Thursday, October 15, 2009

Welcome To Livingston, MT

So it has been a whirlwind few months dealing with a home purchase, moving, getting a whole new routine going, having a longer commute, and finally having winter descend upon us....

Steph looking out on the Yellowstone River not far from our new home. This was on Friday last week and it was about 15 degrees out and obviously had snowed. Livingston Peak and the Absaroka Range are in the distance.

My parents came to visit as well this past week, unfortunately in the midst of a deep freeze! It was 9 degrees out Friday night I think. Snowed a bunch. I had planned all sorts of good hiking and two wheeling, but it wasn't possible. We made the best of it. Here we are at Neptune's Brewery, a totally sweet local spot with great beers and a good food. If you are in town and need a beverage, check it out. Open 4-8pm daily.

We managed to get into Yellowstone National Park on Sunday for a short hike before adjourning to Chico Hot Springs for a soak and an excellent meal. A local institution, Chico is not to be missed.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sorry for no posts!

Moving into the house we just bought has consumed all my spare time lately, and then Steph and I had to go to Minnesota for a family wedding....

Hope to have my life squared away again soon to get posting!


Friday, August 14, 2009

Day 2 of the Dirt 501

After the minor get-off and mechanical fixing, we rolled off down the road into Pony, MT. The roads were well maintained, but completely saturated with water, which made the tight turns and twists interesting. Really had to flat-track style most of the turns to keep the front wheel tracking at all.

Rolling into Pony, we came upon the Pony Bar, voted one of America's 50 best bars. It was well past five o'clock, so we figured dropping in for a beer was a good idea. Some map reading, and blah-blah-blah with the locals, and suddenly it was 9pm, and time to camp. We rode a couple miles up the hill outside of Pony to the National Forest land, and set up camp at Cataract Lake just as it started to sprinkle.

The rain subsided, and we cooked up a delicious steak dinner over the fire in tinfoil. We broke out the Jim Beam, and started blah- blah-blah'ing with full stomachs and cups of whiskey. One important lesson in after-ride refreshment, is always wear your moto-gear when drinking. Rebelpacket had a little stumble down an embankment getting firewood, and was grateful for this rule.

Morning broke to blue, clear skies and great sunlight. The awesome-ness of our selected camp area was shown to us in full glory.

Rebelpacket was a little late packing up in the morning, sleeping off the whiskey. The mornings are when the cam-buckle luggage straps really sucked compared to the Voile straps L-Train was using. It would take a full 20 minutes just to strap the gear onto the back.

All set, we started roosting early. Down the road past pony, and off to some pretty nice trails marked "4WD only".

The 4WD trails are sweet. Rocky, steep, and pretty wide, which allows for multiple lines through the mess, and some real sweet roosting. Some nice berms have built up over the years, which means through the twisty bits, you can tip it over, stick the foot out and grab big handfuls of throttle. Of course when the terrain is that much fun, one isn't very inclined to stop riding to get photos, so we don't have any of that section....

On the way down, we passed some real sweet views too. We're high enough up here, just above Sureshot Lakes, that there is still snow from last winter on the peaks!

The way down was pretty tame, fast well maintained dirt roads. We moved on and down towards Alder, hoping to find a good place for breakfast. Unfortunately for this part of it, we did have to hit some pavement. At least the views and the sky we're alright! Numerous storm cells were moving through the area, and we got some sprinkles here and there.

Alder had no breakfast options, however 5 miles up the road we found a little place with some options (and hot coffee). The lady running the shop was real nice, and didn't seem to have a problem with smelly, dirty, armor-clad dirtbikers sitting in her fine furniture. We proceeded to consume huge bowls of Potato Cheese soup and then some burritos for dessert!

