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Old 08-20-2013, 05:33 AM   #16
Joined: May 2010
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Just AWESOME...!!!
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Old 08-21-2013, 10:46 PM   #17
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Answers to some questions

I have received a couple of questions regarding specific info regarding where we stayed, places for food and other logistics. Rather than clutter up this ride report I made a post in the COBDR thread in the regional forums with a bunch of that type of (hopefully) useful info for anyone planning on riding the route. Another ADV Inmate, BlueLghtning, also put up a very detailed and informative post there. Here is a link in you are interested:

'02 BMW R 1150 GS-A, '07 BMW G650 X-Challenge, '08 BMW G650 X-Country, '09 BMW G650 X-Country, '03 KLR 650, '04 KTM 400 EXC, '02 Kawi KDX220
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Old 08-22-2013, 12:36 AM   #18
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The scenery changes, Cumberland Pass & Pitkin

The section of the BDR between Lake City and Buena Vista does not get a lot of attention in the COBDR documentary film, but turned out to be one of our favorites of the trip. Leaving Lake City is almost like driving across some kind of boundary as the topography, scenery and riding conditions make a sharp change from the previous sections.

We spent a lot of the evening and most of the morning in Lake City drying gear and getting organized for the next section of the route. We had intended to get out on the trail early, but as is often the case, were later departing than planned. Fueled up, restocked on food and snacks, somewhat dryer and somewhat rested, we headed out an immediately noticed the change

Although the day still had a lot of elevation change and passes to cross, the topography felt much less steep, the roads felt much less rocky, and the vegetation was different as well. The weather, while still grey and cloudy, was less threatening, and the cloud bases back up closer to where they belong in civilized riding. Where the day before we were riding fairly closely packed up to stay in contact with each other, today we could space ourselves out as the sight lines were longer and just felt more open. Hopefully the following series of photos will demonstrate what I mean:

The view ahead

One rider through

Two riders ahead

Three leaves me...

Some groups of riders I've ridden with space way out, often not seeing each other for long stretches of time, but having ridden as a family for a long time, we still like to stay in visual contact, and our "rule" is that each rider is responsible for staying in contact with whoever is immediately behind. Not saying this is the best way, but it works for us, and even though the boys are probably better, more capable riders than Mom and Dad, we are more comfortable keeping track of the "kids". Wonder when this will flip-flop and they will worry about keeping track of the old folks?

With the changing topography the feeling of being up in the mountains was subtly changing and often felt more like we were riding into valleys between ridges

Mike stops to take the image seen next

The rock geology was changing as well. Instead of Talus slopes, and sedimentary layering, the hillsides began to look more good solid country rock

As the day progressed the terrain opened up steadily, and we began to see much more indication of grazing and ranching activity. The valley bottoms widened, barns, hay fields and hay-sheds began to appear, and we began coming across grazing horses, occasionally sharing the road with them

These horses did not really seem to be all that impressed by a small herd of motorcycles, but allowed us to pass. And we began to see clusters of houses and settlements along the road.

The views broadened, and sage and scrub brush became more predominant. The sky remained spectacular, probably more-so to us as we are accustomed to seeing only blue skies or fog/marine layer overcast, and rarely get to see cumulus clouds above

I have to mention that a lot of the photos I'm including were taken by Mike. I think he is doing pretty well, and as a bonus, I even get to see an occasional photo of myself for a change

But maybe the best shots are not cluttered up with bikes and riders at all

Now we sometimes even get to see images of both Mom and Dad in the same photo

The valley we were following dumped out into an area of open grazing land, quite a change from yesterday. The riding was excellent, the roads well maintained.

We had ridden for several hours without seeing another vehicle of any kind. Ahead in the distance I saw a dilapidated fence on a little rise alongside the road, and as we approached it was apparent that it surrounded a pioneer burial site. Not sure why, but I am drawn to and feel compelled to check out these small cemeteries. I guess I try to visualize what it was like to be a pioneer carving out an existence from the wilderness during the frontier days, and feel like taking a few moments to stop and read the headstones in some way honors those who had the gumption to actually do it.

