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Old 09-25-2013, 09:31 PM   #1
tx246 OP
Joined: Jan 2007
Oddometer: 90
Colorado rain forest in 1080hd


Me. My name is Gene and I have a problem with dirtbikes. Im just south of 50 and have been riding bikes for a long time. I would say Im a B level as far as skill on a dirtbike. If it has two wheels, Im interested.

Again, Noel is the guy in the rear view mirror on the trip. He is north of 50 and possesses more dirt in his DNA than most mortals. He is the goto guy on when running new routes. As a result, we have shredded a lot of tires and stretched chains.



Noels ride is a 2005 KTM 525exc. The bike has been modified to street legal status. The powerplant received an upgrade from Dave Hopkins over at KTMTALK. Both bores were increased. The cylinder displaces 540cc and the carb grew to 41mm. The result was a very capable Dual Sport machine.

I have watched him ride this machine from the beginning. I had my doubts about the durability of a machine holding 1 quart of oil but his has 18k trouble free miles on it. Almost 2 years ago I decided to lose 40lbs and pick up 15 HP. I parked my trusty DRZ400 and picked up an abused 2004 KTM525exc. I sent out the motor to Hopkins for him to do his magic. While the motor was gone, I had a lot to do.

I laced up new rims

Both the front and rear suspension received some love. I shortened the rear shock with a spacer and added a bladder so it could be serviced on the road if need be. I have actually had to tear down and recharge shocks on the road before. The front forks were lowered .75 inch and revalved.

Next was the electrical. I did not like the stock harness and all of the individual wires that ran back to the battery. I scrapped the rats nest that had more splices than I could count. The wiring harness took a long time to build. Now everything terminates behind the headlight in a fuse block. Street legal accessories were added. A full TrailTech stator and regulator were added to keep the battery full.

Dash fabricated with ignition key,Vapor and voltmeter.

I cleaned up the frame and polished up metal. Brakes systems were gone through. New plastics and stock graphics were added .

Cleaned up frame with Motor installed

Last bits of the rebuild were shortening of the kickstand to accommodate the shorter bike. Finally, a rack had to be fabbed up to carry the goods needed on a trip like this.

Dressed for the ride.

The result was a mostly brand new 2004 KTMexc. Big thanks to the wife who didn’t kill me as this bike ran way over budget. My neighbors thought I was working for UPS as the truck was in front of my house more than not. My EBAY ratings went up along with the Visa balance.

Pretty for the last time.

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Old 09-25-2013, 09:35 PM   #2
tx246 OP
Joined: Jan 2007
Oddometer: 90
You look up my definition for the word DualSport and this is the bike you will find. My view on DS is simple. Pick a starting point and destination. Then route the most remote way possible using the least amount of pavement. I like to think of it as dirtbikes on tour. These bikes are made for getting familiar with the dirt, mud, and water. They are going to get beat and (ab)used. They are tools. They have to be reliable. My bike looked ready for prom but I know what is to come.


We live in Texas and as the title suggests we are riding in Colorado. No need to ride the bikes there as there is 700 miles of HWY287 between the house and our starting point in Westcliffe. I have seen everything on 287 and there is not much that makes me want to be on a bike. Truck it is.

The route was created from info accumulated on previous rides. I used DUALSPORTMAPS.COM to do a bunch of the planning. His program is the bomb when developing routes. The program feature that incorporates the National Forest Motor Vehicle Maps overlays is pure genius. It lets you create tracks right from those maps which can be transferred to your GPS.

The starting point is Westcliffe Co. We then head west until we get to Silverton. Do some of the Alpine Loop before heading back east north east towards Taylor Park. Finally sliding south to Salida and ultimately back to Westcliffe. The next best thing to riding is camping so we are sleeping with the bears.

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Old 09-25-2013, 09:39 PM   #3
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Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Fort Collins
Oddometer: 406
If I can move this gs soon I'll be joining you guys. I can't think of a better bike to have in Colo than an RFS EXC.
Current Bike: 2012 Triumph Tiger 800 XC
Previous bikes: 690ER/F800GS/D675/ CRF450RSM/GSXR750/XJ600
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Old 09-26-2013, 07:53 PM   #4
tx246 OP
Joined: Jan 2007
Oddometer: 90
We are starting at Westcliffe and more specifically, Wet Mountain RV Park. Its right downtown in the metro of Westcliffe. Very nice folks. We arrived at 430 and were contemplating making a run to the mountains to find a place to camp. Rain showers were building off in the mountains to the west. But the reason we didn’t make a break was GPS genius that I was clipped off the first 100 miles of the route. I spent the evening on my phone rebuilding the route. I find it much safer to route while sitting still rather than running down the road. With that finally done, I pitched my tent while Noel chose the sleep UNDER the truck method. It is good to know that cruising is still alive. Somebody ran all over town all night long in a diesel. Must have had a bunch of girlfriends.

