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Old 09-12-2012, 10:30 AM   #1
Lucky 7 OP
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Stupiders Travels - Two weeks on the TAT from Denver to Portland

Hola inmates, friends and family!

Amazingly enough, after years of talk (and some planning), it's actually time to post a trip report in the annals of Adventure Rider. First, lets get the players out of the way. I'm Gavin, that's me on the right. John, who goes by Giddy Up round here, is on the left.

What's that? Male models? No...why do you ask? Sorry ladies, we're both married...

As for how this adventure started, I'd say we went about the planning process in the most carefully detail oriented way possible. The planners planning process. The methods that will ensure you're ready for every pitfall, every possible problem, every facet of motorcycle trip taking...we sat on the couch and watched TV. Long Way Round started us thinking about such an adventure (like everybody), but further movie and TV exposure furthered our thinking. Cycles South being the best influence on the trip, especially considering all of the hippie communes we were intending to take advantage of. *edit: The preceding is a joke. They'll be found throughout the ride report. Remember to tip your waitresses.

"Sorry Mom, guess that purse will have to wait."

Fully briefed on everything we needed to know to embark on such an adventure, we thought some motorcycles were in order. I landed on an '01 KTM 640 Adv and John went with ole rock steady, the Killer 650.

Believe it or not, TV can't tell you everything and since neither of us had ever ridden off road before, we thought some practice was in order. To the hills!

"Come on you slippery sumbitch!"

"I was told there would be no water."

Three preparation rides would surely be enough to arm us for the conditions of a 2000 mile offroad trip, so it was time to plan out this crazy thing. Initially the thought was to do the western TAT and then continue to Anchorage where my wife's family lives. Logistical realities of work and life shortened the window to two weeks, and spousal hints suggested that two weeks was plenty. We eventually landed on western TAT, 101 to Portland for some rest with friends, then home on whatever non-interstate pavement time would allow for. A little something like this:

Planned to perfection! Well, wait...maybe we should do some packing. Hmmm, well, we wanted to camp the whole way so sleeping bags and tents are in order. There's probably some clothes in there somewhere. Bah, I'm sure we'll be fine. Let's throw this pile of stuff on the bikes and get goin'!

"As long as it looks cool, I think we'll be fine."

Against my better judgement, I decide to strap my luggage to the unruly tractor seen on the left. Sorry CBR, I'll miss you.

"How the hell do these panniers work?"

Alright, we have bikes, we're packed up, we watched plenty of movies about motorcycle trips, let's get on the road! I'm sure we're not forgetting anything ri...THE MAPS!

John bought the maps from Sam and we went to work logging thousands of GPS points well into the morning most nights leading up to the trip.


I might recommend doing this process days, weeks, or even months ahead of time, but we went with the tried and true method of figuring out and finalizing GPS routes the morning of our departure. What about getting lost, you ask? I'm sure it'll be fine. Satellites will tell us where to go...if only I can figure out what these damn buttons do...

And I think that covers the preparation, aside from the last minute oil changes (damn you KTM!!), tire swaps, re packing, supplies purchasing, crying, and hair loss. We're ready!!

Don't forget to tune back in as your intrepid heroes make their way through our nations nether regions!

Lucky 7 screwed with this post 09-14-2012 at 10:56 AM
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Old 09-12-2012, 10:47 AM   #2
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sweet loop
Butler Maps - motorcycle maps for riders by riders -
NM map COBDR AZBDR IDBDR South East map
Butler Maps website:
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Old 09-12-2012, 10:59 AM   #3
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U funny Guy!
I'm subscribed.
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Old 09-12-2012, 11:05 AM   #4
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You're off to a great start
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Old 09-12-2012, 11:12 AM   #5
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Looking like a great start!
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:28 PM   #6
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Day 1

Day 1

After we finally sort out our GPS issues, it's time to say goodbye to our lovin' families. That's my wife Jodie:

John's wife Leah, baby Nora, and the O Boy...Owen the Corgie.

"Mah bedroll stupid dog"

Let's roll! Our thirst is for dirt, dust, and open spaces. City streets and refrigerators, we shall miss you.

