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Old 09-27-2010, 08:58 PM   #1
redpillar OP
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Montana and Idaho on my KLX

Montana Wildhack....ever since I read Slaughterhouse Five in grade ten english while serving an endless detention in the hallway for being a smart ass, I have wanted to go to Montana. I just liked the name.
Well now that I am middle aged and have a line of credit that will allow me to do that type of thing I decided that I better get on with it.

Last year after reading larryboys' inspiring trip report of his epic blast over the CDT and TAT, I have been hatching a similar plan. I had 28 days and an idea to solo the CDT to Salida, intersect the TAT to Lakeview then hit what larryboy calls the Disco (the oregon discovery trails) to end up at Walawala and then head home to Vancouver island. It was a grand idea.
Some unfortunate circumstances cut my trip time to more like 14 days.

Plan B, scour ADVrider for some ideas that would get me down the CDT and then loop back somehow and get me home quicker.

Enter BigDog and his equally inspiring tale of a Mexico to Canada ride that took him north through Idaho on a fantastic route called the Tour of Idaho. A few PM's and a few more emails. A smattering of GPX files loaded into the Garmin and I was ready to follow some dog tracks, BigDog that is. I would flesh out the plan to greater detail while I was on the road. I was going to let this trip find its' own path.

My bike had been patiently waiting for me for about a week. I had torn it apart this winter and put it together with this ride i mind.



So I got up early, kissed the dog and patted the kids and headed for the ferry and whatever that was to come.

There is not much to say about the first few days of the trip as I was riding pavement , I find that rather boring unless I am riding at the limits of adhesion which is pretty easy on a loaded KLX with a worn out front knob and a new trials tire on the back. Nevertheless I did make it to Winthrop Washington in one piece. I camped at Pearrygin park and went and watched the pirate parade in town for an hour or two. I have never seen so many new Harleys in one place. I hit the road the next day and cruised the scenic highway over Sherman Pass



to Libby, Montana.
I am not sure how long it took because I think I was asleep for a good portion of it but when I did get to Libby I took a cruise through town. It was Sunday evening, and the main strip was just that...a drag strip. There was an amazing amount of rubber on the entire length of the street. Hmmm looks as if there ain't a lot to do in Libby. I saw a hotel and started over to it when I was lucky enough to meet Rico2wheels, a fellow ADVrider and all round good guy. He was sitting astride his Yamaha WR250 which was decked with ADV gear, and he gave me a wave. He headed down a little side road so I followed him. the road led to a little RV park that had room for one more tent. Cool.
We chatted for quite a while. It is great how you can just meet someone and in no time you know it would be a blast to burn some miles with them. I got that feeling with Rico. I wish I had taken a picture of the campsite and him...maybe next time.
I was quite tired and I hit the bivibag early so that I could make the short run into Kalispell the next day. Sure enough I woke feeling good. I had a quick breakfast of oatmeal and hit the road about 9 am.
The ride was pleasant and in no time I was cruising into town. I planned to spend the day and night in Kalispell to rest up for some marathon dirt, so I bagged a hotel room and headed off to find Penco's, a bike shop that Rico had recommended for a new front skin.
I left the bike with them overnight so I didn't have to worry about guarding the thing and spent a night out looking around. Penco's was great to deal with and had a good selection of tires. I would recommend them if you are needing bike stuff in that part of the world.
When I went back the next morning I had a nice new MT21 with an HD tube mounted and balanced on the front and I was ready to roll....finally.




This picture is the start of the CDT for me. I was very happy to have finally started my trip after about 1000 KM of riding Satan's Spine.
I rambled on and on just getting to know my new friend on the front rim. It was digging in really well and I was very happy with the way that bike handled with thirty pounds of gear and 16 litres of gas on board. I could still dive it into corners and power out of them nicely, so I was in the zone. I had the odd interaction with deer who managed to spring across the trail and out of the way ahead of me.
I usually say sorry to the deer when that happens, I just feel like I am in their space.



There were many places that I would have liked to have photographed but I was having too much fun to slow down much less to stop.
Eventually I came around a corner and there were some new culverts lying along the road. I started to think back to when I used to work on a grade crew in the bush, installing culverts in logging roads. The next thing I new I had riden upon this.



