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Old 07-16-2010, 02:09 AM   #1
bretedge OP
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Four Days in SW Colorado on an F650GS Twin

Last Friday I headed out from my condo in Moab for a four day, three night tour through southwestern Colorado. It was my first multi-day trip but it ain't gonna be the last. A few days before the trip I decided on a rough route, made a packing list and got to work acquiring the necessary maps and last minute gear. It only took a few minutes on Thursday evening to realize that the packing list I thought was "light" wasn't light enough. So, I began to shed gear. That was lesson #1 and I hadn't even left the parking lot. I was sure there were many more lessons to be had considering I'm a complete noob to this whole "adventure riding" gig.

Friday morning rolled around and I headed north out of Moab on my fully packed F650GS twin. I took the river road (Hwy. 128) to I-70 to avoid traffic on Hwy. 191, then west on I-70 to Grand Junction. There I met up with my wife and 16 month old son for lunch at Chipotle before the real solo adventure began. I assured my wife that my brand new Spot was on and working properly before kissing her goodbye and riding toward the Uncompahgre Plateau.

I planned to ride the entire length of the Divide Road atop the Uncompahgre Plateau, traveling north to south and ending in Montrose. It didn't take long to reach the turn, where the pavement was replaced with dirt. A few short switchbacks later delivered me to a nice view of Jack's Canyon.

All clean and shiny at Jack's Canyon


Before long I was on the top of the plateau and riding amongst the pines. it began to rain lightly with ominous clouds on the horizon. I found a nice campsite and stopped for the night. I set up the tent, ate dinner and took a nap. The clouds cleared and I was treated to a nice sunset.

Sunset from camp on the Uncompahgre Plateau


I awoke the next morning anxious to ride. I had over 60 miles of dirt road ahead of me and I wanted to get after it. I ate a bag of trail mix, packed up camp and hit the road. Not having ridden such a big bike on dirt roads I was a little apprehensive but it handled beautifully. The wildflowers were in full bloom and made for quite the colorful ride.

Wildflowers and aspens alongside the Divide Road


The road was great and allowed for fast travel. Gaining confidence and probably being stupid and cocky, I hit 60 MPH several times on long, flat straights. Still not too confident around curves, though. The road passed through several wonderful stands of aspen.

Aspens lining the Divide Road


The road also provides fantastic views all the way to the La Sal Mountains outside Moab, with meadows filled with alpine wildflowers providing a nice foreground.

Wildflower meadow and the La Sals

I crossed over Columbine Pass and dropped into Montrose, where I ate a hearty lunch at Chili's. Looking at the map I realized how close I was to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. I decided to visit the park, then head back to Montrose before heading south to Ouray.

The ride on tarmac was smooth and fast. It didn't take long to reach the park entrance, where I stopped to photograph my bike in front of the sign. This is where I learned lesson #2. Be cognizant of where you park. I put the kickstand down and got off the bike only to realize that I was on a slope and the bike was leaning waaaaaay to the left. It wasn't easy for a short dude like me to get it back to vertical while in the pilot's seat.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP sign


The canyon turned out to be one of the prettiest I've ever seen. As one who makes a living as a nature & adventure photographer, I made a mental note to return with the big camera and tripod when I had more time.

Peering deep into the Black Canyon


Another look at the map revealed that Owl Creek Pass wasn't far away, that it was a dirt road and it led right into Ridgway. Sweet! I was quickly getting addicted to dirt. Views along the road were incredible, especially in the area of Silverjack Reservoir. Another mental note to return here for fall colors.

Aspens and spires near Silverjack Reservoir


The road was mostly good gravel and packed dirt, with a few mildly rocky sections and some mud from a recent rain. My bike and I were finally starting to look like we'd been out having fun.

F650GS at Owl Creek Pass


I dropped down into Ridgway, then headed south to Ouray where I decided to get a hotel for the night. My phone needed to be charged and I needed a shower. The next day I awoke, ate breakfast and went straight to Yankee Boy Basin. Above the turn off to Governor Basin the road deteriorated and it was the most technical riding I'd done yet, although for most of you it wouldn't be a walk in the park. I had fun negotiating some bigger rocks and deeper ruts at slower speeds. Confidence was still building.

End of the trail in Yankee Boy Basin


View of peak from near parking lot in Yankee Boy Basin


Looking up the road to Yankee Boy Basin


At the overlook above Ouray


Having had such a blast riding up Yankee Boy Basin I decided to seek out some more dirt. I found it in the road along Mineral Creek. It was another high speed, packed dirt and gravel road to the second campground. Past that, it was...much different. Shale, narrow road with no place to turn around, big drop-offs and far more technical riding all the way into a basin where the road finally dead ended. Lesson #3: Ask about road conditions BEFORE you're a couple miles in. I almost crashed on a section of two track with one deep rut right after another but thankfully was able to get a foot down and keep the bike from tipping into the creek.

Great views at the end of the Mineral Creek "Road"


On the way out I stopped at the campground. The camp host came over and we started chatting. She told me not to continue past the campground and warned that the road was just too rough and covered in shale for someone on a large motorcycle. She was rather surprised when I told her I'd already ridden the road and was heading back to Hwy. 550. That gave my confidence a little bit of a boost!

I got gas and a snack in Silverton before heading out on the dirt road to Animas Forks. While out there a storm blew in and I decided to turn around before it got too bad.

Incoming storm near Animas Forks


From there I continued south, stopping for a break at the Little Molas Lake campground near Molas Pass. The view of peaks and trees above the little alpine lake was stunning. Gotta camp here some time, preferably when the mosquitoes aren't so damn plentiful.

