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Old 11-19-2017, 05:25 PM   #1
dtedwards
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Default Juneau Ak to SLC UT via COBDR

COBDR Part 1: Leaving Juneau, AK
November 18, 2017
Part #1
Planning and Logistics
This will be first of 11-ish posts (let's see if I come back and edit that after I'm done) of my COBDR trip in August 2017.
Back in February, a friend of mine from Colorado Springs asked if I'd be interested in doing the COBDR. Of course I said yes, and commenced planning. Although I've taken my KLR on several long trips through Alaska and Yukon Territory, I'm always looking to make improvements to my luggage, lighting, etc. I also considered several options for transportation... barge to Seattle or ride the ALCAN? Maybe leave my bike "down south" afterward for a winter Mexico trip?

Somewhere along the way I got frustrated with my job. Due to the poor economy that Alaska is facing because of low oil prices, I figured it was time to move on. This of course made COBDR take a back seat. Until it didn't, and then it did again, and then it didn't. I think I sent my friend Bill a message every week either saying the trip was back on, or it was off again.

I put a couple applications in to Union Pacific Railroad, and then got called for an interview in Salt Lake City. I flew down for the interview, and before the day was over I had an offer. I suddenly had less than 5 weeks to move from Juneau, AK to Salt Lake City, UT and report for work. There was no way in hell I could still do COBDR... or was there?

I got back to Juneau the next day and returned to work. I wrote my resignation letter stating that “it was a pleasure” blah blah blah, but I would be leaving in three weeks. Just before I clocked out I hit send. The next morning I got a call from my boss. He was shocked. I told him it had nothing to do with the job, the recent changes, and where it was heading (though it totally did). I just said that I didn’t feel comfortable in the current Alaskan economy, and that I had an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream of being a locomotive engineer. I also added in that some people win the Super Bowl and then after they go to Disneyland, they announce they are going to retire. They are always remembered as champions. Then you’ve got Brett Favre… he won the Super Bowl, was going to retire, wasn’t going to retire, was going to retire… signed with the Jets, and got busted for sending dick pics to a reporter. I don’t want to be Brett Favre.

I now had three weeks to pack up my stuff and get out of town. During that time I also had to go to Seattle for a physical, drug test, and physical abilities testing. That would leave me with about 11 days to get to Four Corners, ride the COBDR, and arrive in Salt Lake to start my training with Union Pacific. Time was of the essence.

I looked at various shipping options for my household goods, car, and bike. Without going into the details of cancellations and other logistical hiccups, I'll just say I loaded what would fit into an ABF U-Pack container, and either sold or gave away the rest. (There's two kayaks and a Snap-On toolbox in Juneau that some people got a really good deal on). I figured I didn't really need my car right away, so I left it in Juneau with a friend with the agreement that I would pay for the ferry to Skagway plus gas/lodging to bring my car down in October. That would be about $750 vs $1200 if I barged it to Seattle, or about $1400 if I rode the ferry all the way to Seattle.

My bike... well, that I put on the AML barge to Seattle. Cost about $250, and took a week.



Remember the part where I said there was a whole bunch of maintenance and upgrades and so forth I wanted to do? Yeah... I never got around to most of that. I had upgraded my welded-on ammo cans to Dirt Racks with quick-release Pelican 1430s back in May. I had also replaced a leaky fork seal with an OEM one that I had already replaced a couple weeks earlier with an aftermarket one... lesson learned. When I was doing it the second time, I wondered if I should also do the other side. Nah... it's been bone dry since I bought the bike, why risk messing it up now? It'll be FINE!!!! (I believe in literary circles this is called foreshadowing)

My last night in Juneau, after a couple cocktails at my favorite watering hole, I went by Mendenhall Glacier for one last look. It was one of the things that had originally attracted me to Juneau, so I thought it was fitting that it be the last thing I see before I left.






The next morning I was up at Zero Dark Thirty to catch the first flight to Seattle. In the airport I ran into someone from my former HR department. I probably shared a little bit too much about why I was leaving... oh well. I also ran into a couple close acquaintances who wished me luck... and then they all gave me bitter sneers when they boarded the plane and saw me sitting in First Class while they had to trudge back to steerage like commoners. At one point during the boarding process, I asked the flight attendant if she could tell the remaining passengers to not make eye contact with the people in the First Class cabin. Then I raised my pinky as I drank my complimentary Mimosa.
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Old 11-19-2017, 05:27 PM   #2
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COBDR Part 2: Seattle to Snoqualmie
November 18, 2017
Part #2
Seattle to Snoqualmie
After an uneventful two and half hour flight, I arrived in Seattle. I normally travel in a way that makes walking easy… usually a big back pack. Unfortunately, whatever bag I brought I was just going to throw out when I got to the barge terminal. So I had picked up a big duffel bag from Fred Meyer and had my riding gear and my clothes bag in it. It made negotiating the Link light rail a little cumbersome, but I managed. Once I got to downtown Seattle, I hit up Uber for a ride to the AML terminal. It should’ve been a 10 minute ride… instead I got a driver that didn’t know how to follow his GPS so I got not one, not two, not three… but FOUR tours of the Port of Seattle.

I found a spot in the shade to drop my gear, and went inside the office to claim my bike. After signing some paperwork, they gave me instructions on how to get through the yard to the pick-up area, and a mandatory safety vest. Once I got my bike I went back to the main parking lot and started gearing up. Seattle was experiencing a heat wave… temps over 100 degrees. I was wondering if my decision to buy the Klim Dakkar pants was a bad idea. I was also wondering if my Fly Trekker II jacket would be too warm… should I have picked up a mesh jacket? Hey… is that fork seal leaking? Nah… probably something from the barge. Anyway, too late now… as one of my favorite YouTube personalities likes to say, “You gotta piss with the dick you’ve got”. Once I was geared up and checked my bike over, it was time to roll. Oh crap… what am I going to do with the duffel bag? I went back to the office, and one of the clerks was happy to take it off my hands.
It was shortly after noon, and I only had to do about 40 miles to make camp , so I figured I’d spend some time in Seattle. There were a couple places I really wanted to go for lunch, but none of them had parking in close enough proximity to a window that I’d feel safe leaving my fully loaded bike. I ended up just hopping on I-90 and heading East.

I’ve never ridden my KLR on an Interstate before. I bought the bike in Alaska, so up until this point the biggest city it had been in was Anchorage. I’ve been through the Whittier Tunnel and while that was challenging, it was nowhere near what I was experiencing going through the tunnels leading out of Seattle. The combination of trying to keep a fully loaded KLR up to speed with traffic, the strobe effect of passing the bright yellow lights on tunnel walls, grooved pavement… I’ve been challenged on bikes before, but this was the first time I ever felt fatal impending doom. Once clear of the tunnels, I felt much better.
I seem to have a bad habit of not taking the exit that has EZ-ON, EZ-OFF gas and food… I took an exit for Bellevue(?) and had to ride about 5 miles until I found fuel for me and my bike. After gas, hydrating, and filling my Camelback up, I was back on the road. I only had about 25 or 30 miles to go to get to the camp site…

Suddenly the bike started running rough. If I eased off the throttle just a bit, it would smooth out. First thought, which is always my first thought, “OMG… CATASTROPHIC ENGINE FAILURE IS IMMINENT!!!”… Then I started thinking about what I know of automotive performance, and what I’ve read on KLR650.net about motorcycles… I figured either clogged gas tank vent, or my petcock was going bad. With the temp over 100, and a full tank of gas, I was pretty sure it was the gas tank vent. I pulled off at the next exit, and opened the gas cap. I was listening for a “whoosh”, but did not hear one. I scratched my head and figured I might as well get back on the road. Once I got back on I-90 I stayed in the right lane. Traffic had thinned out, so I could run a little slower. Instead of 80-85 doing about 6000RPM, I could go about 65 and keep the RPMs just shy of 5K. Bike seemed to like that much better. I’m not sure if it was the slower pace or running with the gas cap open, but it was working quite well until I hit a pothole… and fuel splashed up into my face. I was wearing a Scorpion AT-950 modular helmet. Chin bar was down, but the visor was up. Only eye protection I had was the drop down sun shade. I’m not sure if the splash wasn’t that bad, or if my eyes have just built up an immunity to chemical burns over the years… but I was able to keep rolling.

I eventually made it to the Denny Creek USFS campground around 4PM. Despite being nestled between the east bound lanes and westbound lanes of I-90, it feels much more secluded. I set up camp, and rode a couple miles of gravel and chip-seal road to Snoqualmie, WA.




First order of business was to find out what time the gas station/ quicky mart opened the next morning. I was hoping 24 hours (reasons), but was saddened to hear they didn’t open until 7. Sure… the pumps would be on, but there would be nobody there (anybody know where I’m going with this?). Nothing in town was going to be open at 4AM when I planned on leaving. After a mediocre dinner, I went to the place where I do my best thinking… the brewery.





With all the heat, I decided to stick with Hefeweizen… and lots of water. After a couple beers I hit up the quicky mart for some camp beer and some snacks. Washington has some really great beers, but for some reason, the store I was at had utter crap. With nothing else looking promising, I got a grapefruit something (not a sculpin, maybe a Hefeweizen) because I thought it would be refreshing… got back to camp had a couple sips and thought “NOPE!”. I like grapefruit juice. I like beer. I like grapefruit beer. This thing though… blechhhh.


As I sat on my picnic table trying to trick my mind into going to sleep before the sun went down, a Jeep pulled into the next camp site with some people who for the purposes of legality I’m going to say they were definitely over 21. Yep… definitely not minors. No sir. I figure my options were to carry my 5-pack of beer across the campground to the dumpster, or give it to the kids, I mean young adults, right next to my camp. Despite my disclosure that the beer tasted like crap, they were very grateful. I went back to my tent, and tried to get to sleep sometime before 8.
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Old 11-19-2017, 05:31 PM   #3
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COBDR Part 3: Snoqualmie, WA to Moab, UT
November 18, 2017
Part #3
Snoqualmie, WA to Moab, UT
Over the past two years, I’ve made several trips to the Lower 48 and rented bikes. R1200RT and F800GT for day trips in SLC, a Triumph Tiger for the Oregon and Northern California Coast, and most recently a 1200GS for running errands in Seattle. All of those bikes were a dream to ride, yet I never did more than about 300 miles in a day on any of them. Now here I am, on a fully loaded KLR-650 and I think it’s the perfect time to do a 1000 Mile Iron Butt.

