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Three Texans Ride the TAT from Trinidad to Moab

Mar 10, 2006
Back in 2008, me and two buddies started talking about this thing called the TransAmerica Trail (the TAT). We read all the ride reports, looked at the pictures, and ordered the maps. After a lot of planning, talking, and thinking about our work schedules, we decided to ride the TAT from Trinidad, Colorado, to Moab, Utah. As the trip got closer, none of us could think straight at work and the big spending spree set in. Funny how a guy can plan for every contingency and still end up buying so many things at the last minute. Our plan was to trailer the bikes from DFW to Trinidad, ride the TAT and then bring the bikes back to Trinidad in a rental truck. Along the way, we planned to stay in Ouray and spend some time riding in Moab. We didn’t want this to be a mad dash across Colorado. Hey, we’re on vacation here, not some tri-state hare scramble!

This is our ride report. We have lots of pics and videos to share with you. We also have some good GoPro helmet cam footage for you. We will hopefully also offer you an alternative stopping point along the TAT where a guy can spend a couple of days, have a good time, and enjoy some good beer and food before moving on.

Who we are:

Texagator: That's me on the right. I learned how to ride on a 3HP mini-bike when I was 5. I really learned how to ride with my Dad on a 1974 Honda XL-350 along the dirt roads of our family ranch in the Big Bend. For the last 15 years, I rode almost nothing but street bikes. A few years ago, I got a Suzuki V-Strom because I was tired of passing by dirt roads and wondering where they went. I'm not a motocross guy but I have a fair amount of enduro-type dirt experience and I have done a lot of long distance riding on the pavement. The dual-sport bug bit me hard and I got a 2004 Suzuki DRZ400S about 18 months ago. It now has lots of upgrades to include RaceTech springs, Clarke tank, a kick starter, pegs, bars, James Dean jet kit, 3X3 mod, etc. This was the bike I rode on the TAT.

Steeker: The guy on the far left is a tough-as-nails hippie slacker type. Yeah...I know….doesn’t make sense…you just have to know the dude. He’s a sort of “steel slacker.” Thus, I will refer to him as “Steeker” for the remainder of this report. He rode competitive motocross when he was younger but that was after he used to ride bulls in the rodeo. That's right people...a cowboy hippie bull rider. He is also a very good dirt rider. He’s owned a couple of Harleys and he really knows his way around the innards of dirt bikes. For this trip, he was on a 2008 KTM 530EXC with all kinds of mods. He bought it used about 8 months before we left and had to do a lot work on it. New cam, big gas tank, steering stabilizer, pegs, lights, jetting kit, removed some kind of tumor from the exhaust system, and did a lot of electrical work on it. When he got done with it, this was one fast bike.

Dallas99: The guy in the middle was the least experienced rider in the trio. He heard me and Steeker talking about the TAT and jumped in. He had about 4 months experience riding a V-Star 1100 and thought the TAT would be a blast...how hard could it be? He sold his V-Star and bought a 2004 KLR650 with low miles. The bike was all stock so he had to mold the beast. KLR riders will understand this upgrade list:

Doohickey replaced
Handlebar riser
lowered pegs (bad idea in hindsight)
new grips
hand/brush guards
counter sprocket to 14T
Pirelli MT 21's front/rear
Aftermarket pegs/shift lever
PCV valve

Day One:

It's fair to say that we all dreaded the drive across the Texas Panhandle. I’ve done it many times in a car and on a bike. Sick of it. Nothing to see. Flat…hot….boring…long. One of my good friends is from Amarillo and even he admits that he hates this drive…

Extremely early in the morning. Packing to go.

Saw these somewhere between Dalhart and the New Mexico border.

After we made it to Trinidad, we offloaded the bikes and then parked the trailer/truck at a secret spot. I was a little bit nervous about my bike because I had rejetted it only two days before we left. It was a true relief when it started right up and ran perfectly. We all double checked our bikes and gear. We went back to the room, got cleaned up, drank a toast to safe riding and went to Black Jack's Steakhouse where we ate like pigs.

Here’s me and Dallas99 on the morning of day one. Look at that BEAST he's riding. It's like he's on some kind of heavily-laden draft horse!

HemetCam pic of me and Steeker:

Leaving Trinidad and headed to Salida...

Due to an electrical problem with Steeker's bike, I was the only guy with a GPS that could navigate by tracks. Dallas99 had the TAT rollchart. This was Steeker's view for most of day one:

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Mar 10, 2006
Our first pit stop was at the Ludlow Massacre Site. Steeker said he was reading on a forum somewhere where some guy thought this was the Ludlow Massage Center and had pondered stopping here for a massage along the way. Somebody had to tell him, "No, dummy, you can't get a massage there. The word is 'massacre,' not 'massage'."