Filled up and ready for more action, we headed into a expanse of BLM land, hoping to find a route to connect us through into Butte, MT. The route was uncertian, as was the trails. But we found ourselves on some awesome routes through the middle of nowhere, fast-paced 4th and 5th gear stuff that wound over these sagebrush prairies and through old mines. This is some of Montana's finest dual sport terrain, this rolling open country, no people, old roads, the occasional antelope or deer, and the mountains all around.

Most of the old mines were blocked off with fences and warning signs, presumably to prevent people like us from hurting ourselves. Still pretty neat though.

At this point, our spirits we're very high. Our heads were exploding with the views. Bikes were running great, and we were having the time of our lives. A few miles up the road, all that would change quickly.

It started pouring rain. Not a drizzle, not a steady rain. Pouring. The roads turned into a solid creek. L-Train busted out his PVC tarp, and we set up a mock shelter on the side of the road. The rain continued, and the temperature really dropped. Not good.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Day One of the Dirt 501

Three days of Montana Dirt

The Plan: L-Train, Rebelpacket, an XR600R, a KTM 625 SXC and 500 miles of unexplored dirt roads. Leave Friday evening, come home Sunday evening. A trip inspired by a certain ride report on 10 Days of Utah Desert Madness.

The Prep:
Ultra-Minimalist Camping protocol. We packed only what we'd absolutely need. Some instant food, aluminum foil to cook in, metal cups to drink/cook in, sporks, big knifes for cutting things, trowels and metal files to dig shit-holes in, tarps in case it rains, tools and tubes. Our only luxury item was flip-flops, because after a day in moto-boots, sometimes you need to let the feet air out.

Lincoln had scored some Voile straps, but every shop in town didn't have any when Alex went to buy some. These are ski straps recommended by our idol in ultralightness, Joe Motocross. Alex ended up having to use nylon cam-buckle straps, which proved to be a big-pain in the ass every time he needed to unload anything.

We did a basic check to make sure we had remembered everything, and took off into windy, cloud-filled skies.

Our route took us back behind Logan, which we refer to as "The Baja Training Route". Its a seldom-used road that has huge ruts, and generally nasty road changes.
The Gallatin valley has had an unseasonable amount of rain, and the road was completely in shambles. This made things pretty interesting. After we got back there was a newspaper article about "the worst hailstorm ever" in Manhattan Montana....which damaged many county roads. Golf Ball Size Hailstones. Ouch. Last time we did this route flat-out at close to 70mph. With many miles, and two days ahead of us, and 3 ft deep crevasses and many big rocks in the road, we tamed it down to around 50mph.

We stopped just outside Logan to check everything over after the high-speed roost, and make sure nothing was loosening up... and... disaster! Our nights dinner; two steaks that had been dirtbike marinating in southwest sauce, had been forcibly ejected from Alex's wet bag, and were now lying on a trail somewhere, giving immense joy to some hungry coyotes...

No worries, we stopped at a store in three forks, and picked up some replacement steak. This time, we secured it in Lincoln's backpack, to be sure we wouldn't loose it. Some water and a few phone calls to family letting everyone know we'd be off in the wild for a few days, and we took off again. A few miles of pavement, and then we hit more ranch access roads.

The roads here, normally quite pleasant, were also completely wrecked. The previous night, golfball hail and torrental rains had washed away more of the road, and left a nice slick layer of silt and rock over everything.

On a lame, flat part that was covered with slick mud, Alex took a dirt-nap in the 625. This wouldn't be a big deal, except it bent the shifter up at a un-natural angle. We viewed this as a Good Thing, considering the last time he took a spill on the left side, the shifter snapped off cleanly. A couple minutes with a 8mm wrench, and some cleaning of the splines on the gearshift, and we were rolling again.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Packing sucks....

its 1130 and i haven't finished packing....ugh....
...should have started prepping like Monday.....dammit.
swapped out my rear tube at least, but my floor pump wont acutate the valve, too short or some shit so I will bring wheel to work and air it up there....
got my voile strap setup rocking on the sleeping bag, pad, and front fender bag....looks like the rest goes in the pack....
oh, i bought a we will have no worries on water....
dad learned about it on the AT, and everyone used them....sweet rig.