Since the quicky mart wasn’t going to be open, I saw no sense in hitting up the gas station between 3 and 4 AM as originally planned and trying to get a “witness” for my start time. I figured I’d have better luck sometime after 5. I pulled up to the gas pump, and waited. After a few minutes a guy rolls up in an old beater sedan. I’m thinking “meth”, so this will probably be a no-go. Dude gets out, he’s wearing an American flag shirt and a Remington hat… BINGO! He sees the roundel on my faring and asks if my bike is a BMW. “Nope… it’s a KLR-650, same bikes the Marine Corps rides” (I’m winning hearts and minds). He asks where I’m going and I tell him I’m trying to get to Moab, today. “Wow that’s far… you can do that in a day? On that bike?”… and here is where I pounce… I gave him a brief overview of the Iron Butt Association, explained that I needed a witness for my start, etc. Surprisingly he was fine with signing the form with his name and address… I should’ve asked for his mother’s maiden name while I was at it.
Witness: Done.
Fuel: Done:
Gas Receipt with mileage and time stamp: done.
Today is going to be a great day.




Trip starts out mostly uneventful. The sunrise is hazy due to all the forest fires in BC, Wyoming, and Montana. Thanks to my time stationed at Ft Lewis, I have a hate-hate relationship with the Yakima area, so I pretty much just blast through. I do stop at one bridge for a picture though…




I keep rolling. I’m able to keep my speed at about 85MPH (indicated… so about 80 actual). I usually stop about every 60-70 miles to stretch, have a smoke… so every other, or every third stop will be a fuel stop. Sure, I can get well over 200 miles to a tank, but if I’m making frequent stops, might as well get gas too.

I run into a guy on a Goldwing somewhere along I-84 in Oregon. He asks me how to get to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Seems like an odd request. Where’s the closest gas station? Where’s X-town that is within 200 miles? Those make sense, but asking for directions halfway across the country? Best I can offer is “head north/east-ish until you hit I-90 then go East”. Soon a guy on a Harley pulls up. He gives the name of some state highway that will hook the first guy up with I-90.

I continue on, and the hills start getting bigger. I’m able to keep my speed up pretty well, maybe only lose about 5mph. Bike seems to be running good. I’m not getting great fuel economy, but it’s right where I expect it to be with my speed and load. I’m also glad I’m wearing a Camelback. Even with my frequent stops, as the day heats up, I need to constantly drink water. I’m also glad that I’m wearing a modular helmet. Not only does it allow for easy drinking from the bite valve, but it’s also nice to get some quick fresh air on the highway. When I get off the highway, raising the chin bar makes low speed riding tolerable.

“I’m Idaho” –R. Wiggum




Somewhere north of Boise the bike is still running pretty good, and I’m feeling good. Come around a long sweeping turn and traffic is stopped. I come to one of the quickest/hardest stops I’ve ever made on a bike, and I’ve got about a car length between me and the car in front of me. I check my mirror and see a Kia Sol coming in way too fast. I see a spot to my right that I can split the lane and get out of the way. As I’m about to make my move I hear the Kia’s brakes screeching and they cut the wheel and go into the grass median. Thank you Kia guy for doing the hard work. As traffic starts to move again, the Kia pulls out of the median and gets back in traffic.

Traffic is slow, it’s too damn hot, and it’s coming up on lunch time, so I take a break. Also top off my fuel. After a longish stop, I’m back on the road and traffic has thinned. After about 30 miles my bike starts losing power/ bogging down at high RPMs again. I notice if I drop down into 4th and cut my speed a bit, it helps, but my temp is also starting to run high. It gets damn near close to the red, so I pullover and take a long break to let the bike cool down a bit. It won’t cool down that much, considering the air temp is 105. Even running with the gas cap open, I’m having issues. The next couple hundred miles I’m going slow and taking frequent breaks. I’m half tempted to pack it in for the day, but “logic” is telling me it’s a heat/ fuel delivery/ fuel issue. Might as well ride it out.
By the time I get to The Middle of Nowhere, it’s about 6PM and my bike seems to be running better.




I make it to Salt Lake City sometime after 8PM. If I was smart, I’d stop here, and spend the next 10 days looking for a place to live… but where’s the fun in that? I’m behind schedule, but I still have enough time to get to Moab. As I exit I-15 and start on US-6, I get to thinking about how much I hate riding at night, and it will be worse on a US highway than the Interstate. Then I see red blinky lights… oh crap… windmills. That means wind. That means I’m about to get knocked all over the road. Surprisingly, it’s not that bad, but I could’ve done without it. As the road twists and climbs, I can’t help but think that this probably a great road… during the day. At night? Not so much. As I’m approaching Soldier Summit, I see a Union Pacific train coming down the mountain toward me. Yep… soon I’ll be running that train.

As I start to descend down the other side of the pass, I can sort of make out canyon walls. I make a mental note, and decide to come back here once I’m settled in SLC. I make it into Helper, UT and stop for fuel and snacks. Some gal rides up on a bicycle and asks me for a light. She sees my Alaska license plate and starts asking me all kinds of questions. It got really weird, really quick. 120 miles to Moab… it’s time to go.

Once I pass the town beyond helper, US-6 runs straight. Dead straight. Do that for a while, and then hop onto I-70. Do that for about 20 minutes and now it’s US191 to Moab. I roll into Moab and have to find gas. I don’t need gas, but I need the time-stamped receipt for Iron Butt. Yes, this pic doesn’t have the time stamp. I recently purged my phone of duplicate pics. This one was “better” than the “official” one I used for time verification.




It’s sometime after 3 and I’m exhausted. About a week ago I had emailed a hotel and said I wasn’t sure if I was coming on Thursday or Friday. They said it didn’t matter; they’d have a room for me. Let’s see about that… I go to the hotel and the office is closed, so I call the number on the door and a groggy guy answers. I ask for a room and he says they’re full. I say oh… somebody told me in an email that I didn’t need a reservation and you’d have a room for me. Then he asked me my name… “Oh yeah… we saved a room for you. I’ll be right down”.

Big shout-out to the Virginian Motel. Holding a room for two nights in the middle of the tourist season without a credit card? Mind blown. Oh yeah, they also received and held onto my new tires for me. Plus they have a spot for bike maintenance/ cleaning (bicycle not motorcycle… but I’m sure nobody would complain).

I forget the exact stats… but it was something like 1040 miles in 22 hours. All I know is I was hot, tired, and relieved that my bike was still running and I had a bed for the night.

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Old 11-19-2017, 05:38 PM   #4
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COBDR Part 4: Moab, UT
November 18, 2017
Part #4
Moab, UT

Despite having gone to bed sometime after 3, I woke up shortly after 7. Part of me wanted to sleep in, but part of me felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Growing up in Jersey, I used to see pictures of Moab in the four wheel drive magazines I religiously read. We didn’t have sceneryremotely like that on the East Coast, so for me it was a mythical, magical place. Even when I got a Jeep, as much as I wanted to, I never thought it would be possible to go to Moab for a Jeep Jamboree. It didn’t seem real. It was probably just a sound stage next to the one where they faked the moon landing. Lack of sleep be damned, time to get up.
First order of business is breakfast…




After breakfast it was time for a planned tire change. After watching the review on Fortnine.ca, I decided to go with the Motoz Tractionator. It sounded like it had similar capabilities of the Heidenau K-60, but came with a much deeper tread yielding even more mileage. I picked up my pre-ordered tires from The Virginian Hotel’s front office and got to work. A set of Canadian Tire hockey pucks under my center stand meant I wouldn’t need to use my trail jack, and within 30 minutes I had my front still-serviceable-after-18K-miles Shinko 705 swapped out for the Motoz Tractionator. I also noticed that the fork seal I was concerned with did in fact seem to be leaking. Eh… there’s lots of fluid in there, it’s not on the brake side… I’ll be fine. I pulled off my quick-release Pelican 1430s from my Dirt Racks rear rack and the bike tilted forward giving me clearance to pull my rear wheel off.

I had a friend that used to run Avon Distanzias, and I came to hate them. Though a similar tread pattern to the Shinko 705, they cost about twice as much, didn’t last as long, and were a bear to mount, break beads, and dismount. Whenever we’d have to work on his tires in his garage we’d spend time “dancing” on the wheel, cursing, and eventually resorting to a C-clamp. I’ve changed enough 705s over the years that I’ve never felt the need to have a bead breaker… oh crap… back in June I had swapped a well worn 705 for a close-out Distanzia… no worries, I’ve got skills. I’ll have this bead broken in no time… Or an hour… Or two… man, this desert heat is starting to take a toll on me…

How about I walk across the street to True Value and get a C-clamp?

Twenty minutes and $10 later I had a new “bead breaker” for my tool kit, the Distanzia off, and was on my way to mounting the Tractionator and exploring Moab.

I still had to properly dispose of my two tires, and with late morning temps nearing 100 and expected to keep climbing I also needed to come up with a better clothing option. I headed down the road to a motorcycle/ powersports shop. I was hoping for a lightweight mesh jacket or body armor, but they didn’t have any. I ended up just getting some elbow pads and a jersey… which of course the only one in my size was the most obnoxious thing I’ve ever seen. For an extra $10 they took my old tires off my hands for proper disposal.

I didn’t feel 100% comfortable riding without proper abrasion resistance and impact protection on my upper body. On the other hand, I figured I’d barely break 30MPH for the day and I had a higher likelihood of heat stroke than I did of crashing my bike. Within 1 minute of being on my bike, I knew I made the right clothing choice for the day. I will say that the Fly Trekker 2 jacket that I had been wearing does vent pretty well on the highway, but off the bike or for “around town” it is mostly unbearable over 80-85 degrees.

First place I went was Arches National Park. While I wasn’t in the mood to be hanging out with a bunch of geriatrics in RVs, I figured it was a must see place.




I stopped at the Fee-Station and asked how I could get the quickest “I’ve been to Arches” picture. She told me the name of some trail or parking lot… I totally didn’t get what she said. I nodded, paid my fee and rode off…
I think this might’ve been “Wall Street”?




And another random one that shows a bit of my tacky jersey, and my need for a haircut




I didn’t get any pictures of actual arches… I don’t usually bother taking pictures that are “contaminated” by random Tourons™ when a quick Google search or trip to a post card shop will yield a pristine shot that shows the subject in all its splendor. I also wasn’t really in the mood to be around people. Partially because I had just moved from a tourist mecca and wanted to avoid that, and I wanted pictures that showed a solitary adventure… not a guided with sack lunches, buffets, and entertainment.

In one of the parking lots I saw what looked like a dirt road. The sign said something to the effect of “stay on marked roads”, which I interpreted as a road marking. To the bewilderment of a group of Silver Citizens™, I jumped the curb and road off into the vast rugged territory of Arches… Did I ever mention the part where I don’t have any real off-road experience? Or that I had aired my new tires up to “fully loaded highway spec”, not “sand dune”? Yeah… I got just out of sight of the parking lot (thank God), came around a corner and hit deep sand. Front end started to plow in. Since I was in doubt, I throttled out… let me tell you… those Tractionators dug right in and whipped the rear and of the bike around.

Normally this is the part of the show where I’d take the fail pic. Unfortunately, I was still running with my gas cap open, so fuel was leaking on the ground. I’m not sure if it is my sense of stewardship towards nature and public lands, or my fear of getting a talking to from a Ranger, but I quickly got the bike back upright. I slowly rode it away from the scene of the crime, and then stopped to catch my breath, decide where to go, and of course take a picture.




