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COBDR with GS Riders of GoAZ BMW

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I was lucky enough to be invited to do the COBDR (Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route) with the crew from GS Riders of GoAZBMW.  They are THE best adventure riding group I have ever seen.  They are just very well organized, skilled, motivated and give riders feedback on these trips so that everyone becomes a better rider each time they go out.  Their leaders seem to be Jason Houle, who they call "the captain," and Mick Williamson, but many of them are active in ride planning, support, ride leading, etc... like Jason's wife Wendi, Mick's wife Michelle, Ryan Frazier (Team USA GS Trophy '12), Jason Apelquist, Kyle Moore, Janus Lund, Bill Cress, etc...  Jason does a lot of these events with RawHyde so the group gets the benefit of his professional experience there.  If you ever get the chance to ride with them TAKE IT!


I grew up in Arizona and I still go out there a few times/year to see family in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.  I was back in Dec '12 and was invited to go on a ride with them up Cherry Creek road, which is part of day 3 on the AZBDR, so it was nice to have some familiarity with that section.  At least there was no snow when we rode the AZBDR in May...


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Mats Roden joined us as well.  We were to ride there together but he got delayed doing some kind of passport thing in LA and due to temps near 114 in the desert that day, I left Irvine headed for Flagstaff at around 4:00 am or something.  Poor Mats ended up riding through that heat later.  I can't remember the date exactly, but it was the last week of June, 2013.  I've had this float or transfer pump issue of some kind with my bike for a while and ended up running out of gas like 5 miles west of Williams.  The range on my bike is something like 380 miles, but really about 290 with this issue.  I get to the gas station and fill up expecting it to take 8.7 gallons but it only took like 6.2.  I could have just laid the bike on its left side and then lifted it up and it would have gotten me to the gas station, but I didn't know that at the time.  I called my AMA roadside assistance and that's when all the nonsense started.  I wait a LONG time and then called them back and they said the local driver they dispatched said she drove up and down the highway like 5 times and never spotted me!  Um, I'm pretty much hard to miss.  I got her phone number and called her directly and she said "you're in a grey BMW, right?"  No, honey, I'm ON a grey BMW, as in a f'ing MOTORCYCLE!  She had been looking for a BMW car the whole time.  That's a funny little mistake, huh?  The kind of mistake that probably never happens, right?  Wrong.  In the time since then, it's happened EVERY time I've called roadside assistance despite me telling them repeatedly "make sure you tell the driver it's a MOTORCYCLE and not a car!"  Seriously, do this the next time you need roadside assistance.  Or just get AAA instead of AMA.  AMA's roadside assistance is basically outsourced to the lowest cost provider and they really have their heads up their asses.  I only say that because I'm like 0 for 4 with them.


I ended up getting to Flagstaff pretty early, I think like 1:00, so I had a late lunch at Beaver St Brewery.  I was really enjoying their IPAs and just watching tv, updating Facebook and waiting for Mats, who got there around 5:00.  We ended up staying at a campground right there in town.


The next morning we met up with the AZ Crew at a restaurant called Mike and Ronda's, ate and then hit the road.  We rode up through the Navajo reservation up 89 and then northeast on 160 to Kayenta.  Mats and I split off around there because we'd never seen Monument Valley and wanted to ride through it.  That was a blast!






Mexican Hat




I came over this rise and there was kind of a sudden sharp left turn.  I was hoping Mats would negotiate that okay but I waited further up the road and he never came.  I went back to that spot and sure enough, he'd gone over the side of the berm into the desert.  You can see in the video later that we unloaded the bike and worked to get it out of there.  I ended up just rolling it back, turning it around and riding it out rather than try to push it back up the hill.  Mats busted a light and I think had some other mechanical stuff he had to get taken care of at the dealer in Denver but he ended up re-joining us later.


We met up again with the AZ crew in Cortez, CO and had dinner.  I was going to camp in town with some others but I ended up having Jason help me put a fresh knobby on the back and that burned too much daylight.  Janus let me crash in his hotel room.


Technically, Day 1 of the COBDR starts at Four Corners and goes to Telluride, but they say Four Corners is not really worth the side trip, so we just kind of improvised.  Our Day 1 of the tour would take us from Cortes to Ouray.

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Our Day 1 started with (if I can recall correctly): Jason, Wendi (driving support FJ Cruiser), Mick and Michelle, Jason Apelquist, Kyle Moore, Doug Printz, Thierry Schandelmeyer, Chris White, another Doug and his wife (I called him two-up Doug), the 990 dude whose name I will remember later and correct and Mark whats his name from Sedona.






We pulled into Telluride for lunch and boy what a place!  That and Ouray were probably the most beautiful places I saw.




After lunch we headed up Ophir pass in the wet.  Michelle dropped it once in the loose wet shale but was fine.












Looking back you get a scale of just how giant these mountains are.




Mats I think




Chris, the newfie-now-Tico goofing around in his banana man outfit




These Karoo 3's worked very well




We did this little trail next to the road to get our water crossing in and a number of us struggled with the exit.  You can see this in the video later too.




A good safety tip when you're pushing a bike from behind is wear your face shield or keep your head to the side so rocks don't fly up and hit you.  I think Janus learned this the hard way.


We ended up in Ouray that evening.  Thierry and I camped at the rv lot in town and the others seemed to be at some hotel near the hot springs.  This allowed us to walk to the Ouray Brewing company :)  This is the view from the balcony of the brewery.