Seriously....some bad stuff happened here. We had decided before we started that we would actually stop and read the signs at historical markers and such. When I read about the "Death Special" and what happened to the miners and their families at this place, it gave me chills.

I thought about how lucky we were to be on vacation, enjoying our bikes and this weather. I wondered what the dead would think if they knew that three guys would ride through here in 2009 and actually care about what happened to them. We talked about how determined the miners must have been to face such weaponry and how evil the men who fired on their families were and the significance of the event at this place was not lost on us. We rode on...

What's that in the distance?

After leaving the massacre site, the landscape became hilly. I was hoping that we were leaving the flatlands behind us.

We stopped to watch these bucks in the field. This was NOT some deer farm with high fences. These deer all lined up and then jumped that fence one by one.

We came upon a herd of about 30 elk. There was a large bull (a true 6X6) in the herd along with two younger forkhorn bulls. The rest of the herd was a mixture of cows and yearlings. The sun is blocking the images of the elk in these shots. Dallas99 and I got pretty close to them and Steeker tried hard to get his camera out in time. The elk climbed the hill and were gone in seconds.

I'm pointing to the elk with my left hand in this pic:

Stopping to make sure the GPS tracks and the roll chart match. That's important.

Here's Steeker's bike parked in a canyon.

If I remember right, this is Cougar Canyon....or some variation thereof. The term, "Cougar" is definitely in there because we talked about how, in a few moments, we were sure to come across some poor 25 year old guy, wild-eyed and desperate looking, his shirt torn to ribbons and urging us to run for our very lives from hordes of 45-50 year old women who were close on his heels....bent on having their way with any man under 30. We were all safe.

Here's where we made a pit stop. It's also the place where I discovered that a bolt and spacer had vibrated completely out of my rear cargo rack.

Here I am putting some zip-ties in the holes and hoping that I can find a metric bolt in the middle of rural Colorado.

Here's some more random shots from day one:

As we came down out of the hills, we encountered this kid who was trying to start his dirtbike. It looked like he was having trouble so we stopped to help him out. This is Lars, a boy of about 12 who was visiting his grandpa. Dallas99 was able to start the dirtbike with no problem and it turned out that Lars just wasn't big enough to make the kickstarter work for him. As we talked to him, Lars really started eyeballing our bikes and gear. You could tell that he liked what he saw. When we told him that we had ridden there from Trinidad he seemed impressed. As we rode on, Dallas99's voice came over the ScalaRider system, "I think we just met a future adventure rider." Lars looked like he was converted. Give him a few years...

(Note: I'm not sure what the deal is with this helmet cam. It take a picture with a 170 degree wide field. For some reason, this pic makes me look stranger than normal...and that's saying a lot. I promise I'm not that short in real life.)

Headed into Westcliffe:

If you are reading this thread because you are planning to ride the TAT or ride through this area, you'll want to pay attention here. The Ace Hardware store in Westcliffe, Colorado has all kinds of nuts, bolts, spacers, and other stuff that might help you repair your bike. Not only did they have the metric bolt I needed, they even had the exact sized spacer I needed. After a few dollars and about 10 minutes, I had my rear rack repaired and we were on our way. We stopped for gas and a very quick Subway sandwich at the gas station. We didn't even take our gear off. Just ate and rode on.

The final part of the ride into Salida turned out to be pretty nice. At the end of this first day, we had spent a total of about 11 hours on the bikes. That's 11 hours on a dirt bike seat and it starts to feel like you're riding a 2X4 after a while. Of course Dallas99's seat was probably like riding a LazyBoy chair.

Outside our hotel room in Salida.

We were shocked and saddened to learn that most of the liquor stores were closed. We made a mad dash to the edge of town where we located one that was still open. We bought a twelve pack of real beer (Not that 3.2% stuff) and fastened it to my DRZ's rear rack with bungee cords. We stopped by a car wash and hosed the bikes down and then we went back to the hotel to do bike maintenance and drink that beer. After doing some maintenance, we walked down the street and found a place to eat. When we got back to the hotel room, we had no problem drifting off to sleep. Talk about a long day...
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Mar 10, 2006
Day Two:
When we got to Trinidad, I realized that I had forgotten my rain gear. Now I was happy that we had gone to Wal-Mart where I bought a fairly nice rain jacket. As we moved higher into the mountains, it got colder. The Wal-Mart rain jacket was about to put in some work. Real work.

Steeker showing off his superhuman strength...

Headed higher...

The road before the true ascent to Hancock Pass. This was the very easy part.