Aside from “Arches National Park”, I didn’t know where I was, or what was around. Nobody else knew where I was. I only had about 1L of water in my Camelback, no map, and no cell service… I still had a week of COBDR ahead of me… might as well go back to the main road and see what else Moab had to offer.
I headed over towards Canyonlands…




Monitor and Merrimack




There was still a solid 30 miles to go to get into the park. Something I’ve learned while driving/ riding through Alaska and The Yukon Territory is that after a while you get desensitized to the landscape. I figured I’d head back into town, hit up the brewery and then catch up on some sleep.




Utah has some… odd… alcohol laws. Draught beer has to be below 5%. Bottles and cans from either a State store or bar can be “high-point”, but from a gas station it is capped at something like3.5%. I’m used to drinking pints of Old Rasputin, Narwhal, or Irish Death. They run anywhere from 8 to 12%. I’m also used to ordering a shot of Jameson and it starts out as about two long shots, but then the bartender pours long… not in Utah. Shots are metered so a shot is an actual shot. In a weird way, I kind of like this. I normally need N drinks to feel good, but usually end up drinking N+3. In Utah, (N+3) * (coefficient of Utah) ends up putting me in a place where I can actually wake up in the morning. I figured I’d be okay having one or two pints of 4% Hefeweizen, along with some poutine and still be able to ride back to the hotel. Definitely wasn’t traditional poutine, nor was it the best I’ve ever had. But it was still fries, cheese, gravy… and big hunks of meat. No complaints from me. The Hefeweizen was okay, I wouldn’t seek it out, but if offered I’d definitely drink it again.




Another odd thing about Utah is they sell ice cream EVERYWHERE. Moab Brewing had an ice cream stand inside the brewery.

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Old 11-19-2017, 05:39 PM   #5
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COBDR Part 4 Continued...

I went back to the hotel, parked the bike, ditched my riding gear, and set out on foot to see what type of night-life Moab had to offer. It was just past dinner time on a Friday, so the bar scene hadn’t picked up yet. I found it was mostly non-bar people hanging out in bars because they were on vacation. Not my crowd. I ended up at an ice cream shop that uses Liquid Nitrogen. I had a sample of Cheet-Oh ice cream, then settled on Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream. I was really good, but I’m not sure I’d pay the premium price for “Nitro” ice cream on a regular basis. There was a big rainstorm outside, so I hung around and chatted with one of the gals at the ice cream shop. I mentioned how I used to hate in Alaska when people would say to tourists “Thanks for bringing the sunshine!”, yet here I am bringing the rain. Turns out she worked for a couple summers in Ketchikan… so we swapped horror stories of working in tourism in Alaska.




It was now approaching bar time. I considered doing the rounds to see what was up, but I was still lacking sleep, exhausted from the heat, and just generally apathetic towards a Big Friday Night. I ended up going back to the hotel and getting a good night’s rest.
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Old 11-19-2017, 05:45 PM   #6
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COBDR Part 5: Moab, UT to Four Corners
November 18, 2017
Part #5
Moab, UT to Four Corners

Prior to the trip, Bill and I had discussed our starting point. We both knew that Four Corners was a tourist trap, and the ride from Four Corners to the start of the off-road portion of COBDR would be nothing spectacular. On the other hand, we’re both suckers for a good photo op, and believers that if you’re going to do something, you have to do the whole thing. We decided we’d get a hotel somewhere near Delores, CO, hit up Four Corners, and then head out the following morning for the “real” COBDR.

This plan meant I had a whole day to cover a little over 100 miles, estimated at about 2 hours of riding time. I considered going to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, but I didn’t want my sensory overload from Moab to dull the experience. I decided I’d head to Durango. I figured it would stretch the day and be a good lunch spot. After breakfast I headed south out of Moab. Despite my aversion to “contaminated” pictures, I decided to stop at an arch I passed along the way. I couldn’t go to Arches and not get at least on picture of an arch.




Before I knew it, I was crossing into Colorado…




Across the road from the Colorado sign was Stateline Bar & Grill. I wasn’t particularly hungry, nor was I dressed like a pirate, so I limited this stop to just a roadside photo-op and a smoke.




After passing through a bunch of small towns and some intermittent rain showers, I got to Durango, CO. I suppose I could pretend that I wanted to go to Durango for its vast history and culture, or perhaps to railfan at the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Nope. My real reason for going to Durango was to take a picture of “the sign” so I could make a cheesy post on Facebook for my buddy Durango Steve.




After getting that out of the way, it was time for lunch. Unless I’m eating gas station/ fast food, or a specific place is recommended, I usually pick breweries for meals. For one, beer. Duh. Secondly, they usually have a good menu that’s more exciting than fried crap at a dive bar, but not so froo-froo that I have to make reservations, dress fancy and keep my pinky out. Carver Brewing Company fulfilled those requirements to a T. I got the Tatanka Burger (bison, bacon, green chiles, queso fresco, garlic aioli) and thanks to slightly cooler weather I went with the Iron Horse Oatmeal Stout (on nitrogen).





After wandering around downtown Durango a bit, I headed out. I was on schedule to meet up with Bill at the hotel outside of Cortez, so when I got to Mesa Verde I only did a quick photo-op at the sign. I probably would’ve passed it entirely, but I couldn’t resist the urge to make a Better Call Saul post on Facebook.










As I was making my way to the hotel I stopped to upload the Mesa Verde pics. I was looking at my selfie and thought, “wow… I really need a haircut”. With the pictures uploaded, I hopped on my bike and wondered if there was a barbershop around. Yep… the wall I had been leaning on was a barbershop. Back off the bike, go inside… sadly they didn’t use straight razors, but there was no wait so I hopped in the seat.

With my melon shaved as close as a set of clippers can go and my moustache trimmed enough so I could once again eat sunnyside up eggs, I was back on the road. I considered stopping at one of the multitude of liquor stores I was passing to pick up some whiskey for my camping bottle. I decided I’d wait till I got to the hotel. It was a Reservation casino, so I figured I could get my booze tax free.
As I approached the Ute Mountain Casino I thought it looked typical of other native casinos I’ve seen around the country: a symbol of opulence rising out of a barren landscape. I parked my bike under the carport and went inside to check in.

Full disclosure: When finding a place to stay for Day 0 of COBDR, I let Bill pick the place. He lives near Colorado Springs, so I figured he’d have a better take on what was available. He said the pickins in Cortez and Dolores were slim, so he suggested this place. I had originally considered having my tires shipped here, so I had booked the room for us.
I’m at the check-in counter, and the clerk has to step into the office for a minute. I start looking around and…

NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




As I wipe the tears from my eyes, Bill walks in to the lobby. I point out the sign and he is equally taken aback. We discuss our gameplan for the evening. We decide to head to Four Corners for our Iditarod-esque Ceremonial Start of the COBDR, and if there’s any place on the way back we’ll stop for food. Otherwise we’ll hit up the casino buffet.
After waiting in line, it’s our turn for a picture. Somebody from the line took it for us:






After that we decide we needed a picture of our bikes. There was a dirt plateau right next to the Four Corners pavilion so we headed of there. The early afternoon rain turned the approach into a greasy mess. I was able to keep my bike up, but I was really doubting my decision to start my “off road career” on the COBDR.




We rode the 40 or so miles back to the hotel, got our gear squared away, and headed to dinner. As we were walking through the casino floor to the restaurant I made some observations that I kept to myself, but would eventually be discussed at dinner. Since it was Saturday night, tye pulled out all the stops and there was a 15-ish dollar Prime Rib buffet. Bill and I have both eaten countless meals in military dining facilities (that’s what snowflakes call chow halls) as well as fancy jacket-required type spots so we have a broad base when reviewing food. We both pretty much agreed that we were getting plenty of calories for $15. I don’t recall what the name of the place was, but it might as well have been “Sysco Café”. I’d rate it a notch or two below Old Country Buffet.

While eating dinner our conversation inevitably turned towards the business model of Ute Mountain Casino. Places like Vegas, Atlantic City, and the tribal casinos in Connecticut are ritzy places that draw people from all over the world. Sure, if you look behind the glitz and glamour, there’s plenty of heartbreak and despair. But in a place like this… It’s not a destination with the ruse of high society living. All of the patrons are local. Sure, the casino provides plenty of jobs, but I’d guess most of them are barely above minimum wage. How much of community’s paycheck and retirement check gets wasted here on a daily basis? The view on the casino floor isn’t excitement, it’s sadness. It’s one thing to fleece rubes from out of town, but in my eyes, this place was like selling drugs in your own neighborhood. Somebody’s getting rich, but at what cost?
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Old 11-19-2017, 05:51 PM   #7
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COBDR Part 6: Dolores to Telluride
November 18, 2017
Part #6
COBDR Day 1: Dolores to Telluride
Bill and I got up early-ish and went to the restaurant in the hotel. It was better than dinner, but then again, breakfast is pretty hard to screw up. We then rode the 30-or-so miles to Dolores. In Delores we topped off our fuel and aired down our tires.

Bill has quite a bit of experience riding off-road. He was talking about going down to about 10 PSI. I, on the other hand, have a lot of experience working in tire shops and an active imagination. Sure, I “know” you can run tires real low off road, but in my head I kept seeing beads getting thrown, tubes getting pinched, rims getting destroyed… I think I ended up airing down to about 18 PSI.

Getting out of “downtown” Dolores required a couple u-turns. This would be the start of questionable navigation that would last until the end of the COBDR. Once we made it to the trail, all was good. It starts out as a county(?) road… two lane, hard packed gravel. As the road twists and turns, it starts to climb. Eventually we ended up in a wooded area that seemed like a local recreation spot. A bunch of 4-wheelers, pickups, I think I noticed some campsites…

The route led us into the woods on a single lane “road”. It was mostly hard packed dirt, but there were a few sections that had mud. I’m not sure of the exact time frame, but I’m guessing it was about 40 minutes from Dolores when I encountered the first of this mud. I guess you can say it ended swimmingly.







I tried to pick my bike up by myself, but as I would lift, instead of the bike standing up, I’d sink into the mud. Bill came back and gave me a hand from the dry side, and soon we were off. Eventually we got to some drier, yet rockier, terrain. There were a couple turns that we missed, so we had to double back. It got to the point that anytime there was a junction, we’d stop, consult the map and our GPSs, then flip a coin.

I had added a cheap E-Bay windshield spoiler to my bike. It worked great on the highway but even in the lowered position it was obstructing my visibility on the trail. On one of our navigation breaks, I flipped it upside down so it would be out my way. It took just a minute and made seeing road so much easier.

At times the trail would follow power lines, then drop back to a county road, then back to the power lines. A couple of times there were fences with rudimentary gates that had to be opened (and closed behind us) to hold in grazing cattle.

