notice that the lower half is roughly straight and follows along the bottom of the plateau just East of it. The upper half starts getting wiggly and has some fun climbs and descents as it literally follows the edge of the plateau. There are many places where washes have formed from water running down from the plateau above to the river below. It is these washes that present the biggest challenges on this road. In the dry they are not too bad. However, if one were to get caught out here in a rain... :cool2:

The beginning of a short wash, but it has some pretty good step/ledges going down. Steve leads the way.


Followed by Joe


Then Roger




:tab As Roger vanishes behind the rocks, I put my camera away and look for my line. As I start to roll away, the bike starts leaning left! There is a small rock under my front tire JUST big enough to kill my forward momentum as I am leaning back toward the center of the trail. Before I can even think to get on the gas, the bike starts going over and I have to do a step off because I am up on a small ledge about 2" higher than the ground to my left. :doh:

:tab If there is no one watching, do the bike and rider make a sound when they hit the ground?

:tab No doubt a few lizards might have expanded their vocabulary had they been watching :argh:

:tab I reach down and grab the bike. Another reason I love this bike is that even fully loaded like this, it is still FAR easier to lift than my old KLR! I quickly have it righted, but then I have to kick start it... The GPS has been working fine since I put the little piece of paper under it, but the battery is still kaput. After a few kicks it fires again and I am ready to go. I pick my way down through the rocks, dropping off the ledges until I reach the sandy bottom. There is a short but steep climb out the other side and the others are waiting at the top for me, none the wiser about my tip over :mrgreen: I zip on ahead and look for another spot to pull over to get a vid of the guys.

This looks like a good one. Steeper than it looks of course ;-)


[ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Db7bv9Y3ZDM"]MVI 9946 x264 - YouTube[/ame]

The road cuts back into the canyon wall to make a switchback to the left in this pic and more climbing. Soooo many layers!








It is definitely getting more rocky!! The road wanders off into the distance among the base of those hills.


:tab I get back ahead of the guys again and get back to admiring the views. As I round a corner, I look ahead and see a pretty good set of steps. Now I know there are riders that don't have issues with steps. I do. I think it is a leftover issue from my days on the KLR where I just couldn't get it up... Some issues you get over and some you don't. The KTM has really helped me in that regard. No doubt it could help others struggling with such a debilitating issue. So I pause, look for a good line and consider my options. The others haven't caught up to me yet, so if I hurry I might make it without them witnessing my graceful riding skills in action!

:tab My resolve unwavering, I apply the throttle and head for the first step. I stand up and shift my weight back slightly anticipating that first impact and planning my perfect enduro move...

:tab And the best laid plans... blah blah blah...

:tab No sooner than I hit that first step, my plans go flying out the window, or visor if you will, and I am just in survival mode. "Don't let off the gas! Don't let off the gas!! Keep your !@#$% eyes UP!!" The bike groans and continues climbing, the exhaust note complaining as I stay on the throttle. The suspension is doing its best to absorb impacting the worst spots on the steps as I watch my perfect line go unused mere inches away. Then... moments later and as the dust settles, I find myself at the top of the steps right as I manage to stall the engine :doh: But I made it!!

:tab I am in a bit of precarious spot. I am right smack in the middle of the way for the others to come up. The bike is not sitting in a good spot for me to kick start it and of course the magic button has lost its magic. Before I can get the bike out of the way, the others round the corner below and Roger starts up. I barely manage to grab my camera in time to get a few shots of the others attempting the steps.

What's all the fuss? Looks flat and easy from here :shrug:


Roger veering to the left to miss my bike as I jump out of the way


Joe gets hung up... notice that the step comes up to the mid point of his front tire.


Steve waits patiently below while Joe tries to lift his bike. No doubt Steve has that look on his face about now :lol2:


A little better view.


:tab Roger and I help Joe get his bike up the rest of the way and then I get set to shoot video of Steve. Steve claims that he never falls down. I know better and even have photo evidence of it somewhere from a few years back. But he doesn't fall very often.

He makes it look easy...
[ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icrb7Uuqnp8"]MVI 9958 x264 - YouTube[/ame]

:tab Of course what you don't see in the video is me stacking up some big rocks in front of the steps to make it more like a ramp. This is the line Steve takes and he has no trouble at all chugging his way to the top. Maybe I should have done that first so we could have all enjoyed those rocks :doh:

And Steve rides away like it was nothing at all... Just another Sunday drive in the park :roll:




Not a hard section, just a bit of rocky off camber stuff down there in the corner.


:tab Now I had been selling this route to the guys and letting them know that there is supposed to be this really hard section. After that first wash, they were asking if that was it because they weren't real impressed. I assured them that was not it. Then came these steps and a few short but fun climbs. Still not it. But looking at the GPS, they can tell we are nearing the North end of the route and I think they are starting to have their doubts about the veracity of my claims... Foolish boys...

The fun starts just around the corner :trust:


Almost there...


And now they're in it!


:tab This last section is just a deep long wash full of huge rocks and big ledges. I let them get ahead a bit and then follow them down into the rocks.

I think here they might be talking among themselves about whether or not I know where we are going...


It's actually not to bad as long as we just take it slow and don't do anything stupid...




Pick a line... any line...






Nearing the end






And we finally drop out onto the flat valley floor near the river


:tab So this section was challenging but not super hard. I could see it being really difficult on bikes loaded down with camping gear and such. Thus, I would not make it part of a route between to points along a trip. It is best left as a day ride from one point and back so that you can leave some of the heavy stuff behind. I think I could do 95% of this road on my 1200 GS without any problem. That last 5% might be doable so long as I had some riding buddies to help in the tougher sections. Still, it is much easier on a lighter bike!

:tab The road follows along the river for a bit. It is now wide and easy. There is also more traffic in this area and we start seeing numerous ATVs and side-by-sides. We drop into a creek bed full of sand and small trees. It looks like the perfect place to stop and take a break. It is not particularly hot today, but with the work we've been doing on the bikes, we are working up a good sweat.



:tab From here, I am not expecting anything challenging at all. The last section of the route is really more about just taking in the incredible scenery. But that will have to wait for now, although it is nearly 5:00pm, I have to get to work. Nothing like a few emergency jobs to ruin my evening plans :doh:
 
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Well... I just lost a whole days worth of the report for some reason :headbang: There's four hours down the tube... :argh:
I write all my ride reports including the photo links in Open Office or Microsoft Office frequently saving the file.

When I think I am good I copy and paste what I have written into an existing forum thread and hit preview. If it looks good, I cancel out and start a new thread. If its not, I make any changes and preview it again.

I have actually been surprised that no one has ever asked me how I do week or longer report all in one post.
 

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Yeah, I usually cut/paste it from the editor and into a text file as a backup. I like to do the actual work in the message editor because I use the preview feature a lot. This time I just forgot to do the cut/paste thing :doh:
 

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Okay, so back on the topic of great scenery and the rest of the road on into Moab...

:tab From our sandy rest area the road is pretty smooth, wide and easy. However, as we near Hurrah Pass, it starts to get nice and twisty again, narrowing and getting a little rockier.

See the side by side on the far side of the gulch?


How about now? We play leap frog with these guys a few times as we stop and take pics and they go by us again.




More incredible views...




Easy riding here


It's hard to judge scale here. For that matter, it is sometimes hard to judge level because the layers don't always run level...




Here's some scale for you... See the people on motorcycles in the little red circle?


I think this is actually Hurrah Pass or very close to it. This is an outcropping with sheer drops on three sides and not much wider than the road. You don't want to be out there on the end if you have issues with heights!


Another scale picture. The little red line is the road.


That is Steve in the little red circle on the same road




:tab Once we clear Hurrah Pass, Lockhart meets with Kane Springs Rd, where we turn North and head toward Moab in Kane Springs Canyon following... wait for it... Kane Springs Creek. The road is now well traveled and hard packed. It soon becomes pavement. Along the sides of the road are immense sheer rock walls.

See the climbers on the right in the red circles?


These are the people in the far right circle above, setting up their camp...


This is the dude in the left circle


I wanna say this is Hunters Canyon


Roger and Joe


:tab The rest of the ride out of the canyon is a short run along the Eastern side of the Colorado River and into town. Once in town we stop for gas and mentally prepare ourselves for the one hour blast back down US 191 to get to Monticello. It is late enough that we decide to just skip any kind of lunch and to do dinner once we get back to town. Which reminds me. If you plan to ride Lockhart, pack snacks! It took us longer to get to Moab that I was expecting. I had intended to do lunch here in Moab and then head back down to Kane Springs Road and run it South all the way down to US 191 just North of LaSal. However, that road is rated as difficult as well so we just won't have time this trip. So off we go...

Wilson Arch along US 191


See the people standing inside the arch?


