It had been a long winter. Not particularly cold, but still, lots of time for planning, plotting, scheming, and fine tuning our next leg. Looking back on our trips across the states, and then up into the northern hinterlands and back down, we were able to formulate some opinions about what we liked better and not so much.
While Alaska and the way-up north-is stunningly beautiful, and remote as heck, and we have absolutely zero regrets hauling ourselves up there, the riding for the most part isn't particularly challenging, and the routing and navigation couldn't be simpler.
M8 gave us some insights into what really makes these trips great. The first was the technical challenges of riding rough terrain (once we got to the Tour of Idaho), as well as traversing vast areas on little traveled roads, not really knowing whether they go through or not. The second was the social aspect of riding with other people. LDF and I agreed that having folks ride with us here and there on M8 (and other sections) really added to the experience, so we were really looking forward to having Dave join us for the whole two weeks of M9. Having Q join us for the first few days was a welcome bonus.
I think we're pretty explicit in our descriptions of how we roll, but if I had to guess, maybe Q, but especially Dave (and maybe even LDF
) had to re-calibrate expectations of what it takes to ride along with the Mobius traveling circus. This was a tough one. Take the hardest riding we did on the TAT, make it 50% harder, throw in at least one massive obstacle per day, and then don't take a single day off for two weeks.
I kinda had a feeling I'd be routing us on some tough stuff, and at times it was way over the top, and my riding partners probably wanted to kill me, but I gotta say, I think I've got this routing thing pretty dialed in. All said and done there were very few reroutes at all, and the ones there were were mostly due to snow... only a couple of locked gates, though there were times that we all had our doubts that the trail (or as Mr. Jenkins calls them "roads") would emerge back into civilization.
More on Mr. Jenkins at a later date.
There was a lot of history all along the route, from the old ION trail to the Pony Express, to the Trans-continental railway. I'm not a big history buff, but every time we spend time at one of these places, I'm surprised to find that I get all stoked to learn more about the places when I get back. For instance, Kelton cemetery left a big impression on me for some reason.
The great basin. Personally, I love the place. The riding is the bomb, the scenery austere, the weather pretty perfect for riding in May. Could use a few more gas stations, but whattya gonna do?
2-weeks... 2347miles. Probably fewer than 100 on pavement.
(click on image for a larger version)
It was like the Dakar... only not a race. And with luggage. And way slower. And with no day off in the middle.