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Old 09-06-2008, 11:33 AM   #1
tele-steve OP
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Location: The Peoples Republic- Rocky Mountain Edition
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Talking MUD SWEAT & GEARS- 2 Noobs hit the CDR

Having recently purchased an '05 KTM Adventure from a fellow inmate after spending way too much time on this site drooling over other's ride reports, stories, etc., I persuaded a good friend to tackle the CDR with me this last June.
The Plan: roll out of Boulder and get to Whitefish, MT as quick as possible, change tires, then start heading back south via the CDR.

With an extremely understanding and supportive spouse, I began collecting the various bit and pieces of equipment needed for the trip.
-gps
-gps mount
-dry bags
-tires
-riding pants
- etc, etc, etc.

To back up a bit, my previous riding experience is listed below:

Years riding motorcycles: 3
Longest ride on a motorcycle prior to trip: about 150 miles
Longest ride on dirt: 20 miles
Time spent navigating via GPS: 0
Tires changed by self: 0

I was motivated by shear desire for this whole thing and psyched I could get my best man in on the deal to share it with me.
From CDR-2008


Clean, smiling, unknowing...
From CDR-2008


Our goal was to get somewhere north of Laramie to camp for the first night. G-Man (on the Dakar) came up from Golden and we rolled out of Boulder around 5pm on a Thursday. We had the joy of hitting rush hour traffic and 30 mph cross winds as we went north via 287.
We grabbed a burrito in Laramie as the sun went down then headed off to find a camp site.
Finding a place to camp, in the dark, in an unfamiliar area is always is a gamble. We found a dirt track heading off of the road and went up to find a quiet spot to dirt dive for the night.
3+ hours from home and we already found ourselves, in the dark, in rut slick from rain... this is going to be really fun....

From CDR-2008


We retreated from the evening hill climb to flatter ground, pitched our tents, and crashed for the night.
From CDR-2008

We woke the next morning only to be swarmed by mosquitos.
From CDR-2008

We hastily packed our bikes and retreated to a more hospitable spot for coffee and oatmeal....
From CDR-2008


The route north was not planned. We knew we wanted to hit the Chief Joseph Highway and Beartooth Pass, but that was about it. So, we made our way through Wyoming, with the RPMs high and our heads down.

Somehow, during a fill up, I managed to break the antenna of my Garmin Quest, while it was still in the holder (I caught my sleeve on it while I dismounted) ! I had read about and heard that they were a bit fragile, but WTF! We picked up an external antenna at a big box store for $30.... For all you Quest owners out there, pick one of these up. It is the cheapest "Plan B" you can have.

As mentioned in previous posts, the Chief Joseph Highway was incredible. Crazy views and fun twistys.

From CDR-2008

From CDR-2008

We rolled down the west side and headed up Beartooth Pass with Red Lodge as our goal for the night.
Having been hit with the biggest winter in many years, even at the end of June, some of the snow banks reached +13' in height.

From CDR-2008

From CDR-2008

From CDR-2008


We had almost done 500 miles that day and we were feeling it. With thoughts of cold beers and a warm meal in our heads, we rolled down the pass into Red Lodge to find some fixin's for the night.
Now, all you veteran moto folks out there may have forgotten what your first long distance ride feels like at the end of the day.... stories of the stock KTM seat are not exaggerated, my ass was numb. My right hand had turned into a claw; I couldn't even wipe my ass with it and had to go 'lefty'.

With another long day of highway riding ahead of us, we rolled out of Red Lodge early in the am.
From CDR-2008


We made our way up through Great Falls heading north through the wide plains of central Montana. With the Rocky Mountains to our west, I imagine that this was what the Colorado Front Range must have been like before all us white folks crashed the party; rolling grasslands, few trees, and a massive mountain range coming straight out of the ground.