We had just come through a wooded, hilly landscape with resorts and retirement homes scattered among the pines. The cabins and houses thinned out as we traveled higher on the nicely graded dirt road. The road became rougher until we came to an intersection with a sign pointing to Hancock Pass. There was another sign that said something like, “High-Clearance 4-Wheel Drive Vehicle Recommended.” The road next to the sign was covered with large rocks. When I say “covered,” I mean that it was clear someone had intentionally placed a large rock garden over about 20 yards of the road. I can only assume that the signs and the rock garden are meant to warn people of what lies ahead.

I wish we had more pictures of the road going up to Hancock Pass but we were just too busy trying to keep two wheels on the ground. It was cold, wet, and raining. The rocks were very slippery and our bikes were sliding all over the place. Even though I had rejetted my bike, we were over 10,000 feet and I could feel it losing power. The bike would sometimes “lurch” In some places, the road was covered with a combination of embedded rock shelves and bowling ball-sized stones. The best thing to do was to stand up on the pegs, look for a good line, and power through it.

Dallas99 was having a tough time with the heavy Beast. He was just ahead of me. As I turned left and tried to pick my way through the wet rocks, without losing momentum, I caught a glimpse of Dallas99’s boots flipping up in the air above the scrub brush on the side of the road. The KLR lay on its side and Dallas99 was looking right at me while lying on his back. I told Steeker that Dallas99 had gone down and then found a place to park my bike. Working as a team, we got the KLR up and rolled it to a semi-flat spot in the road. We didn’t know how much worse the weather would get but we knew that we had to keep going. Quick note: This is why you wear safety gear! Dallas99 was wearing a pressure suit with a good spine protector in it. He said that he still felt a hard impact on his back but that he could tell the pressure suit cushioned the blow.

This was tough riding. It wouldn’t have been quite so bad if it had not been raining. Water ran across the road in a few places and there was even one crossing where the water came above our axles. Steeker and I never went down on the Hancock or Tomichi roads but that was more a combination of luck and lighter bikes than anything else. There were several times when I felt completely out of control. There were other times that I felt like my bike had been converted into a pogo stick or maybe a motorized unicycle. I can’t speak for my two riding partners but I would not have attempted this ride by myself. Not in the rain anyway. Dallas99 did a good job and he never quit. By the time he made it to the top of Hancock, he had gone down several times. He kept picking his bike up and getting back on it.

Full on rain. Rain and about 45 degrees F.

Steeker at the sign...


After dumping The Beast several times and fighting through the rocks and mud, Dallas99 takes a breather.

Taking a short break about half way between Hancock and Tomichi passes.

Tomichi Pass Pics:

The rain let up for a second...

This piece of the road was comprised of large rocks that had been mashed into the mud in the same way that a child presses his peas into his mashed potatoes. I stopped here for awhile and surveyed the ground. You can’t see it in this pic but the dirt on both sides of the road was boggy and I could see that it would not work for us. With Dallas99 watching me, I stood up on the pegs, tried to relax my grip and did my best to float over the road. After I made it to the other side, I got off my bike and motioned for Dallas99 to come over. He too stood up on his pegs and did a fine job of controlling his bike as he bounced over the wet rocks. Perfect. We regrouped and rode the last stretch to the top of Tomichi Pass.

Where we had come from:

Looking back down the road coming up to Tomichi Pass

Top of Tomichi Pass (the sign was missing):

As we stood at the top of Tomichi Pass, we saw two Jeeps coming up the road from the other side. We decided to wait until they made it to the top before we moved on. As the Jeeps got closer, we saw they were nothing special. By that I mean the Jeeps were stock, standard vehicles of the sort sold at dealerships in the plains states. They possessed no winches, no large tires, no special bumpers, or any other off-road accoutrements. We listened as the Jeeps whined and whirred until they made it to the top and disgorged their cargoes of six Polish tourists. We greeted one another and, as they asked us questions, came to the realization that these people had no idea where they were or where they were going. They asked us, “Where does this road go?” and “How far is it to civilization?” When they asked us about the difficulty of the road ahead, we told them truth. We assured them that the road on the other side of the next pass (the existence of which they were not familiar with) would be quite difficult for them. They laughed nervously and one of the men asked in heavily accented English, “You are simply trying to frighten us, no?” We promised him that were not exaggerating our account of the road ahead and Steeker urged him to walk a ways down the Tomichi Pass road before driving it any further. One of the other Polish men said, “We will be fine. It will be OK,” before saying, “We have half a tank of gas, do you think this will be enough to make it?” We told him that we were not sure if half a tank would be enough to make it to the next gas station since even the good portion of the road beyond the pass was isolated. They thanked us for our advice and then all six of them climbed into one Jeep and began traveling down the road . Steeker turn to us and said, “Oh that’s a great idea! How about all of us get into one car…that way, when we ALL roll off the side of the mountain, there will be no one to go for help!” We could not help but engage in some dark humor and joke about how tomorrow, we would see a news report about a missing group of Polish tourists and how we might the last people who ever saw them alive. I wondered if bears like the taste of Poles.[/FONT]