To avoid I-25, we slab 285 for a few hours into Salida. First dirt marks the proper start of the adventure. Marshall Pass is first up on a list of many passes.

Colorado is a familiar landscape to us, but the riding was incredibly beautiful. I think we both came away from the trip feeling lucky to live where we live.

Avoiding one of many rain squalls

On a safety note, let me recommend riding and playing with your camera at the same time:

Lucky 7 screwed with this post 09-12-2012 at 03:30 PM
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:30 PM   #7
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John looks a little scary before he puts on his makeup. On an educational note, you can see where they cut the top of the skull away to check the brain for chronic wasting disease. You have to leave your elk in the woods until the test comes back clean and then you can bring it home. I'll never forget when my vertically challenged lab/basset dragged a fresh elk head out of the woods, exposed brains and all...

This stinks! We reserved the pretty campsite and instead we ended up here! This was a rancher/hunter spot somewhere out in BLM land past Doyleville. It was at 9,500 ft and absolutely gorgeous. The stars were brighter up here than any other night on the trip. We sacked in after some pasta and a fire. Bad sleeping, but we expected it on the first night.

Mileage: 225
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Old 09-12-2012, 03:02 PM   #8
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Day 2

Day 2:

We woke up to cows. Lots and lots of cows. The herd was moving along the main road, maybe for some higher elevation morning feeding?

We packed up camp and got on the road to Lake City for refueling.

Outside of Lake City we head toward Cinnamon Pass. From past ride reports, we were both pretty excited for this section. We weren't disappointed. Amazing trails, spectacular views, maybe the most photogenic day of the trip.

I'm in the group somewhere. This was a big group of Kiwis on KTMs that were doing the TAT backwards from Oregon to Colorado. We talked to them for awhile and crossed their path a few more times before the day was through.

Off the back of Cinnamon, you can see Animas Forks below and the road we'll be taking up to California Pass.

Animas Forks is an old mining camp with the abandoned buildings mostly intact. The mayor's house must have been a castle in the 1800s.

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Old 09-12-2012, 03:07 PM   #9
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California Pass was incredible. No trees, just a ton of talus. Some tricky switchbacks, but we stayed on the throttle and came through without incident.

Uh oh. Yep, that's all my damping oil draining out of the fork leg into my brake caliper. I hear brakes work better when you lube them. This happened at the top of Hurricane Pass above Silverton. No choice but to idle it down the pass into Silverton.

No service center in Silverton, so we call the KTM dealer in Durango only to find that they're closed Mondays, which will be tomorrow. Another call to a service center in Montrose yields better results so we jump on the Million Dollar Highway to Montrose. It's a beautiful section of road and was well worth the detour, even if my bike was handling like there was an elephant riding on the handlebars.

Ouray is a pretty little place wedged in the mountains.

We camped at Black Canyon Of The Gunnison Nat'l Park for the night. It was beautiful, but we were both pretty worried about the prospects of getting the bike fixed and continuing the trip.

Upon a more relaxed inspection of the fork, I realized that the stanchion was pulling out of the cast axle/brake mount lower. I'm a bike mechanic in my free time and in the bike world, that's a pressfit joint that can't be fixed, so we go to bed concerned that we may well be home a lot sooner than intended. We hope that the service center will have good news for us.

Before we turn in, we watch the evening ranger program about the most common local wildlife, the smaller of which can often be found smushed on the asphalt or stealing your trail mix.

Mileage: 158
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Old 09-12-2012, 07:39 PM   #10
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All of the fellow inmates in here who have not seen Cycles South, need to watch it. This movie really matched our spirit for the trip. We loved the Long Way Around, however the dudes on Cycle south understood the true spirit of adventure.

That being said, Lucky 7 forgot the constant motto of our trip, "Ride the Snake!" Somewhere along the route we joked about how this trip is helping to shed some lbs. and this is when Lucky 7 brought up one of the best weight loss programs of all time:

Below you can see our Spot Messenger points:

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Old 09-12-2012, 09:00 PM   #11
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Oh yeah! "RIDE THE SNAKE!!!"