Little Molas Lake and mountain peaks


I stopped for the night at the Hermosa Creek campground north of Durango. It was there I realized I was almost out of water. Fortunately, my neighbor was kind enough to offer a gallon of his own water. Lesson #4: Always check your water levels before leaving civilization!

Hermosa Creek campground


On Monday, the final morning of my trip, I went through Durango where I was disappointed to learn that the Del Taco was out of business. I grabbed a bit elsewhere and pointed the bike west. I rode through Mancos, where I stopped at Basin Motorcycle Works and ordered another set of K60's from Harry. Awesome shop and a great guy!

I really wanted to ride a little more dirt before returning home. I found a road on my map that went out to the Dunton Hot Springs that appeared to be a good dirt road with the potential for some great scenery. It did not disappoint!

West Dolores River Road near Telluride


The views were so spectacular that at times, it was tough to keep my eyes on the road. Yet another place I've just GOT to get back to for some hiking, camping and photography!

More amazing views


Back on Hwy. 145 it wasn't long before I was at a rest stop on top of Lizard Head Pass. I was bummed that I wouldn't be riding any more dirt. After almost 700 miles, about 200 of which was dirt, I wanted more and I wanted it badly. Alas, it would have to wait as I had to be back in Moab to guide a client on Tuesday. I stopped for a quick pic at the sign on Lizard Head Pass before heading into Telluride, then out through Bedrock and La Sal to Hwy. 191 and north to Moab.

Lizard Head Pass


It was a phenomenal trip. I'm completely addicted and chomping at the bit to do another long ride. By the end I had gained a lot of confidence in the dirt and was starting to have fun opening it up around curves, breaking the back end loose and accelerating into the straights. I'm not sure where I'll go next or when, but it just can't get here soon enough.
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Old 07-16-2010, 03:22 AM   #2
prometheus rising
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Sweet ride and pics, thanks for posting
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Old 07-16-2010, 05:42 AM   #3
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Keep working at your dirt riding skills and you'll continue to get more confident! Great ride and pics, thanks for sharing them
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Old 07-16-2010, 05:57 AM   #4
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Very Nice Bretedge!!! Looks like a great first trip. If you do come back make sure to NOT give Dunton Hot Springs any of your money, they are very anti motorized..

I'd sure like to see some top notch pics of the Black Canyon sometime, I used to climb in there back in the day, (before Kids)
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Old 07-16-2010, 10:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enduro-ince
Very Nice Bretedge!!! Looks like a great first trip. If you do come back make sure to NOT give Dunton Hot Springs any of your money, they are very anti motorized..

I'd sure like to see some top notch pics of the Black Canyon sometime, I used to climb in there back in the day, (before Kids)
I hadn't planned on staying at the Springs but now I most certainly won't give 'em any business. I'd much rather go a little higher and camp below the peaks - for free!

I'll get back to Black Canyon within the next couple of months for a week of photography. That place really captivated me.
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Old 07-16-2010, 03:30 PM   #6
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God, I love Colorado!! I was in that area last year. Got to get back and get back soon. Pics are great. Thanks for taking us along for the ride!
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Old 07-16-2010, 03:44 PM   #7
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your bike

This GS doesnt seem to have huge knobbies,and it looks like a tubless tire. Sounds like it did great on the trip.
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Old 07-16-2010, 04:59 PM   #8
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did you have a chance to ride the east portal rd down the black canyon to the bottom? one of the steeper paved rd. in the state.
http://www.nps.gov/blca/planyourvisit/drives.htm
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Old 07-16-2010, 07:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eakins
did you have a chance to ride the east portal rd down the black canyon to the bottom? one of the steeper paved rd. in the state.
http://www.nps.gov/blca/planyourvisit/drives.htm
I probably had time but I was in a hurry to get to Owl Creek Pass and I skipped it. I wish I had ridden it in retrospect, though. Guess I'll just have to go back!

NEVERLOST: These are the Heidenau K60 tires. No idea how they'd stack up against knobbies in dirt but from my amateur perspective, I thought they performed flawlessly on and off the road. About 1,500 miles on 'em now and they're holding up really well. No complaints from me.

Thanks for checking out the ride report and pics!

And, a short video from the Owl Creek Pass Road. Craaaaazy scenery. Sorry 'bout the wind noise. This video was made on a Canon S90 I was holding in my left hand while riding. Yes, a Go Pro Hero Motorsports camera is on the way for safer and higher quality video in the future.

Can't figure out how to embed video so here's a link to the YouTube page:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvyhxSOufNo
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Old 07-16-2010, 07:34 PM   #10
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Great report Damn, I miss that corner of CO...
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Old 07-17-2010, 10:52 AM   #11
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Thank you so much for the pics. It reminds me why I moved here from the Midwest. I did a simular trip two years ago and want to get back soon. The ride to the bottom of the canyon was well worth it. Be sure to do it next time.
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Old 07-18-2010, 12:07 PM   #12
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Looks like a great adventure you had! Nice pictures and story! I felt like I was right there with you.
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Old 07-18-2010, 01:11 PM   #13
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Thanks for checkin' out the ride report, all. Got a couple new topo maps and am planning the next adventure. Off to Glacier NP for 2 weeks tomorrow w/ my wife and son. There will be no riding this trip but there will be excessive miles hiked and hundreds of photos made while we're there.
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Old 07-18-2010, 03:49 PM   #14
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It's pretty easy to get hooked and addicted to dirt and gravel roads.
The excitement of the rough road, the places you get to see.......

If Crack-heads had dual-sports, their drug problem would be GONE!!
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Old 07-18-2010, 07:01 PM   #15
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Saw your bike at the Goldbelt in Ouray last Saturday evening, we were in the 4x4's for that trip, but seeing your loaded BMW made me wish I was on the bike! Looks like it was a great time, thanks for sharing your report!
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