We remounted and headed down the mountain. That’s when I laid my bike over. I turned too sharply and while barely moving, put my left leg out but the slope was too sharp. Like a complete novice, I dumped my bike because I tried to use the foot on the downhill side. Just when I was starting to feel like an accomplished rider, I did something that put my ego in check and reminded me of my fallibility.

The ride down from Tomichi was not as tough as the ride up Hancock. However, there was still a ton of rocks to deal with. Imagine basketball-sized rocks embedded in the earth and scattered stone volleyballs punctuated by up-and-down undulations in the landscape.

Headed downhill from Tomichi...

Somwhere along the way, Dallas99 realized that something was wrong with his right footpeg. We stopped to check it out and learned that one of the frame bolts had sheared completely off. The head of the bolt was gone but the shaft remained inside the frame. The other frame bolt was loose and the whole footpeg assembly was turning on him. We were able to rig the whole assembly using an allen wrench and some wire. It would not be comfortable but at least he could put his foot on it. It would have to hold until we made it to a shop.

As the road improved, it started raining again. We were all wet and as our speed increased, the raindrops started to sting our faces. The faster we rode, the colder we got. We did our best to find a happy medium, not wanting to torture ourselves with cold, stinging rain but not wanting to ride too slowly. I couldn’t feel my fingers and my face went numb. We finally made it to Sargents and noticed there was a shop next door to the Tomichi Creek Trading Post. The owner of the shop next door was originally from San Antonio and he had bolts that would fit! No welding required. He was able to back out the broken bolt and replace both of the bolts at the top of the footpeg assembly. Who would have thought that a diesel truck repair shop would have bolts for a KLR?

It turned out that the trading post had everything we needed. We ate hamburgers, put our clothes in the dryer, and drank about a gallon of coffee. We even put our gloves in the dryer! After about an hour and a half, we got back on the road with dry clothes, a fixed KLR footpeg, and fully gassed up.

We had to hit the highway for a few miles before turning off onto a sandy, reddish-colored road that was still muddy but which possessed a solid foundation. I was a little nervous about our speed but after a while, figured that the mud was shallow and gritty. As long as I relaxed my death grip and kept my speed up, the bike would ride true. The public road passed through a private ranch and towards the Los Pinos Pass.

After Sargents...

These next two pictures do not do this scene justice. This was an enormous panorama complete with glowing mountaintops and hazy, golden landscape below...


Hotel Room at Lake City:

Sun was shining and it felt warm for the first time today. Check out Steeker's re-packing job and attempted rainproofing with trash bags...

We finally made it to Lake City and got checked into our hotel. We rode down the street to the liquor store, got another 12 pack, and lashed it to my bike again. We walked across the street and got some food to go. Thanks to Dallas99’s big tailbag, we were able to transport three full meals back to our room. We sat in our room and ate hot food, drank cold beer, and watched the local news. We nearly squirted beer out of our noses when the weatherman pointed to the massive cloud formation over us and said, “Uh, now this is what you call ‘monsoonal flow,’” as he looked over his shoulder at the camera. So that’s what we rode through today…monsoonal flow. We learned a new term on this trip. That’s a great phrase that summarizes most of our second day on the TAT.
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Mar 10, 2006
Day Three:

Leaving Lake City and headed up to Cinnamon Pass. Here's me and Steeker at the Alferd Packer Massacre site.

We were going to get a big turkey leg and gnaw on it for the camera but that plan fell through.

The weather was much better today. Bright and sunny. At least until we started getting higher....and the the rain set in again. Actually, it was sleet this time. Sleeting in August. Great. More cold, wet riding today.

On the way up...

This is what it looked like at the top of Cinnamon Pass...

Sorry about the poor quality pic...

Animas Forks, an abandoned mining town on the other side of Cinnamon Pass

Pics before during and after California pass...

The road we came in on...

Felt like I was standing on a 13K foot tall razor blade here. The whole world just drops away from you on both sides. The pass is something like 12,900 feet but Steeker and I are definitely at 13K+ in these pics...