:tab We roll into town, park the bikes, and start to head inside. By the time I get all my stuff inside and start to get out of my gear, Roger has already hustled off to the hot tub. This guys takes his hot tubbing serious!! :lol2: We grab some dinner later and then call it a day. The plan tomorrow morning is to visit a Honda dealer we saw on the road into town from Colorado and see if I can get a new battery for the KTM.
 

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:tab Right, so on with day three is it? At the rate I am cranking out this report it feels like I should already be on the last day!

:tab So where was I...? Battery! I need a battery for the KTM. It is another incredibly beautiful morning. Roger and I hop in the truck and head over to the Honda dealer, arriving a few minutes after opening time. The store is dark and the gates still locked. Hmmm... It doesn't look like they are closed down completely, as in no longer in business. We pull up in front of the gate to check the hours and it shows they should be open, but it doesn't even look like anyone is on the premises. Great... No doubt there is probably a dealer in Moab somewhere, but that is an hour away.

:tab We both remembered that there was a NAPA Auto Parts in town, one of those hole in the wall stores on the main drag. So we head over there. Roger waits in the truck as I head in. It has that wonderful old timey hardware store feeling to it. I see a few guys that look like local ranchers hanging out chatting with the guys in the store. I obviously look like a tourist because they stop talking to see what I need. I show the guy behind the counter my old battery and he disappears into the back. A few minutes later he shows up with a new battery that is the right size!! He informs me it is the last one! What luck! On top of that, it is only $60 for a brand name battery. Maybe this is a good sign for how the rest of the day will go :trust:

:tab We head back to the hotel. I fill the battery with the acid and then get it in the bike. Today is a big bike day so it will have to wait until tomorrow to get its charge. Steve and Joe are milling about so we get ready to go. We're heading East into Colorado again, with the hope that we can do some mild off road stuff as well as some incredible paved riding.

:tab Once again we head East out of town on US 491. But this time we don't go very far before we reach Meyer's Cutoff, which is just a short little section of road that hops us over to a long straight stretch of narrow county pavement, the kind with no lines and a big crown in the middle of the road. This is the North Old Hwy. The pavement doesn't last long and soon we are bombing down a nice dirt road. We make a dog leg on Ucolo Rd and hop on CR H1. This too is unpaved and a little rutted from vehicles driving it when wet. The ruts are easy enough to dodge, with the exception of one spot in particular where they just start criss-crossing all over the place. I slow down, look for the shallowest ruts, and then just start pushing through, hoping that the ground underneath is solid and not hidden mud. I get through without any problems and then wait for the others to catch up to make sure everyone is good. A few miles later we reach Co 141 and turn North.

:tab 141 soon becomes quite twisty and fun! It is running down into the Dolores River valley and drops over a thousand feet pretty quickly. It is absolutely beautiful in the morning sun. We cross a wide valley, climb up and over a small ridge before crossing another flat area, and start the final run up to Naturita. When 141 meets and runs with CO 145, we drop down a narrow valley into Naturita. This is the town where we would always get our "last gas" before making the run up 145 to Grand Junction. Not long ago, there was nothing between here and there. Now there is the Gateway Resort, which I believe is owned by the guy that owns the Discovery Channel. It used to be not much more than a ghost town.

:tab Anyway, we stop at a little place in Naturita because I want to get some local info about our planned route. The plan is to head over to Nucla and take Mesa Rd., up onto the Uncompahgre Plateau and run some forest roads North. I have been looking at these roads on the maps for almost 15 years now and have never managed to get up there to ride them. So I head inside and explain to the nice lady what we want to do. She calls a friend whose Husband actually works up in that area and finds out that the recent snows have made a real mess of the roads, even for jeeps. Were we on the small bikes, I'd have said let's go for it. Alas, on the big heavies without knobby tires, I make the decision to just stay on 145 and run it up the San Miguel River Canyon, which is not really any great disappointment really ;-)

:tab The beginning of the ride is just a nice leisurely cruise down a gently curving road. There is some light traffic. But soon the road turns into the opening of the canyon and I see formations that look similar to what is over in Utah.



:tab This whole area is littered with old abandoned mines. Apparently, a great many of these mines were uranium mines used to fuel the Manhattan Project during WWII and the subsequent nuclear arms race after the war's end. As we run down the road, I look up into the surrounding hills and there is a maze of little old dirt roads and piles of mine tailings at the entrance to mines. It would be fun to explore all the little dirt roads. Most of them are on my GPS and paper maps.

The rocks don't look so big in comparison to Joes GSA :-P


But looks can be deceiving!


What is mind boggling is that this is all ONE massive hunk of rock :brainsnap


As if the rock walls weren't high enough, this is the other side of the road, the site of the famous Hanging Flume. See it?


How about now? The red line runs just below it.


The view looking South. Long way down... and we can stand as close to the edge as we please...


So if you blow that big corner at the base of that big rock formation... Those are cars down there :huh2:


Zoomed out a bit - both cars are in the red circle


There are signs at the overlook






My 05 1200GS


:tab After goofing off at the overlook for a few minutes without anyone falling off the cliff, we get back on the bikes and continue North. From here the road really gets fun as it follows along the ledge above the twisting river down below. The further into the canyon we go, the more dramatic the rock faces on the sides of the roads become. In some places, they are just big flat sheets of rock stained by the weather. It is hard to imagine that even the best rock climbers could scale the almost featureless walls. Normally, I would stop and take more pictures. Perhaps because I have been down this road five or six times now, I just see familiar sites and forget to stop. Besides, the riding is so good I'm just not really thinking about pictures. Or, when I see something that I think would make a good shot, I'd have to turn around and go back to get it, so I just keep riding.

:tab When we reach Gateway, I pull over to wait for the others. Roger and Steve eventually show up, but no Joe... :ponder: Not time to panic just yet. We wait a few more minutes, thinking he may have stopped for some pictures. Still no Joe. Soooo... I start heading back down the road...

:tab It is always a weird feeling when I finally make the decision to turn around and go back to look for someone. Most of the time things are fine. But there have been a few times... :-?

:tab Just a mile or two outside the edge of town I spot Joe coming up the highway. He gives a wave as I turn around to follow him. When we regroup in town he informs us that he stopped and then got stuck behind someone. So no problems!

:tab From Gateway, 145 turns East toward Grand Junction. This section of the highway is not as twisty as the section before Gateway, but it is no less scenic. The road gently weaves is way up through a narrow valley to the Unaweep Divide. Gateway is around 4700 ft and the divide is about 7000 ft, so it is a good climb. Also, the geology changes considerably. The stuff before gateway was lots of those big rounded off smooth rocks or the sheer flat featureless walls. Now the rock is much more volcanic looking with layers and flow patterns. It makes me wish I could have been a observer watching it all in fast forward to see how things started and changed over the eons. I often think that it would be really cool if Heaven included things like Geology 101, Physics 101, History 101, so we could learn how things REALLY happened instead of our best guesses about what happened. Of course, if Heaven is what it is supposed to be, I guess those things won't really matter much anymore :shrug: Still... it would be cool :trust:

:tab We soon cross the divide and start the winding drop down toward US 50. The valley opens up wider and the views stretch away further into the distance. I had planned to drop off the Plateau somewhere in this area, run up 145 a short bit and then hop on some more dirt roads that would bring us up to the back side of the Colorado National Monument. However, it is pushing lunch time and the other guys like to eat. So I decide to divert into Grand Junction for lunch at the Rockslide restaurant & Brewery. No beer for me today, but the food is good and the outdoor seating is enjoyable. I've had several of their beers during previous trips and they were quite good.

:tab After lunch we head through town to the entrance of the Colorado National Monument. If you have never been here, it is worth the time to visit. Not only are the views incredible, but the ride is pretty sweet too. However, you HAVE to keep it sane because the road literally follows the edges of the cliffs in places and there are NO guardrails. Also, there is always the chance of coming around a corner and finding a car stopped in the middle of the road while the occupants are gawking or taking pictures.

We enter on the South side




Things get pretty twisty right away




You can really see the off axis tilt of the Earth here!! :-P




:tab So I got in "trouble" taking this next picture. Traffic is not too heavy so I decide to stop and get a shot of my bike sitting between these rock walls. I get off, turn on my hazard lights, and start walking back down the hill so I can get the shot. As I start to point the camera, a white Jeep Cherokee pulls up next to me with the window down, "YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO STOP ON THE ROAD!!" Oh great, the grumpy ranger. I'm in a straight section where the bike is easily seen and there is no traffic other than him. But doesn't matter... I play stupid long enough to get my shot and an ugly glare, then head back to the bike and let them get well ahead of me.



One of several cool tunnels


In my defense, I am not stopped ON the road this time ;-)






:tab Once we get up on top of the ridge, the road just follows the edges. There are numerous overlook parking lots where we can stop, maybe "hike" a very short distance, and get to see some great views!

