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Utalorado 2014 – The Over-Ambitious Loop (3 Wr250R’s vs. a KTM 500XCW)

Feb 17, 2009

Last year I had great luck using some of the UTBDR (Utah Backcountry Discovery Route) and linking it together with tons of other OHV trails, Forest Roads, BLM Roads, etc… to build my own pretty sweet loop around Utah (Ride Report Here:deal Ultimate Utah Adventure Route – The UTBDR and a Whole Lot More).


The route had a great mix of challenging trails and faster (easier) transit sections. This year, the hope was to create a similar style of ride, but start in Colorado, do some crisscrossing into Utah, and ultimately loop back to our starting point in Colorado. The route for this year would of course hit the popular stuff like the mountain passes (Cinnamon, Engineer, Ophir, Black Bear, Etc…) , but I was also hoping to work in some lesser traveled OHV trails, and even some Motorcycle Single Track Trail :rider:.

The finished drawn route ended up being right at 1600 miles, and I was able to get the mix of trails/forest roads/etc… that I was looking for while building the route. Would have 8 days to complete the route. Of course not everything went as planned, but we will get into that later :trust:


4 of us went on this ride:

Terry (jtmajors)


Lawson (kirbykajin_sr)


Richard (motokirby)


and Myself - Jordan (jglow)


3 of us rode WR250R’s and Terry was on a KTM 500XCW


So climb aboard, as I get this Ride Report up and running. Tons of video, and plenty of pics to sort through. I will do my best to keep it coming, but I won’t promise anything greater than a glacial pace.

We met several groups of guys from the TWT forum so I figured I would post up the ride report on here and advrider. I didn't catch anyone's screen name but if you remember seeing 3 WR's and one lonely KTM, chime in and say hi :thumb:

In the meantime, here is a little teaser video from the trip :popcorn::popcorn::popcorn:.

[ame="http://vimeo.com/104181396"]Utalorado 2014 Teaser on Vimeo[/ame]

Feb 17, 2009
Trip Planning/Prep

To give y'all an idea of what areas of the mythical land of Utalorado that we are riding in, see the below pic :sun:


Routing for the trip this year was a challenge. I used bits and pieces of the TAT through some of Colorado and Utah, and that part was easy. I had the maps, and tracks from riding it a few years earlier. The challenge was locating and drawing gps tracks for the OHV and MC Single Track I was wanting to include. The kind of stuff that you can't find on Trail Damage or Stay the Trail. Also, the goal is to find challenging trails, but still do-able... That is all very relative to personal skill, so asking the question to locals about "how difficult" a particular trail is really doesn’t help too much. And the question is probably better phrased as, "how difficult would it be on a not dirt bike with a bunch of camping gear :loco:?"

But, I drew the route up over the Winter and early Spring, so I had plenty of time to research by pestering locals for intel and scouring over MVUM maps and trying to remember the myriad districts of NF and BLM lands that were in my target area :coffee:.

One thing I did find this year was the ability to overlay National Forest MVUM maps in Google Earth...


Maybe the ability to overlay maps in Google Earth isn't the coolest thing you've ever seen, but it's pretty high on my list. It’s a pretty great resource for creating an actual track to follow :drool:.


As far as bike preparation went this year…. The WR’s have been through this kind of ride several times, and were pretty much ready to go. Fresh oil, air filter, and tires were about all they needed. One thing I did do differently this year though was ditching the Wolfman Expedition Dry Saddlebags for a Giant Loop Coyote.

I love the Wolfman Bags, but I felt almost as wide as an ATV with them on. There were several times last year that I was dragging the bags on the side of friggin’ mountain, or large rocks, and not to mention the constant attack by Sage brush trying to rip the bags off of the ol’ girl. I knew some of the areas we were routed through this year were going to be even tighter, and I was worried I wouldn’t fit – literally :whatever:.

Terry, on the other hand, was in full adventurization mode on his KTM 500XCW. This was extremely time consuming for him because he can not buy anything unless he gets a discount on it and free shipping :pray:. He added the Aceribis 5 gal tank, heated grips, 12V charging outlet, etc… He also went the Giant Loop option for luggage with the Coyote – that made all 4 of us.


This ride was going to be a good real life comparison between the WR250R and the KTM 500 - so much better than fighting on the forum about it :trust:. How would fuel mileage compare? Durability of the KTM? Exactly how much more would the KTM kill the WR at 12K elevation? How does the KTM 500 do as a lightweight adventure bike overall? We were all looking forward to the results :clap:.

So as the end of July rolled around, final modifications to the Route had been completed. Terry finally mounted that pretty new oversized tank, and we had all met up at Lawson’s house the weekend before the trip and loaded all the bikes on the trailer – ready to haul out after work on the following Wednesday.


