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Old 04-11-2012, 12:24 PM   #1
dieselcruiserhead OP
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Trans- Central & SE Utah Lightweight 5 dudes Bikefest

Hi all,

Here is a quick report on a trip we did ending just this last Sunday. This is mostly for friends and family but we thought we'd let all of you randos on the Internet chime in as well.

The style we travel in is increasingly becoming more popular but it's basically an ultra-light style with bare minimum. A few of us Utards did a trip last year to Colorado for a few days that was in this style that arguably changed my life, and I've seen a couple others mostly done by some groups of other Utards as well... Truth is it is fun and orients towards the technical and capable, but also does take a lot out of you and is demanding. However, in my opinion when you are on the single track and/or tough techie areas, and/or floating on the 100+ miles of sand and washes we rode it all pays off versus bigger heavier bikes. I forwarded the Colorado link to my buddies from middle school and pretty soon some emails and plans were in formation for a Utah trip. They were actually into it!

First, the 5 of us have known each other for a long time and this is best part. 4 of us played lacrosse together in 8-9th grade in middle school in New York State where we grew up. They now live in a variety of places. 1 guy (Sam, aka Mishkie) live in Boulder CO and rides his XR650R in the steep rocky trails. This was arguably his "bachelor trip" as he's getting married in June.. Two guys are in San Diego and are on a WORCs racing team and have trail and track bikes and various Nortons and 1200GS and old Studebakers and vintage boats and all sorts of cool stuff, and one guy still lives in New York and has a XR400R and a 1200GS. Basically, interestingly we all got into it on our own at different levels and we are all good friends for years and years... I'm actually the newest rider. At Pete's wedding just maybe 2 years ago, I rode Steve's 1200GS one moring wicked hung over and was instantly hooked. Steve is the only one we didn't go to middle school with but he was roommates with two of us college and is also a close, lifelong friend. F'ing awesome crew...



Crew is left to right, Steve - 08 530 EXC, Giff rented 08 450 EXC from Jim Ryan at Dual Sport Utah who is awesome. Sam on the '00 XR650R and Pete on the '05 400EXC both of whom were neighbors and grew up riding in their teens, and then me on my '02 520 EXC...

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Old 04-11-2012, 12:39 PM   #2
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We based out of Green River in a spot right on the river that I learned from one of the lean-and-mean dirtbike legends, a guy named Kowboy who is on the radio in morning up in Park City doing the avalanche forecast. I was in this spot exactly a year ago camping with his crew and I was psyched to be there again - what a spot.

We rolled into Ray's Tavern for the meetup. Giff and I were the latest there but thought we started from the closest distance (Salt Lake City), but becasue we had to make a bunch of stops including Rocky Mountain ATV and some others. By the time we rolled in the guys were a couple beers in the bag and we were psyched! Pete and Steve drove 12 hours from San Diego, and Sam from Denver... Jim met us to drop off Giff's bike and to join us for dinner. Never got a pic of Jim that I'm aware of but he a blast and a ball of energy...

As it got darker and we rolled into the site, it was the darnest thing, there was a tree on fire at about 15-20 feet up.



At first we thought it was maybe lightning. However, who ever was in the site last was a jackass and there was broken glass all over the place and on closer inspection it looked like the tree had been on fire for days or even weeks. I called the BLM / local fire district because it was the right thing to do, and also because I didn't want to get blamed for it or any of the other jack-assed-ness that occured before we got there and they planned to send a truck in the morning. The good news about the local authorities. They are mostly pretty mellow.. It died down when the wind was down but it was about 10-15 mph winds and it was howling. I remember at about 4AM taking a piss the wind was blowing hard and it was really on fire. The following morning this pretty sick 4WD firetruck truck rolled up.





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Old 04-11-2012, 12:50 PM   #3
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I kept mentioning the fairly grueling schedule for the day but was the slowest to get going in the morning. For some reason I'm pretty slow at getting initially going but once rolling am OK and quick in and out of gas stations etc. Day 1 was arguably our longest gruel with what the GPS said would be about 108 miles. It would turn out to be about 170 (GPS doesn't factor in turns in drainages etc) and we would make it about 75% to our goal destination.

We also threw in a little West Winds truck stop b-fast into the mix. this would end up being our home base for the next couple days and we ended up having a blast with endless BSing with the waitresses there ranging from old and awesome to jailbait, all entertaining as hell..



This is me messing the GPS. A little Garmin eTrex HCx that 110% did the job great only with 100K software. With this, google earth, and a little beta from Trackhead and gisKEV (huge huge thanks to you guys by the way) and we were able to navigate around just fine.

First we ended up travelling northwest into the San Rafael Swell. First 30 or so miles was a mix of sandy washes and single and ATV double track. Complete blast...




