2016 Summer and Fall Rides (Photos 19)
We have been a pattern the last few years of wet spring weather resulting in very deep creeks
until mid summer. Then frequent light rains kept forest fires at bay until it finally dried out
in the fall. It has been good for the wildlife and it is heartwarming to see all the forest
creatures living in harmony. It makes me happy to see the same families of grouse, blue birds,
ducks, marmots, elk and bear in the same areas every season. I stop to say hello as they come
closer, scampering and flying around. I watch young ducks diving under water, feeding and
frolicking in a high mountain marsh. I crossed paths within feet of a bear near a ridge as we
both coast to a stop and look at each other. We watched each other for several minutes while
it walked along the edge of the trees before going into them. I often see turkey in this area.
I always learn something from the forest creatures and enjoy watching how they live in the high
mountains. It was fun on several days to meet other like-minded riders who care about the trails,
always use trials tires and practice trials skills. In the fall I talked to several local ranchers
on horseback as they searched the forest to find their cattle. I respect those who know that our
nice single-track trails can absolutely be kept pristine and natural forever when used properly.
2015 Summer and Fall Rides (Photos 18)
A monsoon rain pattern showed up in early spring when the ground was still saturated from snow
melt and it rained for months. Creeks were deep, trees got healthier and vegetation grew thick.
Grouse love water and they were in abundance. After weeks of clearing trails, Mark joined me
and we had to spend a couple more days to finish clearing our favorite areas. Finally we got to
ride our first day without the saw. It was a beautiful day and as we crossed a high mountain
meadow the elk herd streamed past us. They come out of the woods to meet us every time we
are here (until hunting season) and I think they look forward to us showing up. We always stop
and they pass by about 100 feet away. Always close enough that we can see each others faces.
I think they use us as the easiest of life's lessons to teach their young. I've also seen many
bears in this area and many elk skeletons. I have met both bear and bull elk on tight trails and
they are both incredibly fast and powerful. Mark and I continue on for a long relaxed ride that
day and as we come back over the mountain we find a storm cell had passed through while we
were far away. Hail is piled up several inches deep as we start down a steep technical section.
The air is crisp and clean and the ground is bright white. Steaming plants in all colors stick
up out of the sea of hail as we ride quietly down through this slice of heaven. I like riding
with trials riders. They get it. Over supper with Ed we all trade stories about our great day.
Later in the fall I would again see that elk herd. There was one huge bull with one extraordinary
antler but the other was missing and he was limping and bloodied. I sadly watch him limp over
the hill and out of view. I know I'll be riding over that hill too. By the fall I had really grown
to like my new 350. It took 1000 miles for it to break in but then it became a nice bike. I meet
several of the ranchers on horseback each year. One morning I am riding up a tight trail as a
lone rider ahead pulls his horse to the side and stands beside it. I also pull to the side and
stop and say hello. He asks me if I am alone and then tells me to come on up. With his horse
looking me over as I quietly ride by, he smiles and says Be Careful! I nod and say Ok. Around
the turn the trail goes up a very steep tricky section that he had just walked his horse down.
With low rpm and smooth clutch work I clean it perfectly. I bet that horse was listening intently.
Late in the season, Bill and I enjoyed a couple of fun long rides with our bikes dialed in.
We again meet the nicest people in the towns we visit.
2014 Summer and Fall Rides
Spring snow and above average snowpack made for very deep creeks throughout early summer.
I enjoyed some good early rides with Bill and Mark on my favorite trails (Photos 17). I like the
same type of trails that the elk like. Elk will continue to use a trail that looks natural.
Just a narrow path with cut logs scattered at random like the fallen trees. I like seeing elk,
deer, bear, moose and grouse on these trails every year. Riding quietly along one trail I see
movement below me and glide to a stop. Two bull elk look up at me and look just ahead of me.
I see where they want to go and we just look at each other. They come on up and cross about
50 feet in front of me and continue slowly on uphill in the aspens. Behind them follows about
70 more in single file. They seem alert, confident and content as they quietly move up through
the shadows. I ride my 450 xcw at low rpm and love how quiet it is with its soft, deep, rich
sound that soothes my soul. I didn't get to ride as much this year though due to a worsening
knee problem. I got to do some dual-sport riding with Ed and Rick to a place that has the best
grilled chicken sandwiches. I hope to get back to my favorite places next year.
2013 Summer and Fall Rides
A spring trip to Utah was fun practicing the sandy ledges at 5moh and Moab with friends.
Then good local rides on some long and underrated lower-elevation trails that were free
of downfall. Thanks to Rick and all the guys that help clear our trails. Late spring I am
able to clear my favorite high mountain trails. I'm glad Mark, Ed and Bill can join me in
early summer for some relaxed and scenic riding. Mark and I enjoyed pristine trails on our
"way back yonder" loop while Bill had misfortune on day one and had to return home for
mending. After 3 beautiful days of riding Ed took us to a wonderful Italian restaurant
to cap a memorable trip. A dry late spring and early summer produced some huge forest
fires but summer rains finally came and put the fires out. The monsoon rains continued
leaving us with muddy and slimy trails all summer long. I wish Pirelli made a version
of the MT43 with a bit wider spacing for mud. The rainy days do make for better photos
(see Photos 16). I got my 450 dialed in well this year and love riding it. It has great
power and perfect sound quality. I like being able to ride quietly at low rpm and seeing
lots of wildlife. Bill and I rode some cool trails in the fall and it is always nice to relax
and see old friends in these beautiful mountain towns.