How come no one ever talks about Corkscrew Pass? The roads are extremely steep and the descending switchbacks can be very challenging on a bike. We tried to take some pics that would show how steep it is but it's almost impossible to depict. Dallas99's rear brake started smoking on the way down and we had to stop several times to let it cool off. You have to be careful on Corkscrew Pass. Keep the wheels rolling but be cautious about those turns! If you make a mistake here, you'll go right off the edge. Lots of engine braking and careful riding...

Here I am trying to start a rock slide. It was amazing how far these rocks would tumble and roll before they stopped.

Looking almost straight down about 2 miles...

We finally made to the bottom.

Instead of pressing on to Utah, we headed south into Ouray where we would spend a couple of days. We stayed at the River's Edge Motel and we cannot recommend them enough. The two guys that own this place are beyond accommodating. They gave us old towels for cleaning up after bike maintenance and they even gave Steeker a pan to drain his oil into. This was the best motel experience on our trip. Here's the two owners. That's Dave on the left. Seriously, if you go to Ouray, stay here because it's a nice place and these dudes will hook you up!

The parking lot. We did all of our maintenance right there.

Another group of riders came and we ended up talking to them quite a bit. Nice people on BMW's and one Goldwing. There was none of that "I can't talk to you because you don't ride what I ride" stuff. Everyone was truly friendly and we had several very rich conversations about riding. The thing I have noticed all over the country is that when people are talking about motorcycling, it doesn't matter where you're from, how old you are, what color you are, or what your politics are. We speak a common language. We share similar experiences and we understand one another. We get it. We get each other. There's something very satisfying about that.

I learned a new word on this trip: Alpenglow. Can't believe I hadn't heard it before. I knew what it was but I didn't know there was a word for it. Tried to capture it with these pics but it's just not the same. You had to be there. The mountains were truly glowing here...

Next up...a night on the town.
Mar 10, 2006
Look closely...do you see him?

How about now?

There he is! Some guy was climbing the mountain just outside our hotel room! He's the white dot on the rock face...

Downtown Ouray looking south...

Downtown Ouray looking north...

If you get the chance, go eat lunch at the Mountain Taco. I was surprised to hear the Buzzcocks, The Clash, and Elvis Costello playing on the outdoor speakers. We sat on the deck and enjoyed the warm sun and cool breeze. The owner is a woman in her early 30's with good taste in music. This was a good place to enjoy lunch and a beer. The tacos are nothing like those found in Texas but they're still very good.

Evening sets in...

Go to dinner here. This is a phenomenal place to eat and drink in Ouray. The owner is a great dude. The piano player was very good and several people (including Steeker) paid him extra to stay late. The ribs here are incredible.

Lots of Colorado 500 stuff on the walls inside. There's that piano player.

I decided to sit down and bang out a few tunes...

Gettng deeper into our cups...Steeker pulled a fast one on me here and Dallas99 caught my reaction.

Leaving Ouray

Ophir pass area...

Dallas99 taking a picture of Steeker who is taking a picture of him...

Steeker is down there talking to a cyclist (on a mountain bike) who was replacing his brake pads.

A fast moving dirtbike caught up with us here...


We decided that we wanted to go see what Telluride looks like. We rode north into town and discovered that it is an extremely wealthy, if not beautiful, place. There were incredibly well-dressed and beautiful people walking around. It's a busy town with lots of traffic both on the streets and the sidewalks. As Steeker led us through some condo developments, Dallas99 and I looked to our right and saw a blonde woman in a red dress standing on the sidewalk. She was clearly high-maintenance and was wearing giant-lensed sunglasses of the type commonly worn by hot women these days. We were about 30 yards away from her and though I couldn't read her facial expression, her body language and the movement of her head indicated that she likely regarded us as vagabond scum, recently arrived from some destitute frontier hovel where we and others like us regularly committed vulgar acts of barbarity when not otherwise engaged in digging ditches. As we rode on, the wind favored us and I suddenly smelled her perfume. I spoke to Dallas99 on the ScalaRider, "Hey dude, I can smell that girl's perfume!" He replied in laughter, "Hey! I can too!" Other men might have admired her from the enclosures of passing cars like primates in some roving simian exhibit, seeing her through the glass but never realizing the benefit of their olfactory abilities. But not us. Dallas99 and I had received the aromatic reward of riding a motorcycle where beautiful women dared to roam. Unfortunately, we have no picture of her to share with you. The best I can do is this pic of Steeker about two minutes later asking some reeking, naturist mountain hippie for directions. Sorry.

We parked the bikes and walked around Telluride for a while. We finally settled on a small sandwich shop and sat in the breezeway between two buildings to enjoy a bit to eat.

Bikes parked in downtown Telluride...

