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Old 08-19-2012, 08:07 PM   #1
mikem9 OP
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Surfing the Mountains in Crested Butte

3 of my kids and I recently returned from a 12 day, dual sport/dirt bike journey, where we traveled from Atlanta, Ga. to Crested Butte, Co. Even though it was a modest trip compared to many of the worldwide and cross continental expeditions on here, we faced several unforeseen challenges and adventures. We met interesting people, experienced incredible riding, mechanical challenges, two trips to the hospital and 3 separate interactions with Search and Rescue.

My family and I enjoy reading the Ride Reports on this site very much. Your journeys entertain and inspire us. With the same spirit, we hope to share our adventure as we chronicle it here in the coming days.




Crested Butte Colorado and the surrounding area has long been one of my favorite places to ride a tagged dirt bike motorcycle. I've had the pleasure of riding all over the rockies through the years. CB has one of the most diverse collections of landscape I've ever seen. From the rocky high mountain ridges, to the semi arid lower regions, to the almost rain forest like sections filled with greenery and wild flowers. During late summer, the valleys become like giant gardens, filled with an incredible abundance and selection of green plants, Aspen trees and flowers.



The riding is also diverse. From beautiful forest roads, to the largest area of motorized single track trails in the country. Some of my favorites are the trails that cut across the high mountain ridges. Our motorcycle tool of choice for that area is a lighter dirt oriented dual sport bike and that's why we decided to trailer them out. Although I think any kind of dual sport or Adventure bike rider could find a lot of good incredible stuff to ride.

I don't know if it's the altitude or the beauty of the place, but some days as you are cutting across the high mountain meadows and ridges, and everything is clicking, you just feel like you are surfing the mountains. An incredible high. As riders we are all very fortunate to be able to experience the contours of earth on two wheels this way.



Crested Butte and the other towns in the area have a warm, friendly and cool vibe, which has improved towards off-road motorcyclists in recent years. These towns are collections of a variety of outdoor enthusiasts. Hikers, mountain bikers, kayakers, rock climbers, 4 wheel drivers, adventure riders and dirt bikers, etc. For those of us into outdoor endeavors, there is an infectious energy in the air.

My two sons and I decided to trailer our dirt bikes out from Georgia at the end of this past July. This would be the first time that the three of us would be able to ride together out there. My oldest daughter and a good friend of hers, Blake, also decided to join us for the ride out and would use our lodging as a base camp for their outdoor activities.

One of our three encounters with Search and Rescue.


Trip report to follow.

mikem9 screwed with this post 08-28-2012 at 08:24 AM
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:26 PM   #2
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As the trip approached we became more and more excited. It was very hot and humid in Georgia. We were looking forward to the cooler temps of the rockies and the cross country journey there. We spent a few weeks on maintenance and completing our equipment checklists for the trip. Everyone pitched in to do their part, which is part of the fun of a journey like this - working together towards a goal.

Special Thanks to Jacob, Paul, Travis and Mike at KTM World Alpharetta. http://www.ktmworld.com/contactus.aspx . What I appreciated is they became truly interested in our trip and helping us get our bikes ready for it. Also a big thanks to Andrew at Acme Rider's Supply http://www.acmeridersupply.com/index.php/landing/, for all the help with riding gear and supplies. Andrew really knows his stuff!

We had planned to take our 3 dirt bikes. An 04 KTM EXC 450, 06 KTM EXC 400 and an O1 WR250f. But, due to a last minute mechanical issue, could not take the 400. A good friend heard about our situation and offered his Beta 400. Wow, what an offer. Thanks Sheriff!

Departure Day - Day 1

Loading the bikes.


Our group's Bike Maintenance Expert - my younger son. Drinking coffee and checking all the riggings early in the AM.


Normally, when taking our bikes out west, we will drive for at least 24 hours straight the first day, spend the night and then drive the remaining 6 - 8 hours the next day. But, this throws off your system for a couple of days. We decided this trip that we would drive as far as we could, but stop sometime in the evenings, no later than midnight.

The crew ready to leave


On the road - stopped for a break


We left mid afternoon on the first day. We eventually stopped in Maumelle, Arkansas for the night. It was dark when we arrived, but some boats in the parking lot. Evidently there was a nice lake nearby.