The bane of the dirt biker...I once hit a culvert ditch on my RM 400 just as I was snicking the thing into 5th gear trying to pass a jeep in a cloud of dust. I remember flying through the air head first facing up watching my bike tumble behind me. I finished that race with one foot peg and the right handle bar pointing straight up, and a Bell Moto3 with a big crack in it.
I hate culverts...
I got off my bike, took off my helmet, and, with the toothiest grin an Englishman can muster, I walked towards the excavator.
The machine shutdown and the operator climbed down with a bigger grin than me.
I stuck out my hand he stuck out his, and I asked if he wanted help putting the culvert in.... I could see he had ditched the road all the way across with no way around. He laughed and said no, and we talked for a while. He could not believe that I had come all the way from Vancouver Island to ride my bike in the Middleanowhere Montana. His name was Mark, and he told me he would be about an hour.... I could not believe he knew where Vancouver Island was and I was thankfull that he was not an asshole I told him I had all day, I also gave him some gummy bears. I went back to my bike and started giving it the steely eyeball and in about ten minutes Mark honked his horn and waved me through. He had filled in his ditching on half the road just to let me by. This would be the first of many acts of kindness that would befall me on this trip.

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Old 09-27-2010, 09:07 PM   #2
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Nice!

Great ride report and on a smaller bike!! It is a 250 right?

Did you modify it? (As in bigger gas tank) Also the extra fuel you carried above the muffler... No concerns there?

Love the ride report!
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Old 09-28-2010, 06:27 AM   #3
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It is an 09 250, I have done the usual modifications to it for power and beefed up the subframe. It has an Acerbis tank on it. The fuel on the back is not an issue. Ther is no appreciable heat transfered to the canister, believe me, I checked.
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Old 09-28-2010, 10:54 AM   #4
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What an expertly packed KLX!
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Old 09-28-2010, 01:51 PM   #5
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What a KLX!

Great story too.
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Old 09-28-2010, 05:01 PM   #6
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I rode past the machine and on down the trail for about half an hour and ran into another road crew putting the finishing touches on a new bridge which I needed to cross. These guys did the same thing. I chatted them up for a bit told them where I was headed etc. and they filled in the approaches to the bridge just to let me pass. When things like these happen it makes your whole day seem so much more enjoyable.

I was having a blast, standing on the pegs, throttle torqued, letting the bike do its thing, just concentrating on dodging deer and keeping an eye open for oncoming traffic, when I started to think about fuel…. I knew that before I re-jetted my bike a few weeks earlier I could pull 320 KM out of a tank but I had jetted the bike fatter and I seemed to be getting considerably less than 275 on my highway ride to Kalispell.
It is funny how you can be having such a great time riding along, oblivious to the outside world, then, in an instant, when the idea of running out of fuel becomes is a possibility, the fun meter hits zero, and the only thing you can think about is getting the ride done and getting fuel.

Pushing a dirt bike is just slightly less fun than riding on pavement.

In the end I made it down to the highway and a gas station with plenty of fuel left. I rode into Seeley Lake for a coffee and with the skies darkening; I figured a place to sleep might be a good idea. I pulled into one of the many campsites around Seeley and set up my bivi bag on the picnic table and put my tarp up over my bike to keep the seat dry thinking that it might spit a bit during the night.





I wandered around the fairly deserted campsite for a while looking for firewood and chatting with a few people and finally had a meal of Kathmandu Curry dehydrated dinner, and after an evening of watching the fire and thinking about the day, I climbed into my body bag and fell asleep.
The sound of the rain , no, make that buckets of water pouring from the heavens, woke me at about 04:00. The outside of my sleeping bag was wet from condensation but I was still warm and with the knowledge that my bike seat was dry I fell back to sleep for another hour.

When I finally woke up I started planning my exit moves, I was still warm and somewhat dry in my sleeping bag but the inside of the bivi bag was getting drenched. To make a long story short I slithered out of my sleeping bag and into a puddle on the ground, I packed up all my gear in the twilight using the entrance to the outhouse as a shelter. I made a quick breakfast of oatmeal on my stove using the outhouse as a wind break. Hell I have eaten in restaurants dirtier than that!! I packed my bike and rode the four or five miles into Seeley where I produced a puddle on the floor of the office as I checked into the Seeley Lake Lodge at 08:00 in the morning and settled in for a long day waiting for the storm to pass.