Eventually we got back on a gravel county road with wide sweeping turns and the occasional random house. This led is up to Groundhog Reservoir. There’s a little store, but I don’t remember if they had gas. We stopped for a break and were admiring a 1200GS and a 1290 Adventure. We met the riders, Bill (BMW) and Rich (KTM) and chatted for a bit. We ended up riding with them the rest of the day.





After a bit more gravel county road, we got back into some wooded areas. The trail was a mostly hard packed dirt 4X4 road. KLR Bill and KTM Rich were having a lot of fun tearing it up, while BMW Bill and I were being more cautious. These roads twisted, turned, climbed, dropped… I’m generally really good with direction but I was so focused on the riding that if you asked me which way was left, I probably would’ve just drooled.







As we started making our way out of the wooded hills, a light rain started. We stopped so everybody could put on rain gear. I don’t have raingear. My Fly Trekker 2 jacket has a waterproof liner that has kept me dry for days on end, and my old riding pants (Bilt Explorer) were surprising waterproof as well. Bill told me that the Klim Dakkar pants I was wearing would not keep me dry in a downpour. Well, I had no choice but to ride on. The rain never got too bad, and I stayed dry.




Eventually the dirt 4X4 road brought us back to a gravel county road, then a couple of miles of pavement to Telluride. By the time we hit Telluride, the sky opened up and the rain was coming down pretty hard. Rich and BMW Bill made reservations at a hotel. Bill and I planned on waiting out the storm over a late lunch and perhaps an adult beverage or two.


Bill and I parked our bikes downtown and went in search of food. Somebody pointed us towards Telluride Brewing Company. We discussed our plans for sleeping for the night, It was late afternoon, and still raining. The only thing worse than camping in the rain is camping in the rain on the first night. After a couple beers, and maybe a shot or two, the decision was made for us. Of course, by now it was early evening, and the weekend of Telluride Jazz Fest. We were able to get one of the last rooms in town, and while it was more than we really wanted to spend, we couldn’t safely ride anywhere and we also didn’t want to camp in cold rain. Sometime during this, Rich and Bill showed up and the drinks started flowing more.

We eventually left the brewery, and went to the hotel. Bill was getting ready to rack out, but I had to look for a memory card adapter. So I headed back out. I ran into group of guys from Washington on Super Teneres and chatted a bit, then went back to crash and sleep off my drinks.

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Last edited by dtedwards; 11-19-2017 at 05:53 PM.
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Old 11-19-2017, 06:03 PM   #8
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COBDR Part 7: Telluride to Lake City
November 18, 2017
Part #7
COBDR Day 2: Telluride to Lake City

In the morning we went for breakfast and coffee and ran into Rich. We weren’t sure if we wanted to continue riding with Rich and Bill, but since we were all leaving at pretty much the same time, our lot was cast. The previous day, BMW Bill had been having issues. We discussed tire pressure, and it turned out both Rich and Bill were running highway pressure. On the way out of town, we stopped for gas.

While at the gas station we made adjustments to our tires. I think KLR Bill had been running about 15 PSI, and he decided to drop to about 10. I was somewhere around 18, and decided to drop to around 13. BMW Bill considered going to about 20, but first, like EVERY BMW rider I have ever encountered, he had to consult the owner’s manual about tire pressure, traction control, ABS… And like every BMW rider I have encountered, the manual didn’t have an answer, and it left him bewildered.

Finally we were on the road. It started out with two lane pavement, and then some hard packed gravel and dirt. This led us into the “town” of Ophir. It’s not so much a town, but rather a collection of ramshackle houses on a dirt road grid. Soon the road became a rocky one lane Jeep trail. We got to a small stream crossing, and making it through that was a huge relief. I have blown two Jeep engines due to water crossings gone awry, so getting my bike through even the smallest bit of water for the first time was a much needed boost of confidence.







Soon the trail started to climb. I made it about halfway up, my bike stalled and I dropped it on its side. I was running a 16 tooth front sprocket that I had intended to change to a 14 in Moab, and now I was regretting the decision to be lazy. I was able to get my bike back upright, but was having issues getting going. Rich had stopped at the top, so he came down and helped support my bike as I took off. When I crested the hill, I decided to go as fast as I could so I wouldn’t bog down again. I saw Bill a ways ahead, so I figured I’d stop when I got to him. I was trying not to fight the bars, and instead be relaxed and let the bike do the hard work, I probably should’ve been scared by how close I was to the edge, but I thought I was “doing it right” and was doing a good job of not being timid. When I caught up to Bill he told me he thought for sure I was going to go over the edge.











Bill and I were waiting at this spot for a while. We knew Rich had made it up past the “hard” part, so we were assuming BMW Bill was having issues. First Bill headed down to lend a hand. Then after a few minutes I walked down as well.

Bill had dropped his GS in about the same spot I had dropped my KLR. Like me, he was having issues getting rolling again. He had me, Bill, and Rich holding his bike up so he could just give it gas and go. But it wasn’t going. It was a long arduous task of trying to figure out how to turn off traction control, ABS, what rider mode to use… with each attempted change to the electronics requiring opening the top box, digging out the manual, thumbing through it… Oh, and did I mention that after each attempted adjustment, it was: put the helmet back on, put on the glasses, get on the bike, complain the glasses were fogged up, take off the glasses… I think Rich ended up riding the bike out of this spot for him.

Eventually I was approaching the last climb to Ophir Pass. There was a tight hairpin turn that also had a wide turn-out. I took the regular tight turn, which required me to bleed of speed. Thanks to my 16 tooth front sprocket, I didn’t have quite enough oomph to make it all the way to the top. Once again, I dropped my bike. This time, I busted a mirror. I also bashed my shin pretty good.

In preparation for this trip, I had picked up a pair of Alpinestars Belize boots. They are essentially the same as the Corazol, except they are “low”. I figured they would be better for long distance touring than the Corazol’s. Turns out the thing they are best for is being just low enough that a KLR footpeg is guaranteed to bash your shin just above the level of the boot on a get-off.

Bill and I made it to the top of Ophir Pass on our KLRs and commenced waiting for Rich and Bill. We were both getting frustrated with our lack of progress due to BMW Bill. We were trying to figure out a way to gracefully ditch them. I’ve gotta say though, I kind of liked having BMW Bill around. It made my lack of skill not seem so bad. I was half afraid that if we ditched them, then KLR Bill would look at me as dead weight. “You don’t have to be faster than the bear, just faster than the slowest guy”









Eventually Bill and I walked down the trail and met up with Rich and Bill. Not only was his GS down, but it was blocking the road. There was a guy leading a Jeep tour that got a little uppity with us… I told him we were working on it… with all of the flair of a guy born and raised in Jersey. After a couple false starts, we eventually moved Bill’s GS off to the side so the Jeep tour could come down. Then after a couple more attempts, he was finally able to make it up to Ophir Pass.

At the top of the pass Rich sort of hinted to us that he’d understand if we wanted to take off without him and Bill. While this was precisely the opportunity Bill and I were looking for, we didn’t take him up on his offer. For starters, we really liked Rich. He was a great guy with a great personality. Despite looking like Wilford Brimley and being in his late 60s, he was riding his KTM 1290 Adventure like a kid on a YZ-80.

Bill on the other hand… he wasn’t a bad person, but he didn’t really add anything to the mix. Sure, I was dropping my bike a lot too. I think the difference was I’d always jump up and either sound off with a “WOOHOO!” or a string of miss-placed expletives… then almost immediately get to work on getting rolling again. Sure… sometimes I’d get help, but I was willing to try to get myself out of a jam. When Bill would drop his bike, he’d take off his glasses, then his helmet. Set it down, put his glasses back on, look at his bike. On several occasions both Bill and I tried to show Bill how to use his body to hold up his bike. “Just let it lean on your hip”. Heck, at one point I got so frustrated that I grabbed him from behind and shoved his hip into the side of the bike. Bill and I both felt that BMW Bill’s helplessness would be a safety risk for Rich. We decided to stay together, but Bill and I both had in the back of our minds that this was our last day riding in a group of four.

Heading down the backside of Ophir Pass was a cakewalk. I even saw a Toyota Corolla driving up it. We soon made our way to the Million Dollar Highway for about 10 or 15 miles of pavement riding.



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Old 11-19-2017, 06:04 PM   #9
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COBDR Part 7 Continued

We pulled into a dirt parking lot where a trail would lead up to Corkscrew Pass. Rich asked Bill how he felt, and if he would rather continue on the highway. Bill said he was fine to continue on, so as a group, continue on we did. The trail started with an easy climb on mostly hard packed dirt. There were a few areas with big whoops, and a couple of muddy puddles. At times there was also some rock, but it was mostly loose and no bigger than baseball size.

As I was approaching a hairpin turn, I saw a pullout. I considered taking it to get set up for the next climb, but instead I followed the inside track. Just like on the approach to Ophir, this caused me to bleed off too much speed and halfway up the climb my bike ran out of steam. And just like Ophir, my bike decided to take a dirt nap.

After a less than graceful dismount I assessed the situation and OH CRAP… BMW Bill was headed right for me. I pointed to the side of the trail where there was plenty of room, but he ended up crashing into my KLR. With a little bit of help from Rich and KLR Bill, we separated the bikes and I was able to continue on to a nice flat spot up a ways. I waited up here for the rest of the crew to join me. I would’ve walked back down and helped, but I was super winded, so I was sucking on oxygen. But because I’m not the smartest person, I also sucked down a cigarette or two.





Eventually Bill made it to where I was. We all took a break, and KLR Bill tried to give BMW Bill pointers on how to balance his bike. He was trying to show that it required much more force, and was near impossible, to stand away from the bike, lean across it, and hold the handlebars to keep it up. It was an exercise in futility. If I had graph paper with me I would’ve started drawing free-body diagrams, and calculating moments of inertia to show him that if his bike was one degree off vertical, but leaning on him, it would take very little force to keep it upright.

There were a couple false starts, and Bill dropped his GS a few more times, but finally we were moving again. After another short climb, we made it to Corkscrew Pass, and made a quick stop for pictures.






From Corkscrew, we dropped a couple thousand feet, and then started a climb to Hurricane Pass. Somehow I got into the lead, and didn’t see anybody behind me, so I stopped on what I thought was the flattest part of the climb to wait for the rest of the group to catch up. It might have been the flattest spot, but that didn’t help. Once everybody caught up to me, I hit the gas, went about 40 feet, and stalled. And fell. I picked my bike up, got on, let out the clutch and stalled… and fell. So I picked up the bike, let out the clutch, stalled, and fell again. I’m not sure how many times I did this… maybe 4 or 5? On the last iteration I decided I needed a better plan. Instead of picking up the bike, I just grabbed one of the Dirt Racks crash bars, and dragged the bike around so it was pointing downhill. Then I picked up the bike, and rode it down about 40 feet to a turnout. I got myself together, cranked the throttle, and finally made it up the trail.