Lake Maumelle

mikem9 screwed with this post 08-27-2012 at 05:54 PM
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:01 AM   #3
McRuss
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Since I lived in Gunnison for many years and rode most (too many to do all!) of the trails around CB, I'm looking forward to the RR. Also the stories behind the S&R (I was with Gunnison SO and went on my share of S&Rs, usually during hunting season!) How was Schoefield? Any snow bridges?
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Old 08-21-2012, 05:34 PM   #4
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Subscribed! My wife and I MTBiked Crested Butte years ago, got lost, ran out of water, and had a fairly epic ride ourselves. Can't wait to see what you guys went through
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:37 PM   #5
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Nice pics.
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:12 PM   #6
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Happy Trails Y'all.

It's not about tha bike nor tha ride; it's about tha adventure in life we all seek. Great memories are made of taking tha trail less traveled and explored.
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Old 08-22-2012, 02:53 PM   #7
mikem9 OP
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Day 2

We left Maumelle Ark. and headed West.

As we got into Western Oklahoma and the Panhandle of Texas, the landscape changed drastically. From land with a lot of Trees to wide open prairie. One Texas local said "If you stand on a tuna can, you can see for 20 miles" The sky out there is huge and we saw some incredible skies as the sun was starting to set in North Texas.



Rain funnel.


Sun coming through


After a long driving day, we found a place to stay in the little farming town of Dalhart Texas. Ahh, good tired! We are on a journey now. Time to ponder scenic routes into New Mexico and Colorado.


mikem9 screwed with this post 08-26-2012 at 06:09 PM
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Old 08-23-2012, 06:19 AM   #8
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Old 08-23-2012, 06:57 AM   #9
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You've made me miss home haha!!

I have been traveling for the past 10 months, and I am from Crested Butte. You have made me miss home!!! Nice pics, my favorite place in the US to live and ride is Crested Butte and Gunnison.
Braaaap on Fletch
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Old 08-23-2012, 09:05 AM   #10
mikem9 OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crestedbutte-rtw View Post
I have been traveling for the past 10 months, and I am from Crested Butte. You have made me miss home!!! Nice pics, my favorite place in the US to live and ride is Crested Butte and Gunnison.
Braaaap on Fletch
Fletch - your home is an awesome place! Cool journey you are taking!

Day 3

We woke up and noticed a trailer issue that needed repairing or we would risk loosing a bike off the back. (Rear facing wheel chalk had come loose) Off to the local hardware store. The manager there was very helpful finding the parts we needed and brought out his drill to help us complete the task. Great service. These days we mostly go to large suburban Lowes or Home Depot for hardware needs when we are home. It was good to show my son the way that hardware stores used to be. I miss those local stores and helpful folks. Progress?



So, from there we pushed on through North Texas, and part of New Mexico. Today's landscape changes were a visual feast. (I'll try to round up some pics from my kids later) From Prarie to rolling dry hills to more and more drastic formations as we neared New Mexico. Then eventually to the mountainous environment of Colorado. We arrived in Crested Butte late in the day.

We spent the rest of the day, unpacking and getting the gear and bikes ready. We had to re-adjust some jetting for the altitude, etc. Before the trip we found a good deal on some lodging and were very happy with the place and location.

View from our porch. Home base for 7 days.



Day 4

This was kind of a loosely planned trip for my group of riding buddies. We used to make yearly treks out West and they were very well organized by our good friend we call "The Trail Boss". The trail boss had announced his retirement from planning these yearly treks. So, a group of us just decided to pick a week and all show up in Crested Butte at the same time. We didn't overly plan out our rides this year. People would throw out suggestions. By using cell phones and texts etc, different groups would organize times to try to ride together. I thought it would be a great trip to bring part of my family. We could ride with parts of the group when we wanted and be on our own when we wanted. Our Georgia group had two houses and two condos for the week in Crested Butte. All close by. I never counted everyone, but I'd guess we had over 30 riders total that week.

I called a couple of other guys that brought their sons out. Since it was our first full day at altitude, we planned to take an "easy scenic day" and give them a good flavor of the area. I most enjoy the high ridge areas and suggested we go do a few of those. We decided to go ride the Cement Creek Rd. area and also go to the Top of American Flag Mountain.