Day 1 Coming up…..

Sep 30, 2010
Tyler TX
:clap: 1600 miles, and some single track too. Now THATS a proper dual sport ride! :clap: Can't wait to see / hear more about this grand adventure... :rider:
Feb 17, 2009

We headed out after work on a Wednesday with the end destination being La Veta, Colorado – our starting point for this ride.


The drive up from Dallas was relatively uneventful until some point outside of Amarillo, when Richard realized that he had forgotten his riding jacket at home. We used the combined forces of Samsung and Apple to determine that there was absolutely nothing we could do about it until at least Trinidad, Colorado, where there was a tiny glimmer of a possible cycle shop.

So at some point we stopped for the night in a quaint (run-down) motel in one of those little Texas towns that smells like manure, or oil, or both. You know the one? We were working hard to break Terry in. He’s not used to indulging in such crumby accommodations.

Unimpressed Terry:


Anyhow, bright and early on Thursday we were up and heading towards Colorado. Richard had located another option for Motorcycle gear (in the case that the shop in Trinidad didn't pan out) about an hour north of Trinidad, Colorado – in Pueblo. So when we came up to the cycle shop in Trinidad, and it looked like you’d have better luck sourcing a used brake cable for an 85’ Honda ATC110 Three-Wheeler, we headed back to the interstate and up to Pueblo. And not an hour or so later, Richard was the proud owner of a Roadgear jacket purchased from the basement of a house in Pueblo.

Behold the Tierra DelFuego Jacket :sun::


Even with the extra running around trying to locate a jacket, we still made it to La Veta just past lunch time. The plan was to park the truck for the 8 days at the Circle the Wagon’s RV Park. These folks were very accommodating, and it was a nice secure place to leave the truck.


We get the bikes unloaded and do the last minute (or hour) adjustments and packing before heading into “town” to get fuel, water, and stuff.


On the short ride into town I noticed by front tire felt really lumpy. It got worse with speed, but I couldn't tell what was wrong – it was still holding air… I was ready to just deal with it so that we could just get moving and get on the trail, but thought I’d give it a quick once over under the shade of the closed gas station.


It was a pretty easy fix… Somehow the tube kept getting pinched between the bead of the tire and the wheel. A little deflation of the tube, persuasion by tire iron, and oversight by our eldest member of the group got us all fixed up.


Finally heading out of La Veta – The start of the Over-Ambitious Loop:


We had no real daily points, or towns we were trying to get to. I never really knew where we would end up each day – no matter how many times Terry would ask me. The (my) goal was just to get up early, ride all day, and stop when we are dead beat :hack:.


But, the use of simple division (probably utilizing the calculator on the iphone) let us know that we needed to be averaging around 200 miles a day :ponder:.


But for today, I just wanted to try to at least get into the Sangre De Cristo Mtns, and find somewhere to camp. If we got further, great…


The start of the route was easy, with lots of fast gravel.


And we were eating up the miles quickly.


Before too long we were climbing up Medano Pass…


Which was a nice warm up…


With a little foreshadowing of what’s to come.


Coming down from Medano, we had some fun water crossings…


And little runs through Aspens…


And then out from behind a mountain,


Pops The Great Sand Dune.


Super Crazy to see in real life.




And really fun to get to it the way we did...


On the sand road.


Which was about 4 miles of fairly deep sand,


And it was a ton of fun… At least for 3 of us. Lawson hasn’t accompanied us on too many of our rides where we play in deep sand – but he was hanging in there.


Before we headed out of the Park, we took the obligatory group pic :photo::


After the dune, you’ve got about 30 miles of super flat valley to cross before you hit the next range. So, with no place to camp, we pressed on towards what looked to be fairly threatening weather.


Hit a little dust storm action…


Before making it to Del Norte,


Where we called an audible, and went slightly off route to camp in the Rio Grande National Forest, South of where the rain was erupting :storm:.


Turned out to be a pretty nice spot, save for one old homeless hippy who was looking to bum a smoke of any kind :twitch:. But he was friendly enough, and never pestered us any further after leaving empty handed :sleep:.

Tomorrow would be the first full day on the trail, and what I had figured as probably the most difficult. 12 hours isn’t a ton of time to acclimate to elevations above 8,000 ft, but that’s no problem, right :-(?

Total Mileage Today: 130 Miles

Feb 17, 2009
And here is the Video Wrap for Day 1:

[ame="http://vimeo.com/104181397"]Utalorado Day 1 on Vimeo[/ame]

May 29, 2012
Baton Rouge, LA
Looks like a load of fun.