As I was approaching Hurricane Pass, I suddenly had a very uneasy feeling. My chest was tight, I was a bit dizzy, and I didn’t feel fully aware of my surroundings. I parked my bike and told Bill I needed help. Since I always think worst case scenario first, I assumed I was having a heart attack. Luckily, Bill has lots of EMS type training from the Coast Guard and Fire Department, so he immediately recognized my distress as lack of oxygen.

He had me take off my Camelback and jacket, then lay down. He grabbed the bottle of 02 off my bike (which he had bought for me because he knew going from sea level to 12K+ ft would be rough), and had me relax and suck on the bottle for a while.

After a couple minutes, I felt much better, so I started to get up. Bill asked me what I was doing and I told him I wanted to grab my smokes. I don’t remember his exact words to me, but I'm pretty sure they included F***, idiot, moron, etc. I relaxed for a few more minutes, then got up to take some pics.








Now that I was properly oxygenated and smokificated, and we all got our pictures, it was time to move on. From Hurricane Pass, the trail descended with many steep rocky sections. For some reason I was feeling really great about my riding abilities, so I was going faster than I had gone on any other portion of the trail. I was really enjoying myself, but I also had in the back of my mind that at any moment it could all go terribly wrong. I was also reminded of this every time my front suspension bottomed out. I was guessing that the right fork had puked out all of its fluid through the leaking, now probably straight up blown, seal. Still, I was having fun, and we were making great time.

Then, all of a sudden, all I could see beyond the rock ledge I was descending was nothing. We all know how KLR brakes are, even with a 320MM front rotor… there was no way in hell I was stopping. Only one thing to do… address the severity of the situation in my best Waylon Jennings voice, and ride it out.

Just like the Dukes of Hazzard coming back from a nail-biter commercial break, I somehow evaded disaster. I really have no idea how I didn’t just endo and have my forks crumple up underneath the bike, but I was still rolling, so life was good. We all met up a couple hundred feet down the trail. Surprisingly, we all made it off the ledge without damaging our bikes or ourselves.

We then continued on, and the rocks gave way to dirt. Rounding a big curve, we came to a wide spot in the road. About 75% of the width was straight up mud bog that was partially occupied by Razers. Rich and Bill were ahead of me, so I couldn’t see what type of technique they used to get through the mud that looked passable for our bikes. Before entering the mud, BMW Bill and I stopped to assess the situation. I went first, and I used the ol’ “close your eyes, hit it hard, and pray” technique. I made it about 75% of the way through and then my front tire started to dig in a bit. Since I was in doubt, I throttled out.

Let me tell you something about the Motoz Tractionator… they will dig and churn and keep a bike moving. Yep… it started getting the rear end of my bike moving faster than the front, and before I knew it, I was the dumpling in a big old bowl of mud soup. A couple guys off the Razers came over to give me a hand getting my bike back up. As we were lifting, I noticed something wasn’t quite right with my left footpeg. I thanked the guys, remounted, and slowly rode out of the mud and caught up to Rich and Bill.

When I met them, I said that BMW Bill would probably need some help and that I needed a few minutes for a quick repair. Before I even finished though, Bill rode up. He made it through the mud unscathed. He said he saw that my initial “technique” didn’t work, so he just took it nice and slow and had no issues.

Meanwhile, I needed to check out my footpeg. The bolts, which I stupidly had never Loctited, had worked loose a little bit. I tightened them up almost 2 turns, and was able to get about a half a turn on the right side bolts. Disaster averted, but once again, my Alpinestars Belize “low” boots reminded me that they were just low enough to allow my footpeg to bash my shin on a getoff. I made a quick check, and yep… there was some blood. Nothing major, so we rolled on. Eventually we came to an abandoned mining town.





After the mine, the road got “faster”, until we approached a water crossing. I was wondering if this was the one that I had seen so many videos about. We should probably stop and come up with a gamepla-… Rich and Bill were through it like it wasn’t there, so without hesitation; I leaned on the throttle and went through as well. Turns out, it was not the one I was thinking of. Despite no issues with our reckless abandon approach, I would recommend that anybody that comes through there might want to check the depth and water flow before crossing.

After a full day of rocks, mud, and water, I don’t really remember anything significant about the road conditions to our last pass. I’m not sure if it was that easy, or I was just so tired that it didn’t register with me. At any rate, we eventually made it to Cinnamon Pass.





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Old 11-19-2017, 06:05 PM   #10
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COBDR Part 7 Continued... again

From Cinnamon Pass, it was mostly an okay gravel road, with the occasional boulder or rock slab to keep you honest. Once we got into tree line, the road became more hard packed dirt with the occasional rock or tree root. This continued on for a few miles and came into a National Forest recreation area with campsites, which then gave way to a lake with cabins, and eventually a paved road that led us in to Lake City.




Once again, Rich and Bill booked a hotel. Bill and I had planned on going back towards the lake to camp. On the other hand, a couple beers could go great with dinner at the café, the sky was looking dark and stormy… We ended up getting a hotel room too.

After a mediocre dinner, Bill and I started planning our route for the next day. I had downloaded the GPS tracks from SheADV, and it showed one section where there was an “easy” way, and a “hard” way. The “easy” way was Cottonwood Pass, but it was closed for construction. We didn’t know how hard the hard way would be; hard as opposed to easy? Or hard as in “the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life”? Fearing that it would be the latter, Bill plotted a route over Tincup Pass. It just so happened that I had bought a fifth of Tincup Whiskey, so this sounded like a good omen.
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Old 11-19-2017, 06:11 PM   #11
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COBDR Part 8: Lake City to Tincup Pass
November 18, 2017
Part #8
COBDR Day 3: Lake City to Tincup Pass

After a breakfast and some coffee, Bill decided he needed to adjust the mounting of his muffler. I pulled out my toolkit, and we swapped positions of a spacer so his muffler wouldn’t rub on his side panel. Since I had my tools out, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to double check my footpeg mounting bolts.

The right side bolts were ever so slightly loose, so I put some Blue Loctite on them and torqued them to German Spec: Good n Tight. Then I saw that the footpeg on the left side was loose. I put some Blue Loctite on the bolts and tried to tighten them. The rear bolt seemed to want to get snug, but I had nothing on the front. GODDAMITSOMUCH!

By this time, Rich and Bill were loading up their bikes, so we decided we would ride together for another day. I told them I had to find a shop to make some type of repair, so we headed out of Lake City towards an ATV rental and tour place that I thought might be able to help me. The owner said that he didn’t work on stuff, but there was a guy around the corner who worked on all manner of recreational equipment. I knew I was in the right place when I saw a yard filled with carcasses of ATVs and snow machines. I showed the guy my predicament, and he said he could just weld it up for me.

I’ve read all the threads about various ways of properly fixing stripped footpeg bolts, so I knew just welding the bracket to the frame wasn’t the best method. I also knew that I didn’t have any other choice, so I disconnected my battery and let him have at it. In the time it took me to have a smoke, he was done. I actually spent more time disconnecting and reconnecting my battery than he spent prepping and welding. All in all, we were both happy with the results: my bike was road/trailworthy with minimal delay, and he got $20 to buy some beers before even starting his workday.

After a couple miles of pavement, we were on a nicely graded dirt/ gravel county road. Most of the morning would be spent on this type of terrain. Every now and then we would be on a lower quality dirt road that had some mud, ruts, and was narrower, but for the most part the going was fast and easy. We also encountered some grazing cattle on the roads.






Just before we got to Pitkin, I noticed one of my aux lights had come unbolted and was hanging by just the wire. I stopped, unplugged it, and threw it in my tank bag assuming it was done for. Once we got to Pitkin, we had a quick discussion about what our next move was going to be: Cottonwood Pass was closed, we didn’t know how hard the “hard way” would be, we had Bill’s route over Tincup, and there was also an option to go all pavement to Buena Vista. We decided to go with Tincup.

As we were pulling out of Pitkin, the sky opened up, but there were blue skies on the horizon. We ducked under some trees to wait out the weather, and soon were back on our way. After a short ride, we were in the town of Tincup. It wasn’t so much a town, but rather a collection of houses that were even more ramshackle than Ouray, plus a store. All they sold at the store was candy bars, post cards, and soda. No smokes, but the owner offered to give me some of hers. I declined, but we talked for a bit about life in Alaska. It turned out, just like me and Bill, she had spent several years living in Alaska. She looked at our collection of bikes and asked us which way we were headed. We said “Tincup Pass”, and we should’ve known by the look on her face that it was a bad idea. She said we’d probably be okay, but very few motorcycles used that route. It was pretty much just Razers, quads, and the occasional lightweight dirt bike.

We started out on a one lane road towards Mirror Lake. It was deeply rutted, had roots, some big rocks, and spots of mud. Eventually it started to skirt the edge of the lake and became mostly softball sized gravel, with the occasional water crossing. Then the road turned away from the lake and started heading up. At first, it was more of the oversized gravel with some big rocks thrown in for good measure. I tried to follow a line along the edge that was mostly dirt, but it was off-camber, and my 16tooth sprocket bit me once again with a lack of useable power, so my bike decided to take the first of several dirt naps that afternoon.



I’ve seen countless workplace safety videos over the years that teach proper lifting mechanics. I’ve also watched countless YouTube videos on how to pick up a bike. They always show how to do it under optimal circumstances… a box in the middle of a room, or a bike lying on its side in the middle of an open shop or field, and usually on carpet so it won’t get scratched. None of those videos show how to lift a heavily laden KLR that’s wedged against a berm. I took a couple shots at it, but had no luck. BMW Bill walked up to my spot, gave me a hand, and still no luck. Then I noticed a big rock wedged under my rear tire. I pulled that out, we gave it one last heave-ho, and the bike was finally up.

I rode out of the spot, crested the hill, and saw Rich and KLR Bill walking towards me. They said there was a nice smooth dirt pull off just ahead, so I went there. Meanwhile, they walked back down the hill to help BMW Bill get rolling. If memory serves correctly, there were a couple false starts and a couple more drops of his GS. Finally we all rallied at the dirt pull off, took a break, and discussed our next move. While we had a feeling things were going to get much harder before they got easier, nobody wanted to be the guy that said “we should turn around”… so onward we marched.
Then it got a little narrower and steeper. What had been the big rocks soon became the small rocks, and boulders became the big rocks. Just for fun, there were also some rock ledges, deep groves from Razers running in wet conditions, and the occasional tree root. Once or twice I got my bike high centered on a big rock and needed help getting my bike off. I was so glad I had recently ditched the factory plastic “skid plate” for an actual metal skid plate.




Rich and KLR Bill were being challenged, but were making good progress. I was having issues, but was making slow progress via brute force. BMW Bill was starting to have issues and required assistance. We decided that in order to keep things rolling, I should keep riding and Rich and Bill would hang back with BMW Bill to help as needed.