While we were out riding, My daughter and her buddy Blake planned to head into town and then go hiking.

Riding up Cement Creek Rd.


Our first high ridge for the trip - The boys were in awe.




As we were headed to explore other high ridge areas, we ran into something I'd never seen before - A Forest Ranger riding a KTM! Nice guy - his job was to patrol the trails and especially the singletrack and to act as a PR agent for riding responsibly. He gave us a Forest map of all the motorized trails in the area. Where do you sign up for that job?



Some more high ridge shots. May have been on the way up to American Flag Mountain - one of the more popular peaks in the area.



My sons with me on American Flag Mtn. I feel a lot of gratitude for these moments.


Phil D, who had been very persistent in calling me to go on this years trip, decided to take a little nap on American Flag.


We decided to try to go to Taylor Park for Lunch.

Old miner's cabin near Taylor Pass

mikem9 screwed with this post 08-28-2012 at 09:45 PM
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Old 08-23-2012, 04:16 PM   #11
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As a teenager (couple decades ago) my pops took us there a couple times and did some mountain biking; some of the best trails I've ever ridden! Probably part of the reason I got into racing bikes for nearly 10 years.

Good to see there's still lots of open riding there for motos. Heading out to Durango in a week for about a week, but maybe CB isn't that much further...I am sure it's a lot different than I remember it, but still looks amazing!

Thanks for posting this up, bring it on!
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Old 08-23-2012, 06:24 PM   #12
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So, we were on our way to try to find the lunch stop in Taylor Park. It was getting late for lunch. My group was getting a little tired and hungry- Long trip out and first day at Altitude. I was kind leading at this point and they asked me to keep the route fairly easy (Forest Roads). I asked some other dirt bikers who were out on the mountain if they knew a good, but easy route to lunch at Taylor Park

They suggested something called the Lilly Pond Trail, so I led the group down it. Great trail, but I was not very popular with the hungry tired group that just wanted to get to lunch on Forest roads! They wanted to shoot me! :)

Good video I found on youtube (not us) of other riders on the Lilly Pond Trail. This is what it looks like.



We finally made it to Taylor Park for a late lunch. Remember the Star Wars Bar Scene? - Various aliens from all over the universe. This place reminds me of an offroad version - every kind of ATV and offroad motorcycle you can imagine coming from all over. At one time I counted over 30 motorcycles and Atv's waiting on the gas pumps alone. The place is the only Gas and Food for many miles and it's right in the middle of the mountains.

They serve hearty food in the restaurant and the place is full of adventurers trading route stories and opening big maps.


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Old 08-26-2012, 04:37 PM   #13
mikem9 OP
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Thanks all!


Quote:
Originally Posted by McRuss View Post
Since I lived in Gunnison for many years and rode most (too many to do all!) of the trails around CB, I'm looking forward to the RR. Also the stories behind the S&R (I was with Gunnison SO and went on my share of S&Rs, usually during hunting season!) How was Schoefield? Any snow bridges?
McRuss - there was a snow bridge over the river headed up towards Schofield Pass from Gothic. One of the people who helped us out (I'll post about her later in the report) was out riding her dirt bike and stopped to help one of our party that was injured. She said she used to work in Gunnison. She was awesome.

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Old 08-26-2012, 05:16 PM   #14
mikem9 OP
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Note: Learned something new about carburetor jetting for altitude. Seems we always have a challenge with jetting when we go to the Rockies. This trip was no different. The typical advice is to go down a jet size or two on pilot and main jet to deal with less oxygen in the air at altitude. Two different groups of locals told us to go up on the pilot (fatter) and down on the main. They said they had all learned the hard way and by trial and error. We tried it and it worked well.


Day 5

My crew was moving kind of slow that morning. The day before was the first exertion day at altitude and we bit off a little more than we had originally planned on. Phil suggested that we head over Scholfield Pass to Marble for Lunch, then decide from there where to go next. On this particular day, my two sons and I rode with two other Dads and their sons.

So we headed up through Mt. Crested Butte towards the little town of Gothic. The speed limit in Gothic is 15 mph and we had warned our crew to go extra slow through there. Gothic is an interesting place. It's an old 1800's era mining town that is now home to the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. It seems full of old hippies, professors, grad students and college students. It appears to be one of those self sustaining communities with gardens, solar panels and water collection devices.