This is where the light bikes really help...




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Old 04-11-2012, 12:50 PM   #4
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Old 04-11-2012, 01:07 PM   #5
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We did have a little mix up but only once the whole trip were we lost about 1/2 the group. Turned out they were ahead of us and the blue is me zipping back and forth looking for them as they initially headed off trail into a techie little canyon. Everyone was so pumped that they were ripping ahead of me on the GPS which I actually think is great, I just didn't know what to expect with all of these trails and hooking them all together. I'd have a tough time even remembering where to turn where if it weren't for GPS. These things are amazing and the months of planning really paid off (and again, the sick beta from Trackhead (Derek) and gisKEV who are both f'ing awesome. i was over at Kev's house at least 3 times with beer and/or booze and these guys are great... As they say with the GPS: Travel like a local!

Yellow = intended route, blue = actual..



More traveling like a local...






Here's Mishkie (Sam) giving me fond memories of why I sold my XR650R with sound reason and have zero regrets about going down (or up?) to the KTM 520/525/530 series which are indestructable works of art...

Sam is the lightest out of all of us and has been on this bike for years and knows how to muscle it well. his bike is also as light as a XR can be. He packed heavy on his back and light on the bike but was a little overloaded for the back and felt it all day... But was riding great and is argueably the most seasoned / longest riding out of all of us...

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Old 04-11-2012, 01:26 PM   #6
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In the washes it was interesting. Steve also almost bailed before the trip because of two things - his bike was overheating due to clogged jets, but two is that it was setup for a 250 lb rider and he's maybe 180. I sent him an old spring I had (and he mailed me some hot sauce in return.. ) but his front end was washing out in the sand. He started noticing it pretty badly, and he dealt with it all weekend but it worked mostly well enough.



Next we came to an interesting spot where I wasn't paying attention to the GPS for about 5 minutes, just having a F'ing blast on the sweepy single track and next thing I knew we were off our route. The good news: awesome riding. The bad news, we were a little lost but on some well worn tracks, and this would take a couple hours to get off. I figured what the hell just run with it instead of backtrack. Again, it was a F'ing blast... However we ended up on a mesa and it consumed some hours. These trails aren't on any maps that I hve but are marked and a recreation area deep in the San Rafael Swell and I'd recommend them to anyone...




Some of the more techie stuff in there, our first dose of techie... Tight steep boulders, slick rock etc. Sandy washes, all single track. Awesome...



An hour or two later we were back on trail and back on some fast, sweepy desert single and double high speed track...


We ended up over by Cedar Mountain and stopped for lunch and snacks around 2-3 PM or so. Temps were perfect in the high 60s / low 70s and there was a little cloud cover, which was great. The crew was surprisingly a little bushed. for me it was mostly mental just getting used to the GPS. usually I follow and its defintely a little stressful and energy consuming to lead. The other guys mostly due a couple hour races and they're done and had not done multi day and miles and miles...



I couldn't get enough of this...



I also don't think the guys were aware how much just eating goes a long way in terms of body rejuvination and mental spirits. Next we rode pretty techie/tough ATV double track heading south that challenged us, but was fun. Steve said this was his favorite part so far. Mine was the single track up on the mesa.. We were all having a blast..

But between the three of us we don't have any photos of this secftion but I has having fun too but we were getting low on fuel and even with "lunch" we still needed some real food. Only photo we have is the BRP running a little low on fuel... Sam leans it over to slosh to the other side...



Next we detoured about 20 miles each way to Castle Dale. We'd basically already completely gone across the Swell in day 1 alone. This wasn't too bad a detour and about the best we could have done, but it was still a bitch.. The best though was the pizza place. Mom's, I think it was called. We became a sensation at the gas station and at the pizza place. It's always hard to forget that we look a little more "hardcore" than your standard dirt bike riders with all of the stuff.. What a blast..

MMM sugar and good pizza.. (by the way -- everything tastes great on a Moto )...


Everyone in Castle Dale kept asking "where are you going" and we kept saying "the Swell." They kept saying "you'll have a blast then!" and we said back, "we know, we just came from there, and we'll be back in 20 minutes!" this little old woman came over and took our pic. My wife says I look like an action figure here in my red outfit. Too funny...

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Old 04-11-2012, 01:35 PM   #7
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After gas and picking up some misc grub for the night, next morning and an early/late lunch the following day, we headed out pretty late by then, 5-6 PM. Again the food was working and we were all feeling pretty good. The cloud cover also burned off and with temps in the 70s it was great. The only issue was the wind was picking up pretty good which we would battle through the night and would be the only real issue with the whole weekend. With the shadows getting long it was awesome. We went right by Wedge Overlook and was bummed that we would miss some of the Little Grand Canyon in the middle of Utah but luckily the road did not disappoint...





