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8 day ride of the Colroado and Utah BDR

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This trip is the result of a few guys with some vacation time to use and a desire to get out and play in the great outdoors.  Our plan was to ride through the majority of the Utah and Colorado BDR(Back Country Discovery Routes) over a week or so at the end of September.  As with all things the best laid plans never stay that way, and our plans were a bit more a of a loose idea of a trip.  However with all the unplanned events and some flexibility we all had a great time, even if we missed out on some of the stuff we planned to see.


The cast










So we started off with 4, at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday September 27th.  The changes start now, as the Starbucks we had intended to meet at was closed for remodeling resulting in horror, shock, and a lack of caffeine for this early on a Sunday.


We overcame and made it to the Grand Canyon for lunch time.




While the McDonalds left something to be desired in quality it did fill our bellies so we could bypass the actual park via Forest Service road 302.  This dumped us out on Hwy 64 heading East from the park.







By now the temperature is climbing and we make our way towards Monument Valley in the Navajo Nation.









The campground in the Navajo Monument is where we setup camp, although a bit unusual for campground setups it worked out fine.  As a plus the nice soft sand was great for sleeping, although it is a dry campground and restraint, so if you go ensure you plan accordingly!!






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This was also the night of the blood moon, that attracted photographers from all over, and after witnessing it I can see why!!


Our small camera’s don’t do this justice, but you get the idea






After a good night’s sleep, we woke to one of the best sunrises









After packing up we hit the road, with the intention of running into Colorado and starting up the BDR from Dolores



A quick stop in Mexican Hat for breakfast and fuel we continued on into Colorado





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Then we started up the BDR, with some great 2 track not very far in.  Other than a couple gates that were strung a bit tight the 2 track flowed great and it was really hard to remember we were on loaded 1200cc bikes with all our gear and not rip into it and slide around corners/jump over waterbars!




No good pics of the 2 track though, I was having too much fun.










The leaves were all turning in the area making for some great shots, and views with so much color, but this was only a hint of what the Rockies had for us over the trip.









Then just as we were heading over the last pass and into Telluride, CO for the night disaster struck one of our bikes!



Fortunately we had all the tools and skills needed to diagnose the problem, but we didn’t have the part we needed



With 7 miles to the pavement we were able to help Orbel get over the pass, then coast down the hill on his own after removing the shaft




With the assistance of a nice group of sideXside owners we got a lift into town where we would wait a few days for the part we needed so we could all continue the trip as a group.




The rest of us road into Telluride where we setup camp in the city campground within walking distance of the downtown area.  This was a great place to spend a few days waiting on parts.



Edited by NavyNuke
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So we setup camp in the campground in Telluride itself.  As much as it kills to pay for campsites they had bathrooms, showers, bear lockers, and were within walking distance of all the restraunts/bars in downtown!!!


Made everynight a night of delicious food and drink to cap off the day for those of us that ventured out.  Good beer and company was enjoyed by all, although no photographic evidence of the events support it ;-)


So on Tuesday the plan was to travel over Imogene Pass into Ouray for lunch and then back over Ophir Pass.  We start up from the middle of town and the leaves are all changing creating far more color than normal in the surroundings.






Some minor waterfalls and switchbacks as we work our way up to the over 13,000ft elevation pass






As we headed up the hill we came to this shack just built onto the side of the mountain with stilts.  I don’t know about you, but this is not a structure I would have trusted to live in, but that’s just me.






Then we crossed the first challenge on the way up.  I rode over it, popped off the bike for pictures and line assistance for anyone who wanted help.  Dusty comes right behind me and before I can manage to get the camera out crests the ledge with a healthy dose of the right wrist levitating the front wheel a good 3 feet above the ground in the process.  As awesome as it looked I didn’t get it on camera, but we both agreed a second attempt would probably result in another bike waiting on parts or person waiting on pain meds, so instead we took pictures of Roland as he made it look like it wasn’t even an obstacle.




Some other challenges going up didn’t get documented, but we did have one problem with a jeeper who didn’t head our advice to wait a minute.  I rode up and over a steep/loose climb and rounded the corner, but traction control defeated Dusty’s climb and a jeeper was coming down didn’t want to wait while we cleared the obstacle before he proceeded down the mountain.  After we got the second bike in the clear the jeep proceeded down past the last bike on the hill who was waiting for the path to be clear for him to finish the climb.


Rude jerk in the jeep, although the elderly couple in a second jeep were very kind and had no problem waiting for the 5 or so minutes it took to clear the section.


At this point I get to ride a GSA in the dirt for the first time ever!  My longer legs make it much easier on some things, but wowza do the new GSA’s have more power and rev up in a hurry.  The Tenere is like a tractor that doesn’t do anything fast  but just keeps chugging along slowly gaining steam with more throttle.  The GSA on the other hand revs and spins in a hurry, so I had a bit more wheelspin than I intended as I finished off the hill.  The GSA is also harder to dog paddle as I kept hitting the heads with my shins.  She is a bit more nimble feeling though and I’m sure I’d get used to the power if I rode it often.


Finally we reached the pass at 13,114ft!








Then after a nice break we proceeded down the other side.

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Then came the water crossings towards the bottom








Followed by bigger water crossings








We descended into the town of Ouray after playing in a creek with multiple small water crossings of varying difficulty for a bit of a late lunch at the Ouray Brewing Co.






The food was great, so was the view but we needed to depart and head back to camp rather than linger any longer.  However during lunch we found out from other patrons that the Highway to Ophir Pass was closed until 5pm, so instead we headed over Last Dollar Highway and dealt with all the leaf watchers and their excessive camera’s




But the views were worth the crowds!