We made it to St. Mary's and procured a campsite for the night.
From CDR-2008

From CDR-2008


Having ticked close to another 500 miles of slab, were were glad to have made the push to get here. One more easy day of riding over to Whitefish, and we could start heading south on the dirt.
The next morning, Going to the Sun Road was still closed due to snow, so we took the bags off and road up as far as we could to check out the views.
... and we were not disappointed.
From CDR-2008

From CDR-2008

From CDR-2008


We made our way over to Whitefish, via the southern route, and grabbed a campsite at Whitefish State Park to proceed with our tire changing secession.
From CDR-2008


Keep in mind that neither of us had done this before, let alone even try to take a wheel off the bike. I reassured G-man that it would be no problem as I had read a post on Advrider on how to do it and we should have it done in no time.
We proceeded to take the bikes apart and begin the assault.
From CDR-2008

From CDR-2008


With temps hovering in the mid-90's we sweated and cursed our way through the task. My right hand still having the dexterity of a club certainly did not help matters.
This pretty much sums up my attitude about changing tires.
From CDR-2008


We had only brought with us a small bike pump to fix emergency flats along the route, and were not looking forward to pumping up the tires.

As the saying goes about idiots and drunks, someone was looking out for us... The ranger for the park came by to say hello and offered to help us out by letting us use his tool shed equipped with an air compressor.
From CDR-2008

Never underestimate the helpfulness of such folks. Even with the compressor, it took us 6+ hours to change 4 tires. So, after a lot of sweating and scrapping off the skin of our knuckles, we remounted the tires and quickly motivated to fulfilling our duties of being not only idiots, but drunk idiots
Tomorrow, we were finally going to be getting some dirt under the tires

With the previous day's task behind us and the memory already clouded by a few too many pints, we had a hasty breakfast and rolled north to touch the border.
From CDR-2008


Having done close to 1300 miles of pavement, it felt good to finally get here.
From CDR-2008

From CDR-2008


This northern part of Montana is incredible. Big peaks, grass fields, and not too many people.
FINALLY, WE HIT THE DIRT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We aired down the tires, and huge smiles on our faces we kicked up a cloud of dust.
From CDR-2008

From CDR-2008


To give some background: I had only played with Garmin's software about 2 times before we headed out, so I was using a combination of tracks for our navigation (thanks BigDog!). In the end, I'm not to sure which one I was using, but it always seems to get us where we wanted to go. We also brought along DeLorme Gazetteers for each state with the route highlighted so we could check out where we were headed the night before (these became invaluable....)

Back to the story........

The route north of Whitefish was incredible.... great scenery and fun roads. Being that I was the only one with a GPS, I had clean air the whole time. G-man quickly regretted not purchasing a unit for himself.
From CDR-2008

From CDR-2008

From CDR-2008


We stopped for lunch just north of Polebridge alongside a creek for a quick snack in the shade. Air temps were still in the mid to upper 90's.
From CDR-2008


We blazed back west across the mountains towards Whitefish loving every minute of it.
From CDR-2008

The condition of the roads was incredible. Packed smooth, grippy, no loose rocks... everything a couple of dirt noobs could ask for for the first day on the dirt.

We rolled back though Whitefish, picked up some supplies for dinner that night and kept heading south. The dust on the ranch road between Columbia Falls and Swan Lake was unbearable, so we jumped on the slab for a bit. We picked up the trail again at the north end of Swan Lake. It had rained the night before and the roads were smooth and tacky. Every time we stopped we could not stop smilin', hootin' and hollerin'.
We camped at Swan Lake that night and recounted the day. We were exhausted from the anticipation and exhilaration of riding our first dirt of the trip and marveled at our luck of getting to do this all again the next day and the next, and the next; boosted by the fact that around every turn was something new to be experienced.
You could say I was a happy camper...
From CDR-2008


[day two later.....]
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Old 09-06-2008, 01:51 PM   #2
GB
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Gorgeous and what a nice adventure

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Old 09-06-2008, 04:05 PM   #3
tele-steve OP
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We broke camp in in the morning and headed out to pick up the trail where we left it. The trail follows a maze of logging roads south from Swan Lake towards Seeley Lake.
From CDR-2008