Pic of truck and bikes

We loaded up bikes early as the sun was coming up. The rain clouds were long gone and it looked like a great day ahead. We found our way out of town and headed up some nice county roads heading toward the NF. Just south of CanyonCity, we turned up the Stutz Trail.


Nice view to the Northeast

Noel is having fun.

I was having trouble keeping water temps down . My bike had one 185 mile shakedown ride prior to the trip. The bike was running great but the temps were showing in the 230s with the fan running. No boil over so we just kept on going. Noels water temp wasn’t far behind.

Nice two track on the west side.

The trail prior to this had some steep descents. Great place to crash but not today. Noels bike has a Rekluse and as a result he didn’t have the luxury of engine braking. Those long downhills with the extra weight made for a rear brake fading in and out.

Still in one piece.

Noel shedding layers as the sun is making things toasty.

The back half of the trail consists of a bunch of descending rollers. Taking care of our brakes, we ease our way down the mountain. Getting hungry and thinking about food.

Noel on the last part of the STUTZ

After this picture is taken I follow him into a great trail that runs through the creek bottom. It’s a chance to crank it up and have some fun. We hit the road and make a string to CanyonCity. We hit the first gas station and that’s where I realize that my tank bag is unzipped. My wallet was there but not my phone that I used to take that last pic of Noel. CRAP. We head back up the road and the SAMSUNG gods were smiling because 100yrds up the trail, it was right where I left it. Back to town where my credit card company decided I was too far from home. ARRG. Finally, we get to food and the credit card is “fixed”.
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Old 09-27-2013, 04:37 AM   #5
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Joined: Jun 2005
Location: Coppell Texas for now
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Old 09-27-2013, 04:15 PM   #6
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Location: Chillicothe,Mo
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Alright! Can't wait to read since I wasn't able to make the trip with you.

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Old 09-27-2013, 10:29 PM   #7
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Location: Snohomish Washington
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I'm in, I like the ride reports that are mostly single track, that's where the real adventure is if you ask me
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Old 09-29-2013, 06:40 PM   #8
tx246 OP
Joined: Jan 2007
Oddometer: 90
Food and gas make us good for the afternoon flight. As we stepped out of the diner, I noticed something was missing. My license plate made it less than a day. I did have pictures of my bike that included the plate. The inspection tag was still there. My thought was screw it, Ill just deal with it if I get stopped. Little did I know that was going to be right up the road.

As we crossed the river, we headed to ride through Temple Canyon just west of CanyonCity. It’s a nice little detour that has some nice scenery. We soon hit a big pavement section that carried us into Cotopaxi for fuel and snacks for the evening. Just south of Cotopaxi we turned up Hayden Creek Rd for the first pass of the trip. What we like to call Interstate gravel finally gave way to the sign I crave. High Clearance 4WD recommended.

Clouds were starting to fill in the blue sky at an alarming rate. I bombed up the hill while keeping an eye on that temperature gage. It seemed any steady incline caused the water temp to climb. About two thirds of the way up I stop and look to see what is behind me.

I get on with it planning to meet Noel at the top. The road on the way up is fun and not technical at all but the road down on the west side has its moments. By this time Im almost at the top and two blue Yamahas are coming at me. Whats this as they flagged me to stop as I was noticing there Glock equipped ballistic vests with big letters spelling out R A N G E R. My mind goes back to the missing plate. I pulled my helmet off and volunteered the missing plate info right off the bat. They believed me and proceeded to answer questions about the KTM and the planned route. I told them that Noel was behind me on a similarly equipped bike. They headed off down the hill promising to look for Noel in the bushes. Noel is usually not more than a few minutes behind in an effort to stay out of the dust. I wait a few more as he is way late. Goggles are recording sprinkles as I turn around to check it out.

I roll down the mountain looking for tracks going off the edge but instead find this.

Noel doing research on tire interiors.