As we continued on, the weather, as usual, began to deteriorate. The winds picked up, the sky darkened, and we began to see virga in the darker spots, and knew we were in for more rain. Getting hungry, we were looking forward to making it to Pitkin as we had heard that the cafe was a good place for a meal break. A few miles outside Pitkin it began to lightly sprinkle. As we came into Pitkin, the rain began to fall in earnest. We found the Pitkin Cafe complete, with some old-timers sitting out front on the porch taking in the sights. We parked and checked our gear to make sure everything was shut tightly to keep out the rain. Before we could get everything buttoned up, the Cafe door opened and the waitress stepped out and told us that we should come in out of the rain for a while.

The woman running things ushered us in, got us settled at a table, then ran through the menu off the top of her head. All I really remember is that she offered up fresh burgers cooked outside on the barbecue, and fresh-baked brownies with real ice cream for desert. The rain was dumping down outside while we were warm and dry inside. We ate slowly, not eager to head back into a rain-storm. After burgers, brownies, ice cream and milkshakes we were running out of excuses (as well as stomach space), said our goodbyes and started to head out just as the rain tapered off and stopped. The Pitkin Cafe, I like this place. I can't dredge up her name, but if you stop by tell the owner we said hello

As we left Pitkin, the views/vegetation/topograph again changed, and we appeared to be headed back into the forest in a narrowing valley. There were streams and water most everywhere, and we saw many beaver ponds along the way

We had one more pass to climb and cross, and the day was wearing on, of course meaning clouds, thunderstorms and rain. As we climbed towards the crest of Cumberland Pass the temperature dropped until it was again quite cool. At the top of the pass Mike conscripted a woman in 4x4 to take our photo at the marker. We hadn't realized how chilly it was until we noticed that she was wrapped in a heavy blanket and shivering while she took our photo

It is a fairly steep grade down the back-side of Cumberland Pass, and the road comes out into an area loaded with sheep. Lots of sheep. Hundreds of sheep, all standing stoically in the rain munching away on the scrub brush as we pass by. The road steadily descends and comes out onto the highway, with one additional pass to cross (we didn't count this one as it is all paved). It was late in the day when we reached the crest of the pass, and we were again being pelted by rain with occasional hail. Committee meeting, brief discussion, and a unanimous vote to press on to Buena Vista and further incinerate the Visa Card at a dry, warm motel.

In Buena Vista we found the very clean (VERY CLEAN) and tightly run ship that is the Lakeview Motel, an older auto-court style facility very apparently loving restored by the resident owners. Despite our appearance we were able to secure a couple of very nice, reasonably priced rooms complete with off-street parking, refrigerators, microwaves and, most importantly, very hot showers. The owner gladly provided a pile of scrappy old towels for our use in tidying up our gear.

As a side-note, we carried a waterproof tarp that we put down on the floors whenever we were in a motel to keep from soiling or soaking the floors. We try to be good guests whenever possible and encourage other riders to do the same so we can all be welcome at such places.

Tomorrow will be another day of change as we turn north and head towards Gypsum
'02 BMW R 1150 GS-A, '07 BMW G650 X-Challenge, '08 BMW G650 X-Country, '09 BMW G650 X-Country, '03 KLR 650, '04 KTM 400 EXC, '02 Kawi KDX220
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Old 08-25-2013, 09:07 PM   #19
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Buena Vista to Gypsum

If you've read this far you can probably tell that one of the main themes of this trip was dealing with the weather (Duh). We were really looking forward to some dryer conditions, and awoke early the next morning to blue skies and a forecast that was looking up.

Overnight we had gotten our riding gear fairly dry, although the riding boots all seemed hopelessly soaked for the duration. I think we were all down to our last dry T-shirts and socks, but no worries.

The COBDR map and documentary mention that the first section leaving Buena Vista and heading towards Gypsum is through an ATV area, and has a stretch of deep sand. The DVD showed several shots of the guys struggling to plow through the sand on their heavily loaded 990's and GSA's, but mentioned that the stretch wasn't too long. We packed up, made sure everything was secure anticipating the possibilities of upsets, and headed off, stopping at the City Market to restock our food and water.

