Enjoying the Ride
Joined: Sep 2007
2011 Continental Divide Trail Ride (Part IV)
2011 Continental Divide Ride
(Steamboat Springs, CO to Island Park, ID)
We continued north on CR-129 past Steamboat Lake and followed the Colorado-Wyoming border west to state Hwy 70 and then northeast to FR 801 that took us through Aspen Alley. It was getting late and raining. We learned from a local BLM agent that an insect born disease had been killing many of the aspen in the region, and as a result, Aspen Alley is not nearly as spectacular as it has been in past years. Here is Jim going through Aspen Alley.
Our destination on day 8 was Rawlins, WY, and we still had a long way to go as night was falling upon us. Thirteen miles south of Rawlins, Jim had his 3rd incident; he ran out of gas even after each of us used the extra 6 liters of gas we carried with us. It was past 9:00 PM and pitch black with no sign of civilization in view. I was on reserve but felt I had enough gas to make it to Rawlins, fill up and come back with extra gas for Jim. When I filled up in Rawlins, it took 4.9 gallons on a 5.0-gallon tank. By the time I returned to Jim with extra gas for him and we got into our motel (Super 8), it was a little after 10:00 PM. Fortunately, Lowell was thinking of us and arranged take-out meals for us from a nearby restaurant that closed by 9:00 PM.
The next morning our bikes were pretty dirty from riding in the rain the previous day. I had my two rear tubes patched at a tire dealership in the event I had another flat.
From Rawlins, WY, we were off into the Great Divide Basin, a 3,600-square-mile geographic conundrum where waters drain neither west to the Pacific nor east to the Atlantic. Rather, they drain inward, wither to soon evaporate or settle into temporary lakes. We found it to be the emptiest, driest long stretches of the CDT. A little over half way through it, I stopped at this junction to wait for Jim so that he would make the correct turn to follow me.
Just before starting out again at the above junction, I commented to Jim that I sure would hate to be out here on a bicycle. It was not 5 minutes later down the road we came across this fellow from England, all by himself doing the CDT headed south. We gave him some of our water because it was so far to the next available water, and he readily accepted.
Just before reaching the Sweewater River, we came to this marker for the Seminoe Cutoff, an alternate route of the Oregon and Mormon trails that stayed south of the river to South Pass ( http://wyoshpo.state.wy.us/trailsdemo/seminoecutoff.htm ). The wagon ruts are still visible along this alternate route. Wagon ruts from the Oregon Trail in this area are also readily visible.
After crossing the Sweetwater River on FR 2317, we detoured to the Willies Handcart Company Monument, where youth for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints re-enact the Mormon pioneer handcart crossing of the plains each summer ( http://wyoshpo.state.wy.us/trailsdem...eshandcart.htm ; http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vg...____&hideNav=1 ).
View of the Sweetwater River to the east at the FR 2317 bridge.
View of the Sweetwater River to the west at the FR 2317 bridge.
This is an example of one of the Mormon pioneer handcarts replicated at the Willies Handcart Company Monument. You get there by taking CR-511 about 3 miles back to the east off of FR 2317 (CR-22).
From the Handcart Memorial it was on to the Atlantic City, WY, where we found this historic B&B ( http://www.minersdelightinn.com/index.htm ) where some riding the CDT have stayed.
Pinedale, WY, was the destination for day 9 of our CDT ride. Coming into Pinedale on CR-118 you will see this magnificent vista of the Wind River Mountain Range to the north.
The next morning we headed north from Pinedale to US Hwy 26, past Moran Junction and into Grand Teton National Park. At Flagg Ranch, we turned west onto FR 261, which crosses the Grassy Lake Dam where we met our last group of riders on dual-sports doing the CDT from the north.
Ashton, ID, was our day 10 destination, and we arrived there with time to spare. That allowed us to wash our bikes. We had gone through a road construction area of several miles length earlier in the day that was using calcium chloride to keep the dust down. This coated the lower part of our bikes with this chemical that has the potential to pit aluminum surfaces if allowed to dry and left in contact.