In years past Gothic never felt very friendly when we passed through on our tagged dirt bikes. We've received glares and dirty looks from some of the people there. Once in the past, one of our buddies was stopped by a small group who said he could not pass through town on his tagged dirt bike. He had some heated words, pointed out he was on a public road and journeyed onward. We've always assumed most folks there disliked dirt bikers because they feel like we are harming the environment or something like that. So, we told our group to slow down, be courteous, but be aware. (We found out later that there are a lot of good folks there also. More on that later)

We passed through with no problems and headed up and over Schofield Pass. The road up to Schofield is "interesting" in places as you pass through a few road sections with loose rocks and cliffs. You also pass beautiful Emerald Lake (will try to find a pic Later).

As we were headed on the backside of Schofield the road kind of flattens out for a while in a big valley becomes more rough. One of the riders in our group and a good friend is a 16 year old named Zach. Zach is a starting Varsity football player at a school back home. He was happy that his coach let him take the week off July/August practice to be able to come on this unique trip with his Dad. The last thing the coach said to his Dad was: "Just don't let him get hurt out there."

Zach crashed in curve on the dirt road and flipped into a rocky ditch pretty hard.



Zach is a tough kid. He was trying to shake it off, but we could tell he was in a good bit of pain. We thought he might have broken something around his knee but we weren't sure. We had no phone service. Phil said he would go back to Crested Butte and get his truck. In a little while he came back and said once he got to phone service he decided to call 911 because he didn't know how bad it might be. Zach's dad was glad he made this decision. Since it was down this rough road, 911 sent Search and Rescue.

Waiting on Search and Rescue (Zach, if you have to wait someplace on Search and Rescue, that is a nice one!)


The Calvary came! The Mt. Creste Butte Police, Fire Dept and Search and Rescue all came out. One guy with Search and Rescue even came on an XR400. He looked like Neil Young when Neil was younger. They were all awesome folks. Very good at what they do! Wow, when you need people like this, it's great that they are around and take their calling seriously.

Assessing the situation and putting him on the stretcher.


Carrying Zach to the truck (Neil Young dirt biker in front).


Their initial assessment was that Zach didn't have any major internal injuries or significant broken bones. Whew, hopeful news. Zach's Dad encouraged us to continue our ride that day and he would follow the truck to the town Clinic for X-Rays etc. He said he would text us once he knew something.

With his encouragement, we decided to continue our ride. So we headed towards Marble.



I recall riding the "Devi's Punchbowl" in the past. It's a cliff sided loose rocky jeep road down a steep hill. It's cliff's fall off into the rocky Crystal River Below. It also has a few sets of natural rock stair-step sections. A few people have died on this road over the years. It's beautiful and treacherous. A real "liver quiver" for several yards.

As parents, we all worry about our kids. I have talked several times with the boys about cliff areas. I remind them that if things go wrong, don't try to save the bike. Also, I have trust in them, and their skills and judgement. The good part about this road is that you are so focused on keeping yourself from the edge, you hardly have time to worry about anyone else! :)

At the bottom of Devils Punchbowl. You can make out part of the road above right.


Phil D, far right, turns 70 this year! He's one tough son of a gun and can ride the heck out of a motorcycle. He's a good friend and an inspiration. He was relentless in his suggestions for me to come and to bring my kids out this year! :) (Thanks Phil) That's his youngest son Vic in between my sons.


Note: For friends reading who are not familiar with this site, you can go to the next page by hitting the next page number in the box which is bottom right of the thread.

mikem9 screwed with this post 08-28-2012 at 07:21 AM
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Old 08-27-2012, 10:36 AM   #15
McRuss
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikem9 View Post
To all who have commented, thanks for the encouraging replies.




McRuss - there was a snow bridge over the river headed up towards Schofield Pass from Gothic.
There are several places where snow bridges can exist along the route from CB to Schoefield and one year one collapsed on a person who was exploring the 'cave'. Killed them.

Great photos and story, sure brings back memories! The 'punchbowl' killed 9 people in one accident in 1967. There were 12 people stuffed into a GMC Jimmy that ran off the road going up to the river crossing. Several children, all drowned (river running at flood level due to heavy rain.)

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