I eventually work my way over where this guy is and take his picture with his camera for him as he sits on that rock and looks lost in deep thought... Nice local kid that just comes up during his lunch breaks to enjoy the views.


Grand Junction way down there in that wide valley


Looking back up the gorge










Roger on his "big" bike, a KTM 690 Enduro, which is bigger than his 450 EXC.


Part of one of the short hikes, kind of a challenge in big dirt bike boots!


Purdy flowers along the trail




The road runs along the top layer of rock




I love the rusted old look the rocks have




You can see several arches forming on these rock faces










The road below leading to the North gate






The second tunnel, which is just behind the corner on the left side of the previous picture


:tab We finish off the monument and head for I-70. We are going to cut back West on I-70 into Utah and then follow the Colorado River back down into Moab along UT 128. The run down the freeway is a bit boring because it becomes mostly flat desert as we head West. There are mountains in the distance on both sides of the road and I see numerous little roads on the GPS map that head off into unknown parts. Riding by such roads is always hard for me. It is like they are just taunting and teasing me, "Come see what we have to offer now because you never know when you'll be back to have another chance!" I concentrate on ignoring their siren like voices and press on until we reach the exit for UT 128.

:tab UT 128 starts out kind of boring as well. But once it reaches the edge of the Colorado River, every thing changes for the better!! The road becomes nice and twisty and once again we get into the cool rock formations.











I believe these are called the Fisher Towers. There is actually a road running out to them.






LOTS of dirt/silt in the river! The water level is not real high either, but I don't really know what the normal level might be.








The later afternoon sun really makes the rocks look cool!








:tab As we get closer to Moab, there is more traffic and activity. There are quite a few campground along the river. We drop out on US 191 in Moab and head South for the long drive back to Monticello. Once there, and of course after Roger's hot tub session, he and I head across the street for some Mexican food. Steve and Joe decide on pizza from a local place down the street. Tomorrow is the White Rim Road, a nice long and remote ride, so I REALLY want that new battery to get the job done!
 

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Day Four, the White Rim Road.

:tab The White Rim Road is expected to be a highlight of this trip, at least for me. Of course, I have been researching these routes and looking at other ride reports for over a month now. the others just trust me to know what I am doing... :lol2: Anyway, Steve and Joe are usually up and ready to roll before I come out of the room. I don't see them at breakfast or in the parking lot getting ready. I head to their room to check on them and when they answer the door, they aren't looking real good... It seems the Pizza came with a surprise and they were both up most of the night suffering the effects of it. They have both decided to take a break from the riding for the day. Of all the days to miss!!

:tab Roger and I briefly discuss changing plans. We're already off to a bit of a late start. The thought of coming all this way only to miss the White Rim Road is really more than I can take though. I don't know when I'll get the chance to get back out here and I don't want to miss it after being so close! So Roger and I decide we'll just run it with the two of us. It is a fairly well traveled road so if something were to happen, we feel confident we can either deal with it or help will not be too long in coming... hopefully...

:tab Monticello is central to a lot of great riding, but the run back and forth between Moab does start to get a little old when running 70-75mph on the small bikes. They'll do it with no problem, but it just isn't a whole lot of fun. We head out to the bikes. I kick my 530 to life and we head out. The good thing about the run up to Moab is that it will be about an hour where the battery can get a good charge at relatively constant throttle before we get to the stuff where we may be doing a lot of starting and stopping. When we reach Moab, we stop for gas to make sure the bikes are topped off. We're both running 6.6 gallon tanks which gives us a 300+ mile range. But you never know... The route is just over 150 miles and there are no services at all until we get back to Moab.

:tab On the advice of someone here on TWT (whose username I cannot recall), our plan is to run the White Rim loop counter clockwise. Apparently, there is a LOT of sand on the NW corner of the loop and it is better to hit it while we are fresh rather than on the end of the day when we are tired. Sounds reasonable to me. So we head North out of town toward UT 313, the same way that takes you to Dead Horse Point State Park. However, there is a road before the park that cuts due West toward the Green River. We see a LOT of bicycle riders as we look for our turn. We soon find it and turn off the pavement to begin the fun.

This is pretty much what the first 12 miles is like, but there are some curves in a few places


Roger


Some twisties!




Crazy twisties!! This is Horse Thief Trail and it drops down into the Green River Valley


The left side of the switchbacks near the top


It's impossible to get it all in one shot, even stitching shots together


That's the Green River way down below








See Roger up there on the right side?


The run out as you get lower down


This is maybe half way down




The top circle is Roger sitting at a switchback, the lower circle a LONG ago wrecked car


The little white dot center about 1/3 from top is Roger's helmet. The car is lower left.


Roger coming down


Is this green layer a copper ore? I see it all over the place.


See the road climbing out the other side?


How about now?


Here it is. I've no idea where it goes though as my maps don't show it. Looks like a job for Google Earth!


We go the opposite direction and follow the river South.




BIG arch! It really needs something other than the trees to give you and idea of scale. What looks like little rocks below it are actually massive boulders.


The road really hugs the edge of the river!










And then we get to the sand!! Which I like :mrgreen: Deep huh...


:tab I think the sand is in Taylor Canyon and Upheaval Canyon. Most of it is fairly straight so I just pick a side and go! It is quite dry and loose, bit not real difficult. I slow down to let Roger get ahead so his dust will have settled or blown away when I come behind him. At one point the road just dumps into a creek bed. Here the sand is more coarse and less silty, but it is also MUCH deeper and looser!! I really get on the gas and am roosting away. I hit a big rut made by some kind of jeep or something and almost lose it, but a judicious application of the throttle brings the bike back up and keeps me pointed in the right direction. About the time I am getting in a groove and starting to have fun... it's over. The road climbs up out of the sand and becomes hard packed again. Then we start climbing away from the river and up into the rocks.

Looking back to the North from where we just came


Can't see the fun climb just out of the right side of the picture






This gives an idea of how we are riding along the side of the canyon walls


Here you get a good idea of the change in altitude during the climb, from the level of the river to the top of that plateau to the left side.






You REALLY have to see this in person to appreciate it!


The road actually makes a tight switchback to the right and drops down below where I am stopped to take this shot


:tab When we reach the bottom of descent above, we find ourselves down in among the rocks, unable to see out in any direction. The descent was fun. Here we encounter a guy in a Toyota Forerunner with street tires and he is looking kind of bewildered. We spend a few minutes chatting with him about the road conditions and then get moving again.







The rock ledge here is the road. We can ride as close as we dare...:brainsnap


That looks like a road down below, but it is just a wash. I think this is Holeman Canyon.


Looking back toward the main river




:tab After a while, the scenery is just overwhelming. The urge to take pictures of everything is strong, but what's the point? I try to focus on finding unique stuff to get pics of, particularly good views, etc,... It's hard though. The riding isn't particularly challenging now. The road pretty much just runs along the edge of the rim above the river. We do see quite a few other people, some in cars, trucks, and even on bicycles. Interestingly, there are quite a few nice restroom facilities out here. I guess in a pinch, you could use them as shelter :uhoh: There are also quite a few places to camp, but it is all primitive. I think you also have to get permits because they only allow so many people to camp at any given time. Just before leaving for this trip, I was made aware that the park service is trying to implement a pass system for this road so that only so many people at a time can even be on the entire route! The proposed number wasn't very high either. What's worse, they were trying to make it where you could not reserve passes ahead of time and you'd just have to take your chances when getting to the park!? I don't know what has become of that proposal. Hopefully it died.

So... more amazing overlooks :-P


As close to the edge as I dare to get... and I'm not typically afraid of heights...




A different one


There's Roger for a bit of scale


And another...




This is looking back to that overlook in the pics above after a short climb


:tab Just after the last shot above, the road really starts to climb in earnest! It is not real wide and there are a LOT of blind corners. I focus on keeping my momentum because I don't want to have to restart once stopped. I also hug the inside of the corners because I don't want to meet someone in one of these blind corners... :wary:

The view from the top while I wait for Roger


:tab At the top I find several mountain bike riders prepping their bikes. They are about to launch themselves down the road I just climbed. Hopefully, Roger will reach the top before they take off. I'd hate for them to run into each other in a corner!

See the road running off into the distance?


Here's part of it, but it actually runs back behind that bluff in the left third of the picture




Here's Roger chugging to the top, sorry for the shaking. I was moving while shooting to be able to get him right as he got to the top :doh:
[ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-46eVml1Ams"]MVI 0136 x264 - YouTube[/ame]

:tab Right after Roger reaches the top, the mountain bikers take off down the road. These guys are nuts! I was talking with one and asked him about crashes. They don't wear anything other than a skull cap helmet and gloves. He showed me an impressive collection of shin scars! The first guy flies down the hill at a pace I'd never even consider running on my motorcycle! It doesn't take long before I see him cruising across the road down at the bottom of those panorama shots above. Soon another and another follow. Of course, I'm wondering if they will have to ride back up to the truck or if the truck is going to follow them!? We don't hang around to find out.