I knew I had to be getting close to the top of the pass. I was also feeling good because I had nobody ahead of me I was trying to catch, and nobody directly behind me that I had to worry about holding up. I was feeling confident, or maybe I just didn’t give a crap anymore; whatever the reason, I made some good progress over terrain I had no idea me or my KLR could handle. At one point, I got to an area that was a short but steep climb up very large rocks which then gave way to a left turn up a wide rock ledge. I didn’t want to dismount, so I surveyed my options from the seat. The far side looked promising, but I couldn’t tell what was beyond it. Just behind me was a narrow section that just had some big rocks I would need to pick through and some tight turns, but I could see where it came out into a clearing.

I let off my brake and rolled back one bike length, then cut to my left, and rolled on the throttle. I started picking my way up the rocky path, mostly riding the clutch, and dabbing with my feet. A couple times I had to back up into multi-point turns to get the line I needed. I also dropped the bike a couple times, as well as stalled it out. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if my battery and starter did as much work getting through the section as my gas and engine did.

Finally I made it to the top. I saw that the trail looked to level off a bit, and get slightly easier. I also thought I could see the top of the pass about a half mile in the distance. I decided to get my bike a little farther up to make room for everybody else, so I cut across a wide portion of the trail, into some grass, hit some mud, and dumped the bike again. Of course on the dismount I once again bashed my shin into my footpeg just above the level of my “low” boot.
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Old 11-19-2017, 06:12 PM   #12
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COBDR Part 8 Continued

I decided I’d walk down to below this last section of trail to tell everybody else what to expect. On my way down, I noticed that the far edge of the rock ledge could be an easier way… if it was done right. If it was done wrong, I figured disaster would be the result. As I was getting down to a clearing, Rich and both Bills were off their bikes. I told them they should walk the next section to pick a route to use. They told me that BMW Bill was having an electrical problem with his GS. I decided to give Bill a hand with his bike while Rich and KLR Bill scouted out the trail.

It turned out that the kickstand safety switch on Bill’s GS got hit by a rock and broke. I looked at the connector on the switch and it was a three-wire. I told Bill to pull out his multi-meter and he replied that he didn’t have one. By his body language and tone of voice, I’m not even sure if he knew what a multi-meter was. So I walked back up to my bike, grabbed my multi-meter, some wire, electrical tape, and some dykes.

I got back to the GS and Bill had the owner’s manual out. Protip: BMW owner’s manuals are only good for holding the number for roadside assistance. I was thinking that one lead would be hot, and two would be ground or dead. I probed the connector, and that’s what I got (I don’t remember if they were ground or dead though). So it came down to jumping the hot to one of the other wires. I was mostly certain that one would be for “kickstand down” and one would be for “kickstand up”… but without knowing for sure, I had a bit of fear that If I chose wrong I could send some angry pixies up the wrong wire and let the magic smoke out of a control module.

By this time, KLR Bill and Rich had gotten back to where I was with the GS. KLR Bill was looking at the pieces of the kickstand switch and trying to put it back together. I thought he was crazy, it would fail as soon as the bike hit a bump, and I even said something to that effect. Meanwhile, I was scratching my head wondering if I wanted to manually trace wires or take a gamble on which one to choose. Then Bill got the switch kind of back together and voila! Now I could check the switch for continuity in its various positions, and that would give me the info I needed to jump the wires. As I had originally suspected, one position was for up, and one was for down. I put a u-shaped piece of wire between two terminals on the bike side of the connector, and the bike started up. It worked with the clutch in or out, and with the bike in or out of gear. I tightened it up with some electrical tape, and taped the connector to the frame so it wouldn’t get in the way.




I started to walk back to my bike to put away my tools. Rich and KLR Bill gave BMW Bill a scouting report on the next section of trail. Very quickly, KLR Bill got to where I was, and he said he’d go back down a ways to offer any help if needed. After what seemed like too long, I walked back down the trail a bit as well. Bill’s GS was in the middle of the rock ledge. From my vantage point, I couldn’t understand the looks of confusion and dismay. It turns out that when you launch a GS vertically, then it comes crashing down on its side, neither crash bars nor Touratech valve cover guards will stop a random rock from punching a hole in the valve cover.

At first glance I thought maybe, just maybe a little JB Weld would do the trick. After further review though, the puncture was right next to one of the mounting bolts, which also broke, and it extended onto the mounting flange. Even a brand new valve cover wouldn’t seal without extracting the broken bit of bolt and replacing it.





With darkness approaching, we decided to camp there for the night. There was a nice flat grassy area which had a great view. The only problem was that it had been used as a cow pasture, so we had to be careful where we set up our tents. We all started setting up our tents. KLR Bill and I each had our tents set up in record time… a product of years of outdoor experience. Meanwhile, Rich and Bill were slowly making progress. It turned out that aside from one dry-run in their yards two years ago after initial purchase, neither of them had ever set up their tents. Bill and I then took care of creature comforts like blowing up our sleeping pads, setting up our sleeping bags, and getting ready to cook some food.

We asked Bill and Rich if they had food, they did not. We offered up some spare Mountain House; Rich said he had some nuts and granola, and would be fine. Bill had nothing so we told him we’d hook him up. Everybody was running low on water, so KLR Bill seized on his years of military officer-dom and had Bill use our purifiers to get us clean water from a nearby creek, meanwhile Bill and I put on our chef hats, fired up the Jetboils, and cooked up the best Mountain House dinner this side of the Mississippi.

Bill returned with water just in time for our fine cuisine. I told him to get his Spork… “I don’t have a Spork”

WHAT? Really? Who goes ADVing, without a Spork? They had tents, so obviously they planned on camping eventually. As I dug into my bag to retrieve my spare Spork, I may or may not have lost my crap. “You don’t have a mutimeter or wiring diagrams, you don’t have a Spork… WTF are you carrying on your bike? You’ve got a whole bunch of empty water bottles… how about instead of lugging around heavy jugs of water, you get a filter and refill a Camelback as needed?”

Rich and Bill were giving me that awkward “why are mommy and daddy fighting again” look, even though they knew I was technically right. As I’ve been told by various HR Managers over the years, “Yes, you were right, but you need to work on your delivery”. Rich did a great job of restoring order by passing around some whiskey and asking Bill and I about our gear and packing lists.

As we were passing the bottle around, the dark clouds that had been in the distance were suddenly upon us. We all made a mad dash to our tents just in time to avoid a downpour that included howling winds and hail.
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Old 11-19-2017, 06:13 PM   #13
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COBDR Part 9: Tincup Pass to Buena Vista
November 18, 2017
Part #9
COBDR Day 4: Tincup Pass to Buena Vista

We awoke to a chilly morning with ice on the outside of our tents. Bill and I fired up our Jetboils and made oatmeal for everybody. Over breakfast we discussed the plan for the day. First order of business was getting the GS out of the center of the trail. There was no good spot adjacent to where it was, and gravity is a thing, so the only option was down. Rich got on and rode it dead stick to a good spot down a ways and clear of the trail. Watching him ride a heavy and dead bike like it was nothing made me feel like a totally inept rider.

With the bike sort of taken care of, we discussed transportation options. We had been told that the trail on the other side of the pass was much easier, so we suggested Bill hike up to the top and wait for somebody to show up. It was more likely they would be coming from and returning to St Elmo, not Tincup. Rich could wait at the top with Bill, and then ride his KTM down once Bill had a ride set up.

KLR Bill and I packed up our gear and set out. I made it all of about 50 feet before I dropped my bike. I picked it up, stalled a couple times, moved a couple feet, dropped it… I did this repeatedly for about 15 minutes. Bill walked down to check on me and offered words of encouragement. He told me once I got around the bend, the trail went from giant rocks to mostly hard packed dirt and gravel. Normally, our days would start off with some pavement that led to gravel that eventually led to hard stuff. Since I’m an inexperienced off-road rider, this acted as a good warmup and confidence builder. Where I was starting off today was one of the most difficult sections I’ve ever ridden on, and I was doing it “cold”.

I didn’t want to, but I admitted defeat. I told Bill my warmup theory, and he slightly bought it. He got on my bike, went about 20 feet and dropped it. It was his first drop of the trip. My right side handguard got bent and was making the brake lever stick, so I made a field expedient adjustment with a nearby rock. Bill said he didn’t like my clutch, my helmet was too big, he wasn’t riding without a helmet, and he wasn’t walking back up to his bike to get his helmet. I had to get my bike out.

Bill is a much better talker than I am. We have the same intentions, but he’s motivational where I’m more, umm, direct. The way he told me to put on my big-boy pants and ride my bike made me feel confident. If I had said that to me, there would have been the biggest massacre since that fateful Thanksgiving at Alice’s Restaurant. We started by walking alongside my bike to get out of some rocks. The going was very slow and it was frustrating, so finally I said screw it, hopped on the bike, gave it gas and took off. It was ugly. So very ugly. I was constantly reminded of my blown fork seal. Every bone in my body got jarred. I probably milled a couple thousandths off my skid plate… but I finally got up to where the trail got “easier”, and soon I was at the top of Tincup Pass.

While taking pictures at Tincup Pass, two guys on GS’s rode up from the St Elmo side. They said it was pretty rough, and asked how the other side was. The fact that they were on pretty much street tires, we figured we wouldn’t have any issues. We warned them of what lay ahead for them. They figured since gravity would be on their side, traction wouldn’t be an issue.




Once Bill and I left Tincup Pass, the riding was easier. It was by no means easy, but definitely easier. We were both wondering how Bill’s GS would get recovered. Sure, a Jeep would have no problem getting up to the pass, but a wrecker? No way. And what about the ½ mile or so on the other side? If I was a betting man, I would’ve guessed that a helicopter was in order, but not my circus, not my monkey. I still had plenty of riding ahead of me that I needed to worry about.

Eventually Bill and I rode in to St Elmo. We stopped at the General Store and bought much deserved Tincup Pass stickers for our bikes. Bill tried making a call to the wives of Rich and Bill, but there was no cell service, so we continued on.

The ride out of St Elmo was a wide and smoothly graded dirt road complete with RV’s. We made quick work of that and then were back on pavement. Bill figured we had cell service, so he pulled over to call both his wife and Rich and Bill’s wives. Nobody at home cares about me, so I went across the street to pick up a much needed pack of smokes.

With my blood-nicotine levels restored, and Bill’s phone calls taken care of we headed to Buena Vista. We got into town in the early afternoon… only about half a day behind schedule. We stopped at a brewery for pizza and beer and to discuss our plans. Things were falling off my bike, and I’m sure there were other maintenance tasks that needed to be addressed. Our tents had been put away with ice on them, and I had been on the road for almost 10 days. I also mentioned that “tommorow” (or today as it were) supposedly started out with sand which then gave way to mud. I don’t know if I actually needed to work so hard to convince Bill, but he agreed with me that the world wouldn’t end if we called it a day, and got a place to stay for the night.

Hotel hunting from our smartphones at the brewery wasn’t yielding any good results. I then turned to Air BnB. I found a spot that was just a couple blocks from downtown and also close to where we’d hit the trail in the morning. Hit send, and we had a place to stay.

