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Old 08-15-2006, 08:10 PM   #1
malsin OP
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Joined: Aug 2003
Location: Kansas City
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3 LC4s with saddle bags & knobbies, Colorado for 7 days of gravel.

Back in the spring, 3 of us decided to do a "backpacking" trip off of our dual sports. I plotted out a circuitous route through Colorado and southern Wyoming using US Forest Service maps and a state road map. I knew the route would be more than we could do, but also knew that we could bail at any point and ride back to our starting point, Boulder. Friday, July 21 saw us departing Kansas City (and Wichita), Kansas for Boulder. Here is our trip.

The players:
Brian on a 2001 KTM 640 LC4 geared at 15/45
Tracy on a 2006 KTM 640 Adventure geared at 15/48. Changed to 14/48 in Ouray.
Mike on a 2001 KTM 400 LC4 geared at 16/50 (stock 15/45). Changed to 15/50 in Ouray.

We had saddle bags with sleeping bags, tents (2), clothes, cook gear, stove, spare parts, etc.

Day 1, Saturday 7/22/06

We headed west from Kansas to a friend’s crash pad in Boulder on Friday. On Saturday morning we loaded up the bikes with our gear and headed out for 8 days of adventure touring in Colorado, and possibly southern Wyoming if time allowed.

I had used a Colorado Recreation Map and USFS maps for each of the forests we were to visit (White River, Grand Mesa, Routt, San Isabell, Rio Grande, Gunnison, San Juan, Medicine Bow (WY))to plot out the GPS route. I wanted this to be an adventure; which to me means finding locked gates, undoable trails, dead ends, etc. In other words, get out the paper (plastic!) maps, figure out where you are and where you want to get to, and find a work around.

From Boulder, with Brian in the lead, we headed up gravel towards Gold Hill on some very nice gravel roads, some maintained and some not. One side trip was up a 4WD road … Brian bounced, road up the cliff face, sent his bike vertical (it landed pointing down the hill he had been riding up), and caused us to rethink doing that road.

Why is Brian’s bike pointed ~down~ hill?

A wee little rock stuck where it shouldn’t be. We smelled burning plastic the next few days as the shock guard got pushed into the presilencer. The bag got ripped open as well.

Fixing Brian’s misaligned bars with a rock hammer. I really should have had on my safety glasses.

We hit the Peak-to-Peak highway and had lunch in Nederland before heading towards Rollinsville and the Apex Rd, which would take us to Central City. Apex Rd is a very nice ride. Off to Downieville and some 4WD roads that I had plotted out as our route.

These 4wd roads proved a bit much for Brian. He hadn’t had a chance to ride as much as Tracy and I had during this past year. Last year when the three of us went to Moab for a week, I was 3rd in ability. With a lot of riding this past year, I moved into 2nd. Tracy will always be 1st do to experience, ability, and very little fear.

Above Georgetown, Tracy and Brian turning around.

The trail did level off, but Brian and Tracy had already decided to turn around.

Tracy coming up the trail that bypassed the first one.

Tracy coming down, after Brian decided to turn around. He made a good choice.

An aside: I approach riding as I approach whitewater kayaking … you never discourage someone from “portaging a rapid”, or in this case turning around. Encouragement is fine, discouragement is not.

Up and over Guanella, soon to be paved in its entirety, to US 285 to access gravel toward Canyon City. We stopped at a general store on US285 for supper fixins.

Then we headed south toward Deckers.

Day 2: Sunday, 7/23/06

Heading out of our campground at around 8, after a breakfast of oatmeal and coffee/tea, there was a chill in the air. But it kept getting chillier as the morning progressed. South of Lake George, on a cruiser gravel road, Brian came up missing. Tracy turned around just as Brian appeared … holding his shift lever. Coming into a corner hot and attempting to downshift, a funny feeling in the lever caused him to look down just as it fell off. He had ridden to us in 3rd gear. We pulled my shift bolt to get dimensions and then started to search the bike for a suitable replacement: rear brake reservoir and headlight mask bolts will both work. A bit of Loctite (red, which I brought by accident), and we were off to Cripple Creek. And it kept getting colder.

Snow, not hail.

Do I need this? Oops.

The hardware store in Cripple Creek had a decent selection of metric fasteners.

From Cripple Creek we too Shelf Road to Canon (“canyon”) City. What beautiful scenery.

In Canon City we had lunch and shopped at a grocery for our supper. Supper usually consisted of a large can of soup or package of noodles, extra meat (chicken, tuna, Spam), and a can of mixed vegetables). I had packed breakfast for the week (1/2 cup oatmeal per person with some brown sugar, and either walnuts or raisins.)

Through the Wet Mountains we headed for Gardner and Great Sand Dunes NP from the east over Mendano Pass. We camped on the west side of the pass. A bit of rain had us using the rain fly for the first, but not last, time. A cold bath in Mendano Creek, supper, and bed.

Wet Mountains behind us, Sand Dunes ahead.

The rest of Mendano Pass was a bit more difficult than what is in this picture.

Bear proof cabinet and kitchen table. Brian left, Mike right.

Now I will give Brian and Tracy a chance to add their comments. Days 3 and 4 up next.