Stopped into Holland Lake campground for light lunch.
From CDR-2008


The route on the GPS kept running us into gated and closed roads. I could have been using an out of date route, or that is just how the forest is managed up in these parts. We did some re-routing to find our way back on the trail, but in the end just bagged it and went down the highway to Seeley Lake.
We picked up some gas and blazed out of town.
Storm clouds started gathering as we headed east along the base of the mountains across Klienschmidt Flat towards Coopers Lake. The walls of water chased us all the way to the base of Huckleberry Pass.
From CDR-2008

From CDR-2008

From CDR-2008

Coopers Lake
From CDR-2008


Heading up Huckleberry Pass with Kleinschmidt Flats behind us. Somehow we managed to just miss the rain.
From CDR-2008


This road is still at the top of the list from the whole trip. Incredible scenery, mountain streams and no one else around.
From CDR-2008


It was getting on towards 6 o'clock so we rolled into the town of Lincoln for an early dinner and some gas. We located a small cafe/bar/casino/liquor store and sat down to order some grub.
I ordered the club sandwich to which the waitress informed me that they were out of roast beef
Not willing to argue that it should not matter if roast beef belongs on club sandwich, G-man tells her to just double-up the other ingredients they have left... He is a very wise man.

Having been sufficiently stuffed with a massive sandwich, fries, and a single adult beverage, we rolled out of town towards Stemple Pass.
The mountain west is filled with old structures that have incredible texture and history to them. Masquerading as an architect in the real world, I have no problem going out of my way to check out some odd structure or another. As we road out of Lincoln I saw this amazing old barn off in a field.
I got so excited about taking a picture, I did not come to a complete stop, went to put my right foot down on the shoulder that was dropping away from me and promptly pitched the bike over.
From CDR-2008

G-man being the proper riding buddy, snapped a photo before asking if I needed any help in getting it up.
I did get in a good picture of the barn though...
From CDR-2008


We see a sign for "Old Stemple Pass Road" and check the GPS to see if it goes through. Sure does! Lets do it!
Rain storms had been pounding the area all night and the two track quickly became more interesting with lots mud, puddles, and small stream crossings.
We came upon one extensively large mud hole. Being first, I stop and wait for G-man. G rolls up and says... "ok, you go first and I'll take the photos!"
I politely offer him the first go at it and he charges for it without a second thought... resulting in this.....
From CDR-2008

As it turns out the murky pool was well over axle deep and full of ruts and rocks. He did great till about 3/4 of the way across till the bike fell down into a rut, he hit the gas and hot up into the woods. G-man ended up down in the water with the bike on top of him. He quickly stood up and said that he was OK. The knee pads and motor cross boots paid for themselves. Without them the trip would have been over.
Aside from being completely soaked on his right side, the only other damage was to his fork protector.
From CDR-2008


After helping G-man get is bike back in order, I waded back across the small pond, poking with a stick to find a rideable line, mounted back up and hit the gas.
From CDR-2008

We soldiered on up the old pass road; having to stop every once and awhile to more a branch or tree out of the way.
From CDR-2008

As which point, my bike decided to lay down and take a nap again.
From CDR-2008

We cruised down along Granite Butte along Marsh Creek Road. The clouds where coming back in and rain was starting to lightly fall. We found camping spot next to a brook and called it a day.
From CDR-2008

We broke out the two beers we had bought in Lincoln and marveled at everything we had seen in just one day. Rarely does one get to see so much of a single state. Most of what we had ridden that day was well off the radar of any other tourist traveling through Montana..... incredible.
From CDR-2008


We woke up to rain falling on our tents and quickly broke camp; stuffing our wet gear into the bags. From previous RR's I had remembered seeing photos from atop Greenhorn Mountain with the steep pine covered rolling hills. Not today... we were stuck in the middle of cloud. Water was just suspended in the air quickly soaking everything. The trail quickly turned to a slick mess as we followed the small purple line on the gps, as we could not see much else.
From CDR-2008

More than once we came across a locked gate and sign that we had to re-route around.
From CDR-2008