For some reason, the videos won't load on the smugmug site. Are they working for anyone else?
Feb 17, 2009
Looks like a load of fun.

For some reason, the videos won't load on the smugmug site. Are they working for anyone else?

I'm going to upload the videos to Vimeo and use that to host for this site. I've got the teaser video uploaded, and day one will be up shortly. I am editing the original posts with the updated videos.

May 29, 2012
Baton Rouge, LA
Awesome. Thanks. I've started reading your last ride report and the videos pics and writing were excellent there too. Will you be sharing your tracks for this ride like you did for the Utah ride? I'm very eager to get back out to CO and especially UT. Maybe next summer.
Feb 17, 2009

I was up super early – probably around 4:30. I’m a pretty early to bed, early to rise kind of guy, and when you factor in the hour we gained in the Mountain Time Zone, I’m a super early to rise guy. I usually hang around in my tent until I see the first hint of light, then I get out, and try to shoot a time lapse or just wonder around a bit. When I run out of things to entertain me, then I usually start making subtle (loud) noises to motivate the others to get moving :drums: – the cooking stove is usually a good noise maker.


Like all the days on the trip, we needed to get moving early :pierce. We were slightly off route, so we needed to make up that time in addition to our normal forward progress. Not to mention the fact that today was probably what I was expecting to be the most difficult day of riding.

So with everyone up, we all cook up some various forms of oatmeal...


And pack up.


At some point, Richard notices that his new dual usb charger isn’t charging anymore. And not only is it not charging anything anymore, it is actually smoking when he plugs a cord into it. Bummer… Only day 2 and his power outlet options are already going up into smoke! I don’ t think we had realized it at this point, but that screwy usb smoked his brand new GoPro3 too. His bike is the Bermuda Triangle for anything electrical – last year and this year.

Heading back to pick up the route…


We had to pass back through Del Norte, where we decided to stop at the Napa so that Richard could go ahead and pick up some wire and a new 12v outlet so that he could still charge his phone.


Heading towards our first section of OHV Trail.


Which is an old cattle drive trail.



Having a little fun coming out of the water crossing...


Looks like the WR is still able to get the front tire up - that means we were still below 8,000 ft :rofl:.


A little gate action here and there.


The weather is perfect…


And the trail is really fun…


Terry takes the expert route over the downed tree...


And I use the shorter end with the helper logs.


As we start to gain elevation, the trail starts to get a little more technical in spots.


We hit the base of what looks to be a fairly long, and rocky climb.


Lawson heads up first, and gets hung up.

I give him a hand, and he continues up…


And then takes a little break near the top.


This section of the trail also takes the mighty KTM down for the first time too.


But as I recall, 2 of the 3 other WR's made it up without much more than a dab here or there ;-).


At the top of the climb we take a break.

Lawson - Still smiling on the outside (for now at least):


Richard brings Lawson's bike up the rest of the way to give him a breather. He had jammed his knee during his little rock nap.


We are at about 10,000’ elevation, and we can feel it. So can the little WR’s.


We have some trail lunch…


And are about to continue ahead when I glance at the GPS and it looks like we are off track!?! :doh:

There was a trail split right at the base of the climb, and it looks like maybe we were supposed to head off on that split. I break the news to the guys. “Oops"...

Terry suggests we continue on to make sure we aren’t already on the right track before we turn around and head back to the split. I reassure him that he is wrong, and I am right. It's simply a rogue point I must of dropped "off trail" when I was drawing the route – we need to head back down the trail. So, we gear up and head back down the rocky slope.

If you had to pinpoint a time where things start to go wrong today, I would say that this was probably it :giveup:.

More Day 2 coming up... A lot more :trust:.


Feb 17, 2009
Awesome. Thanks. I've started reading your last ride report and the videos pics and writing were excellent there too. Will you be sharing your tracks for this ride like you did for the Utah ride? I'm very eager to get back out to CO and especially UT. Maybe next summer.

I used part of the Trans-America Trail (TAT) in my route this year, which is a route made and sold by someone else. So, to avoid any conflict there, I will not be posting the tracks from this ride :giveup:. I will however be more than happy to help with routing questions anywhere I can... Probably not the answer you were looking for :-?. PM or message me if you have any specific routing questions.

May 29, 2012
Baton Rouge, LA
I used part of the Trans-America Trail (TAT) in my route this year, which is a route made and sold by someone else. So, to avoid any conflict there, I will not be posting the tracks from this ride :giveup:. I will however be more than happy to help with routing questions anywhere I can... Probably not the answer you were looking for :-?. PM or message me if you have any specific routing questions.

I understand! I rode the TAT in 2010, it is great through CO and UT. I've always wanted to go back and explore more.