You make a good point about Cycles South. I think I am especially prone to wanting to have the right tool for the job. After watching that movie, I realized how stupid I was being. Those guys hopped on bikes in jean-clad, helmetless glory and rode to Panama. Shortly thereafter I stopped worrying so much about what I was packing or riding. We traveled lightly and didn't even use everything. Great flick.

"I lost 150 FIVE days...and I'm ECSTATIC!!"
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Old 09-12-2012, 09:04 PM   #12
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In. Hoping the katoom is fixed up easily- Some great pictures here and I like the way you write about it
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Old 09-12-2012, 09:53 PM   #13
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Day 3

The big day. After some uneasy sleep, I was starting to be concerned that one possible outcome of riding the bike was the whole axle mount actually coming off. It goes without saying that this would result in the front wheel swinging loose and me starting in on my famous flying squirrel impression. For fifteen miles into Montrose, I kept my teeth clamped together. Just in case. I've bit my tongue off before and didn't like the idea of doing it again. Might as well leave a beautiful corpse, right?

Safely to Davis Service Center:

Let me say that these guys were fantastic. They weren't sure they could fix it at first, but we got there at nine and it was in the stand by 9:45. I know what it's like to have a day of repairs in front of you and they did everything they could to help us out. Apparently it was two possible problems, one fixable one not. We wait:

Well, what do we have here? Who says waiting has to be boring. We met Hal who had just bought this beauty in Boise and was riding it back to Houston. He was chatty and we spent most of the wait talking to him. He's in his sixties, races an R6, races dirt bikes, and likes to lay down cruiser miles. What a guy. What a bike! I want that.

'08 Yammy Roadliner

The news comes back in our favor! The bike is fit for repair. Thankfully it's not a pressfit, it's threaded. Somehow the stanchion had threaded itself half way out of the axle mount. Yeesh, let's not think about it. A tip of the hat to the gods on this one.

To celebrate we head across the highway to JJs Windmill Cafe and have a marvelous breakfast.

Empty but for two truckers at the bar solving the problems of the world:

"It's a dry one this year."

"Yessir, dry."

"Drier 'n I ever seen 'er before."

"Oh yessir, it has been dry."

"That's a fact."

Full of omelettes, we head back to pick up the bike which is already finished and waiting for us. Many thanks and a generous tip for the wrench. John tightened down his fan motor that had been rattling and we were on our way.

Since we'd lost plenty of time in the redirect and shop time, we decided to slab it over to Moab. The roads went through some amazing passes and canyons, so we rolled through with no regrets. I think we were both feeling incredible relief that we were still riding bikes.

Utah awaits! The land of 3.2 beer and Joseph Smith.
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Old 09-12-2012, 10:09 PM   #14
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The temperature ratcheted up the closer we got to Moab and it was hitting 95 by the time we rolled into town at 5. We decided that standing in one place is hot, moving is cooler, so why not ride until sunset?

Supplies, gas, and a stupendously odd conversation with a guy outside the grocery store. I think too many years of drug use and paranoia had cooked his brain to a burnt umber. There was something about global warming, melting ice caps, and for an encore he capped it off by noticing our thick jackets and saying "Damn, Americans are f*cking stupid." On that note, we're back into the desert, where the insults come from your friends and the ice caps are far away.

(personal note to Jodie, Carrie, and Kevin, this is the trail we drove the rented Jeep up a few years back)

Utah is like the moon, but it's beautiful alright.

John wins the sunset picture contest. This one is his. It was a beauty!

I'm pretty certain about most of our camping spots, but we were never sure if this one was legal or not. It had a shot up TV though, so that's usually a good sign of BLM land.

With the most relieving day behind us, we set up camp and zonk out. It was a good one.

Mileage: 249
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Old 09-13-2012, 09:18 AM   #15
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Great reporting guys....wish I had scaled Cinnamon Pass and saw Animas Forks in my enduro sidecar rig. But time nibbled away...! You make it sound so easy.

More please...


Abenteuerfahrer screwed with this post 09-21-2012 at 07:04 AM
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