We eventually found our way down out of the clouds to the old ghost town of Rimini. It is a pretty cool little old town site that looks as though folks from Helena are fixing up. Some of the old cabins have been fully re-done and there seems to be a pretty healthy community growing there.
From CDR-2008

We still had not stopped for any sort of breakfast since packing up in the rain and were itching to get to Basin for some grub. The route from Rimini to Basin on the map looked like a total crap shoot even with the GPS. Right of Rimini, the road we wanted to take was gated and locked, so we just continued up the one road we could find and soon enough started seeing spray pained signs for Basin. The route we took was no where close to the one shown on the Adventure Cycling maps and certainly not the route plotted on the GPS. If you are headed north out of Basin towards Rimini on the CDR it would be good in inquire about the roads as it it a total maze up there with all the mining activity.


[more later....]
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Old 09-06-2008, 06:44 PM   #4
cube_zombie
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Great report! Looks like some great riding.
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Old 09-06-2008, 11:17 PM   #5
dirtrider
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I've ridden that same route many times and love it!

In fact, the best pizza I'ver ever eaten was in Basin, Montana.
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Old 09-07-2008, 08:40 AM   #6
tele-steve OP
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Basin burrito....

Hey dirtrider!
We were too early for the pizza joint to be open, so we hit the cafe.
It was by far the largest breakfast burrito I've ever had.
From CDR-2008


We chatted with 2 guys on bicycles who were riding the trail. It took them 16 hours to go from Rimini to Basin (following the Adventure Cycling maps) which included an overnight bivi in an absolute downpour.

G-man and I commented several times about how big of a state Montana is and just how few of the roads are actually paved. There are several lifetimes worth of roads and trails to explore up there
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Old 09-07-2008, 03:40 PM   #7
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People in Basin must really work up an appetite. That's the biggist frickin burrito I've ever seen!

When dirtdoggie and I did part of the CDT with Gaspipe, we back tracked to Boulder Hot Springs and spent the night. Awesome natural hot springs to soak in after a hard day of riding. Then I showed them one of my favorite spots, the Boulder tunnel (6,145 ft) and the ghost town of Comet. Both just above Basin but neither on the CDT route.










Looking forward to the rest of your report.
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Old 09-07-2008, 04:39 PM   #8
tele-steve OP
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day 3 continues....

Blurry eyed from the massive breakfast burrito, we threw our legs back over our bikes and rolled on to Butte and drier climates. The clouds were clearing and we were looking forward to drying out.
We hit the gas station and big box store for a few supplies and continued on, picking up the trial again at Highlands Drive/ Pirestone Pass. Again, the riding was amazing as we moved east toward I-15.
From CDR-2008


Just past I-15 we got stuck in a bit of traffic, but managed through...
From CDR-2008
.

Moving southwest, we were headed towards the dreaded Fleecer ridge. The actual trail down the ridge never seemed to show up on the GPS or the maps, so we just followed what was in front of us as we moved towards Highway 40 and the Big Hole River. The riding was amazing the views could not be better.
From CDR-2008

From CDR-2008


[more later...]
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Old 09-07-2008, 08:13 PM   #9
jimmydeanh
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this is an awesome ride. Be safe and keep up with your reports
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Old 09-13-2008, 09:48 AM   #10
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day 3 keeps going

....We made it down the Fleecer Ridge area to Highway 40 and the Big Hole River. One of the many great things about Montana is not only the dirt riding great, but the road riding isn't too bad either. In the more rural areas, the daytime speed limit is 70 mph.... everywhere.
With not to many folks on the road, you can really open it up and have a blast. So, we made quick time to Wise River where we picked up some fixin's for dinner, adult beverages, and a sport drink to keep us going.
Having started the day in the rain and clouds and now be out in the warm sun, experiencing places we've never been, we were having the time of our lives.

Wise River....

From CDR-2008


At Wise river, you turn south on Polaris Road. We were expecting dirt, and was surprised to find it paved... it didn't matter though as the road was completely empty, full of twists and turns, and the views were great.