This is a good, friendly place to stay. Nice fellow that owns it offered me his laundry and gave me a decent break on the room.

I spent most of the day cleaning up my gear, doing laundry, going over the topo maps and trying to plan out my route on my net book. I spent some time in the pub trying out their chicken wings and a few varieties of beer. It poured all day and all night but in the morning it started to break and about 9 am the sun was out and I was on my way.



I quickly climbed up into the mountains behind Seeley and headed south into the unknown.
The track was starting to change a bit. The ground was getting kind of red, and harder packed and the riding style was more sit down and hug the tank kind of cornering than stand up and let the bike wander in the gravel like yesterday. There were a few muddy spots and puddles but nothing like I had imagined after all that rain. There had been reports of snow at about 6500 ft. so I looking forward to that.



I climbed steadily up and out of that area and eventually came down to this.









I finally hit highway 12 and took an alternate track into Helena for fuel and something to eat. My stay in Helena was just long enough to do both and I quickly routed myself back out into the Helena national forest and back to intersect the trail to Butte.















I followed the track on my gps for a time and the trail quickly became a tight, steep single track. I climbed for a very long time as the trail became a rock strewn path that wound between a mass of roots and mud. The only flat spots were muddy water holes or of camber slick rock corners. My bike was jetted for sea level at this point but I was amazed at the power it still had at 7500 ft. It just chugged up over Lava mountain and back down the equally steep trail to the other side. That would have been a long day on a large bike.
The trail dropped down onto a logging road that had a large road closed sign across it at every entrance. I snuck along it hoping that I didn't run into anyone that might make me turn around. The last thing I wanted to do was to climb back up over that hill. Once in a day was quite enough.
I eventually rejoined the original track and without too much hassle, made my way to Butte.



I stopped for fuel and asked the kid about the Eaglesnest Campsite which is on the track I had downloaded as a good camping spot.He told me that it was now a Frisbee golf course!!
I ended up heading out of town on the I 90 east up to Homestake and Delmoe Lake, where I found a fantastic campsite. I set myself up and lit a fire and waited for the stars to come out.







This was really a good spot. I was told that there are lots of places to camp along the road to the lake, and it is free!!
I spent the night listening to MPR and keeping the fire going, I was up around 6000 ft and I figured it might get cool but I was toasty all night.
I flashed up my netbook and scoured the maps for a good place to cross over from the CDT to Idaho and a taste of the Tour of Idaho route, then went to sleep thinking about the new day to come.


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Old 09-28-2010, 11:00 PM   #7
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That is cool, it is a natural place to stop after tearing along the trail through the trees. I think I said to myself right there that this was what they mean by Big Sky.
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Old 09-28-2010, 11:14 PM   #8
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The bike looks awesome, Ralph!!!


You guys are killing me with all these great reports, I've got work to do around here!!


I'll be reading...


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Old 09-29-2010, 07:04 AM   #9
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Oh, some of those places look familiar...
looking forward to seeing more Idaho off road - show us what we missed!
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Old 09-29-2010, 07:32 PM   #10
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Big Sky

Yes it is...


If you make it to Ennis... you'll enjoy this...

Great RR love the backroads!
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Old 09-29-2010, 08:17 PM   #11
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Thank you all for reading, and all the kind comments.