Street view of Telluride:

Look closely at the picture below. This was taken from the bench inside the breezeway where we ate lunch. Do you see the sticker on the trash can?

Click HERE at your own risk to see what it looks like up close.

There were two 20-something locals sitting near us and we struck up a conversation with them. After talking to them for a while, we asked them what the story was on the Eric Corff sticker. I asked, "Who's Eric Corff?" One of the dudes rolled his eyes and made a slight shrugging motion before saying, "He's a ******bag!" We laughed for a second and then asked if he was a real person. The guy said, "Oh yeah, man. He lives here." His friend said, "I met him one time. I met these dudes and shook hands with them and one of them said his name was Eric Corff." He shrugged his shoulders too and said, "He looked like a ******bag." When I pressed them for more information, it was apparent that they didn't want to reveal too much. One of them said that there were many different stories about some bad behavior committed by Eric Corff that had angered the locals but he wasn't sure if they were all true. One thing they did tell us was that the Eric Corff stickers were everywhere. The town was literally festooned with them. There were on park benches, trash cans, light poles, windows, signs, and anywhere else that a sticker could be placed. He said that some of the stickers were placed so high on poles and buildings that it was obvious someone had used ropes and climbing gear to get them up there. They were even high up in the mountains. They said that no one knows who made the stickers and no one knows who is placing them. They cannot be purchased. It's a sort of "guerilla revenge" operation. We later talked to a local girl and asked her who Eric Corff was. She sighed really big and said, "He's a ******bag!" After some pleading, she finally told us the background on the sticker. According to her, Eric Corff was a big, loudmouthed guy from New York City who moved to Telluride a couple of years ago. She said he was an extremely obnoxious guy who liked to throw his weight around. He worked as a bouncer at some local bar. She said he was having an affair with a local guy's girlfriend and the local guy found out about it. The local guy found Eric Corff and beat him up. Eric Corff filed criminal charges on the local guy and stuck with it. The local guy ended up being convicted of assault and was sentenced to some kind of formal punishment. Meanwhile, Eric Corff continued to walk around with his chest puffed out, acting like a tough guy. The local guy is apparently a well-liked person in town. Shortly after his conviction for whipping Corff, the stickers started showing up. The girl said that Eric Corff was extremely embarrassed by the stickers and had even considered moving out of town because of them. I asked her, "So why didn't he?" She answered in a slightly louder voice and direct eye contact, "Because he's a ******bag!" (Disclaimer: I don't know if any of the preceding story is true. It has been reported here exactly as it was reported to me. For all I know, Eric Corff is a wonderful person. That doesn't change the fact that stickers bearing his name are turning up all over the place.) So, if you ever travel to Telluride and want to know the story behind all the Eric Corff stickers, now you know.

We rode on.

The trail led high up into the mountains again but this time it opened up into a large, open forest with a flat surface. It appeared that we were on a massive plateau. There was little chance of going off the road but there were lots of potholes and in several places, we had to ride through deep mud holes. One of these surprised Steeker who was in the lead and he nearly lost it. In one place, there was a fallen tree across the road but we were able to ride around the broken end of it.

We're still over 10,000 feet here. Cows were everywhere in the forest. I "called" them like we used to do when I was a kid on the ranch. As soon as I did, one of them answered me from somewhere deep in the trees. We had a good conversation for a minute or two.

We descended again and finally came to a gravel road and this sign. This was apparently what we had been riding.

Burned out area near Dolores River.

Once we made it back to the lowlands outside of Dove Creek, we rode along gravel roads for quite a while. We realized that the trail here simply paralleled and crisscrossed the paved road into Utah. It was getting late and we wanted to hurry to Monticello. The gravel roads were starting to wear on us and we elected to take the pavement from Dove Creek into Utah.

The view from our hotel room in Monticello, Utah...isn't it lovely?

The regular state of being in Monticello, Utah...when you were actually moving...
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Mar 10, 2006
U-Haul really left us in a lurch. They were supposed to call us if there were any problems with our reservation in Moab. They didn't. Luckily, we called a day early and learned that "our" truck had broken down. They had no alternative plan for us except to tell us to go to Grand Junction. They initially had a kind of a "sucks to be you" attitude with us. They said that there was no other truck available in Moab, not even a larger one. We got busy on the phone and finally found a truck in Blanding, Utah. After a full blown Mission Impossible style operation, we got the truck and made it to Moab. We found out later that there was a slightly larger truck sitting in the Mob U-Haul parking lot. One thing about U-Haul that you need to be aware of: They will not rent a truck to you if they know you plan to transport a motorcycle in it. They claim it's their policy but they cannot show it to you. I checked on that a couple of years ago. You have to be sneaky.