:tab The whole valley or canyon is a series of descending plateaus. We've just climbed up to the second level from the river. There is still another level or two above us. But now the road takes off again across this plateau.

It is anything But straight!




More incredible canyon views to come!




Somewhere down there off right is the river






A good shot showing the series of plateaus.


:tab We eventually reach the Southern most tip of the route and start turning back to the Northeast. The colors and shapes of the canyon views changes unexpectedly.

Cool towers. I love the way the white rock level contrasts with the reddish rocks below.




The road just runs along the top of the white layer


Hmmm... that makes me look FAT! :eek2: :lol2: The jacket bunches up in the front because of the armor... really... I swear!


Some iffy weather over there? I've been seeing scattered showers, but we've yet to get hit by one or see any actually make it to the ground.




And just one more because I thought that arch was cool.


Flower break :mrgreen:






The pictures don't do the colors justice. They are much more vivid in person!


The white streaks make me think of pigeon poo on statues. I've no idea what it actually might be.


I believe this is call "Airport Tower".




:tab Somewhere along this side of the route, we are cruising along and coming around the far side of one of the canyons when the road abruptly turns hard left and up a short rise. I glance back and realize that if we were coming the other way, it would be REAL easy to crest the rise, miss the turn and go right over the edge!! The bottom is a LONG way down. Roger comments on this as well at our next stop. It is a sober reminder that this country is not real forgiving if you screw up and make a mistake... :zen:



Despite the many views, the road is smoother and quicker on this side of the route.


Were real close to the Northeast end of the route


The road just follows along the top of that white layer




Roger cruises by kicking up some dust


Still see him way over there?


I don't think that is the Colorado River, just one of the creeks that feeds into it


:tab We've reached the end of the loop and are now heading up to the Island in the Sky park headquarters. This means running up Shafer Basin Road, an old cow trail. I'm not sure what gave anyone the idea to take cattle this route, but... :shrug:

We're going up that wall at the end of the road


See!


The previous picture was taken at the disappearing point of the road off center right of this shot




Roger coming up behind me








Looking back to where I was taking the above pictures




The view from not quite the top


Now we're at the top!




:tab We hit pavement at the top and head down the road a short ways to the park headquarters. As we are parking a lady ranger comes out and tells folks they are closing up shop for the evening. It is about 4:45pm. I used to work for the Federal Government and they were SERIOUS about being CLOSED by 5:00 :lol2: We let her know that is just fine, all we want to do is sit on the bench in the shade and eat some peanut butter crackers. It has been a long and incredible ride, none of it particularly hard, but I am tired. The view from the bench is superb, looking East back out over the Colorado River valley toward Moab and the snow covered peaks beyond it. I can see how this place got its name! After a good break, we mount up and head back down Shafer Road to pick up the road back over to the Potash Ponds and into Moab.

:tab As we turn back onto Shafer road, I pull up next to some guys in a little two door rental car. They look like they are about to head down Shafer. Sure enough, they tell me their plan is to follow the road back into Moab, the way we are heading. It is not that the road is all that bad, but this little car has almost no ground clearance and there are some spots where that could be an issue if they are not real careful!! I let them know what to expect but they seem not to be the least bit worried. I figure they're big boys so they know what they are doing.

I bet you can't find Roger in this picture... and he IS in there! (hint, he's on the second road from the top)


Here he is a bit further down the road






Nice SUV heading up!




:tab So once we hit the bottom and turn toward the Potash Ponds, the road is mostly a straight shot across the flats below Dead Horse Point. We're now riding the road in several of the pics from the first day. It is mostly smooth and there are places like the one below where the rocks have been ground down to make the road better, at least better for cagers... I am sure the guys in the rental will appreciate it :-P



I think this particular type of formation is pretty cool.






The ever prevalent balancing rock (a few of which have had a little unnatural help at staying balanced ;-))


A typical view once we get down by the river and past the Potash Ponds, which are kind of cool up close if you are a nerd like me :trust:


:tab The rest of the run into Moab is nice and not far from the Potash Ponds it becomes paved, which makes for a fun run to the main highway! Back on US 191, we start the long drone back down to Monticello. This ride is definitely a topper on my list of all time rides. Just the whole route was incredibly fun. Roger and I have shared some great riding experiences together and this is one we'll always treasure without a doubt. I just wish Steve and Joe would have been able to make it! We make sure to rub it in when we get back to the hotel, embellishing every spectacular detail :nana:

:tab Roger and I decide to walk down the street a bit and check out this little, and I mean LITTLE, burger shack. It has been a hoping place the last few evenings when we've gone by around dinner time so we figure it has be to decent. We place our order and sit in the old worn out vinyl seats with springs that poke us in the nether regions. Watching the locals is always entertaining... :cool2: The food is good as well, not great, but it will do. Afterward we stroll back to the hotel and I dope up on ibuprofen. My knees are KILLING me!! Right under the knee caps it just feels like bone on bone... :twitch: Oh to be twenty again... We split Roger's stash of red wine and enjoy a good visit before nodding off the for the evening. Tomorrow is a big bike day and the route should include a good bit of unpaved riding!

:tab One last note. I never had any more issues with the battery in the KTM. From the time we stopped for gas in Moab in the morning, it never failed to start :clap: It is disappointing though that the previous battery only lasted about 18 months. It was a Yuasa battery and they have always been good batteries for me in the past. Maybe it was just a fluke. Still, nice that I was able to get the replacement and not have to be kick starting the bike for the whole trip!
 

Rsquared

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Excellent photos and story telling, Scott. Before making this run I had no idea that canyons of this magnitude existed in the US outside of the Grand Canyon. As good as the photos are, they just can't do justice to shear size of the canyon walls and distances...

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Tourmeister

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Well, I am heading out of town for another trip early Tuesday morning and won't be back until late next Sunday. I won't have time to get back to this until after I get back. Roger's going with me as well.
 
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Great pics and report Scott. I still havent gone through all my pics. I have to go back for the White Rim Trail after seeing your wonder shots. Since the trip I couldn't stop thinking about orange bikes. So about a month ago I bit the bullet and got the new 500exc. Talk about power... I wish I had this beast on the trip.
 

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Great pics and report Scott. I still havent gone through all my pics. I have to go back for the White Rim Trail after seeing your wonder shots. Since the trip I couldn't stop thinking about orange bikes. So about a month ago I bit the bullet and got the new 500exc. Talk about power... I wish I had this beast on the trip.
Ohhh.... I am orange with envy!! Congrats!
 

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:tab Right... So let me get my head back in the groove here and see if I can finish up this report! When I left off, we Roger and I had just done the White Rim Road, a spectacular ride. So it leaves me wondering if everything else is just down hill from here on out... so to speak...?

:tab Today is Thursday. It is yet another incredibly beautiful day. Thus far we have been really fortunate with the weather. The mornings have been cool, but by noon the temps have been very pleasant. In other words, conditions have been pretty darn near perfect! Our plan today is to head West toward Lake Powell via dirt roads, then loop back along some highways down to The Valley of The Gods. It's going to be a big bike day.

:tab The ride starts with a quick run down US 191 to Blanding. From Blanding we head out of town in a generally Northwesterly direction along Brushy Basin Rd. Being so close to town, the road starts off paved but eventually turns to a wide well maintained gravel road that starts climbing up into the mountains and woods, getting twisty as it goes.

Near the beginning, lots of red dirt


Getting on up in the hills and it starts to get a bit rutted in places








Apparently the locals engage in rock graffiti. Better than paint graffiti :thumb:


The dirt soon gives ways to loose gravel - This is Steve on his 1200 GS


Joe on his 1200 GSA


Roger on his 690 Enduro


Getting back down to lower elevations and into the dirt again






And then we climb back up onto a ridge and get back into the gravel


There are a LOT of these along this section of the road


A sand gravel mix that crunches as the tires squirm around in it


:tab Brushy Basin Road becomes Elk Mountain Road not far out of town, which then becomes Woodenshoe Road a few miles later. The water crossing above is around 5500 feet and by the time we get to the white gravel with the purple flowers, I think we are up around 7500 feet. The road starts climbing again and we are soon running a nice dirt through a forest of Aspens at around 8500 feet.







Snow!


:tab While stopped for the snow pic above, I also saw quite a few deer. I use deer in the generic sense because I am not up on all the various breeds of deer like critters. They were a little bigger than the average East Texas deer though. Once they stop moving, it is almost as if they engage cloaking devices. They just blend right into the background and it is very easy for the eye to lose them. The good thing is the sounds of the bikes seems to encourage them to run away from the road rather than across the road.