After a quick trip to Tractor Supply, NAPA, and a beer store, we went to the BnB. I’m always nervous when I pull up to one on my bike. Sketchy and dirty bearded dude on a motorcycle? I’m not going to lie, I think the host did make that “oh crap” look when we pulled up. We introduced ourselves, and then I shut up and let Bill do the talking. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bill showed pictures of his family or something because in just a few moments we went from “smelly vagrants” to “upstanding members of society taking a week off from the rat race to live the American Dream”.

Our host gave us a quick tour of the house, and told us to make ourselves at home. Bill started doing laundry and hanging up his tent while I got to work on my bike. First I inspected my footpegs; there were no issues. Then I worked on reinstalling my Tusk D-Flex handguard. The backbone was a little tweaked, but with some adjustment to its mounting position and the positioning of the brake lever I got it to work. Then for a laugh, I plugged in the aux light that I had lost two days earlier. Much to my surprise, it worked, so I remounted it with a nylock nut from Tractor Supply. Sure, it didn’t have the pretty finished look of the acorn nut I had originally used, but I felt confident it wouldn’t rattle loose again. I checked on and adjusted a few other things, and gave my bike a generally clean bill of health.

After cleaning up and putting on some street clothes, Bill and I headed out for dinner and a few adult beverages. Our host had recommended a spot, so we kept our eyes open for it. We saw the sign, and as we headed for the entrance, we heard a familiar voice from the outdoor seating area: it was Rich. We sat down, ordered some beers, and asked him for an update.


The details are kind of hazy, but I’ll give it a try. Bill got a ride, and Rich rode back down towards Tincup. On the way, he realized the annoying rattle on his KTM 1290 Super Adventure had now become a blown shock. Once he got to Tincup, he rode pavement to Buena Vista. The plan was to pick up a rental car and rendezvous with Bill. Bill found a towing service that would recover his bike and tow it to a BMW dealer in Colorado Springs. Rich would ride his KTM to a dealer somewhere else… it was a round-about and convoluted plan, but it seemed perfectly cromulent. The fact that it did not involve a helicopter or dog sled team made me think it just might work.

After dinner and a few more adult beverages, Bill and I headed back to our BnB. Aside from the first hour, it was actually an easy and relaxing day. Our bikes were still rideable, our bodies were intact, everybody was accounted for… what a difference 24 hours makes.
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Old 11-19-2017, 06:18 PM   #14
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Default Re: Juneau Ak to SLC UT via COBDR

COBDR Part 10: Buena Vista to Catamount
November 18, 2017
Part #10
COBDR Day 5: Buena Vista to Catamount

When I woke up in the morning, I had a chat with our BnB host about our plans for the day. Trying to parse the route from the substandard Butler BDR map (sorry, it makes a great souvenir to hang in the garage, but as a navigational tool it is garbage) onto our host’s local topo map was a bit confusing. The best we could figure, the route we were supposed to take was the same route she had been on a few days earlier in a 4WD beater pickup truck. She said it took a whole day to cover about a fourth of what we were planning. I didn’t know how we’d make it, yet when I discussed it with Bill, he said we’d be okay
.
We grabbed a quick breakfast and fuel at Love’s, then hit the trail. It started out with sand. I’ve heard people complain about this sand before, so I was nervous. Luckily there had been an overnight rain storm so the trails were hard and fast. Or at least for Bill they were fast. For me they were slow and prudent… but we escaped the sand unscathed.





Once clear of the sand the trail started to climb and twist and turn. At first it was dry hard packed dirt, but then we’d encounter some really greasy sections. I remember coming around one turn on the approach to a descent and I wasn’t concerned with dropping my bike. I was scared out of my brain that I would just slide off and tumble down the side of a hill. The going was slow, and even Bill made a few comments about the terrain, but we continued on. Eventually the trail became a dirt road that then led out to pavement.

When we hit the intersection with the pavement, we looked at our various GPS’s, maps, and other navigational aids. It looked like we had to go a couple miles of pavement, then head back into the forest from roughly the direction we had come. I vigorously pointed out to Bill that this was the section that our host had said was a total crap fest, and maybe we should find a paved route to bypass it. I’m not sure if it’s because Bill is a jerk, he has confidence in my ability, he wants me to push my boundaries, or he wants to laugh at my failure… whatever the reason, Bill said we should follow the route, so follow the route we did. We went a couple miles of pavement, and made the left turn onto a dirt road.

At first the road wasn’t bad. I’ll go so far as to say it was good. Then it curved to the left, back to the right, to the left… and all hell broke loose. It turned into a mess of greasy mud. Bill actually dropped his bike at one point. Not to be outdone, I dropped mine. And just like on Tincup, mine was resting in a manner where solo recovery was nearly impossible, so Bill had to walk back and give me a hand. I had quickly re-learned my lesson from Day 2, so I was being easier on the throttle and keeping my feet down as outriggers. The Motoz Tractionators would keep me moving forward, and as long as I didn’t hit the throttle too hard, I’d track generally straight.

Soon the “road” made its way out of a meadow and into woods. I was hoping that the surface would improve. NOOOOOOOOOOOPE! This is where it got worse. The state, or county, or whoever managed this “road” had been doing a drainage project. They were using an excavator to cut drainage swales across the road every couple hundred of feet. This would’ve helped, but unfortunately they had been working in the rain. Best I can guess is the tracks of the excavator stirred up the road surface to make even more mud, and the swales didn’t aid in drainage, they just presented an additional obstacle for travelers. Twists, turns, ascents, descents… somehow by the grace of God we made it out of that mess.

Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, there it was: the infamous water crossing I had seen so many videos of. I figured somehow we had missed it on a previous day so I forgot about it… and now it was staring in my face. I’ve killed two Jeep motors due to water crossings gone awry. I’ve seen videos of people doing this one wrong… yet somehow going across it was more appealing than turning around and going back through that hellacious mud.

Bill and I dismounted and walked around the various approaches. I was trying to remember which ways worked in the videos, and which ways didn’t. I couldn’t remember jack. The path to the right looked easier… except for the 2 foot drop-off that it started with. It also looked like you could go to the left through some weeds… but if you screwed up the line you’d end up in some ruts and definitely make a mess. I walked out in the center section about 6 feet… it seemed even and had a solid rocky base. If the rest of the way across was the same as this, it shouldn’t be an issue.

Bill being the great leader that he is went first. He made it across and parked his bike in the clear on the far side. Now it was my turn to do the thing that I had been most worried about since I first researched COBDR. I made sure Bill was shooting video of me for my inevitable fail and hit it. Surprisingly, it was no big deal. I went at a moderate speed to have momentum, but not so fast I’d lose control if I hit an underwater obstacle. As I was pulling up on the far bank I thought “Really? I’ve been stressing over THAT?”… and then it happened. I won’t tell you… you’ll have to watch the linked video. (sorry for the clickbait-ey intro)










The trail from here went back in to some woods and twisted and turned and climbed… then descended and as I came out of the tree line I saw bill ahead of me crossing the same stream we had crossed a few minutes ago. Only difference was this section was down stream and appeared to be much bigger. I had no preparation or recon. All I had was Bill’s wake so I got on the throttle and blasted through. Piece of cake.

Soon we were back in a meadow and the trail turned back into greasy mud. I was feeling good about myself so I did my best to keep up with Bill. It was working great… until it wasn’t. I got a little too aggressive with my throttle hand, the rear Motoz Tractionator hooked up and I did a 180 while going down. Despite knowing I’d have to pick my bike up, this was the kind of get-off that makes you jump to your feet and say “I want to do that again!”

I got into a good deadlift position, grabbed my bike by the front crashbar and the rear Pelican case and yanked it upright. Despite my bike being securely on its kickstand, something didn’t feel right. I looked at my Pelican and realized it was hanging off. As per my usual initial reaction, I thought my bike frame broke in two. After a deep breath and a quick look, I saw that all that had happened was one of the lower mounts on the Pelican popped off the Dirt Racks pannier rack. I’m not sure if that was the result of my 180, or deadlifting my bike by a removable sidebox… either way, all I had to do was unhook my upper mount and re-seat the box.

The mounting system I’m using utilizes the Dirt Racks pannier brackets on the bottom. For the top I have a bracket with a t-slot cut in it that is retained to the rack by a spring loaded eye-bolt. I got the idea from some guy on a V-Strom board. Considering the abuse my side boxes had taken over the past couple days, it seemed to me like it was a bullet proof system. In my estimation, this failure wasn’t so much a failure, but more of a safety relief valve to prevent real damage in case of a bad crash.

Soon we were out of the mud and back on a mix of moderately maintained dirt and/or gravel roads. Sometimes I would ride at Bill Speed, but then a random sharp rock peeking out of the roadbed would remind me to slow down a bit. The road had some wide sweeping turns as it gained elevation, and soon we were at Weston Pass. We talked to a couple guys that were scouting for a sheep hunt. They said the way we came up was the easy way, and the way we were going to go down was the hard way, but shouldn’t be a problem.





Sure enough the road down, or more accurately the trail, was a bit tougher than the way up. It was tighter, more rocky, but nothing too difficult. Sight lines around curves were also greatly reduced due to being on the forest side of the mountain instead of the sagebrush side. This wouldn’t affect me, but I did come around a blind corner and saw some mild carnage involving Bill’s KLR and a 250ish dirt bike. Basic gist of the story is as Bill came down and around the corner there was a gal coming up. She saw Bill, froze, and rode right into him. It appeared the only damage was to one of her barkbusters.

Eventually the trail became a nice dirt road, which then brought us out to a paved road. We followed that, and instead of making a left turn to follow the “trail” we continued on a few miles to Leadville. We heard it was a cool town to check out, and there was a good ORIGINAL old saloon that had good food. It turns out, there was also some big bicycle race going on, so bikes, support vehicles (minivans and Subaru Outbacks), and dudes clad in spandex and goofy shoes were everywhere.
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Old 11-19-2017, 06:19 PM   #15
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Default Re: Juneau Ak to SLC UT via COBDR

COBDR Part 10 Continued

After a good meal, we decided to go a few more miles up the road to hit up a True Value. It turned out that in Bills “wreck” his heated grip broke free from the throttle tube, so he wanted to get some adhesive to make it nice and tight. I had also dropped my other aux light along the way, so I needed a nylock nut to remount it like the first one.

After making my purchase at True Value, I went out to the parking lot and saw a group of BMW GS’s ride up. I started talking to one of the guys and he told me they were a group from West Coast Moto Tours and they were doing the COBDR. There were dark clouds on the horizon where I was pretty sure we were headed, so I found the guide and got some info from him.

He said that yes, the storm I was looking at was dumping on Hagerman Pass. Going up wouldn’t be an issue, but the other side would be a soupy mess for several days. He said that it wouldn’t be impassable, but it would be even worse than what we had dealt with that morning. He said his group was just going to stay on US 24 and get a place to stay near Vail.

