I ended up going north. I am still getting used to my XR600R, but we are fast becoming friends. It is so much lighter, more powerful, and better suspended than the KLR! It's road cruising speed is lower than the KLR though so I am learning to relax a little on my way to the dirt goodies....
It was a little hazy out but this view is across Gallatin Valley towards Belgrade with the Tobacco Root Mtns in the distance.
Looking north on Rocky Mtn Road. This is maybe 15 miles out of Bozeman. Glad I don't live in some big ass city where I would be an hour getting out of the suburbs....
This is the bottom of Flathead Pass Road, which leads right up through the Bridger Mountains. It is pretty tame at the bottom....
Further up the road deteriorates bigtime and becomes steep, rutted, rocky and pretty off-camber in spots. You wouldn't make it in a normal car.... It was pretty fun on XR though. I am still learning how to ride this bike as it is vastly different than the KLR. Incedentally, the first ride I did on my KLR 5 years ago when I bought it was to come up this same road! It was really rocky and loose in spots and the bike was skittering all around but I held it together and made it up fine. Big ruts at the top to navigate too. But the view is a great reward.
On top looking west back to the valley through the pass. The road gains some pretty serious elevation in a short distance.
There are all sorts of two tracks, trails, and roads in the National Forests around here. I took one from top of the pass and it climbed way way up the mountain to the north. This is looking south from a meadow straight across at Sacajawea Peak (9650ft), which is the one that is bare rock, no trees. There is a north facing couloir on Sac that is called the Great One, and it holds snow and is skiable way in to the summer....
Looking back down the way I came up again. After checking out my maps I headed east to try and find a trail that goes over to Fairy Lake Rd.
It only took me two or three dead ends before I got on the right trail! This is on the east side of the mountains and it is all old clearcuts and logging roads. Riding in the shadow of the rocky peaks is pretty intense. I had no idea where the trail went, and navigated by following some recent dirt bike tracks. The trail wound all around the contours of the shoulder of the mountains generally heading south.
In most places you could look out over the Shields Valley to the west and the Crazy Mountains. The trail was just and old logging road, not challenging at all, but it was still fun to explore something new and get more used to my new bike.
This time of year is beautiful in Montana as everything is lush and green with spring runoff. By the end of July everything is brown besides the pine trees....
But for now there is plenty of nice grass! This trail obviously doesn't get used much. I saw three kids up here and that was all. They had a quad, and two tiny dirtbikes that they were way too big for. Oh yeah, and they all only had goggles on, no helmets....probably from a nearby ranch. It's nice when this stuff is your backyard!
The trail eventually spit me out on the Fairy Lake Road which I was expecting. I decided to loop back down and around and get on the pavement for a few miles to get back to Flathead Pass road at the east end. It is a good few miles of pavement being the last twisties of Bridger Canyon Road as it comes out of the mountains. Whoohoo!
Back on the dirt. The space and scale of this area is pretty amazing. Views like this are just awesome! Big Sky Country all the way!
This is a typical scene for the rides I do. I feel fortunate to live in a place with so many cool dirt roads to explore. And there isn't ever anyone out here! A few ranchers is all I ever see. You need a big tank riding out here as you can go for a long time and not ever get to any towns. Flathead Pass is right by the top of the telephone pole in the photo above.
I am really not sure how I would deal with living anywhere else but Montana sometimes. In our crowded world, to have this sort of remoteness so close by to my home is pretty awesome. Sometimes it takes me a long time to do a ride because I have to stop so often because there are so many good pictures to take!
This is coming back down Flathead Pass road back to the Gallatin Valley. One of the kids on the minibikes I had seen earlier is in the picture in front of me bouncing his way along.
This is back in the valley on Bear Creek road, where a few weeks before I got in major trouble on the XR. I hit this section when it was wet and got way into the mud before I realized it. 20 minutes of sweating and cursing and clutch frying ensued before I made it back to solid ground. My bike probably had 50 extra pounds of mud stuck to it. Very Bad.
It is dry now and I took this and a few other roads back to within about 10 miles of home before I had to get on pavement.
Ride Time: 4 hours
Dirt: 75 miles
Pavement: 25 miles
I was pretty tired by the time I got home after my 2 hour bicycle ride in the morning. It was a good ride, with beautiful weather, and I explored some new terrain which is always my favorite. A successful day!