If your group ever needs another rider, let me know. It looks like y'all have good time riding the good stuff. :rider:
Feb 17, 2009
Back at the bottom of the rocky hill climb, we double-check the GPS’s… And take the split on the trail.


About 100 feet down the trail, its obvious that we are on the wrong trail, and we should have stayed back at the top of the rocky climb we had just came down from :doh:.

Again, “Oops” ---- “Sorry Terry, I guess you were right”

But no worries… I have the .pdf of the National Forest MVUM maps of all the districts we will be traveling through on my iPhone. I use an app called Avenza (http://www.avenza.com/pdf-maps) that uses the GPS on the iPhone to locate me on that .pdf MVUM map. There are plenty of trails in the area that will parallel our original route until a point that we can intersect it again. So we re-route on the fly, and I right down a series of trail numbers that we are looking to follow, and keep moving :clap:.

This trail starts out really mellow,




And then starts to get rocky, and looks significantly less traveled, and our pace slows dramatically:yawn:



I’m not saying that had we stayed back on the original trail that it would have been a cake-walk, but I doubt it would have been as difficult as these next few miles.


We make several creek crossings, and crawl through a couple of rock (boulder) gardens.




I think we are all starting to feel the altitude a little bit, but it really seems to be hitting Lawson hard .


We stop to take another breather before a tricky water crossing.


We have a Zen moment next to the creek.


We have only made about 30 miles so far today, and it’s already getting near noon, and this isn’t even the part of the trail that I was expecting to be difficult.



There is a fine line of balancing taking breaks and making progress. If you push too hard when you are worn out, you just end up wrecking more, but if you stop, then you get nowhere. We keep pushing forward…

And eventually make it through the worst of it…



And pick up some faster two track again, and really start to climb.


A few trail junctions later, and we have intersected back with our original route.

No matter how hard the trail was that you just came through, once you reach the top, it’s all been worth it.


And we've been rewarded with cell service - let me instagram my selfie to facebook real quick.


Wide open up here.


And a bit exposed…


With the afternoon storms starting to pop, you rush to get back down to the tree line, to give the lighting a few other options of things to strike other than Richard or Lawson – they are pretty tall.

Working our way down the mountain…



And leave the Rio Grande N.F. for a bit while we head into the little town of Creede.


We make it to Creede a little after 1pm, and the town is backed with tour busses and tourists. I know I’m a tourist myself, but that doesn’t mean I have to like the other ones. We drive around and find a restaurant that is not crowded, and have a really decent lunch. Right about the time we finish eating, we head over to fuel up at the gas station. Well, we get in line to fill up… And of course, it starts storming. So we fuel up in the rain, while trying to dig jackets out, and not get our stuff run over by tourists in rented SUV’s. Then we huddle under the porch of the gas station and talk about the rout options from here.

If we bail from our intended route at this point, we will have a decent bit of slab to burn in order to connect to the next section of trail, and even though we’ve just been whipped on some trails earlier in the day, no one wants to take the slab. We opt to stay on route, and as soon as the storm passes we head back out.

Looking down at Creede to the right.


This next section of trail is the “difficult” section. It’s a single-track motorcycle trail that crosses a mesa at over 12,000 feet and re-connects with Hwy 149 at Spring Creek Pass.


And as we speed down the trail, I’m still feeling pretty optimistic about getting across and off the Mesa even though it is getting late in the day (probably around 3pm when we left Creede).


I mean, I’ve done as much research as I could…


And I know there is one or two fairly tough climbs…


But I flew the trail in Google Earth a million times, and it was a piece of cake.

We stop and take a quick break where the Forest Road Ends and the “trail” officially starts.


Eventually the trail turns to single-track, and the fun begins.


This section of trail is absolutely beautiful…


So green and lush…


Which in real life can translate into marshy:


This one took a while to get Lawson’s bike out,


And even longer to figure out how to get through the marshy area, and whether or not we wanted to. The concern was, that if we got through the marsh area, what if we hit something worse and had to turn around? Would we be able to make it back through this marsh?


Also, it was getting late in the day, we were all getting tired, and Lawson was full on gassed out at this point.



We were at 10,800 feet at that point, and I for one didn’t really want to be camping above 10k tonight.

This was a really tough point in the day for me. I hate turning around, but we had maybe 2-2.5 hours of light left. We still had to climb up to the Mesa, cross the Mesa, and drop back down off the Mesa. And at the pace we were going… Well, I wasn’t very optimistic about it. I talked to Terry about it, and my concerns, while Lawson and Richard looked for a way through the marsh. Terry’s reply was, “I want this trip to be epic.” So really that left only one option – FORWARD!

