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.