2015-09 GDRx2-FW

Great Divide Route and etc.

Motorcycling Adventure #16

30 days, 6,287 mi., Sept 2015

Six Thousand Miles of Dirt page 1 of 1

The GDR (Great Divide Route) is one of the toughest mountain-bike rides in the country. Its 2,700 miles long, and runs from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. It's also possible with a dual-sport motorcycle. I've ridden it eleven times.

Momma said there would be days like this  

Snow on a steep road. This is my turn-around point in the Gravelly Range. Try the Gravelly again some other day.

Fifteen miles of sand.

My mantra on all these trips: "Don't drop the bike!"
Dropped it.

Someone was having a genuinely bad day.

This is his fourth car, he said. Same license plate on every one. Always gets the looks.

Sun-up at the Bonneville Salt Flats - Fastest Race Track On Earth. I didn't try to break the record, tempted though I was.

Teddy Bear Totem. The wind had dispersed some of the animals, so I set them back right.

Scoping out a stream crossing. That's my front wheel, but someone else's camp.

Day 19 and the FW route has worn-out my back tire. So I bought new one at a motorcycle shop and installed it myself. Gotta have those knobbies for the return trip.

Sunrise in a high desert of New Mexico. One doesn't drive cross the desert when the roads are soaked, because of the mud. So this is my turn-around point for this section- in favor of the go-around through Pueblo Pintado. On the return trip south, the desert was dry, and I got 15 miles of sand. (Can't win   Cerro Alesna in the distance.

Repair shop in Vallecitos NM, the town's only service.

Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado: a short stroll from my camp near the Wagon Wheel Overlook is this outstanding view of the Yampa River.

An early season storm has brought snow to the high mountains of Montana.

Wiring up an old shell jacket for heat. The wire will plug into the motorcycle on those freezing mornings. Worked good.

Sunset in Dinosaur National Monument.

Using three flexible branches to support one end of the tarp. (Ridge line highlighted for better visibility.)

The flexible branches camp at Bridge Hollow on the Green River. I swam in the river and washed my shirt and socks. A fitting end to a very nice day of riding through Dinosaur.

A Pony Express station along the Pony Express National Historic Trail. My route followed this historic trail most of the day. On the map at the bottom of this page, it's the blue line through Utah.

100 miles of railroad grade leading to the Golden Spike. This was the first Transcontinental Railroad, built in the 1860's. See the magenta line on my map, leading around the north end of Great Salt Lake.

At the Golden Spike National Historic Site, north of the Great Salt Lake in Utah, with replicas of the original steam locomotives facing each other to re-enact the driving of the last spike.

Forever–West (FW)

The bike weighs 475 pounds, so most every day, while preparing for this tip, I practiced picking it back up. Got so I could do it with only one hand, almost. For this I developed a new technique.

Rainy weather spells trouble on the dirt roads of New Mexico, for they become slippery with mud. This rain caught me north of Pie Town, but I was able to punch through by driving slowly. Going down the hills was the main problem because I had no brakes. If I applied the brakes, the tires simply slid down the hill. 10 mph was my max on that stretch.

A rain storm crosses the road ahead, moving from left to right. It was spitting bolts of lightning so I pulled over and waited for it to pass.

Teakettle Rock is one of those things you have to see with your own eyes, and even then it's hard to believe.

This section of the GDR was essentially unrideable last year, owing to the axle-deep sand. But earlier this year, big rains had sluiced the hills and covered the sand with gravel. So now it was easy riding.

Looks like rain ahead.

Colorado's Cochetopa Pass is always problematic in rainy weather because it's not covered with gravel. dirt + rain = slippery mud. Hard to ride on a motorcycle (or mtn bike).

Strange cows on the prairies. (Yaks)

Steamboat Rock from Dinosaur's Echo Park.

Local produce in Basin MT.

Breaking camp, this is the dry spot under my tarp after a night of rain.

Red Meadow Lake, near the Canadian border.

Saw about 30 of these grouse on the road, in total, in northern Montana. Each one I had to slow down or even stop to keep from hitting it. If I tried to pass it while going fast, it might run in front of the bike and get smashed. Was talking to someone about the problem, and he said while hunting grouse, one has to kick them before they will take to flight, before you can legally shoot them. (I love these birds and would never hunt them for sport, nor run them down on the bike.)

This is the Canadian border north of Polebridge.

Mountains in Glacier National Park from N. Fork Road.

One of my favorite stops when in the area.

They have good sandwiches and coffee too.

Mid-trip oil change in Kalispell

Mid-trip fussing over the engine and lubing the controls.

Near day's end.

The high route through Rimini had snow, so I chose the low route though tunnel #9. It's always fun to ride though this historic railroad tunnel.

This place in Dillon has some of the best Mexican food in Montana. I ordered a plate to go, and carried it in my top bag to camp.

Heading for the mountains with my Mexican dinner.

Early morning heading into the Gravellys.

Same spot, looking back at Sliderock Mountain.

Mt Moran, Teton National Park.

Pinnacle Buttes

A small cabin at Lava Mountain Lodge, WY

Riding through the "Big Empty."

Slater Park, CO

An explosion of color.

Lunch stop at Williams Fork Reservoir.

Over Marshall Pass.

Teakettle Rock again, at sunrise.

I was surprised when I reached this puddle in southern New Mexico, because of how it had changed in the last four weeks. See the photo below.

On the way north, four weeks ago, this go-around was difficult. I pushed the bike back, and skirted the puddle on the right, through the weeds along the fence. In the photo above, I'm looking the other way, and those weeds are gone.

Another surprise, this time in the desert south of Cuba. The gun-site, where the distant spire Cerro Alesna lines up with the foreground rocks. Coming around the corner I recognized it instantly. 23 years ago Jenny and I had photographed the same scene from the same place, during our CDT thru-hike.

At a gas stop en route to Arizona.
I hope you enjoyed looking at these photos, and that the trip itself has inspired you in some small way to start planning your own fun trip into nature. The trip could be big or small. It could be hiking, mtn biking, road biking, riding a dual-sport motorcycle, or paddling a canoe - etc. It's your choice. But the important thing is to get out into nature, away from the comforts home, and for a short time be the real you. And whatever mode you chose, I hope you will enjoy being in nature to the max.

Camped in the same place twice (while heading north, then south) same tarp stick, same peg holes.

This shot was taken in the dark, at the beginning of a total lunar eclipse.

This grandfather Alligator Juniper (photo above) was so big around that my tarp ridgeline was not long enough to wrap around it. And neither was my spare cord. But someone had pounded a nail into the tree, long ago, so I tied the ridgeline to the nail, using my butterfly clove hitch. Then a mighty pull on the line told me the anchor was more than strong enough.


Bridge Construction (No workers, so went on through)

30 days, 6,287 miles
Each color is a day's travel

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