But I was still concerned with Lawson. I’m a people pleaser. I made this route. So, if you’re not having fun, then I feel some responsibility for that. He didn’t look like he was having fun at that moment. We came as a group and we will ride as a group, so the option was given to Lawson for us to turn back. He also wanted to continue forward. He said he was definitely gassed, but if we were willing to help, he was all in for continuing. The truth of the whole thing was, that realistically if we all wanted to continue, we were all going to have to help each other – we were about to reach the end limits of the little WR250r :giveup:.

Feb 17, 2009

So with everyone on board, and committed to finishing out the trail, we get the two bikes out of the mud, and carefully find a way through the marsh without sinking into another mud hole :help:.


Looking back on the Marsh area... One bike still yet to get through:


We are heading up to towards the Mesa with the snow on it in the below pic:


The trail turns and starts to head up the mountain…




And Lawson is calculating how long it would take him to get back to the Truck in La Veta if he turned around right now :lol2:.


And we reach the first really difficult climb.


Terry was running in lead, and sort of scouting the trail out, while the 3 of us were ringing out the little WR’s to get them to climb.


And when we reach the base of the climb, Terry is walking down to give us a hand. He knew he had barely made it up, and knew the WR’s might need a push… And they did.

It’s hard for me to say exactly how hard the riding was on the trail. I feel like I’ve certainly ridden rockier trails, or steeper trails, but never at this elevation. And I think that’s where the trifecta is achieved. Steep, rocky, high elevation. The little WR just could not produce enough power to keep forward momentum. And I, myself was really starting to feel the lack of oxygen. The simple task of walking was taking all of my energy.

It took all 4 of us to get the first two WR’s up to the top of the climb, so when my turn came to make the climb, I decided I needed to carry as much momentum as I could (which wasn’t much) around the sharp right corner,


So I could get over the exposed tree roots, and still have enough momentum to stay in it, and keep climbing.


Which worked about as well as I anticipated it would…


And with the help of Terry pushing,


And Richard pulling,


I slowly make my way to the top… Totally whipped.


And I’m sure it’s nothing compared to what Terry was feeling like. He pushed 3 bikes up that trail, while pretty much running behind the bikes the whole way to the top. I’m pretty sure I thought his heart or head was going to explode from the exertion. Now, let that be a lesson to all you guys who want a KTM 500 – First one up has to help push the others :rofl:!

After as minimal break as possible,


We continued on, and were treated to a momentary reprieve :rider::rider::rider::rider:.


Before having to cross a nasty rutted out creek :doh:





At the base of the final climb to the Mesa -- Let's just go ahead and stick that little disclaimer in here right now about how it was steeper, rockier, harder, and tireder-er in real life :deal:.


We were now at almost exactly 12,000’, and we had one final climb that would bring us up on top of the Mesa – about 12,500’. The trail looked like a climb with plenty of embedded rocks. Not too steep, but certainly consistent.

I was feeling pretty terrible, and had about zero energy. It had seemed like we every time we conquered an obstacle on the trail, we were then confronted with another, worse one. I was really starting to doubt weather or not we we’d be able to pull this off. I had half a mind to turn around and bail – I figured I could at least talk Lawson in to going with me. I actually think I suggested that to Richard… “You and Terry go ahead and finish out the trail, and Lawson and I will meet you where the trail junctions with the HWY.” Richard replied with, “who will fix my bike if something breaks?” – It’s nice to feel needed :mrgreen:.

Back to the final climb…

Richard headed up, and didn’t make all that much progress before he got bounced off. I ran up behind him, and only made it about half as far as he did before dumping the bike too.


I gave him a hand picking up his bike, and asked him what he thought. He pointed back down to base of the climb where Lawson and Terry were, and said, “I think that looks like a good place to camp”. I think at that point it was safe to say that we were all cashed for the day.

I wasn’t super excited about camping at that elevation (earlier I was complaining about camping above 10K), but the allure of a sleeping bag and the promise of a fresh start in the morning far out weight the potential cold of the night.



But pretty early on into setting up camp, I realized that it probably wasn’t going to be a great slumberous night. I was working up a pretty wicked headache, and just walking from the bike to the tent was making me nauseous. I cooked up some instant chicken and rice dinner, and forced myself to eat a little of it, and tried to just drink as much water as possible – figured it couldn’t hurt. The other guys seemed pretty un-affected at that point. They were eating, and carrying on pretty much like normal. I crawled into my tent as soon as I could and tried to fall asleep. I remember at one point feeling like I didn’t know if I was falling asleep or passing out, but I really didn’t care :yawn:.