Rob, I have been reading your Nevada ride, I have to say Excellent report.
LittleWan I read yours as well, man you guys do beat that bike!! Good work!
Buttercup, that is a picture that should be framed!
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Old 10-02-2010, 08:52 PM   #12
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The next day started as usual, oatmeal, I like to call it porridge but it makes it sound like I grew up in an old english orphanage or something, so it's oatmeal...
Anyhow, I started to get my gear packed away and was loading my bike when I realized my tool pack was not to be found. After what must be very much like a menopausal heat wave episode passed over me, I started to hunt the ground around the campsite like my dog does when a rabbit has passed by. Around in circles through the bushes down by the crick. I realized that they were gone for good.
I sat down on the stump by the fire pit and stared at my feet wondering where the hell they could have got to. I tried to think of anytime that they may have come off the bike. I tried to reride in my mind, the long up hill rocky part of the trail where I met the disgruntled FS800 guy. I tried to think of the last time I had used them, and that was back at the river by Shoup, back where I had tightened my chain and rolled up my tools and then started packing my gear when that freaking little faker bird came along and disturbed my packing ritual. That dirty little whateveritwas bird. After a moment of grief for the tool pack that I had accumulated over twenty five years with special little homemade tools and spares and my very first set of tire irons made in India and a brand new tire pump that replaced the last brand new tire pump I lost on my last big trip. I thought about the wrenches I have used to take apart everything from Hodakas to Canams and Suzukis and Hondas. Then I thought about how lucky I was not to have had an incident on the last few hundred milesof trail through the Nez Perce National Forest, and then I realized that I could not go on without all the stuff that was in that pack.
I headed into Elk City and had a somber breakfast and decided that I would motor on to the next largest city in search of tools. It was Sunday, and that worked against me in this part of the world where people are more interested in doing stuff than buying stuff so nothing was opened anywhere I went.
I rode on being chased by weather patterns all the way to Coeurd'laine and finally admitted to myself that the trip was over for this year. I reluctantly got a hotel room and cleaned myself up.

One of the good things about riding solo is that there is less chance that mechanical stuff will ruin your trip, because there is only one motorcycle to break. You don't have to worry that your partner has taken the trip as seriously as you have, and built his bike with the correct level of care. The problem with riding solo is that you have a much less room for error and some times no room for error. That is what makes it so enjoyable, such an adventure. You need to make sure that you can get yourself out of anything that might crop up. Riding a thousand KM away from home in a place you have never been before without tools would be foolish. During the planning stages I go over all the subjective dangers many times, and also what decisions should be made in circumstances where the control would be lost to deal with them. When you go climbing you have a turn around time, a time at which, no matter what, no matter how close you are to your goal, you turn around for safety's sake. You deal with subjective dangers by planning and equipment choice. The management or decision is delt with before you set out. The decision to bail on the ride was pretty well automatic, so I didn't feel bad, I just hoped that someone would get use out of those tools and started getting ready to ride pavement....................
did I mention how I feel about pavement?

I went from this



To this





death rode behind me



all the way back to the pirate theme park of Winthrop, where I treated myself to a cabin by the crick



and a fantastic meal at the Mexican restaurant on the corner.

And a good nights sleep



I rode over the cascades in a torrent of rain and made the border at the peace arch with no issues and the 12:45 ferry. I was the last one on the boat, which alway makes you feel as if they were just waiting to see if you were going to show up before they left. Priceless because it was raining.

I got home and after a day or so I logged on to ADV and posted this

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=618240

I have to say that this was the last of a string of kindnesses that befell me on that trip and I was at home when it occurred.
Thanks Rich to you and your band of rabble rousing Furious Basterds for going out of your way when I know you were in the zone when it is hard to slow down let alone stop, just to look for my tools.

Hi Ralph,
Yes, we made it to the exact spot - the Mike's can was the dead giveaway! We spent 10 minutes looking around and knocked at the door of the trailer up by the entrance but had no luck - sorry about that. We left the can there - it looked very inviting, but we had both just had a milkshake at the store (made by a very 'interesting' looking lady) and were quite full! That is quite the climb out of that valley. We thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Just received an email from Hacksworth (who we met in Pocatello) saying that he has updated the route...I guess we'll be going back next year as well to redo the new parts.
Best regards,
Mike's can in the background...very nice little pedestal for it!







And thanks for the stickers!!

I had a wonderful trip and I am already planning to have a go at the Tour of Idaho solo from north to south in the next year or so.

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Old 10-03-2010, 12:11 AM   #13
PNW Buttercup
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captivating RR Redpillar
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Old 10-03-2010, 07:12 PM   #14
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Thumb Excellent Ride Report

Nice Pictures and most people are genuinly kind. Kind of helps restore faith in mankind, doesn't it!
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Old 10-04-2010, 06:44 AM   #15
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The pedestal for the can of Mike's is classic. I spent a few minutes over the day wondering who would spend the time to make a chair that could only be used for a beverage! If it hadn't been relatively early in the day, Bart & I would have stayed at that spot as well - it was a great campsite. Our pleasure to search for the toolkit - sorry that it wasn't there.


Great RR. Maybe we'll see you down in Idaho next year Redpillar...definitely a great place to ride!
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