Because of the truck issue, Dallas99 had to drive the truck while Steeker and I rode from Monticello to Moab. The following pics were taken by Steeker while en route...

Leaving Monticello and on the way to Moab...

Back in the desert...

Mother deer and twin fawns. She never stopped eating...

Headed back into the mountains and big trees one last time...

This is Utah?

Yes...this really is in Utah.

You can see the desert down below. Way out there. Waiting for us...

Entering a dark forest. I kept thinking of the Black Forest and the old children's stories. You cannot see it in this picture but there were places in this forest where light barely made it through the trees. We were not expecting to see this in Utah.

Moab is down below. Note the dirt on my face.

That's Moab down there...

Margaritas in Moab!

We met an older couple who were riding Harleys, Alan the Canadian and his German wife. These are the kind of people that it's a true pleasure to meet. Alan is in his mid-70's and still rides, a lot. He owns several different motorcycles and he and his wife have ridden the Swiss Alps multiple times. He was clearly a well-traveled and very seasoned man. What made him so cool was his sense of humor and obvious sense of adventure. He liked Dallas99's KLR, since he owned one himself, and told us about some adventure rides he had done in Canada. He also told us about the time that he rode to Copper Canyon in Mexico and urged us to do the same. Now, we have some specific knowledge of things going on in Mexico and Steeker told Alan that with the current drug war and military situation in Mexico, we didn't feel like it was safe to go down there. Alan replied with a loud Canadian accent, "Oh BALLS!!!! As long as you avoid the border, avoid the tourist towns, and get yourself "dow-oon" to the interior and stick to the small towns, you'll be FINE!!! I've been down there many times and never had a problem! Get yourselves down to Mexico!" We saw Alan and his wife several times while were staying in Moab. Every time we met, he had some funny comment about us and what we were doing, usually implying that we were behaving like a bunch of wimps and that we ought to at least try to act more masculine. Think of a Canadian Don Rickles. We got his contact information and gave him ours. If he's ever in our area, we'd be privileged to help him out. He says that he enjoys riding everywhere and meeting people at his age because he likes to assure younger people and younger riders that there really is life and adventure after retirement. In the picture below, Alan is showing us the sign of his riding group from back home, the PTA, which stands for Prostate [something] Association, (I forgot the middle term)

Here's Alan and his wife. He says, "Keep your meat to the seat!"
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Mar 10, 2006
We went to Gear Heads Outdoor Store across the street from our hotel and went inside. This place had literally everything related to outdoors stuff. It was like someone took an REI, an Academy Sports, and a specialty mountain climbing store and squeezed it all inside there. We got a detailed map of the Moab area and talked to one of the employees in there who rides dirt bikes. He recommended that we try the Chicken Corners trail.

Pictures from the Chicken Corners road in Moab, Utah...

After the riding was over...Main street in Moab

Drinking 3.2% beer....and lucky to get that in Utah!!! It is nice to drink when it's the afternoon because you can enjoy the beer, go slow, and not worry about drinking too much.

While we were in this place, we met up with the bass player from the Joseph Barton Trio and the main dude in the band...Joseph Barton.

We had a few 3.2% beers with them and complimented them on their style. We caught their show the night before and liked their music. They play a sort of blues, jazz, rock thing....imagine Stevie Ray Vaughan crossed with classic jazz and western swing. When we told them that we had come to Moab on dirt, the bass player insisted on seeing the bikes we rode in on. We took him outside and showed them to him. Here he is in full incredulity...

That was our last day of riding. We loaded the bikes in the truck and drove back to Trinidad the next day. One last thing happened to us that was great though. That night in Trinidad, we were looking for a place to eat and the steakhouse we had been to before was closed. We drove down the street and found an old stone building with a neon sign outside that read, "Rinos." We didn't know what kind of place it might be. We walked in with some trepidation and were shocked to find an incredible place. The interior was a beautiful, museum-like structure and we were met by an older man serving as maitre d' at the front. I suddenly became worried that we were under-dressed. This was a nice place. We had a wonderful experience at Rino's Italian Restaurant and Steakhouse and were treated like kings. I was even more shocked when our waitress suddenly appeared with a microphone and started singing. She had a wonderful voice and she sang a short opera piece. We discovered that all of the employees sing. The 17-year old busboy could literally sing like Michael Bublé. Our waitress said that many of the local girls like to come hear the boy sing. We drank wine and ate some great food at this place. If you are ever in Trinidad, I strongly recommend that you try it.