Un-Supervised Slacker
Forum Supporter
Jan 15, 2005
Yeah... Now that's a proper Adventure Ride! Great ride report, thanks for sharing.
Aug 9, 2009
Austin, TX
Man that is awesome stuff.....you really put the adventure in the ride. Its such a challenge at the time, so difficult to move on. That feeling of dread that a situation could go haywire is very difficult to stave off. Have to keep calm and keep it together. I applaud your fantastic planning, which I am sure helped save the situation. Plus I am sure you were all prepared.

One of the best RRs Ive seen in a while, and looking forward to more!
Feb 17, 2009
Here is the Video Wrap for Day 2 :popcorn:

[ame="http://vimeo.com/105194699"]Utalorado Day 2 on Vimeo[/ame]


Feb 17, 2009

Day 3: Rio Grande N.F. to San Juan N.F.

Around midnight I remember waking up to the sound of Richard hacking up a lung. It was one of those super deep, ragged coughs where you sorta expected to hear some vomiting going on with it :puke:. I asked him if he was dying, and he said he was feeling pretty queasy – that made me feel better… It’s best not to have to suffer alone :-P. I could hear Lawson snoring occasionally, so I knew he was still alive, and Terry… well he’s a stallion, and I figured he was being kept well by the aura of the mighty KTM. Well, that and the P90x that he claims to do…

Anyhow… I tossed endlessly, biting off maybe 30 minutes of the night at a time – one of the longest nights I can remember. By the time 5am rolled around, I had to get out of the tent. I was having a sort of Closter phobic/vertigo sensation thing going on, so I sat outside against a rock for an hour or so while taking some pictures and video, and trying to not puke while eating a breakfast bar.


I had figured that everyone would be up pretty much at first light, and ready to get up and off the Mesa, but even though they were not sleeping well, they were still giving it the ol’ college try :sleep:.


I also just kept thinking about how much further behind schedule we were getting. We had only made 90 miles yesterday, and I know it’s gonna take several hours to get off the Mesa – we need to be moving :-?.


I go ahead and start tearing town my stuff and packing up. I got over to start my bike, and it’s got barely enough juice to cycle the fuel pump – no starty. Great, pretty much exactly what I wanted to do first thing – pop start the bike. So, with all the reserve energy that I had accrued overnight spent, I got the bike pop-started and kept it running on the second attempt. My concern now was if the battery would charge, so that I would be able to restart it when I stalled it half a million times trying to get up the final climb – I guess we’ll see.

So, by the time I got through struggling with that mess, the guys were up and milling around. And by about 10:15 we were finally ready to start the final climb – an agonizingly slow start (especially if you’d been up since 5am) :doh:.


Of course, we sent Terry up first – if he or his bike can’t make it, then we might as well give up now. But in about 28 seconds he has reached the top. Richard follow up behind, needing on a push here or there. Lawson’s next. I remind him to just commit, and stay in it… He makes it a decent way up the first section before getting bounced off the trail, and with some lifting and pushing; we eventually get his bike to the top. I’m last, which sometimes isn’t a bad thing. You get to see which lines work, and whatnot, but for me on this trail at this elevation it was counterproductive.

My WR250r is completely stock engine wise. I have 14/50 gearing which helps a ton, but you can only do so much when your bike is starving for air and having trouble making any power. Richard and Lawson’s WR’s have the airbox mod, fuel programmer, and pipe. If I watch their bikes struggle to climb, then it just leaves me with a feeble attitude, and a damning sense on the outcome of my attempt :thumbd:.

The only thing that helps is momentum - a running start.


And since it worked so well last time (it didn’t)… I thought I’d try it again :shrug:.

I get bounced off to the left of the trail…


And ramp off a rock on my back onto the trail…


Which ended like so many of you figured…


Looking ahead at the trail, Terry points out a couple of crux spots.


This guy is getting worn out "riding" with us!


I continue up with Terry and Lawson staged at specific points where I might need a push.


And it was right after I cleared the rock garden,


And thought I was home free…


When I officially reached the limit of what a stock WR250R is capable of (with 40 pounds of camping stuff).

It’s somewhere between 12,000’-12,500’ elevation on a trail with about a 30 degree slope.

At wide open throttle the little thumper was gradually slowing down as I continued to climb, until all forward motion was stopped, and a little backwards action started to happen.

Richard runs down to help stop the bike, as it’s starting to slip backwards with both breaks locked.


And with plenty of help, and slipping of the clutch, I eventually make it to the top of the trail.


We made it :clap::thumb::dude::chug::hail::photo::bigokay::party:.

It wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t need to be. The views from up here more than made up for our ugly ascent.


Feb 17, 2009

Day 3 Continued….