Across the road from the snow


:tab The run through the Aspens is really great. I just love the look and feel of Aspen woods. There is just something about these trees that gives me a nice comfortable relaxed feeling. It's hard to describe. The road is also excellent, a nice soft dirt with great traction. I just sort of get lost in my thoughts as I wind my way through the woods, wishing this could go on for a long time. However, if there is one thing this area provides, it is variety. The views rarely stay the same for any length of time and the terrain can change dramatically in a very short distance. Soon we are leaving the Aspens behind and dropping back down to lower elevations and changing scenery.

Still a nice dirt surface, but now cedars, pines and scrub brush dominates


And we get back down into the red dirt again where we stop for a break


Makes you want to go for a ride doesn't it :trust:




Kind of soft and loose on top, but firm and packed underneath, great fun!!


There are LOTS of critter tracks in the dirt along this road and around this pond


:tab We leave the pond behind and the road continues descending from the mountains. It soon takes on a rockier nature, gets a bit narrower, and has some fun corners. The GS just takes it all in stride and I'm thoroughly enjoying riding it. There are some spots that are fairly steep and rough, but they are generally wider and there are multiple lines to choose from for getting through them.

The only gate along the way


Steve




:tab After everyone passes through the gate, we close it and continue on our way. Around 7000 feet, the rocks soon give way to the soft red dirt and I pick up the pace just a little to have fun with it as we continue to descend into the valley below.





The Heidenau K60s are doing great dealing with the variety of surfaces encountered on this road :thumb:




Gotta keep an eye out for these critters too!! They like to hide behidn the cedars next to the road :shock:


Uh... this one has some kind of strange growth on the leg... :scratch:


Sorry, can't help myself :mrgreen:




:tab As we get lower, the terrain starts to get rocky again. Now it is more like the Canyonland rocks. It is easy to think you are alone in a bug place like this, but we soon find someone else enjoys being out here.

A nice secluded camping spot!




:tab Sometimes when I am leading, I have my GPS zoomed out so I can take in the "big picture" of where we are in relation to everything else. This can make intersections confusing if I neglect to zoom in and make sure I am taking the right path... When this happens, I usually figure it out as we begin to move away from the intersection and might necessitate a quick U-turn.... Roger has ridden with me enough that he's used to it, or at lease is nice enough not to complain about it :-P

Joe gets caught out by the berm during a U-turn


I love this road surface!


We're nearing the end of the road and dropping down into the canyons down around 5000 feet now.




Back in the saddle and ready for action!












Almost to Hwy 95




Roger


And finally I reach Hwy 95. The last 70 some odd miles of riding have just been absolutely fantastic!! :dude: I momentarily consider backtracking, but there is still more to see.


:tab As I pull up onto the highway, I spot another group of adventure riders coming down Hwy 95 from the North and give them all a wave. I bet they have no clue what a great ride they are missing by passing this road! When the others finish taking their pictures and catch up with me, we head up the highway a short ways to the Hite Marina on Lake Powell. There is a nice store here and gas.

The guardian of the store - a real sweetie


:tab We grab some snacks and drinks, then kick back for a nice rest inside. While there we visit with this dude from England that took a year off from his job to come ride across America on his bicycle. He started sometime around January on the West coast and is headed for the East coast. He tells us that he averages around 50 miles per day give or take a bit depending on weather and terrain. He doesn't have an ounce of body fat on him! We have a nice chat with him, finish our ice creams, and head back outside. It's time for the run up Hwy 95 through the North Wash canyon :rider:

First we have to cross the Colorado River




Could use a fresh coat of paint :-P


There's supposed to be a lake over there... :ponder:




The view from a little further up the road




Climbing up into the canyon and going away from the lake


Looks like mostly a dry lake to me. The marina was no where near water.


The marina in the distance just above the back seat of my bike


Notice the gloomy looking clouds in the distance... :cool2:






:tab Once the road turns away from the river and really heads North, the fun starts. I'd love to show you lots of great pictures of this road and the cool rock cliffs on either side of it, but once I slip into a rhythm, stopping to take pics kind of spoils the fun! I definitely slip into a rhythm too :rider: The curves on this road are just perfect. The sight lines are generally good. The traction is excellent. The K60s don't complain much when really pushed. So before long I find myself nearing the intersection with Hwy 276 at the North end of the canyon. From this point, the road mostly straightens out and there's no real point continuing. The plan is to just back track down through the canyon to the marina for gas and then run the paved route down to the Valley of The Gods. So... I head back and have more fun!

:tab But I do stop for a few pics this time ;-)

The Hog Springs picnic area




Kind of far to drive for an afternoon picnic, but if you are passing through and know it is here, it's a cool place to stop.


The bridge swings and bounces... if you jump real high and push real hard :lol2:


Typical of the rock walls along the road


Just across the road from the picnic area. The holes in the rock were present all the way through the canyon.


There's actually water flowing




:tab After a quick walk around the picnic area, we get back on the bikes and continue South back to the river.

See the bridge?


How about now?


Yeah, hauling down through those corners is a BLAST!


:tab After getting gas, we get back on 95 and follow it South. It climbs up onto a slope that runs between the base of a long ridge line and a really cool string of canyons before it skirts the edge of the Natural Bridges Monument. All the while the sky is getting darker and darker... Then it happens. The rain starts to fall. I'm a bit of a ways ahead of the others so I stop to zip up all my vents and go into to water tight mode. The others must have already stopped because they zip on by me with a wave. I'm back on the road in a few moments and chase them down. As we near a major route direction change, I pull over into a side lot to confer with the guys. Steve and Joe are ready to just head for the hotel, which is still a decent distance from here. Roger and I decide to brave the potentially nasty weather and head for Moki Dugway and the Valley of the Gods.

Looks like the weather could go either way at this point


:tab Steve takes off to catch up with Joe, who already has a head start. Roger and I head for Hwy 261 that cuts South along a high ridge line.

This is at the start of 261 - Who can resist an invitation like that!?


:tab About six miles or so before the Moki Dugway, my maps show a dirt road that runs roughly parallel to 261, but much closer to the edge of the ridge. It goes a little bit further South than 261, but then loops back up to Moki Dugway. It looks interesting and still dry, so we decide to try it.

Starts out real smooth an nice...


:tab The road doesn't stay real smooth and nice. Soon I am muscling the GS around deep ruts and rocks as the road deteriorates. It is not long before we realize that we'd likely be better off doing this on the small bikes and with better weather... Being out here on the GS when things go to full on mud is not appealing.

This is how things look when we decide to head back to 261 in defeat
 

Tourmeister

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:tab Once pack on the pavement, we make the short run down to Moki Dugway. I am sure that is some Indian reference that means something to someone that knows something about these things, but I am not one of those someones and I know nothing. The first time I came here I was on a loaded down VFR 800 with several other riders on similar bikes. I'd never ridden on a gravel or dirt road in my life at that point, nor had my wife who was on an SV650S. With a little pucker and sweat, we made it to the bottom without incident. Come to think of it, that was the only other time I've been here... and it was almost 15 years ago. Dang... when did I start getting old :scratch:



Still some pretty iffy weather floating around... No rain yet though... :wary:




Hmmm... the gravel doesn't look so intimidating this time :shrug:


A peek over the edge... If you don't like heights... you might want to avoid this road :-P


What's that over there on the right... :ponder:


Looks like the remains of a tractor trailer frame... I bet that was a wild ride :eek2:


No guard rail, just a small dirt berm


I don't know why, but I find rock formations kind of cool. Must be something about my rugged sense of aesthetics :-P


Oddly enough, there is no "Watch for falling rocks!" warning under that big rock precariously perched up there above that corner...


That's the road we heading to... it leads into the Valley of the Gods


The paved road on the right heads toward Mexican Hat


See the switch backs below?


The roads starts on the left side of this pic, about 2/3 of the way up and drops to a switchback on the right where that car just came from


You can see the switch back here


:tab About this time, I start seeing drops of rain. In the distance I can see rain coming down pretty heavy. Unfortunately, it is falling on the dirt road leading into the Valley of the Gods... The thought of getting back in there and getting tied up in some nasty mud on the GS with these tires is not real appealing. In fact, it is not appealing with ANY tires on the GS! It looks like we will be diverting around it via the paved highways.

Blowing this corner would be... bad... :shock:


I can't help it. To me, this is a really cool texture/pattern. The nerd in me sees grain structures and likely thermally induced stress fractures.


That little white dot almost dead center on the top road is Roger, and he's riding into rain that is hard to see here.


But as he comes around the corner, everything blurs because it is coming down pretty hard


He's almost dead center on the second road now and the rain is fast coming my direction!


:tab I head on down to catch up with Roger. He's waiting patiently below to see where we go next. With the rain coming down, I tell him we'd best stick to the pavement for now and maybe get out of it later. We run down 261 to US 163 and turn back to the Northeast.