Lessons Learned:

- Try to make important items easily accessible. I was able to pack everything into a single bag that I bungeed to my rear rack. That's great but when you need to access your tools for a quick repair, you don't want to unpack everything just to get to it. Dallas99 had a lot of storage space on his bike but he was also the "go to" guy for tools and equipment because he could get to his stuff quickly and easily. I have some work to do on my packing and luggage setup.
- Use multiple forms of navigation. Don't trust any single navigational aid (map, GPS, roll chart). All three of ours were wrong at one point or another. Use them all when and where possible. If you aren't sure of where you're going, cross reference whatever you have and then make a decision.
- Wear your body armor and safety gear. Dallas99 is thankful for his. It only takes one bad fall to mess you up for life.
- Don't get in a hurry. In our opinion, too many people rush their trips. It's fine to hurry across the country on dirt but are you really seeing anything? I am very happy that we decided to split one of the prescribed days on the TAT and stop in Ouray.
- Be open to options other than what has been prescribed by others. If you are planning on doing the TAT in the future, I cannot recommend the stop in Ouray enough. Ouray is a great place to hang out, refresh, relax, do bike maintenance, and get gas. It has great scenery and a fun paved road leading into it.
- Be flexible. You may not be able to stick to a plan. Be practical and ready to roll with the punches. Think logically, keep a good attitude, and work through the logistical challenges. For us, wire and an allen wrench, bungees, and webbing worked well with a can-do attitude.
- Watch for cars, even in remote areas. We were on a remote road going around a corner when a small red car suddenly rounded the curve and scared us to death. We passed trucks and cars in places where one would never expect to see them.
- Be careful who you ride with. The three of us get along great. We're flexible and share similar attitudes. We collaborate. We know how to get things done and we know that we can count on each other. That was one of the things that made this trip so enjoyable for me. An acquaintance just told me about his horrific experience traveling to a far away state with four other guys. He described a 2 week trip with a group in which two guys turned out to hate each other and this caused some friction for everyone on the trip. Another guy I know told me about an incredibly frustrating trip he took with two guys, one of whom turned out to be an incompetent idiot. When you're on a dualsport trip where you may have to literally count on each other for life-saving support, you cannot have that kind of group dysfunction. Choose your riding partners carefully.

Well..that's it. Hope you liked it. Take care.
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Keeper of the Asylum
Feb 28, 2003
Post compliments regarding picture and story quality here.

:tab Great report! Some of that around Lake City and Telluride brings back good memories. The weather is crazy and unpredictable out there. We went over Independence Pass in June and it was sleeting, raining, and snowing all at once! There was also a lot of lightning, not something fun when you are on one of the highest points around... The sleet/snow was sticking and freezing to our visors, making it really hard to see, but we could not open them because that was even worse! About forty-five minutes later, we were down in the valley below and it was sunny, clear, and about 85 degrees... :brainsnap
Sep 11, 2009
Aransas Pass
What an awesome ride this must have been!! I know the pics and videos just don't do it justice. 2 yrs ago we took our family vacation to Colorado, we spent time in Ouray, Ridgeway and went to Telluride for a few hours, we got the same vibe about Telluride, very upscale, snobbish, well-to-doers there. We did meet some nice people there though. We drove hwy 550 down to Durango, an amazing hwy. The main difference between ya'lls trip and ours was we had to stay on asphalt and, oh yeah, we were in a minivan!! :doh:
Sep 27, 2007
Northern Fayette County
I've been so busy last week that I FINALLY got a chance to sit down and read your report. That's what Sundays are for, right?!:sun:
That's a neat camera, did you ever have trouble with it hitting limbs and whatnot? Several of your rolling pics are quite good!:clap:
Jul 24, 2009
I've been so busy last week that I FINALLY got a chance to sit down and read your report. That's what Sundays are for, right?!:sun:
That's a neat camera, did you ever have trouble with it hitting limbs and whatnot? Several of your rolling pics are quite good!:clap:
Rman, I had the camera on my helmet the whole trip. I didn't have any problems except having to reach up and snap a shot. It wasn't a problem excempt once when I snapped a shot and was headed towards the ditch! If you noticed in the pictures, the first two days I had it mounted high and after that it was shorter.....well, in Lake City, I walked into our motel room with my helmet on and broke the camera right off! I was able to re-mount it and rode on. The only problem with the GoPro helmet cam is that I had to keep it on the whole time we were riding, therefore, it ate up the lithium AAA batteries in about 6-7 hrs. It pissed me off the first couple of days because I thought I was taking pictures when in fact the camera was dead. I didn't realize it until the end of the day.

Overall, the GoPro camera was well worth the money. It was waterproof, and that came in extremely handy with the weather we dealt with.