This is what Dr. Gregory Frazier has to say (in an article about riding in Alaska) on the effects of calcium chloride on your motorcycle and riding gear ( http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/284/4574/Motorcycle-Article/Dr—Frazier-Rides-Deadhorse-Alaska.aspx ).
Some of the gravel sections are composed with calcium chloride, nasty stuff for leather and motorcycle engine parts. I have some still fried onto my engine after 10 years and numerous washings because I waited until returning to the Lower 48 before seriously cleaning the motorcycle. To avoid a similar unwanted powder coating, stop in Fairbanks at a power car wash after coming off the Haul Road and blow off not only your motorcycle but also the clothes and boots you are wearing.
The extra time in Ashton also allowed me to address a minor problem I had with my bike since we left Boise 12 days earlier. At higher highway speeds, I noted that my engine power was intermittently cutting out as though it were starved for fuel. I suspected this was due to clogged fuel filters, which is a known problem with the fuel-injected KTM 990 ( http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=585356 ; http://boardreader.com/thread/Yes_or...9fo2X9wbo.html ). I had had this problem once before at about 24,000 miles on my odometer. I corrected it by washing the filters in kerosene and toluene, which worked very well. During the earlier part of this trip, I corrected the problem by adding Seafoam (active ingredient is kerosene) and B-12 Chemtool (active ingredient is toluene) on 1 or 2 occasions. Again, this worked well, and I did not have problems until the last 20 miles coming into Ashton.
I removed the fuel pump located inside the left gas tank, dissembled it, and washed the 2 filters (pre and post pump) in B-12 Chemtool that I purchased at an auto parts store in Ashton.
The other significant thing that happened in Ashton, ID, that evening is that several other riders who had been in on our earlier planning sessions for this ride, but who could not participate due to schedule conflicts, joined us from Boise to complete the Montana portion of this ride.
The next morning we headed east out of Ashton on state Hwy 47 to visit Upper Mesa Falls on Henrys Fork of the Snake River.
As the day wore on, I learned another vital lesson. There is much to be said for the rhythm and routine a smaller, cohesive group of riders get into when riding together for several days. With the others from Boise joining us, that all went away. It was literally like herding cats – one wanted to go this way, another wanted to go that way, and there was no unanimity of purpose in the ride. Shortly after visiting Upper Mesa Falls, we split up into two groups with the only thing in common being that we would meet that evening in Butte, MT.
Three of us stuck to the original plan to ride the CDT, and a little while later we were just west of the Sawtell Mountain Resort on FR 455 were I met this cyclist from Wisconson pulling a bob on the CDT.
A short while later, I encountered incident number 5 that temporarily ended my CDT ride on July 29th. On a two-track road (FR 455) we came to the only locked gate encountered on the entire CDT. You could get around the gate by taking a detour between two trees. So many had done this previously, there was a well-worn narrow path around the gate. We needed to take our panniers off in order to get between the trees. With my side-stand down and shifting my weight to the left peg in order to dismount the bike, the side-stand broke. This disabled the side-stand safety switch preventing me from putting the bike in gear after starting the engine while in neutral. On a KTM 990 there is no easy way to by pass this switch. It takes a specific resistance between the wires of the switch, and we had no access to these resistors in the field.
The area was so remote that we could not get a truck or trailer to where the bike was to haul it out. Brent Niehans, one of the Boise riders who had joined us in Ashton the day before, towed me with his bike (KTM 950) about 4-5 miles back out to US Hwy 20 where I was eventually able to get a U-haul truck into which I loaded my bike to take it back to Boise to fix.
Brent was finally able to catch up with the rest of the riders who were doing pavement only to get to Butte, MT. This he did despite of having a rear flat himself while en route.
Two days later, Jim and Lowell made it to the Canadian border north of Eureka, MT, where they had their picture taken.