The ATV park is just outside town, and is pretty much a classic ATV area. Parking lots, some individual camping spaces, and fairly narrow trails chewed up as only the little quads can do. We headed through the park watching for the sand area. Our bikes, while certainly much lighter than the 990/GSAs, are fairly well loaded, and we had a plan for mutual assistance if anyone has problems burying their bike. Have I mentioned that we have spent a lot of our time riding in the So Cal deserts? Which means riding a lot of the time in sand?

After a while on the ATV trails I caught a glimpse of Mike up in the lead standing up on his pegs, then Sean standing followed by Susie. Anticipating that we had arrived at the beach, I stood as well, rounded a corner and followed everyone up and through a wide sand climb that didn't seem bad at all, only realizing at the top that it had been the indicated sand trap.

We soon popped out of the ATV area and onto a wide-open mesa

The road widened out into more of a ranch road winding through valleys between the foothills and ridgelines

We could often see the trail ahead leading off into the distance

Or look back to see our group spread out just enjoying the excellent conditions, and the views

'02 BMW R 1150 GS-A, '07 BMW G650 X-Challenge, '08 BMW G650 X-Country, '09 BMW G650 X-Country, '03 KLR 650, '04 KTM 400 EXC, '02 Kawi KDX220
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Old 08-25-2013, 09:29 PM   #20
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On the road to Gypsum

The morning's clear blue skies started to yield to cumulus clouds as the morning passed, but the air was clearer (dryer?) than it had been to date, and the skyline was again impressive

The trail slowly climbed

and soon we were looking down into the valley below where ranching and grazing seemed to be the main activity

We were climbing back into the forest

Passing through an expanse of compact valleys and through passes into the next valley beyond. We were making good time on well tended roads and were able to relax and enjoy the day

We stopped to take photos along the way

Often with good results

The terrain began to change and open up, with more fences, private property and cattle ranching along the way

For the first time on the trip we came across active logging operations

'02 BMW R 1150 GS-A, '07 BMW G650 X-Challenge, '08 BMW G650 X-Country, '09 BMW G650 X-Country, '03 KLR 650, '04 KTM 400 EXC, '02 Kawi KDX220
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Old 08-25-2013, 09:42 PM   #21
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Still headed towards Gypsum

The terrain today was much different from earlier in the week. We rode through wide meadows on roads that showed the effects of recent rain and recent maintenance. Very nice to not have dust!

We were getting the types of views and photo ops that we had been looking forward to for a long time

The forest was also changing. Gone were the pines and conifers of the San Juan's

After climbing up and over a fairly muddy forest track we descended down the back side into wide open ranchland

According to my maps we should be coming to some valleys, streams and water-crossings before too long.........
'02 BMW R 1150 GS-A, '07 BMW G650 X-Challenge, '08 BMW G650 X-Country, '09 BMW G650 X-Country, '03 KLR 650, '04 KTM 400 EXC, '02 Kawi KDX220
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Old 08-25-2013, 10:26 PM   #22
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Great pics, great family vacation!
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Old 08-27-2013, 02:59 PM   #23
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Keep it coming! Ma and Pa have done a fine job raising the "little one's" to enjoy and experience adventure!
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Old 08-29-2013, 09:11 PM   #24
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Water and The Hageman Pass

The ride through the meadows and ranching area ends out on Colorado Highway 285. After a short stint on the pavement, it's back onto the dirt, climbing again up into the Pike National Forest. The elevation is deceptive. Actually, I think the altitude of most of the ride was deceptive as you are constantly up above 8,000', and often well above 10,000' Climbing up into the Pike Forest we were soon noticing the dropping temps, and a quick check of the GPS confirmed that we were back up there.

The creators of the COBDR often have included tasty little loops and side routes through interesting and sometimes challenging areas. The stretch through the Pike Natl Forest is a good example. Not long after turning off of CO 285 the trails loops out, crossing a series of creeks and streams such as Rough and Tumbling Creek (several times), and the South Fork of the South Platte River (seasonal) and many others. Have I mentioned that we are desert riders from So Cal?

Water Crossings are a little out of our regular routine when riding, especially on fully loaded bikes. By this point we had crossed quite a few of the smaller streams, and a couple of larger creeks/beaver ponds, but were still checking out anything that looked a little deep. We'd been warned that there were a couple of the crossings that had deep holes, so a little recon seemed to be in order.