From CDR-2008


Coming out of the Pioneer Mountains, we kicked around the idea of calling it a day when we saw the sign for the Elkhorn Hotsprings..... very tempting, but we were having just too good of a time to quit riding.

So we continued south out into the valleys....

From CDR-2008


At this point in the trip, my GPS had frozen up on me. Most likely due to user error, I'm sure, but I did not know the proper button combo to reboot the thing. Being a proper male, I did not bring along the manual either (who needs directions, right?) Turning it off and on again (many, many, times) did nothing.....
So we pulled out the Gazetteer with our highlighted route and followed that. Thankfully we were on the section of the route where the distance between turns could be 30+ miles apart.
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Old 09-13-2008, 10:33 AM   #11
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...going and going.... day 3

We make the turn off of 278 towards Bannack State Park. Again, we consider stopping for the day, but the long vistas and gravel roads keep calling us south.
Now being the owner of the non-functioning GPS, G-man had the maps and took the lead. It was my turn to eat dust for a while....

I held back a half mile or so to I could avoid the rest of worst of it. I noticed my pace slowing down and enjoying the scenery more. Without having the GPS fixating my attention, I could relax and really take in more of the surroundings.

Cool barn...
From CDR-2008



Somewhere south of Grant...
From CDR-2008


From CDR-2008


By this point in the day, we had been on the road for close to 11 hours. I knew it was time to stop when I found myself yawning while going 40+mph on a washboard gravel road.
Heading south from Grant, after 18 miles or so, the road climbs to a saddle before heading down the Sheep Creek Valley towards Island Butte. This is the location of the well documented (in RR, anyways) sign talking about the 'Old Bannack Freight Road'. Greg stopped at the top to wait for me.
I rolled up, killed the engine, and there was silence.... no noise from cars, people, nothing.... there wasn't even any wind.

Now it was time to stop for the day....

From CDR-2008


We exploded our bags pulling out all of our wet and soggy items we stuffed away that morning near Stemple Pass. I was using dry bags for all my gear on this trip and one thing I learned as I pulled out my sopping wet tent, clothes, sleeping pad... is that the bags acted like a large steamer throughout the day. As the sun came out and warmed up the bags, all the moisture that was in the tent migrated and permeated everything else in there.
We hung every item we had on everything around us (bikes, fences, etc.). Thankfully Montana is full of places where exploding bags of wet gear won't bother anyone...

From CDR-2008


From CDR-2008


With camp settled in, we celebrated what an amazing, kick-ass, incredible, day it was....

From CDR-2008


We took a stroll up a point to get a better view of where we had been and were we were going....
Standing there silently taking in the views....

From CDR-2008


G-Man plotting our course for the next day...

From CDR-2008


Myself...

From CDR-2008



Looking back north, 2 objects down the valley to the north catch my eye. They are moving incredibly fast, very quiet, and close to the ground..... I yell at G-man to take a look. As I turn back to watch they are racing up the valley directly towards us....
It turns out to be 2 F-14 jet fighters, no more than 150 feet above the ground. We jump in the air as the buzz over our heads.
We could see the pilot looking down at us as he went by and then gave a little tip of the wings to us as he went past. The noise of these 2 huge planes quickly caught up with us and practically blew us over.


"Sure," we thought, "why not order in a fighter jet fly over to cap off the best f*cking day ever..."
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Old 09-13-2008, 11:06 AM   #12
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Awesome report, incredible riding. I need to find a time to ride the western USA in the coming years....Stupid college...

Thanks for posting, safe riding!

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Old 09-13-2008, 11:37 AM   #13
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Great report. That looks like more fun than what ought to be legal.

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Old 09-13-2008, 01:03 PM   #14
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Awesome report, the places you're riding in Montana remind me a lot of the steppe near the Altai mountains in Siberia.
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Old 09-13-2008, 10:15 PM   #15
dirtbikeslob
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you're doing a bloody good report there. keep it up.
montana has some big country there,and watching a couple of fighters
doing that pilot shit would be a f$%^kin awesome way to finish the day
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