One the one hand, the craptacularness of it stoked my interest. On the other hand… It was Thursday. I had tickets to see Rancid and Dropkick Murphys in Salt Lake City on Saturday. I hadn’t been to real concert since I moved to Alaska 6 years ago and these were two of my favorite bands. I also had nowhere to live in Salt Lake City, and my job started on Monday. Oh, and my car wouldn’t be arriving for at least two months, so I needed my bike to be rideable since it would be my sole means of transportation.

I told Bill about the scouting report I had just gotten. He really wanted to do Hagerman Pass. He also knew that I was on a tight schedule, and did have a life that needed some attending to in the next couple of days. He lives in Colorado, so it wouldn’t be impossible for him to swing back this way and hit up the pass.

We headed up US-24 and stayed dry. The storm stayed behind us and to our left… right where we would’ve been if we stayed on the BDR. In all honesty, US 24 was a pretty ride. It had some nice twisties, scenic views, an out-of-service railroad… If I had a road bike I would’ve called it a great afternoon.

Eventually we crossed I-70 near Eagle and Vail. We had to head west to get to Gypsum, which was the supposed end-point for the day. I thought it was just a few miles, so instead of getting on 70, I led the way on US 6. After some time passed, I was wondering if we had missed it, gone the wrong way… So we pulled in to a gas station. Bill was… confused as to what was going on. I told him I thought it was closer, but obviously I was wrong. It took some time and discussion, but eventually we decided to hop on to I-70, continue to Gypsum, and then head North on the next day’s portion of trail. It looked like there was a BLM recreation that we could make before the sun went down.

On day one I was nervous to air my tires down to 15psi for off road riding. Suddenly I found myself in moderately heavy traffic on I-70 doing about 85 MPH… on 15psi tires. Luckily it was only about 15 or 20 minutes, and then we were off the Interstate and back on a dirt road. Or more precisely, a gypsum road. It was a whitish, chalky substance. Traction seemed okay, but in my mind I was one nervous twitch away from impending doom. Welcome to my brain.

As with all the other roads up to this point, eventually the one we were on got narrower and crappier… this one had the added bonus of super deep ruts. Footpeg dragging depth ruts. I though it absolutely sucked… and then we came to the road grader. Once we passed the grader I missed the non-graded portion. It wasn’t the previous road conditions that sucked, no sir; it was the grader operator that sucked. He took a horrible road and made it WORSE. Dude… you had one job. Luckily, we were soon out of that mess and back to the standard crappy road.

Wait a minute… why do our GPS’s show us beyond where we’re supposed to be? Did we miss a turn? Do we… oh no… for the love of God. NOOOOOOO! We had to go back through the mess that the grader operator had made. I’d like to say it wasn’t as bad the second time, but if I did I’d be a liar. Finally we got out of that mess and back on track.

Not only were we back on track, but the road was amazing. It carved down into a canyon, and with the setting sun in front of us, the colors off the rocks were all shades of red and orange. It looked like it was on fire. Of course when I tried to take THAT picture, the sun told my phone to get bent. So the best I could get was normal color pics away from the sun.






This road eventually dumped us out on the Colorado River Road. It’s a two lane very well maintained gravel road suitable for normal cars. There were even a couple short sections that were chip sealed. Even though we were making good time through here, we were hoping to get to the spot we thought had camping before dark. However, we did take the time for a photo-stop where the road ran right next to the railroad.





Finally, with the last few minutes of twilight we pulled into the BLM Recreation Area at Catamount. Not only were there campsites, but we were able to snag the last two. I was soon fast asleep… until that goddamned BNSF train had to blow its whistle at all the crossings. I hadn’t even had my first day at UP, and I already hate BNSF.
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Old 11-19-2017, 06:21 PM   #16
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Default Re: Juneau Ak to SLC UT via COBDR

COBDR Part 11: Catamount to Salt Lake City
November 18, 2017
Part #11
COBDR Day 6: Catamount to Salt Lake City

We woke up relatively early, ate some snacks for breakfast, broke camp, and headed on our way. The road was mostly hard packed dirt, with more sections of chip seal than the previous night, and even some actual asphalt. Eventually we got to a campground? Resort? Hippy Commune? Some weird place next to a lake that had all manner of vehicles “camped” out and a tiny store.

I didn’t trust the coffee, so I grabbed a bottle of Starbucks Frappuccino and some equally sugar laden food type item. We had only gone at most about 100 miles since our last fuel stop, so Bill didn’t get gas. I’m a believer in getting gas whenever I’m stopped and it’s available, so I walked over to the ‘50s vintage gas pump, topped off my tank, told the clerk the number of gallons I got and we were off.

Soon the road gave way to narrow dirt and rocky roads that wound their way through some mountains. The scenery was beautiful, but after more than a week on my bike everything was starting to look kind of bland. Once again the narrow trails gave way to a wide hard packed dirt road that was well maintained. We stopped for a break and chatted with 3 guys that were riding two 450’s and one 250. They were doing “Border to Border”; Mexico to Canada.

After a couple minutes, Bill and I took off. Soon we were back on pavement and I knew we would soon be in Steamboat Springs and I’d be able to get real coffee and a decent meal. All of a sudden my bike sputtered then died. I had enough momentum to pull off onto a side street so I could assess the situation. As I was fiddling with the petcock and fuel hose, the three Border to Border guys rode up. I said I was “ok”, but asked if somebody could go ahead to let Bill know what was up.

I was thinking my week-ago problem of a possibly bad tank vent was reoccurring. It was pretty warm, I was running at near highway speed, and I had topped off my tank about 40 miles ago… generally the same conditions that had accompanied my previous issue. Except this time the bike actually died and would not restart. I popped the gas cap, cranked it, pulled the enricher, cranked some more… nothing. I pulled the fuel hose off the petcock… it was dry. I cranked the motor… no fuel came out. I switched over to reserve, cranked it…boom! I‘ve got flow. I reconnected the fuel line, cranked the bike and it started up.

By this time Bill had made it back to where I was. After consulting the map, we decided that for the last bit to Steamboat Springs we’d stay on pavement. There didn’t look to be anything spectacular that we’d miss out on, just some well-maintained dirt roads. About 45 minutes later we pulled into Steamboat Springs without issue and stopped at a gas station. Bill was convinced my problem was bad gas from the Drum Circle & Patchouli Mart. I was leaning towards my petcock diaphragm melting from ethanol. At Bill’s urging I dumped a bottle of DryGas in my tank. We also looked for a Kawasaki (or Yamaha dealership)… there was one a bit out of town, probably about 15 or so miles off-route.

Decision time. It’s about noon on Friday. I’ve got concert tickets for Salt Lake City on Saturday night. I’m homeless and I start a new job on Monday, and my bike may or may not get me anywhere. There was probably about 75 miles of supposedly meh riding to the Wyoming border. Also, I didn’t like the idea of having to use I-80 to get to SLC. I felt I would have better luck with a breakdown if I stayed on US40. After some discussion, we decided to part ways. Bill would finish the COBDR, and if time allowed, he’d hit up Hagerman Pass on his way home to Colorado Springs. I would take US40 towards SLC, and hopefully I’d be able to get a new petcock along the way, or at least my bike would stay running on reserve.

While Bill and I were having this discussion, a guy on a Triumph Tiger rolled up. We chatted a bit, and it turned out he was from Salt Lake and on his way home via US40. I was kind of hoping he’d offer to ride with me in case I had any problems, but nope. He finished his drink and hit the road.
I rode out of Steamboat Springs with various feelings. I was proud of what I had accomplished so far, but disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to actually finish the “ride”. On the other hand I was excited to get to SLC, get settled, and have a great weekend of Rock & Roll and whiskey… yet still crapping my pants that my bike could die at any moment.

I pulled into a multi-brand dealership and saw a KTM that I thought belonged to Rich. I parked awkwardly close to it so if we missed each other on foot, he’d see my bike. Turns out it wasn’t his, and the actual owner gave me a befuddled/angry stare for my parking. I went inside and asked the parts guy if he had a petcock for a KLR… nope. How about a Yamaha Raptor? “What year? What engine? Do you have the VIN? What color is it?” I don’t freaking know… never mind. He did check a couple dealers between Steamboat and SLC… nobody had a KLR petcock. YAY for “just in time” logistics. However, since I had busted both my mirrors I asked about Doubletakes. They didn’t have them, but they had a similar and cheaper mirror. I like cheap, so I picked them up and got back on the road.

I had been in such a rush to leave the gas station in Steamboat that I never bothered airing up my tires. I had considered asking at the dealership, but I wasn’t really in the mood to talk to anybody, so I continued on about 40 miles to the next town. I got air at a tire shop, then hit up a pizzeria for lunch. They had Rocky Mountain Oysters on the menu… I went with a meatball parm hero. Not great by Jersey standards, but for the middle of nowhere Colorado it wasn’t bad… and it wasn’t bull testicles. At least I hope it wasn’t.

The rest of the ride to the Utah border was mostly uneventful. Well, except for my bike getting sideswiped by a tumbleweed and also riding through a ten minute dust storm. Thanks to the FedEx driver for staying way off my tail during that. Trying to keep tracking straight with minimal visibility the last thing I wanted was a double-trailer tailgating me. Once the storm cleared, I rode the fog line so he could pass me and I gave him an appreciative wave.






When I got to Vernal, I considered going to Flaming Gorge and camping for the night. Then I realized I could make SLC early enough to find a hotel, get a shower, and have a nice dinner and adult beverages… so on towards SLC I rode. As I was leaving Park City it was starting to get a little dark. I hate riding at night, but I’ve ridden this stretch of I-80 before and I knew it was only about 30 minutes… so ride into the darkness I did.

As I was heading down the canyon into Salt Lake City, I was wondering why cars and trucks were being so weird around me. Never seen a KLR on the interstate before? I finally got off at State St/ US89 in South Salt Lake. At the first light a guy pulled up next to me and tried talking to me. I pointed to my ears doing the “International I Can’t Hear You”, but he was emphatically pointing to the rear of my bike. I’m thinking yeah… I know… Alaska plate… it’s far. I decided to humor the guy, so I killed my Bluetooth, popped open my helmet and said, “WHAT?”. He responded with “You have no lights on the back of your bike” Oh. THAT’S why it seemed like everybody was almost running me over on the interstate.

I got checked into a hotel, showered, hung up all my gear to dry and air out… then I headed to Whiskey Street to start my new life in Salt Lake City.

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Old 11-24-2017, 07:03 PM   #17
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Default Re: Juneau Ak to SLC UT via COBDR

Outstanding. This should be required reading for people going to Colorado. It should remind them to take a 14 or 15 tooth. Bigger bikes just suck more. When I was a young lad I hung around near Rollins Tunnel, now I live near the same line in Chicago. BNSF, sorry.
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Old 11-26-2017, 11:48 AM   #18
dtedwards
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Default Re: Juneau Ak to SLC UT via COBDR

Thanks. And as I learned, it's not enough to "take" a 14T or 15T sprocket... you actually have to install it.
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