The single track across the Mesa was incredible :photo:


Pretty easy-peasy riding across here :rider::rider::rider::rider:,



But I still managed to almost endo when I caught the front wheel in a hole through a water crossing :flip:.


And just to add insult to injury, I ran myself over while pushing the bike out of the creek, and fell flat on my face again (I will stick that part in the Video Wrap for Day 3 – it’s a pretty good laugh) -- I think it speaks to how worn out I was.

So we took it easy while we soaked up the view.


Terry is pumped (for now) to be tearing across the Mesa.


I felt like we were riding across the Mongolian Steppe :shrug:.



What else can I say? The pictures tell it better:


And before very long at all (3 miles or so) we were at the end of the Mesa. Terry was in lead, and told us over the intercom that he had lost the trail – said it just disappeared at the edge of the Mesa :confused:.

When I catch up to him, I break the news that the trails goes straight down this boulder field, “Can’t you see it? It’s right there.”


Terry, in a bit of disbelief, searched around the perimeter edge of the Mesa to ensure we didn’t get off track or miss the trail - I guess he hadn't forgot about my navigational error the day before. It seems we had found Terry’s kryptonite. Terry will climb up the loosest, steepest, most sketch trail, but when it comes to going down loose, big rocky stuff – he’s not so stoked anymore.


But I knew for certain we were in the right spot – I had seen pictures while I was doing my homework. And, I for one would rather be going down something like this… Remember – momentum! And it’s easy to achieve while running downhill :lol2:.

So, we scout the trail down a bit, and find the line we want to take. Richard heads down first, then Terry, Lawson, and I bring up the rear.


It’s pretty gnarly, but we all make it down to the first flat section in one piece...


Get collected, and continue the slow rock crawl out of the scree field.




Slow and methodically… Trying not to create more work for ourselves by having to pick up dropped bikes (too many times)



And about an hour after we first dropped off the Mesa, we were out of the scree field, and back down to an elevation where some trees (and we) could breath,


Oh, wait... Me too, Me too... I wanna be in the pic -- the photographer never gets photographed...


We press on after a break on some pretty sweet single track.


We got hailed on for a quick second…


While we continued to work our way off the mountain.


Less than a mile or so til we junction back with the Hwy.


We meet an older fellow on the trail. And he approves (or does he?)…


Almost there…


Success. We made it, and we are alive – could you ask for more :giveup:?


Finishing up Day 3 in a bit...

Feb 17, 2009

Since we were so far behind schedule, and low on energy, we opt to run up the Hwy to Lake City for a proper meal, fuel, and sundries. If we stay on the intended track, we are not due to hit a town for the rest of the day.


We hit some rain on the way to Lake City, so we stop to throw on the jackets.


There’s a bit of a game we play here: Wait as long as you can before you actually stop and put on your jacket. Sometimes it’s a bit counterproductive because you can end up soaked before you put your jacket on, but sometimes you end up looking like the genius because although the conditions looked threatening, you managed to skirt the weather. We also later introduced a potential penalty: If the group stops because someone wants to switch out gear (whether cold, wet, hot, scared it may rain, etc…) that person has to live with their decision and ride at least one hour before the group is allowed to stop again. So basically it could really suck if you were cold, the group stops so you can put your jacket on, then 5 minutes later we are on some gnarly trail and you are sweating your socks off – gotta live with it for 55 more minutes! We are as mean as any biker group you’ve ever heard of.

In an attempt to save time and consolidate stops, we decided to just eat at the gas station in town that also serves BBQ – against the better judgment and input of Yelp :doh:.


It was a flawed decision in that it took twice as long as it would of if we had hunted and cleaned the meat ourselves, and the BBQ, according to Terry, was the worst he had ever had (it was a pretty pathetic looking hot-link). I’m not complaining though… It was hot food, and I was hungry – just in a hurry too :shrug:.


After hitting the little local “market” we burned back outta town – heading up to Cinnamon Pass., where we junction back up with our original planned route.


We are running the TAT (Trans-America Trail) route through here, which follows several mountain passes. Being that it was Saturday, I was sort of worried about getting stuck behind an ATV convention or Jeep Jamboree…


But it really wasn’t bad… The afternoon Monsoons do a good job of clearing off the mountain.

Getting closer to Cinnamon…


I don’t think it matters how many times you’ve been to Colorado, or heck, even ridden over these same passes-- it is still just awesome.


The riding is cake, so you just get to soak in the scenery :rider::rider::rider::rider:.


And ponder what a tiny spec you are in the grand scheme of things :zen:.


Enjoying the view at the top of Cinnamon Pass, but not for too long – we gotta keep rolling.