The Colorado rangers were helping him busting the tire down as I pulled up. We chatted some more and they wanted to change the tire for Noel but he told them he was ok. We asked more about their jobs and they said they patrol mostly by bike but use sleds in the snow season. This week they were checking mostly hunters. They said they were at Taylor Park over Labor Day and it was all OHV enforcement. I said what a killer job and they both almost replied in unison “It is if you don’t like money” while laughing. Both looked to be in their late 20s. They ride the Yamaha WR250Rs equipped with the Mojave bags. They had been picking up beer cans and trash. I told him you know beer coolers do not fit on bikes right? They laughed and said it was a game they played to find the can and be the first one to pick it up. Good guys that care. One was named Adam and I cant remember the other one.

Anyway, as the flat repair was underway, the rain got more serious. Noel s bike off the rock pile and off we went. The storm had just passed above us as everything was soaked and water running down the road. We peaked out.

My bike was running flawless. Starts as fast as you can push the button and pulls like a mule.
I was running a 178 main with a 45 pilot. At this point, the suspension had less than 10 hrs on it but it was soaking it up. Firm but not harsh and no deflection out of the front or kicks in the rear.

On the west side of the pass, the road is significantly rougher. It has some big boulder drops and for a short guy like me, there were few places to dab. Clean it, or go down.

Easy part on the west side.

Noel behind me.

We picked our way down the mountain as the storm moved off ahead of us.

Taking in the view.


Its here that I start thinking about all the people that I ride with that should experience this. First off, Im thinking of Marc B who was scheduled to do this trip until a coworkers illness rightly rearranged priorities. Don’t know him but put up a prayer. Felt grateful to be experiencing this ride. There are so many of my riding friends that haven’t tasted DS yet. Most are still racing enduros or still on trail only bikes. Some have gotten the DS bug, like James, Chris and Rod but are having a hard time setting aside a block of time to do anything longer than a weekend. Then there are the guys who haven’t or wont camp as you go. Im scheming to make this route both hotel or camp. Gonna find out if it can be done on this trip.

We finish the pass on the long line of county gravel to the valley. Saguache is on the other side of the next line of mountains. We are going to stop just short of there and camp out at the top of Ute Pass that overlooks the town. Clouds are building again for more late afternoon storms but we make it to the top of Ute Pass and take a detour up a radio antennae road that has a spectacular view. We go into stealth camping mode and find this.

Its mostly level.

I want to richen up my fuel curve just a bit to help with the high engine temps. Im a bit paranoid as this is the first high output 4s I have owned. The DRZ and the XT were certainly capable but combined it would take the both of them to make the boost of this motor. Off comes the tank and I make a needle adjustment.

We admire the view until the orange orb leaves everything purple. Lights in the valley start twinkling and yes the towers provide a really nice cell phone signal so calls to the wives are on the list. After hanging my camelbak with anything resembling a bear lunchable, I fall asleep as a thunder storm to the west starts a light and sound show.

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Old 09-29-2013, 06:49 PM   #9
tx246 OP
Joined: Jan 2007
Oddometer: 90

I certainly agree with you about single track. The problem is most of it doesnt end anywhere. On the loaded up bikes, I try to make headway towards a destination while taking side trips on the true trail sections when we can. For Colorado, the FS ATV designated trails seem to be the most fun. While we can wrestle the heavier loaded bikes on single track, the extra weight and width makes for slow going and not as much fun. That being said, let me at that ST with my 200exc.
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Old 09-29-2013, 07:15 PM   #10
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Location: Southern Maine
Oddometer: 2,790
525EXC Colorado dual sport ride? In! This is gonna be good!
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Old 10-01-2013, 03:58 PM   #11
tx246 OP
Joined: Jan 2007
Oddometer: 90

Its Sunday morning and it feels like it. Don’t want to get out of my nylon house. Crisp but not really cold. Sky is clear and bright. We have a long day today. This is our long haul. I have calculated the route to be in the 135-140 mile range. While this isn’t very far on a map, it is a long way on a 3 gallon tank on a route that has not actually been ridden. We have been getting 50ish on the bikes which suggests they will make it.

Camp broken down and bikes loaded, we come off the mountain and into Saguache for some breakfast and go juice for the bikes. There is a nice little grocery store that provided everything we planned to eat over the next 24 hours. As we got gas, I emptied the contents of a 32oz Gatorade into the Camelbak and filled that bottle with gas.

It had rained a bit the night before so the dust was a non issue. We headed south into the Rio Grande NF. Great tracks that made their way to higher elevations. Then route ran us across numerous Parks.

Aspens haven’t turned yet.