Pic of the Day

taken by RTWDoug on ADVrider.....

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Buying my first house! headquarters are relocating! I am moving to Livingston, Montana, over the hill from Bozeman to the East 22 miles. Much smaller town, more laid back, no college kids like Bozeman, Yellowstone River goes through about 6 blocks away from the house. Yellowstone National Park is about an hour to the south, Bridger Bowl ski area is still only about 25 minutes away. Downsides are limited to a reputation for being ridiculously windy.

Found a good place for a good price with a good garage that I am buying with my girlfriend. We are going to do major renovation over the next few years as I work as contractor and she is an architect.

Nice newer two car garage to hold my ever growing collection of two-wheelers! Alley access too which is super nice.

Weekend Dirt Tour Planned

Alex and I are planning to do a riding/camping trip this weekend involving riding from Bozeman to Alder, then through Butte, around Helena, and over to White Sulphur Springs and then back to Bozeman. We are trying to do it as much on dirt as possible. He will be riding the KTM 625SXC and I will be riding my XR600R. Hopefully we can find some good routes as most of our planned route has not been travelled by either of us.....

Strategy is to go ultralite in the packing tent, no stove, minimal clothing besides riding gear, mostly just tools and a sleeping bag and pad, and food. This will allow us to rally at a good speed through rough terrain. Should be at least 400 miles total, and I am betting we can do it with less than 50 or so on pavement.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Headwaters Relay

This past weekend I ran my KLR650 all over Southwest Montana running as support for the
Headwaters Relay which Stephanie and a bunch of my friends ran in!
This is a ridiculous 232 mile relay running race.....crazy....nearly all on dirt.....
It was a cool thing to be a part of and ran over many roads I have been on, and many new ones as well.....
I will post a report soon.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Garnet Peak Ride Report

Alex: Lincoln and I had been wrenching on his XR during the week, and over the course of replacing the steering head bearings and drinking beers, we decided that an exploratory ride around little bear and up to Garnet Peak was needed.

The rear tire on the 625 was completely shot. Almost a slick, so I trucked down to Nate at the Bike Shack, and picked up a sweet Pirellio Scorpion Pro XC. Big knobbies. Unfortunately while putting on the new tire, I realized I had a broken spoke. Nobody in town had spares, but Lincoln has a welder! With great skill, he put a nice bead of weld on the top of the spoke where it had broken off, and five minutes before the Saturday ride, I laced in the repaired spoke, and rode off!

Alex: Lincoln, Allen and I rode the access road up to Trail 417, which Lincoln believed was the other end of a nice trail he had ridden during the week. It had some pretty nice elevation changes, and wound up and around the mountian. A few loose boulder hill-climbs, and some off-camber technical section requiring some minimal moves. Mostly 2nd gear stuff, with some really tight turns requiring a shift down to 1st.

Alex: We had been riding about 45 minutes at this point through some tight rocky stuff. We stopped at this little outcropping, and Lincoln was uncharacteristically further behind us. When he got off, he said "Man, I need to take lessons or something! I'm horrible at this stuff!". As he was sitting there taking off his gear, I noticed that his rear tire looked a little... flexible. "I think you have a flat, bro..". %!&#@!

LTrain: So, flat tire. Used my long-dormant drystack stone wall building skills to work up a nice work stand, and got to it.
I was wondering why there seemed to be so much inner tube in the tire, and it turned out the previous owner had wrapped an extra cut up tube around the real tube as a pinch protector I guess. It was like 20 pounds of inner tube I pulled out of the tire! On top of that, we got to do it twice cuz the first tube got pinched on the install, neccessitating a 2nd try with a 2nd tube. That one worked, and off we went. I was sweated up pretty good though from all the tire wrangling...