Look who's got a second wind? (we'll see if we can't knock it out of him)


We drop down off of Cinnamon...


And pass right through the old mining town of Animas Forks without stopping.

I don’t want y’all to think that I am just a schedule freak… But we have so much riding planned – Remember “Over Ambitious Loop”? All the time we lose, is essentially cool riding that we will miss, and I want to ride it all!

We head up California Gulch,




Looking back the way we came.



And where we are headed...


Brokeback Mountain DS Style?


Well, the real story to the Brokeback pic is that Lawson high sided coming in a little hot around a corner after Cinnamon Pass. We were merely trying to help Lawson straighten out his handlebars by holding the front tire still, and things just got a little outta hand :lol2:.

Back on down the road... We knock out Hurricane Pass and Corkscrew Gulch...


Before we have to run down a small bit of pavement and link up with the road to Ophir Pass.



We make the pass,


And were headed down the mountain, we ran into these folks, who seemed to be in slightly over their heads, 2up on a “new to them” Big GS with street tires (80/20 tires are street tires).


Last year on our Utah Ride, we helped a boat that was stuck out in the desert, and this year we helped a boat that was stuck on Ophir Pass.


Those GS’s are a lot bigger in person! The work to fun ratio was pretty high for that dude :giveup:.

Anyhow, we pulled ahead a bit, and parked to bikes,


And then helped him get through the section that brought them down. We say goodbye, while having done our good deed for the day – and hopefully building up some good karma for the days ahead ;-).

Heading back on down Ophir Pass, we hit another big rocky section. One that was worse than what had taken Mr. GS down. We decided it might be prudent to send Terry back up to them and tell them that they may want to consider bailing and heading back out the way they came.


When he got back up to them, Terry said that Mr. GS was dead set on continuing on – a man after our own hearts… And with equally poor judgment :trust:.

Days later, Terry was still wondering if Mr. GS ever got off of Ophir :lol2:.

On the way out of Ophir, Terry requests a photo for his scrapbook.


Ophir is the last of the big mountain passes, and we work our way out of the Uncompahgre National Forest…


And in to the San Juan N.F. on some big, fast gravel.


We really made some good time on the second half of the day. We are by no means “caught up”, but it definitely felt good to be moving at a decent pace.


We end the day camping off of one of the Jeep Roads in the “Fun, Fun, Fun” section (as Sam has labeled it) of the TAT.


At about 9,000’ elevation, we setup camp, and everybody feels great.


Maybe we are finally acclimating?


We all crash pretty quickly after a while of regaling stories around the fire of how crazy the last day and a half had been.

We need an early start tomorrow, as we head into Utah, and take the secret back door entrance to Geyser Pass in the La Sal’s.



Keeper of the Asylum
Feb 28, 2003
:tab Don't you just love those times where you start to wonder of you've bitten off more than you can chew and whether or not you might not make it...? Rsquared and I have decided that times like that are retro fun. That is, they suck in the moment, but later after the delirium and pain has subsided and you realize you are going to live, there is something inside us that convinces us it really was fun. So we do it again... :doh: It seems to be a recurring event on our trips, hehe.

:tab Great shots. It really makes me want to get back out there. I did a lot of those same passes on a KLR 650. I've yet to get back out there with my KTM 530 EXC, which I know would be much much more fun ;-)
May 13, 2004
Leander, Tx
Awesome so far, m'thinks Colorado is my next frontier... if I can bring myself to finally take the DS instead of the MTB...

:tab Don't you just love those times where you start to wonder of you've bitten off more than you can chew and whether or not you might not make it...? Rsquared and I have decided that times like that are retro fun. That is, they suck in the moment, but later after the delirium and pain has subsided and you realize you are going to live, there is something inside us that convinces us it really was fun. So we do it again... :doh: It seems to be a recurring event on our trips, hehe.

:tab Great shots. It really makes me want to get back out there. I did a lot of those same passes on a KLR 650. I've yet to get back out there with my KTM 530 EXC, which I know would be much much more fun ;-)
:shame: No reading others' ride reports until you do your own :deal:
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Keeper of the Asylum
Feb 28, 2003
Awesome so far, m'thinks Colorado is my next frontier... if I can bring myself to finally take the DS instead of the MTB...

:shame: No reading others' ride reports until you do your own :deal:
Four more weeks of studying, then the test Oct 24th, and I will finally have the much needed free time to work on it. Scoping out someone else's report only takes a few minutes during short and also much needed study breaks :-P I have hours of photo editing to do and probably as much or more for the prose. Although, this one may be the abridged version ;-)
Jul 19, 2006
Patiently waiting for more. I like your trail choices. We were up there in the same time frame.