Sunday, July 7, 2013

Continental divide

My plan to ride North was to follow a section of the Continental divide trail which runs from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. It's mainly just dirt roads and easy riding which with my damaged ankle I figured would be a good way to go.

I'd planned to meet up with Vido in Boulder and ride north up to Canada. Vido and I first met way back down in Patagonia last year, he was on a month long ride back then and now like me wanted to ride to Alaska so we decided to team up and hit the trails.

I had to avoid the CD trail heading out of Durango, forest fires in this area meant I joined the trail further north after heading through Silverton and Lake City via Engineer Pass. I did these jeep trails last year and new I was in for a treat so the detour didn't bother me.

heading for Engineer Pass

With the dry weather and numerous massive fires in Colorado I didn't want to add to them so made up this improvised spark arrester. The GSXR muffler is from a road bike so comes standard without a arrestor

Back up on Engineer Pass, this time in the spring and just as impressive

Long open stretches of road on the Continental divide

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I'm riding along this fairly remote forest road and come across 3 dirt bikes on the side of the road so I pull up to see what they're up to, one has just repaired a punctured tube. The first thing I hear as I pull up is "not another damn kiwi" Edwin spied all my NZ stickers as I got off the bike and him and his two mates Richie and Nevin are from Mosgil in the South Island. Small world.

We spend a bunch of time on the side of the road sharing stories and comparing bikes, Richie and Nevin are riding the new Husky Terra 650's and Edwin is on a KTM 500. They have six weeks and are touring through Colorado and Utah and riding as much single track as possible. They're having a blast and we all agree that this area has world class single track riding that you just don't get back home.

I ride with the southern boys out to town, grab some food and a bunch of beers and go sort some freedom camping. It's a very enjoyable evening shared with the follow kiwis as we chat about the joys of motorcycling over a few beers. After coffee together the next morning I'm back solo on the CD trail and heading for Breckenridge.

Nevin, Richie, and Edwin from Mosgil enjoying the great trails in Colorado

I catch up with Vido in Boulder and he's keen to hit the road. With my delayed start from Oklahoma I'm way late on our planed meeting. We run through some route ideas and we go over "ride with gps" which is a route planning program which allows you to create and transfer routes to our gps's. It's a fun way to travel, you can select roads that look interesting on google maps and then just let the gps guide you along. It's fun because you just don't know what you're in for, sometimes the roads on the program are dirt highways, sometimes they are nothing but some faint tracks across a paddock, sometimes you get led to impassible rivers, fences and locked gates.  

Our first day together and we're heading for Steamboat Springs. Ride with GPS had given us some great riding, firstly up high in Rocky Mountain National Park and then on a heap of narrow forest roads. It was getting late in the day and our planned destination was looking doubtful. Just on dusk we decide to carry on and climb over a mountain range to Steamboat Springs just on the other side.

Two thirds of the way up the climb we come to a locked gate, it's been steamrolled though by a 4wd so we decide to carry on. It's now late and dark and we soon find out why the road was probably closed. There's large snow drifts across the road. Vido's Ktm makes it through the first, the dr gets stuck as my lower side bags get hung up on the snow. We push through a few more and lucky find a shortcut that avoids a larger drift. Clad I've got the new Led headlight which pumps out a heap of light. We descend down the other side and out of the snow with a sigh of relief, but I can't help think that there's going to be another locked gate on this side somewhere? Sure enough there is, but we easily ride up a bank and around it. It's 10.30 when we roll into town, get some food, a few beers, a massive bag of ice for my ankle, and directions to some free camping from the friendly bar staff in town.

The next few days is more of the same great riding. We once again find ourselves struggling to make our destinations but it's all good fun. We ride open desert like terrain in southern Wyoming, our progress is slowed by rough trails, fences and locked gates, punctures, failed wheel bearings, and good looking university girls.

Eventually we make it into Bozeman in Montana. Both Vido and myself have some friends here. Barton, whom I met in Colombia and rode central America with lives here. It's been great hanging and catching up with Barton. We've been checking out some local trails here, doing some river float fishing trips and bike maintenance while waiting for new tyres.
Meeting up with Vido in Boulder
It's already getting late when we hit these snow drifts on the way to Steamboat springs

To avoid a locked gate we rode around a fence and "cross country" for 5 miles to regain the road
Our gps units told us that this was a road
Breakfast time at the pub in Atlantic City. Gordy with the camo cap is a local here in this small town and a keen motorcyclist. He too was heading for Alaska on his bike in the early 80's but got stuck in town. Real nice guy, he helped Vido out with some extra fuel and welded up a tank brace as well
Atlantic City was fun, It's a small town in the middle of no where. We hung out with some hard core locals and some visiting geology students....and we had only had to stumble out the door and into some free accommodation in the tee pee for the night.
Passing through the Tetons
There's a road over there somewhere
The Dr is reunited with one of her long lost friends, the Husaberg at Bartons in Bozeman, Montana.

Trail riders in Montana have it sweet. Fantastic trails in the summer and in the winter you can remove the rear wheel and bolt on this track and play in the snow. Now that would be fun.
4th of July celebrations at the Livingston Rodeo

This Forest Service Ranger has a sweet job. He gets paid to ride the trails!

Checking out the local riding near Bozeman