La morena




Ouray is a very cool place



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Day 2 we took off from Ouray and went up what I think was Corkscrew pass.  This was the first really "trick" section.  There was this sharp switchback and it was very loose.  Many of us struggled, so we had some riders stand by to help.






The views at the top were amazing.












Chris White took this shot of me as we came down from the mountain pass and on down to Lake San Cristobal and Lake City.




And this was my view at the same time



We got into Lake City rather early and there was plenty of time to set up camp.  Thierry, Mark and I camped next to the lake and the others at a hotel/inn nearby that was really nice.  We hung out there that night and had a beer or two.  I also got the chance to do a little side trip, which was riding up Engineer Pass and back.  I just missed Jason and some other guys but saw them coming back down.  I got up there really quick, like 30 minutes!  I have the tracks to prove it too! :)  There's a cool cabin up near the top with its own bridge leading to it that looks really cool, kind of like you'd imagine the house from the movie UP.






A hot shower is really nice to have every once in a while but I can't say how glad I am that I got to camp like this.  This stuff is really what makes a trip great.

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Day 3 was to have us head for Buena Vista.  In California, we would say it "bwena vista" but in Colorado they say "buna vista."  Okay, but you're ALL saying it wrong!!   :)






We saw a moose in a lake.  Not sure which day though.




Did I mention these Karoo 3 worked very well?  I got a free set of them after posting this pic on the Metzeler page on the Face-tubes.  Really good in the wet loose shale.




Jason took this of me




Most of the group went on to Buena Vista but Thierry and I ended up getting a motel room in some town nearby because it was about to dump some serious rain and we didn't want to set up tents while getting rain poured all over us.

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Day 4 was to be from Buena Vista to Eagle.  I'm not sure I have a lot of pictures from this day, though.  This was supposed to be the day we were to ride through the "dreaded" sand portion but it turned out to be much ado about nothing.  The only sand we saw was like two inches deep and wet from rain the day before.




I think this may have been the day we went over Hagerman pass, not sure, but this snow bank cut through was cool




Still shot from the GoPro




Doug Printz, legend.




Two Up Doug's and his wife




A pooper in the middle of nowhere




Our day ended in Eagle, CO.  We headed straight for food and while we were there, these two guys approached us and asked us if we were doing the COBDR.  Why yes, we were!  Well it turns out they are the Butler Maps guys who put it together, so we spent a few minutes telling them how great it was and they gave us a bunch of stickers.  Thierry was starting to go soft on me and wanted to get another motel room so I obliged  :)

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Day 5 was to be Eagle to Steamboat Springs.  From what I recall, we started out on some really dry and dusty trails with lots of soft silt and Janus went down in it pretty good.  I had my own good get off at one point too but can't recall the day.  We were coming up this road and there was a big washout that I did not slow down adequately for.  The bike went down and then quickly back up and I pretty much was launched over the bars and ended up rolling a few times in a ditch.  Thierry thought I was a goner but because I had good gear and fell the "right" way, I just dusted myself off and kept going.  There's nothing like a good off though to get you to go slower :)


Janus's off


Thierry and Mats





So we get to "the water crossing" and unfortunately, Mark didn't wait for assistance but just went for it.  I think he got waterlogged too and we had to push his bike out.




Then it was my turn.  This water crossing was created by a beaver dam and wasn't really that deep, but the snorked on my generation GS/A is not that high.  The proper way to do it is to simply walk it through s l o w l y.  I decided to ride it through and did it fast enough to push the water in front of me high enough to get sucked in my snorkel.  I though my GoPro was doing video but it turns out it was sequential pictures.  Here's a few of those.




A clue something's about to go wrong...



I shut if off and got some help getting it out of there.



It started but wasn't running well at all.  We went about another mile and you can see at the end of my video, it just quit.  We ended up replacing the soaking wet air filter here



And then drained all the oil, or "mocha latte" out.  We did transfer the oil to sealed plastic containers and left them at a special site for the ranger to properly dispose.  Never let you oil just drain out to the ground.





I really have to hand it to the crew of GS riders of GoAZ BMW for all their help and preparation.  I did not carry an extra air, oil filter or that much extra oil with me.  They did this knowing someone might need a trail side oil/air change.  First class!


We made it to Steamboat and since this was the Fourth of July, were treated to the BEST fireworks presentation I've ever seen.  It was REALLY loud too.  I called it "shock and awe."



The next morning I decided to cut the trip short because I heard the last day to the WY border was rather flat and uninteresting.  I figured I'd get a day's head start on the trip home and missed my kids.


Bike wash first



I was just going to ride to like St. George or something and get a hotel room but because of the clutch slave problem I started to have and because I just didn't feel that tired, I kept going.  That was kind of a bad idea though in hindsight.  It was VERY hot coming down into Mesquite and even at 10:00 pm, Vegas wast still 105 degrees!  I had a cooling vest, which helped  a lot but I had to wet it every hour for it to really work.  I also don't like riding at night because my speed exceeds my ability to dodge anything and I did run over a rope in the road once and realized that if it were a bag of hammers or something, I'd be in deep doo-doo.  Lucky for me (but not smart), I got home around 2:00 am after riding 987 miles.  Dan Schoo of Riverside BMW did something similar coming back from Idaho and it didn't work out as well for him.  I promise to never do that again. :)


I'm really not a Kool-Aid drinker but I have to say this is the most amazing bike in the world.  I was able to ride that far, ride just about the whole state on some tricky dirt roads and then ride all the way home.  Steven Bushong did it a year later on his 690, so I can imagine how painful that pavement was for him.

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