Alex: After Lincolns tire was fixed, and we discovered that Trail 417 seemed to dead-end, we headed down the mountian, to start the climb up Garnet Peak. The trail up was pretty popular with hikers, and it felt weird to see other people on the trails. We came around the corner to a couple of horses too. We immediately shut the bikes off and let them pass. A cool dog came up to me with a stick and kept wanting me to play fetch with him. I eventually had to start the moto, throw the stick and take off so he wouldn't follow me!

Alex: The ride up was pretty smooth and flowing. 2nd and 3rd gear stuff, with an occasional 4th gear straight. There was a couple moderate inclines with rock gardens in the middle of them which kept things interesting. Some turns had some banking too, so we could rip off them effectively sling-shotting you around the corner and into the next. Lots of hooting and metal horns we're thrown.

Alex: At the top, what a view! We could see 191 (Gallatin Gateway) carving next to the Gallatin river between the mountains, and the huge valley off in the distance. It was pretty cool too look out where we started some 40-50 miles away, and see the mountians we climbed to get here.

Three "non-trail bikes" on some killer trails, overlookin

LTrain: Last stop: Korner Klub!!! MMMMMMM BURGER TIME!!!

Alex: The new rear tire on the KTM really made the bike completely different. How sweet it is to have traction! Unfortunately I think I roosted Lincoln a few times. Every time I go out on this bike, I like it more and more. We learn little things about eachother each time, and I get more comfortable with her.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Great News From Maine....

I always keep tabs on the news in Maine, my home state. And once in while there is some pretty great stuff:

Dude Run Over at a Mud Run...

Giant Brawl at Cod Fish Races....

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pic of the Day

Up off Little Bear Road in the Gallatins....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Thanks to the Interstate Highway System,
it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything." Charles Kuralt

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bangtail Divide Trail to Flathead Pass Ride

Sunday AM we all left the Panda Pump gas station and headed up Jackson Creek to get on the Bangtail Divide trail. Unfortunately Alex had a little issue with the access road.

Lincoln: So Alex, what happened to your arm?

Allen had a first aid kit and patched up our boy pretty good.

"Ummm.....honey? Yeah, so, well....I kinda crashed....."

The scene of the crime.

Allen and I continued while Alex headed homeward sans shifter. We hit the trailhead and right away I run off the downhill edge of the trail at a corner and get stuck in between the embankment and a bush. Grunting and cursing followed as I hauled the XR backwards out of my predicament. It was pretty low speed and there was no damage and I got back on it. The trail is ATV wide most of the time and only a couple of tough spots, otherwise once you are up top it is pretty smooth sailing and fun. Open meadows with views higher mountain ranges in all directions.

We stopped here for lunch break and talked about how we had both done a lot of mountain biking in the past and found many of the skills transferrable to riding motorcycles off road. The brain circuits for picking lines and steering and reacting and planning are all the same. I still find it hard to deal with clutching and shifting and throttle and braking all at once when the trail gets intense though. I kind of panic sometimes and only can do like two of them at once. On a mtn bike you are coasting a lot more and don't ever need to downshift unless going uphill. Also, shifting is clutchless, you just motion instead of two. I am still learning on the moto but trying to practice as much as I can!!!

The wildflowers are out in force and it is beautiful up there! After the meadow sections it shoots into the woods for a really fun section of wider buffed out singletrack that twists and turns nicely.

View of Saddle Peak, and Bridger Bowl. That's where the goods are in the winter....New chairlift up the drainage off Saddle, and about a 20 minute hike to sick powder fields!

Allen had an issue with his shifter as well, it was cracked at the mounting collar and he needed to tighten it up every 10 or 15 miles....

We came down off Bangtail Divide on Skunk Creek Road to Brackett Creek to Flathead Pass. This is the pass looking West. I did this a few weeks ago as well.

Allen ran out of gas twice and had to tip his bike way on it's side to get gas from the other side of the tank to slosh over to the petcock side....before we made it to the gas station back in Bozeman. He was pretty happy to make it!