Here Susie is checking out a line through the pond while Sean rides through.

Susie was next up, with Mike giving a bit of last-moment advice

Mike's turn

It's not very often that we get photos of riding through water, hence all of them here!
'02 BMW R 1150 GS-A, '07 BMW G650 X-Challenge, '08 BMW G650 X-Country, '09 BMW G650 X-Country, '03 KLR 650, '04 KTM 400 EXC, '02 Kawi KDX220
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Old 08-29-2013, 09:54 PM   #25
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A little more water and the passes

You've probably noticed that there are lots of theories and styles used when negotiating water crossings. Susie was using the "steady pace" style

Mike had discovered that his Dirt Bagz were not really at all water-proof was going with the "splash-only-enough-for-a-cool-photo" method

20-something Sean, who was using a set of Walter Colebatch's totally and completely waterproof Magadan Bags, was going for the "You-are-all-wussies", "its-not-a-crossing-unless-the-splash-is-over-your-head" style statement

As I wasn't really too interested in having anyone get photos of me falling in the water, I used the "I have the last working camera and want to get photos of everyone else for the ride-report excuse" and crossed first, un-photographed.

There were numerous other water-crossing, ranging from short shallow brooks to steep-sided deep ditch-like affairs, but I won't bore you with more images. Suffice it to say that we were well-practiced at water-work by mid-afternoon. Unfortunately, we were also fairly damp, particularly from the knees-down. Our boots had really never dried since the second day, and whatever progress we had made in getting them dry was soaked away today.

I think I may have mentioned that August is the Colorado Dry Season, and the warmest month to go riding in the high-country, right? You have probably sensed a pattern developing with the weather during our ride. About the time we finished up the last of the water-play, the clouds began to build and the temps started dropping. Again, we were above 10,000', so when the sun disappears it gets chilly pretty quickly.

As we headed towards Weston Pass, the clouds closed in, and once again it was clear that rain was likely

We headed on towards Weston Pass

As we started down the back-side of Weston, our friend Mr. Rain again joined the ride. Being down to our last working camera, this ended our photos for the day.

We followed the route to the Leadville Cut-off, and decided to ride into town for some lunch, hopefully in some warm and dry restaurant. As we rode into Leadville we realized that some special event must be on tap, as the town was packed to the gills with visitors. We rode through downtown without seeing a single parking space, and saw lines of customers at virtually every restaurant. Mike spotted a sign for a Subway Sandwich shop, so we followed him and found the shop on the outskirts of town. The shop was packed with customers, all wearing bicycling/mountain-biking garb, and soon learned that every competitive rider in the west was in town for the big annual Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race.

After a long-ish lunch in the warm/dry Subway, we headed on towards Gypsum. Lots of rain and wind awaited us, and as I have no photos I'll keep the narrative short. Here goes: It rained. It rained harder. It was windy. We made it to Gypsum. Gypsum has no hotels to speak of. We rode to Eagle 5 or 6 miles away, found the Eagle Lodge Motel, parked under cover, got two huge rooms, and called it a day.

Tomorrow, on to Steamboat Springs to meet Snooker.....
'02 BMW R 1150 GS-A, '07 BMW G650 X-Challenge, '08 BMW G650 X-Country, '09 BMW G650 X-Country, '03 KLR 650, '04 KTM 400 EXC, '02 Kawi KDX220
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:16 PM   #26
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Great trip so far!
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Old 09-03-2013, 09:32 AM   #27
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Sounds like a good time. I was attending Westfest in Buena Vista around the same time as you guys were doing the COBDR. Definitely rainy, but I appreciated the lack of dust...
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Old 09-07-2013, 04:14 PM   #28
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Whatta way to do the family-bonding thingee. I'm in for this one ...
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Old 09-07-2013, 04:41 PM   #29
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a trip to remember for a lifetime and beyond. Wonderful posts and images. I appreciate you sharing with us
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Live life like you mean it... but take your family and friends (and DOGS) along for the "ride"
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Old 09-08-2013, 03:09 AM   #30
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Keep bringing it on Mark. Great pics and r&r
One hell of a way for sure seducing me to come over and check it out myself
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