:tab The plan now is to run up 163 about twelve miles to the start of Comb Wash Road. This is where we will cut back North. However, I am starting to think we may need some gas soon. Roger's 690 doesn't have the range of the GS. As we cruise up 163 through some pretty heavy rain showers, I'm scoping the GPS and decide we can maybe run over to Bluff, just slightly out of the way, and pick up some gas. When we reach Comb Wash Road, I pull over and check with Roger. He agrees about heading to Bluff. I look back to take a mental picture of what the turn off for Comb Wash will look like coming back this way and then we take off down, or up, the highway toward Bluff.

Looking back West - Comb Wash Rd is down there where the green turns to reddish brown and goes off to the right


:tab We reach Bluff pretty quickly, but we also discover that there appears to be no gas here :doh: We confer for a few minutes about what to do. We could just go ahead and call it a day, running up the highway to Monticello. Given the rain and gas situation, that would be the reasonable thing to do... So instead we decide to just head back to Comb Wash Rd and see if we can make it back to Blanding. It's not that far...

:tab So back we go...

:tab Comb Wash Road turns out to be a delicious surprise!! Immediately the road rises and falls over the many many little humps in the terrain. It is that smooth red dirt again and the road is amazingly well maintained. Best of all, the rain hasn't come through here... yet... So it's all good :sun: The sun is coming in low from the West under the storm clouds and is lighting up the rock wall ridge line that runs South to North along the wash.





This wall goes for miles and miles... very cool!


But then there are those pesky dark clouds... :ponder:


A reminder to keep our eyes peeled when rounding blind corners and to gently roll the blind hills...


The road starts to get a decent amount of sand mixed in with the dirt


:tab The first half of this road is nice easy packed dirt. Then the road starts running a little closer to the creek bed at the base of the wash. This is where things REALLY get interesting!! The hard packed dirt rapidly gives way to DEEP, LOOSE and RUTTED sand with a good dose of silt in it. In fact, it happens so rapidly that my turn around and live for another day instinct fails to kick in to gear. So I find myself standing up and shifting my weight back and wishing like crazy I had different tires on the GS at the moment!!

:tab The ruts are deep enough that I try to avoid crossing them if possible. Instead I try to find the widest and straightest one and just run that for as long as possible. "Long" usually means a few hundred feet at best before I am forced to jump to another rut with a hefty dose of throttle and silent prayer. :pray: I quickly lose track of the number of times the rear and front of the bike try to swap places, causing a massive adrenaline spike that sets my heart into, "This is the BIG ONE Ethel!" territory! I try to focus on staying loose and relaxed as the bike squirms and wiggles from rut to rut. The corners are particularly fun because there's NO WAY I am going to slow down! Once on top, STAY ON TOP! I let the front end pretty much do its thing while I try to shift my weight side to side on the pegs in time with application of more throttle. The rear K60 is spinning but it keeps me moving. The front is more like a rudder than a tire at this point. About the time I think I can't take much more, I spot a relatively hard packed section under some trees and decide to stop and allow my heart rate to come back down from the stratosphere. As I roll to a stop I can just imagine the look that would be on Steve's face right about now if he were here and I took a picture of him :lol2:

This is the "nice" section of the road


Not so bad right here


Roger rolls up, shaking his head in disbelief


:tab Roger informs me that he stopped once or twice just to reset his brain after getting pretty crossed up in a couple of places. Sand can really mess with your head. We hang out for a few minutes and then get started again. I start in second gear so I don't have to try to shift out of first once I get rolling. That helps a lot! As we continue, there are more and more trees, so I guess we are closer to the water now. I soon spot some RVs in what appears to be a camping area and as we get closer to them the road starts going back to a harder surface. We soon reach pavement again at Hwy 95 just West of Blanding. As I roll to a stop I can smell burning break pads. It would seem that some of the silt got up into my brakes and created enough friction to heat things up pretty good!! I sure know it wasn't because I was touching my brakes in that sand!! :nono:

:tab Relieved to be back on solid ground, we head on into Blanding, get gas, and then make the run back up 191 to Monticello. That hot tub is calling my name....

Climbing 95 to cut through the wall to Blanding...
 
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Location
Old Town Katy TX
We did this trip in March just a few weeks before you guys. This was my first time riding dirt.....and on my KLR 650....We did the white rim trail and it was amazing.....Being my first time I went down a few times...severely bruising my ribs. I did this just a few miles in. The guys asked me if we wanted to turn back, but I just couldnt pass up this ride, and I did NOT want to be the reason they missed it too...It made for a long painful ride but again it was amazing.

Now as for the permit thing....they did implement the day use permits....doesn't cost anything but they are limiting the number of people on the white rim trail to 50 motorized, including motorcycles and 4x4's and 50 non motorized including bicycles. Another instance where the government steps in to "fix" something that's not broken. **** government needs to keep its nose out of we the peoples business, They were supposed to take peoples comments but apparently they didn't care about our opinions. They are attempting to do the same type of thing in southern Utah, except they want to close off trails to all motorized vehicles.

http://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/dayusepermits.htm

I am currently off work and confined to my bed for almost 3 months due to surgery to repair 2 torn tendons and a ligament. So I will try and get our ride report with a bunch of pictures soon.
 

Tourmeister

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:tab And we come to the last day of riding. This day always brings mixed feelings. It's been an incredible week of riding already. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end... I think knowing this makes me want to get the most out of the last day, just to savor everything that extra little bit so that the high from the experience might not fade quite so fast once back to the routine of daily life.

:tab The morning greets us and it is cool. There are clouds about but the forecast is generally for good weather. Today we will be heading out into the Dark Canyon Wilderness. It sounds foreboding... This is an out and back run and there is NOTHING once we leave Blanding. So gas could be an issue for Steve on his 690 Enduro and Joe on his DRZ400. Roger and I are good. We're both carrying enough to run at least 300 miles or more. Total distance for the route is expected to be around 175 miles. Worst case scenario, I have a hose and we can transfer gas to Steve and Joe.

:tab We gas up the bikes and head South out of town on US 191 toward Blanding. Once there, we head back North out of town on Blue Mountain Rd. The first six or seven miles are paved, but when we enter the national forest, it becomes a wide gravel road. As we pass by Johnson Creek Road, the road we are on start to follow the side of the mountain and gets nice and twisty. Here it becomes Causeway Road and starts turning to the Northwest and the scenery changes for the better as we pass through 8000 feet. Most of the peaks to the North of us are all around 11000 feet, give or take a few hundred. Johnson Creek Road is where I had hoped to come out earlier in the week when we were thwarted by the snow on the North side of the mountains. I have no doubt that would have been an awesome ride, but even this late in the week, there is still quite a bit of snow covering the high passes we'd have been riding.

LOTS of this kind of view in the area




:tab Causeway Road is awesome. It just twists and winds through the woods. There is snow scattered about on the edges of the road. The views change almost constantly. We eventually ride just below the Skull and Crossbones summit at about 8400 feet as we near Maverick Point. The run through the piney woods is especially fun. The road is mostly dirt with a covering of pine needles. Traction is great! The following is just a small sampling of what the road and views are like up to that point.





Notice the sand. The road surface changes a lot.


Nice smooth easy spot


See anyone?


I think this is Steve




Those clouds are starting to get my attention...


A bit of mud and a bit of snow, no biggie... for now...






:tab During one short stretch, we come upon a small snow drift across the road. There are two muddy tracks running through it, presumably from the trucks we just passed. I take the right rut and roll through the other side without any trouble. Then we are back on our way.

Joe and Roger


:tab Just beyond the turn off for Maverick Point, we reach Gooseberry Road, which continues mostly North/South. We turn North toward Sweet Alice road. Here are some of the views from that area.

Joe


Steve - Note the extra gas on his back


And Roger


And now it is definitely raining back toward town... I just hope it stays over there!






:tab Once we turn onto Sweet Alice Road, things get even more fun. The road is loose dirt with relatively small rocks. It is in pretty good condition. We're on a plateau at about 8500 feet and the road runs cross the top of this for a bit before dropping down to around 7500 feet as we pass South of the Sweet Alice Hills. Thus far, we've seen no one else out here. However, as I am approaching a blind corner, I spot something through the trees coming my way. It is a big truck pulling a good sized cattle/horse trailer. We have seen a few corrals, but no animals yet. The trailer is empty. I give a wave to the driver and figure he's got a LONG slow drive to get back to town on these roads pulling that trailer! Not too long after this encounter, I come up on another truck pulling a similar trailer. I never do see any animals. These would be the last people we see out here for the rest of the day.