Steve... Psyched..
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Old 04-11-2012, 01:48 PM   #8
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Here we are along the Little Grand / Buckhorn wash which we were next to for a while...

Also note the orange Voile Straps keeping the 15 liter dry bags onto the bike. These things are lifeblood for serious light weight moto. If not loing enough, use two of them together.. Drill holes in your plastics to mount...


We then encoutered our first real river crossing, the San Rafael River, which luckily wasn't too deep...


Pretty soon we were in fun, sweepy base canyon, and having a blast...


Sand and more sand... The XR was the only bike I was worried about and it did great... Last time I rode my XR in sand I got my ass handed to me but it was skinny tires, way too much stuff on the bike, and my 240 lbs sending my nose right into the sand and nothing I could do to prevent it even with a boat-load of throttle...


By then the group was getting a little tired and kept getting sick of my constant "I think it's only about another 20-25 minutes!" which I'd said at least 4 times that day, most of the time being totally untrue... They'd say, "Andre - how far is it?!" Giff also still had his East Coast mentaility that everything should work as planned and that hte GPS would actually give accurate distances.. I had to correct him on it a little and sometimes you just gotta run with it...

So we found a spot as the wind was really picking up to try to get out of the wind. This is low impact and there was a nice little side canyon where we could have a fire, drink some whiskey, and get out of the wind, and BS about our first day..




These guys weren't really aware of how much you just "sleep in the dirt" and you sort of roll in late and leave early, and sometimes campsites suck. But are still pretty awesome. The guys were questioning the spot and my sanity for about 5-10 minutes. But we were still barely in the sun and it was a good spot.

We built a fire. That little white bottle next to me ended up having a little Woodford in it.. MMMMM. Sam ended up having a full set of clothes and sneaks in that pack. No wonder it was so big.. We had a great night...


Awesome views of the wash and ended up being a gorgeous spot...



We were all in bed by about 9, totally spent. Giif took some night photos as the full moon came out. It was completely awesome.. Reasonable temps too, except when we woke up and it was 38. Gotta love the desert...


The guys were having a blast.. Made my day...



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Old 04-11-2012, 02:01 PM   #9
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Old 04-11-2012, 02:48 PM   #10
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Nice Andre. Living vicariously through ride reports this year.

Glad your trip worked out well.
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Old 04-11-2012, 03:43 PM   #11
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Thx Derek, appreciated man...


Anyway, on to day two...

The next morning as usual we were moving a little slow, including me again. I don't know how Derek in particular did it last year but no dilly dallying and we were usually riding within 15-20 minutes of dawn. We were up at 6:45 but not riding until 7:45-8 or so and it was going to be another long day. When we woke though it was still cold and about 1/2 of us were lucky we had some warmer winter-type gloves with us. The others didn't and their hands were freezing on the bikes. Part of the dilly dallying was just warming up - we had to make a fire again to warm up again. Because we were down in the canyon it was particularly cold and we were riding through Coal Wash where there is a good amount of water, lots of ice from the previous night, mixed in with some of hte natural hot springs coming out too. Pretty neat to see/ smell the sulfur of the hot springs so early in the morning and to be flying through ice covered streams...



more and more fun sand... This ended up burning up a lot of fuel too...


this section of trail ended up being awesome. So awesome that we had limited photos -- completely beautiful and
sick. I realized that some of the best riding is when the shadows are long...

Pretty soon we turned off and started climbing the famous Eva Conover trail out of the wash which is also doable in a jeep. Beautiful and we all had a blast and the trail was very fast and flowy 30-35 mph stuff...


Overlooking the wash. On google earth/the map this part looked like it would be hard to navigate but it wasn't hard at all... Here I am double checking though...


We had another group pic. You can see the gorgousness of the background and this is near the middle of Utah where I-70 has lots of scenic overlooks and is completely gorgeous..




From here we ran into a section of slab literally looking at I-70 and then headed down into Eagle Canyon under the bridge. This is the quintessential area on the TAT (Trans America Trail - dirt motorcycle) where there are bazillions of photos on this site and something I wanted to ride for a long time. From there we climbed out on some of the sweeping drit road to a spot I knew pretty well..





...which is Swazey's cabin down in the Swell...



Our goal was around here for dinner the previous night which wasn't going to happen. Swazey's was warm so we ate a early lunch/late breakfast preparing for what were were about to come to.



Absolutely beautiful area of the Swell - high plain desert area...