Taking a break

The roads thru the parks are fast and fun. Apart from occasional hunter, we have the place to ourselves.
The Allen Creek area was good fun. The KTM left the ground and felt good doing it. Gear and all. The clouds were darkening and beginning to leak when I made a wrong turn up the more worn trail to the right. I got to the top and checked the GPS. Oops. Turned around and thought this would be a good place to touch base with Noel. I waited and waited some more because the last thing I wanted to do was backtrack. Got gas concerns you know. I figured it was a flat but at 25 min, I got to worrying. I fired up and started back up the trail. Trying to run on the pilot jet and taking it real easy. Im looking for his tire print. 4 miles in I see it. His Dunlop 606 right beside my Kenda 270. Crap! He is ahead of me. In that 45 seconds spent on a wrong turn, he went right by me.

I wound it up. I was in chase mode. When Noel thinks he is behind you and hasn’t run into you in awhile, he cranks it up trying to “catch” ya. Every second he was rapidly leaving me. At first it wasn’t a big concern but then I realized he had my spare rear tube in his bike and the patch kit. His flat yesterday was a pinch flat that left two really big holes in the tube. We decided to throw my tube in and would patch the next flat whoever had it.

There is a really cool rolling section that had some sort of large granular dirt that made sliding both tires easy. It was lightly raining too. Thoughts of crashing slowed the party. I came to a gate and confirmed his track. Finally, I saw the familiar orange coat in the distance. I caught up and he stopped. He got off the bike gingerly and said “I busted my ass good”. That fun dirt I was talking about got him. Tucked the front at speed and spit him on the ground. Leading with his head followed by shoulder and forearm. He reported some double vision and his arm hurt like hell.

Nothing else to do but mount up and roll a little more carefully.

About to go down a steep portion of road.

Nice creek at the bottom.

Noel with a rung bell.

We continue running along the creek in Hawkins Gulch. Threat of rain in and out. Bikes running in open country now. Its getting to be mid afternoon and breakfast is long gone. Time to stop for lunch.

I eat a DS MRE. What is a DS MRE you ask? Tortilla and packaged tuna or salmon. Packs well and is good for you.

Time to move…. So we do. Im rolling through this off camber section when I notice my rear sliding down to the low slide at the slightest bit of throttle. Yep. A flat. Crap.

Stupid nail.

We put a patch on my ultra heavy duty bridgestone and called it good. Daylight is fading and we are trying to get another 20 behind us.

Up to this point, the route had been flawless. It needed to be because of the fuel concern. Guess what? If you said locked gate, go get yourself a beer. I could see where we needed to be. Actually, the gate said no thru traffic and the road ran right to a ranch house a couple of miles away. Right in front of the house is where we wanted to be. On our left was a big canyon. Back up the road, there was a track to the right so we went back to it. Followed another road that headed in the direction we wanted but met another gate that did have a lock on it. Tank is visibly low and all of this backtracking out of the way is not helping. Lake City is still a long way away. After going 16 miles out of our way, we return to the blue line on the GPS. Interstate gravel for a bit before we take the route less traveled that takes us through Elk Park. Time to park it for the day. Noel picks a little alcove in a clearing and we unload straight away.

Feels good to get the boots off.
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Old 10-02-2013, 03:33 PM   #12
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Joined: May 2008
Location: North TX
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Awesome! Great pics!

one thing though, dad didn't pinch flat, he caught a long nail that he showed me. It was stabbing the back side of the tube multiple times that required the massive patch job.
Last Man Standing 07 RR
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Old 10-02-2013, 08:58 PM   #13
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Location: DFW TX
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Great report.. keep it coming..

I ran into GoatTrailGreen today who mentioned your trip.
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Old 10-02-2013, 09:14 PM   #14
tx246 OP
Joined: Jan 2007
Oddometer: 90
AJ. You are correct. The nail mangled the inside part of the tube like a pinch because it was so long. He had removed the nail before I arrived on the scene but he did tell me that. See what happens when wait to write everything down.

Even worse. I am thrashing bikes and gear trying to get things ready for Moab. We leave Sat. Im gonna have to take a break but will continue the report when I get back.
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Old 10-03-2013, 08:15 AM   #15
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Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Chillicothe,Mo
Oddometer: 48
Originally Posted by tx246 View Post
Even worse. I am thrashing bikes and gear trying to get things ready for Moab. We leave Sat. Im gonna have to take a break but will continue the report when I get back.
Man!!!!! I'm so jealous!! First you go to Colorado without me now Moab?!? Just kidding have fun!!!
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