:tab Sweet Alice Road has two legs, the right and the left. Yeah, the road guys were probably getting close to quitting time when they came up with those names. Anyway, we are heading for the left leg, which is further out than the right leg. From Gooseberry Road, it is about 16 miles of full on fun. Most of the corners are a bit more open than the corners on Causeway Road so sight lines are better and we carry a bit more speed. Still, I don't open it up too much because those trailers having me thinking there has to be something wandering around out here just waiting to step out from behind a bush or something... :wary:

:tab It does not take us long to reach the Left Leg intersection. I picked this one for the route because it heads over to the edge of the canyon and I am hoping it will have some cool views. The main Sweet Alice Road continues on to the West another 15 miles or so. Given our potential gas issues, I decided to lop that off the route. Everyone regroups at the intersection and we look down the road... It's narrow. It's rough. It looks like it has not seen any traffic in a long time. Steve gets that look on his face... As always, Roger is game for just about anything. This is Joe's first trip with us so I am not sure where his level of adventure tops out... We decide to give it a go. Steve decides to wait here for our quick return.

:tab I take point and head into the trees and bushes. Immediately the bike is squirming around in the sand and rocks. There are scattered broken branches laying in the road as well. In some places, the road goes over some embedded rocks that form a ledge across the road, sometimes going up, sometimes going down, and sometimes just making a hard hump to get over. After maybe five minutes or so, the road curves around and drops out into a big open area on the edge of a rock wall. It's obvious this has been used as a campsite in the past, but it is clean in terms of trash left behind. I've not been feeling so great so I take the rest opportunity to head out into the bushes to commune with nature... :twitch: Roger and Joe kick back in the shade to relax and enjoy the scenery.





While taking a peek around, Roger spots this just over the edge... See it?




:tab The only way to approach it is from the left side of the picture, and that is a pretty steep slope. If one had on some grippy soled boots or tennis shoes, it might not be do bad. But, if you slip and fall, failing to grab that little pine tree, it would be a good fall to the bottom!

The view looking the other direction


End of the road...


:tab Steve's probably beginning to wonder what happened to us, so we head back. Joe takes off first, then Roger, and I bring up the rear.

Roger on a nice smooth easy section of the road without the rocks and limbs


:tab We get back to the main road and hook up with Steve. Then we start the run back East on Sweet Alice. Once again, I just slip into a rhythmic groove with the bike and the road. The bike is running great and the traction is great. In the midst of the fun that last day angst seeps into my awareness as I realize how rarely I get to ride roads like this and how long it might be before I get another chance to do so again... We soon reach Gooseberry Road and turn South. Rather than just backtracking to Causeway Road, I want to check out a little side road that makes a loop North of the way we came and should eventually bring us back to Causeway Road.

:tab I'm cruising along on Gooseberry not paying attention to the GPS when I notice out of the corner of my eye a "road" going off to the left. I stop just beyond it and check the GPS. Sure enough, that's the one I'm looking to take. On my Topo maps, it just shows as a trail. On my City Select map, it shows as FR 444. It's not long so I figure if it is too bad we can just turn around and keep back tracking our original outbound route.

Doesn't look too bad to me :shrug:


:tab Just beyond the bushes on the right, the road starts dropping and turns into what is basically a V shaped wash with rocks in the bottom. We work our way down and I'm thinking things are really cool. It starts to sprinkle a bit and I notice a few snow flakes floating on the wind... Hmmm... I stop just to look around and Steve pulls up next to me,

"Are you SURE this is the road we are supposed to be on?!"


:tab Oh ye of little faith! :lol2:

It's not too bad here. Besides, it only goes a little further and hits another road.


"Are you SURE this is the road we are supposed to be on?!"


:tab "Of course I'm sure! The little pink line on the GPS shows we are right on course!" :-P

Roger, "I'm good..." - see those blurry white dots in the pic... snow.


:tab The road gets a little worse and starts getting a little steep as it begins to twist back and forth. We drop about 600 feet in elevation over the course of about mile and a half. About the time I start to wonder about this road, we drop out on the bottom and it runs into Cottonwood Road where we turn South back to Causeway Road again.

:tab "See! No problem! You can trust me, I know where I'm going" :mrgreen:

Joe and Steve happy to be back on a nice road!


Roger


:tab The road shown above is typical of what many sections of this whole ride have been like, especially back around Maverick Point Overlook. These sections are REALLY fun! We loop back around the South side of Mormon Pasture Mountain and get back to the Maverick Point Information site. This is where we stopped earlier. There is a little gazebo like building here that has information placards in it telling about the history of the forest in this area. Fires, insects, and timber cutting had done a real number on the area. A big effort was made to replant trees and restore the forest. Something like 6000 acres were replanted.

:tab Anyway... Where was I...?

:tab So... The real reason we stop here is because there is this little road that runs North from here. Depending on what maps you look at, this is either a trail, doesn't exist at all, or is North Creek Road. It heads North a ways and then cuts East around the North side of the main mountains in the Manti-La Sal NF just West of Monticello. If we can run it back around the North side of the mountains to Monticello we won't have to run all they way back down to Blanding and it will cut quite a few miles off our run. Beyond that though, when peeking at it on Google Earth and trying to trace its path, I spotted some switchbacks that looked interesting... :trust:

:tab So we head North once everyone has regrouped. It starts off heading straight North toward Maverick Point and runs along the edge of a plateau. It is nice dirt with a little sand and it looks like it has been recently traveled. That's a good sign.

Easy Peasy




:tab Not far beyond the curve in that first picture, things get a little more interesting. We obviously reach the point where some of the maps show that the road ends, yet it obviously does not. It just doesn't look so well traveled. And why are we here? That's right, to take the road less traveled! Now the road becomes just two faint tracks running through the grass, but it is still relatively flat and nothing difficult. We come to a fork in the road and I go left. I don't go far before I realize there is a reason some roads are less traveled. This one just peters out completely. So we backtrack to the fork and go the other way. We soon reach the far edge of the plateau, go around some short tree/bush things and see this,



:tab I'm just putzing along without really thinking to hard about where we are going or where we might be. But, then I come around another corner...

Alrighty then! I guess we've found the switch backs! :dude:


:tab Again, without really thinking about stopping, I just keep on going. It quickly gets rougher and steeper. By the time I am thinking that this could get difficult, I am committed. I stand up, shift my weight back, squeeze the tank with my legs and try to stay loose on the bars. I try to be gentle on the front and back brakes, engine braking until I pick up too much speed, then getting back on the brakes again as I thread my way down between some pretty large rocks. I make it through the next switch back, down the next stretch, and then spot a small flat area at the next switchback where I aim to stop and wait for the others in case anyone is having difficulty or needs help.

Roger follows me down


The run down to the next switch back


:tab Roger rolls up and stops near me. I look back up the hill expecting to see Joe and Steve, but they aren't there?! I'm trying to determine how many more switch backs there might be to the bottom and where the road goes from there when Roger mentions that Joe and Steve stopped a few levels back up the mountain.

A few minutes later they come walking down


You have to admit, this is a SWEET view!




:tab When Steve and Joe reach us, the conversation about my sanity and navigational skills is renewed :lol2: Joe and Steve are not wild about the idea of riding down these switch backs and are also concerned that the road might not go anywhere once we reach the bottom, which would mean having to climb back UP these switch backs. We go back and forth a bit. I check the GPS and strain my eyes to peer in the distance for evidence of the road away from the base of the mountain. I can see an obvious path through the trees, but then it turns and I can't tell if it goes any further. Also, there is the potential issue of a water crossing below at Cottonwood Creek. So if we get all the way down there and gas becomes an issue... Hmmm... :ponder:

Joe and Roger providing a sense of scale in an attempt to show how steep and tight these corners are


:tab While the others are hanging out discussing options, I walk on down to the next switch back to see if I can get a better view.

See the bikes upper left? Including where I am standing, there are at least 3-4 more corners before the bottom.


The corner where I am standing, which is one of the smoother ones


Walking back up to the guys (and huffing like a worn out steam engine! :huh2:)


:tab Well... It is getting on into the day and if we do hit a dead end, it will take a lot of time and energy to back track. So in the end we decide to retreat and live another day. It takes some tugging and pulling to get our bikes turned around and pointed in the right direction. Joe and Steve start walking back up the hill.

Looking back up the hill


:tab I go first. I stand up and lean WAY forward. The rear tire spins and chunks rocks around. The back end bounces around, but I keep moving forward. One of the thinks I like about the 530 EXC is that it is a beast when it comes to climbing. It has great chugging and lugging abilities and it just keeps on going. I reach Joe and Steve at the first turn, shift my weight WAY to the left and then push the bike down right as I try to make the tight corner. I clear it and head up a little further to park so I can go back and get a shot of Roger coming up the hill.

Joe and Steve wait for Roger


:tab Now I have ridden quite a bit with Roger. I rarely see him drop his bike. Of course, that doesn't mean he doesn't drop it, just that he is FAST about getting it back up before I show up to take a picture :lol2: Not this time!

[ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xJSWd90UGw"]MVI 0396 x264 - YouTube[/ame]

Thank goodness I got it on video because, as usual, the bike is almost up before I can get a pic :lol2:


Righted, Roger waits for me to get out of the way so he can climb the next section


:tab We eventually get back to the top, find Steve and Joe's bikes, then start working our way back to the intersection at the Maverick Point Information booth. Then we get back on Causeway Road and start working our way East toward town. It is not long before I come around a corner and spot the snow bank we crossed earlier. As I exit the corner I aim for the left rut, which is the one I used coming the other way earlier. The front tire goes in the rut as planned...