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Old 04-11-2012, 03:57 PM   #12
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After Swazey's we did about 10 miles of fast desert but it was still pretty cold only to about 45 degrees by the time we got to 5 Miles of Hell area. We were considering bypassing as most of us were feeling like ass still the following morning but we decided to do it. It also heated up pretty quickly to mid-high 70s and both Sam and I both started seeing our temps on the bikes get reasonably high at 230 or so. I have a little $5 computer fan on mine which went a long way...

this was within about 5-10 minutes of riding. Was also skipped the 5 miles trail itself opting for "orange" and "red trails only. Orange has a section marked "extreme" though and it was a little trying. Some examples:



In hindsight it was completely awesome thought and we had a blast and we all agreed with that...




Steve helped me pick up my bike here and this was one of my more painful wrecks. I only wrecked maybe 10 times this whole trip which was nice..



More fun stuff...



Some little sections of sweeping areas which were awesome...




A little trying with our gear....
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Old 04-11-2012, 04:11 PM   #13
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More great photos of this area...



Some of the swoopy-ier stuff...


Giff took a huge digger here but was back up in seconds...





The boys..



From here it was about 1-2 PM and we had a decision to make. We were all running low on fuel and my thinking was beg / borrow / buy gas from one of the bazillions of riders and ATV people we passed or head head to Hanksville (or even straight back to Green River) for food and gas. We would be bypassing about 20-25 miles down to Factory Butte and a fun river crossing) and would be missing this (photo stolen from gisKEV) along with more awesome riding.



But in the end we were pretty weak feeling and 5 mile did take some energy out of us, so we just headed to Hanksville for food and fuel. We stopped at Blondies...



BS'ing in Hanksville. Sam was starting to feel a little like ass, which I know that feeling because it takes a lot of energy to muscle around a XR650R on some of that terrain and he could hardly eat his burger.. The rest of us were feeling OK but there was some discussion of just slabbing it back to camp for night 2 instead of something more scenic.



Getting gas as the famous gas station in the cave at Hanksville. I also got new versions of the San Rafael Swell map which the last one I had I got in '06 and it was worn out and covered in highlighting..



This is about how well we all felt, which wasn't too good..


Mishkie also isn't looking so hot...


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Old 04-11-2012, 04:25 PM   #14
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In the restaurant I had a little questioning of the route home and pretended to offer a little bit of 'democracy' by letting have folks have input but when we packed up and got riding we were just going to do my route home. This area I was also the least familiar with other than 1 road I'd done once. there were rumors of some single track, and there was also a river crossing that didn't look like it went through (looked like cliffs on both sides according to the GPS). So we just slabbed it basically the quickest way home which was slab for about 40-45 miles and then some fun dirt road. Only thing is this was the "road" according to the GPS:



In the end I pretended to honor their wishes and just did the quickest route home, that also had some good stuff as we were low on Energy. Mishkie was really hurting and one of hit arms wasn't working correctly. The rest of us were feeling OK which happened the last time I went to Blondies too though it's pretty good and I'd go again.

Green River is a little wild and lots of tundra and land that no one gives a shit about... The whole area we were in was a bombing range according to the 1988 Topo maps that National Geographic software uses so it's interesting. Steve is psyched and says "Andre, you really took us on every type of terrain" which I had. I was psyched about that too...

Shortly after we just went into 9-Mile Wash which was a f'ing blast and I remember I was in this wash a year earlier getting my ass handed to me on my heavy XR. I told everyone were were miles and miles from camp but we were only a couple miles. I also tried to take us in the back way right through the wash which leads right to camp, and then presto, we were home...

This was one of only a couple photos of 9 mile that I took, and also one of only a couple photos of all of the areas we ran through naturally occuring salt in the washes, which is actually all over the place in Utah...


About 3-5 miles farther down we were basically right around the corner from home in a spot I clearly remembered and I nearly flew off this 3-4' drop into the sandy wash again. I slammed on the brakes and bailed and dropped it slowly into the wash. I started waiving guys around but Giff missed my arm movements and flew off the wash about the 3-4' drop, nose down, but managed to stick it.. Miracle and awesome! Nevertheless he was a little upset.

However, after hitting the fence in the wash an me completely forgetting how to get around it, we quickly hopped back on hte road and within a minute we were home...

That's also when that fire truck rolled through and the guys were super chill. The lead guy saw my Alta sticker and was a patroller up there for 10 years.



Giff decided to hop in the freezing-ass fast moving river.. why not...



Pretty soon the beer and debauchery began and we got the coals ready for the dutch oven...

MMM Bacon....



Nothing like a Coors Heavy...




Dutch over cooking...



And that fire truck right under the tree they'd put out the previous day, checking in to see if it was still out. Looked pretty good!


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Old 04-11-2012, 05:01 PM   #15
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Looks like that little stretch worked out! Did you see the old road markers?
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