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Old 08-15-2006, 08:24 PM   #2
adventure girl
Donde esta la playa?!?
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Location: inside my helmet, Colorado
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how the !@#$%# did you get that rock in there? and how did you get it out!?! Cool pictures- keep it coming!
Learn to let go of what you don't need and who you are not
Baja 2015 or bust...
'05.5 KTM 950 ADV (Orange is faster)
'04 KTM 525
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Old 08-16-2006, 12:42 PM   #3
Gnarly Adventurer
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I want to know where you had that bear proof cabinet and kitchen table packed on the bikes?!
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Old 08-16-2006, 01:10 PM   #4
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It looks like you did your homework and hit all the hot spots. Keep it coming.
Save $5 off your smugmug account with this coupon( 1qoLJk8tfsGWM )
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Old 08-16-2006, 02:16 PM   #5
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Old 08-16-2006, 02:16 PM   #6
malsin OP
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Here is a printout of our track for days 1 and 2.

Here is the section that got changed south of Canyon City as my cohorts (wisely) did not want to attempt single track. I would like to go back and see what we missed, but without saddlebags.

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Old 08-16-2006, 02:46 PM   #7
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Waiting on the rest!
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Old 08-16-2006, 02:58 PM   #8
just passin' through
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did you use the 'swingarm rock' on the handlebars?
What's next? More action!
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Old 08-16-2006, 03:58 PM   #9
love what you do
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Nate in N.E.

Yes, I have a Dakar problem -- that there are 50 weeks of the year without Dakar!

They don't expect you to finish. That's why it's the Dakar. -- PPiA
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Old 08-16-2006, 04:00 PM   #10
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Check the brand name on the bag. FieldSHEER. (i know i know it's sheAr but its still funny.

Good report.

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Old 08-16-2006, 04:29 PM   #11
Joined: Aug 2006
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Rock jumping

Ok so maybe jumping the 1 and a half foot tall boulder was not a great move and I have no idea how I got the rock in their. I do remeber the bike becoming an lc4 air craft,but I did find the rock to straighten the handel bars. It was a great start to the trip. And Troy I belive you are designated to bring the bear box on the next trip!!! Just wait folks we haven't even gotten to the good stuff yet!!! PS, thanks to tracy for finding the wire to hold the sheired, fieldsheir bag together.
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Old 08-17-2006, 03:06 PM   #12
malsin OP
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Day 3

Day 3, Monday, 7/24/06
A sprinkle on us precipitated a beautiful double rainbow (hard to see in picture).

After breakfast and breaking camp it was down Mendano drainage to the park.




Mike, a few feet, and lots of wrist, later:

And a movie:

Finally we see dunes:

We stopped to take a hike:

Lots of pavement and gravel got us to Alamosa for lunch, shopping for supper, and me fixing a blown fuse (taillight) caused by a shorted heated handgrip. I missed my heated grips in the mornings (including this one). Safeway had two pegs full of the old style, round glass fuses, but no blade type. Finally found some at Walgreens. (Yes, I was carrying some extra fuses, but I wanted a few more extra until I was sure that the grip had caused the problem.)

BTW: on an LC4 the turn signals and tail light (but not brake light) are on the same fuse. I used this for my heated grips ... good or bad it was the easiest/safest keyed power supply (there are only 3 on and LC4) to get and/or use.

From Alamosa, after lunch at Sonic, we headed SW to Centro, then NW over Blowout Pass, and then north to South Fork.

Coming up the south side of Blowout Pass:

On the north side:

After this cruiser section we did find a minimum maintenance FS road on which to head north toward South Fork. Confusing in that just after we got on it we ran into, going the opposite direction, two DSers (KTM RFS and Yamaha ???) we had passed several miles before. They apparently had taken a FS trail (single track?) to the road that we were on. I think Brian thought that I had led us down a wrong turn or two at that point. The road was a pasture access trail that had a couple of steep ascents, one ending with a large (1.5'??) rock ledge/step. A FS pickup and two ATVs waited for us to clear it before heading down. Tracy had no problem with getting his 640ADV up it.

We took gravel to near LaGarita and pavement/gravel to Storm King campground. The road toward Storm King passes through a "gate" formed by close, opposing cliff faces:

And a movie of Tracy and Brian heading toward the "gate":

How to travel light: day-wear becomes evening-wear.

Here is our track:

And our track with the route I had planned. Some of the planned route turned out to be single track (after Blowout) and parts north of South Fork. We used the maps to route around these.

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Old 08-17-2006, 04:05 PM   #13
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Nice job; good report too.

It would be great if you could post your tracks in the GPS Rockies forum. Whadaya say fellas?

From Mapsource, save as .GPX format and attach file to a post in the forum.

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Old 08-17-2006, 04:48 PM   #14
malsin OP
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What, ruin the surprise of where we go and end up?

Originally Posted by R-dubb
Nice job; good report too.

It would be great if you could post your tracks in the GPS Rockies forum. Whadaya say fellas?
What, ruin the surprise of where we go and end up?

I will post both my planned route and the actual track when the report is done. Ok?
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Old 08-17-2006, 05:38 PM   #15
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Thanks for posting the tracks when you're done.

Nice pics and report so far!
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