:tab There are times in your life where everything is going just perfect and you are in this moment of pure bliss. Unfortunately, these times are often truncated in a time and manner we least expect... :wary:

:tab This would be one of those times...

:tab It all happens so fast. Supposedly time slows down in moments like this. We have time to ponder and reflect on things that we'd never expect to pop into our minds in such a moment. One moment, all is right with the world. The next moment I am pretty far off the ground with my feet above my head wondering how I got here. I'm wondering what is going to stop my forward motion... A rock? A tree? Soft snow? The ground? Where's my bike? Thank God this is the last day of the trip and not the first! Beth's not going to like this... Where's my bike!?

:tab I feel an impact. There's no real pain, just a big WHUMP! I roll a few times and end up on my side in a bunch of mud. When my senses returns, I just roll over onto my back. I can't breathe. I hate not being able to breathe. I know it will pass and I force down that sense of panic that is trying to scramble to the surface of my thoughts. Nothing in particular hurts yet, but I know from experience that this doesn't mean there is nothing hurt. The massive shot of adrenaline blocks the ability to really tell what hurts and where.

:tab While I am laying in the mud, Joe appears over me asking if I am okay. It's still hard to talk, but I try to tell him that I think nothing major is wrong. I am getting to where I can breathe again, which is always a relief. Feeling is returning to my extremities and I can move everything without any pain. Of course the guys whip out the cameras and document everything... What are riding buddies for after all?! :lol2: After a few minutes I can get up and walk around. Someone is asking me silly questions and I do my best to answer them to assure them I still have my wits about me, or as much as I ever have anyway. I look over the scene for a few moments then spot a nice log on the other side of the road. I head there and sit down just to relax for a few minutes. The guys finish with their pictures and then get to work on my bike. It appears to be none the worse for the wear other than the bars being slightly twisted relative to the front wheel. They whip out the tools and take care of that issue while I ponder the joys of breathing.

Looks deceptively mild mannered doesn't it...


:tab Once the bike is checked out, I've had a chance to catch my breath, and the guys are sure that I am who I say I am, we mount up and keep riding. We're still a pretty long way out from town. Thank goodness no one had to go for help. As far as I can tell, the rear tire chose not to follow the front tire into the nice muddy rut. Instead, it went between the two ruts in what appeared to be snow but was in actuality ICE!! That would explain the near instant high side that launched me into the crisp mountain air. Joe said he got to watch me flying in all my unfettered glory. Nothing hurts now, however I am covered in a good deal of mud :doh:

:tab As we head down the road I start to notice that something just doesn't feel quite right. Maybe it's me, but maybe it's the bike. I pull over and tell the other guys what's happening. After a quick look over the bike we notice that there is a LOT of mud, dirt, pine needles, and rocks jammed into the wheel between the rim and the sidewall of the tire covering about 12-15 inches. We grab an L shaped Allen wrench and try to scrape it out, but soon realize that won't get it done. Roger has an air pump so I suggest deflating the tire. Once that is done, Roger grabs the tire from the opposite side and pulls the side wall away from the rim and we easily remove everything. We air the tire back up and all is good.

:tab After a few more miles without noticing anything unusual, my head gets back into the game and I'm back to enjoying the riding. Now that my attempt at the Northern route has been abandoned, my head shifts into the get home mode. I stop taking pictures and just focus on the riding, getting lost in my thoughts about the week behind us and how lucky I am that I was not hurt. Good gear definitely helps. The curves seem endless as we twist and wind our way back through the woods and around the mountains. As we get closer and closer to town, I realize my tush is starting to get tired from all the sitting. So I stand for the last few miles into town. Once there, we gas up the bikes to make sure we can reach Monticello and then head up the highway.

:tab Once back at the hotel, I head straight for the ibuprofen bottle. I can already tell I will be sore and stiff from my bouncing act.

Apparently what saved me was landing on my head, not that I remember feeling it hit the ground.


:tab The helmet is pretty dirty. I don't think much of it at first, but once I clean it off I realize it has some pretty good gouges and scratches that go across the top from one side to the other. Looks like this one will be getting replaced :doh:

:tab After we all clean up for dinner, we head to the lobby and talk with the manager. She recommends a steak house back up 191 toward Moab. It is just a few miles North of town. She describes where it is and I recall seeing those landmarks on our numerous runs up and down that stretch of road over the last week. So we pile in the truck and head that way. We reach the spot she mentioned and we don't see anything like we are expecting. We turn around a few times, going back and forth, but still nothing. Then Joe comes to our rescue with his cell phone and some skilled search fu. We turn around again and go just a little bit further where we then notice a small lit marquee sign on the side of the road next to a little gravel road going back into the woods... Hmmm... A steak house back here? Seriously?

:tab We head up the gravel drive and it opens into an area that looks like an old western town. The main building looks like an old saloon with a big porch and rooms up above. Scattered around the perimeter of the parking area are what look like cabins. It would appear that this is some kind of resort. Who knew!? We head inside and the place is a real throw back in time. Everything is made of faded old wood and there are heads of every kind of wild animal I can think of hanging on the walls, and a few that I've no clue what they might be. We're a little skeptical of what to expect, but remain open to new things. Our waitress is nice and takes our drink order. "Water. LOTS of water. In fact, if you have a pitcher, please bring one." So we get plenty to drink. We order and then come the salads and garlic bread. The salads are really good. The garlic bread is to DIE for!! The main cource comes out and looks fantastic. I ordered a big ol hunk of cedar baked Salmon. The other guys get various kinds of steaks. We chow down. I'm not usually a big eater in terms of portions, but this time I just keep going because it is just that good. By the time we are ready to leave, I am stuffed and can barely walk. The fatigue of the week is already setting in and weighing on me. We head outside and are greeted by a beautiful moon lit night.

:tab It will be an early morning. We've loaded the bikes onto the trailer so we can get up and roll. I sleep great, thanks to better living through chemistry, and morning comes all too soon. We load up and hit the road for the LONG drive back to Texas. It's been a fantastic week of riding. Joe is now an old fart in training because he fit right in with our group even though he's close to twenty years younger than me and more than that for Roger and Steve. We get back to Huntsville in the wee hours of the morning, get everyone's bikes loaded into their trucks and say our goodbyes. I head inside, kiss the kids and Beth, then go to sleep to dream of rocks, snow, mountains, ruts, ledges,...
 

Rsquared

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:tab
Thank goodness I got it on video because, as usual, the bike is almost up before I can get a pic :lol2:
The sun was in my eyes... There was a gust of wind... I had a cramp... The bike ran out of gas...
 

Tourmeister

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Okay, so now that I am done, you other guys HAVE to post up more of your pics! I know you took them. I saw your cameras in front of your faces! I can only assume you knew to push the little button on top... :ponder: :-P
 

Rsquared

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Okay, so now that I am done, you other guys HAVE to post up more of your pics! I know you took them. I saw your cameras in front of your faces! I can only assume you knew to push the little button on top... :ponder: :-P
He say's, as he drops the mic and walks off stage...

cranston1.jpg
 

Rsquared

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Following one of Scott’s ride reports isn’t fair to most mortal Ride Reporter's. But I’ll post up some of my shot’s from the trip. Most of which wouldn’t suffice as coaster worthy. Anyway…

Utah’s Dead Horse area

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Colorado. I’m glad I brought my warm cloths and put the wind shield on the bike.

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My trusty steed…

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My other trusty steed, somewhere in Utah.

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On top of one BIG ROCK.

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The view from on top of the Big Rock.

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Moi.

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Steve.

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Big Hunk of Rock in Colorado.

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Scott prepping for another impressive Ride Report.

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Wasting film…

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Looking down on the entrance to White Rim Trail.

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White Rim Trail is must do.

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Scott showing how it’s done.

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The views are just over whelming on this trail. Pictures (especially mine) just can’t convey the size.

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Heck of a drop…

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One long trail.

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More opportunities for “Drops of Death”.

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Scott.

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Joe on his GSA in Manti La Sal.

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Who know’s where I got this one, but it was a good view…

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Arizona... Maybe…

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Okay, I know where this one was taken.

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Makes me really appreciate water proof gear.

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Big Country.

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More prep work.

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Don’t want to blow a corner around here.

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Last Day’s ride.

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Scott doing more prepping…

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Joe, wondering about the group of Old Guy’s he’s been riding with…

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Really good dirt.

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The group.

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Yeah, now this looks fun.

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This area is known World Wide for "geomagnetic anomoly’s"…

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But, then again, so is this area…

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Previews of upcoming Ride Reports. (scheduled for release spring of 2016)

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