We also passed this set of contraptions heading up the hill out of Telluride to do roadwork, I felt sorry for the guy up front doing 4mph and getting vibrated to death as it slowly clanked along






Got back to camp, enjoyed a beer or two at the campsite before walking into town for dinner under the full moon.




Was another great day on the road/trail with friends.

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For our next adventure Dusty and I headed off to explore Ophir Pass, Corckscrew Pass, American Pass and into Silverton for lunch and then back.


The day started out great, cold and windy on the passes with some passing rain, but nothing that really nailed us for a while.




The ride up Ophir wasn’t too bad, a few loose rocky areas, but no problems on these bikes.  This will matter in the afternoon when we come back this way on the way home.  After crossing the summit and heading down to Hwy 550 it’s all easy flowing dirt road, well maintained and easily passable in most cars, just the one section below is rocky with switchbacks and drop offs of up to two feet.








This is why the Highway was closed on occasion, we were able to get through during the lunch time opening




As we dropped into the next valley to head up CorckScrew Pass the wind picked up and made an absolutely epic blizzard for fallen leaves as we road, was just like a snowstorm but yellow.  I only wish I was able to better capture it in film!






Then after a short stretch of hwy and some awesome switchbacks we pull off and head up Corckscrew.  I can’t say enough about how well the lower part of this trail flowed, small up and down sections with water bars and predictable turns/traction followed by more ledges just asking to loft a wheel and really enjoy the ride.  I can only hope it’s in as good of shape the next time I get the opportunity to ride it.




At the pass we met an older gentleman on a DRZ who was waiting on his buddies.  He decided not to go up CorckScrew Gulch as it’s a far more challenging route.  He was going to wait on his buddies at this great little lake at the junction of the two before heading over California Pass.






We waited hoping the older guys friends would be along shortly, but after about 20 minutes we split off to head up and over California Pass.  As we left the switchback hill climb out of the lake got the best of Dusty briefly, although he was able to stop and get out without any real help, just picked the wrong gear coming in and lost too much momentum.  After getting through that the group of guys on DRZ’s and one Husky came zipping up along and we all headed up California Pass as a rough group. 




Dusty and I headed down while the other guys took pictures.  We figured on the lighter dualsports that they would promptly catch up to us once they got moving, but they never really did.  As we headed down towards Animas Forks we passed a lot of old mining relics, and decided to stop at this old mill for some pictures.






As we reached the bottom at Animas Forks a trail shot off to the left with a really big water crossing, so with minimal hesitation Dusty drops off and heads through the water, I followed after a pause to let him get through.  I deflect off an unseen rock and end up soaked to the knees as I recover the bike, coming out the other side cursing and swearing as Dusty is searching through his GPS.   Come to find out the trail we are on just tapers off in the hills to nothing, so we turn around and head back through the water.  This time I go first, plan a little better and get through with little excitement.  Dusty on the other hand finds a trench and becomes stuck in it.  We end up using the cylinder heads as a pivot point to swing the rear up and out of the hole before attempting to finish the crossing.  By now we are both soaked, two old guys on ATV’s are laughing their tails off at us and it ends with all of us laughing together at the whole thing.  No pictures of this as I was too busy/distracted.  One of the ATV guys filmed it but I haven’t been able to find the video on youtube yet…….


As we were leaving two guys in a pickup we spoke with earlier had split off another direction informed us it was starting to sleet at higher elevations, so we decided to hurry up to Silverton for a late lunch and hopefully beat the rain/sleet.

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From here it was supergraded dirt road into Silverton, we passed this old mining bucket system






Followed by some good heavy rain, and I was about to stop and pull on the rain suit but it kept looking lighter in front of us and by the time we could see Silverton in the distance the rain had stopped and the sun was coming back out.  Fortunately no sleet at the lower elevations.


Silverton had a great selection of restaurants and café’s to choose from for lunch, we ended up at one of them with some great hot food to warm us back up and kind servers that went out of their way to ensure we enjoyed our stay.




As we left town we tried to find a cut back up to Ophir through country road 7, but everything had been closed off or changed and we couldn’t quite get through, although we did find some amazing waterfalls and meadows during our exploration






After backtracking to Hwy 550 we just zipped up the nice graded side of Ophir.  We passed two nice older ladies in a Hyundai sedan at the pass, they were taking pictures and such.  We headed down the switch backs and I see them come around the corner and head down after us as I round the first switchback.  After signaling to Dusty I rip back up and stop them just shy of the first two foot drop off.  At this point they can’t turn around and the lady driving is afraid to get out, so I walk with them and talk them through backing up all the way to the pass(almost an 1/8th mile).  This process takes quite a bit of time as every 10 or 15 feet she stops and then has to get started again, but I couldn’t leave them stranded out there for the night.  So after escorting them back, getting them turned around and sending them down the hill I finally get ready to head out myself.  I walk back to the bike just as Dusty arrives at my stopping spot.  Apparently he had some troubles of his own but he doesn’t really want to go into it when I ask.


This is where I stopped just in front of their car, and backed them up around the corner and then a bit further than that up to the pass where they could safely turn around




More photo’s coming down






By now the end of the day is coming rapidly, so we hurry down and back into Telluride.  Catching pavement after the sun sets as the last of the light leaves for the day.










Of course our day was ended by some good eats, including some KungPaoMeowMeow and such at the Chinese place in Telluride.  We all called it a day anxiously waiting on the tracking number showing delivery of a shiny new driveshaft the next day so we could all continue our adventure.

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