2012 Summer and Fall Rides
Big spring winds created major blow-down all across the high country but everyone
pitched in to get most of the trails ready for a great summer of riding (see Photos 15).
A spring trip to Utah to knock off the winter rust was a good time with Bill and
Dave and friends. Bill and I tuned up on 5moh, Brian showed his trials skills and
Dave always knows the good trails and best places to eat. My 400 worked nicely in
Utah and for several early summer trail maintenance rides. I got to ride my new 450
when Bill, Mark and Ed joined me for some great high-mountain riding. Having Mark,
a 5 times Trials des Nations rider, lead us down a steep rock-slide was big fun as he
picked some nice lines. We rode some spectacular trails with Mark and Bill putting
on a riding clinic. On one of the little-used trails where we have encountered bears
on previous rides, Mark stops and is looking back as I come along and there in the
shadows right beside me is a moose. The next day included hopping over a lot of big
downfall and stopping to let a large herd of elk pass by. After exploring all day on
his DR, Ed took us to a nice restaurant that had amazing food. By late summer I had
my suspension dialed in softer and a bigger fuel tank on my 450. Now it is just a
fantastic bike. Great handling, light, quiet, abundant low-end torque and responsive
mid-range lets me cover long distances with confidence. I often explore farther from
the truck until late in the afternoon and then stop, eat an energy bar, bleed the forks
and visualize the string of trails that I need to ride perfectly to get back before dark.
Then no more thinking, just eyes wide open, looking ahead and enjoying the ride.
2011 Summer and Fall Rides
My trusty 400 xcw took me on many cool adventures this summer and fall (Photos 14).
Clearing three bears trail with Scott, delivering young Allison home safe, clearing old
trails with Rick, clearing my favorite technical trails and getting to ride them again
with Bill, it was many good days of riding and exploring. I stop and move big rollers
from the trail on every ride. It keeps trails from widening and keeps them looking nice.
Seeing my friends in small mountain towns again is something I really look forward to.
I'm setting up a 2012 450 xcw for next year and am ready to hit the gym this winter.
2010 Summer and Fall Rides
Many exceptional rides on my trusty 400 xcw this summer and fall (Photos 12 & 13).
A lot of downfall everywhere this year from some big winds and a very dry spring
and fall. Clearing trees and moving rollers is a constant part of caring for the trails
and is good exercise. In June Tony and I had a nice long ride to get a good grilled
chicken sandwich at a country general store. Then many long rides by myself through
the summer, usually taking it to the limit of endurance. There are many places I like
to get to each year and I stretched farther to add a few to replace several of our most
technical trails that the FS is taking away next year. It was a tough year though after
tearing both of my shoulders in the gym back in January. A couple good rides with Bill
and Rick to end the season and I am ready to begin to rehab my shoulders this winter.
2009 Summer and Fall Rides
I've had a ball riding my new 400 xcw this summer (Photos 10) and fall (Photos 11).
It is a very enjoyable bike that does everything well from jeep roads to the most
technical trails. My 250 xcfw is also so much fun to ride that I will switch back to
it some this fall. Both are great bikes. The 250f is very nimble and rewards rider
input. Smoother and quieter, the 400 excels on long rides. I would like to see KTM
expand their exc line to include all xcfw sizes and put more development in mufflers.
2008 Spring Trail Ride
In early winter we had heavy snow in the Colorado mountains, followed by a long
cold winter and a cool and very dry spring. With few warm days this spring the
snow has been a couple weeks later than usual in melting from the high mountain
trails. After spending a month clearing trails, I went down to the Rio Grande
national forest for some great riding. Tony Bussing joined me one day for a
tough 130 mile loop. It was already getting dry down there but still beautiful.
While sitting on a mountain top taking it in a small herd of elk passed below us
just like last year. Tony used to run the Trials Training Facility in Tennessee
and was right at home on the technical trails. I had just cleared several of the
best trails which made them big fun. The next day I joined Clive and Jeff for
some more great riding and helped them clear another trail. A couple of new
restaurants in town have great food and it sure is a nice area.
2008 Summer Rides
In early summer, smoke from California wildfires filled our mountains for weeks
which made for poor photos of our normally beautiful scenery. Some of the
big snowbanks, frozen since early winter, were sometimes comical to cross. The
beavers made the most of the runoff, building big new dams to form themselves
some nice ponds. The marmots seem to be loving life in their scenic, rocky
habitat. I love being able to ride really long loops on my 250 with my IMS tank
which is expanded to 3 gallons. I can ride all day in beautiful country without
being fenced in like the buffalo are now. It is a nice summer with many small
afternoon rains. One day I was at the far point of my loop and hustling along
because the rain clouds were forming and I knew one of the trails up over a
mountain on the way back was going to be a test in the rain. I passed about
20 riders on old XRs who were strung out on a long steep climb. It must have
been XR-Nation and it looked like they were having a great time. Mid-summer
I went out to the land of dreadlocks and got caught in one of our few monsoon
rains this year. Still the mornings were beautiful and peaceful. The best part
is stopping at nice points along the way to soak it all in. It doesn't take long of
sitting quietly for the wildlife to appear from all around to investigate me.
2008 Fall Rides
Late summer and fall was nice weather and great riding. There are fewer people
out in the mountains this year because of gas prices. The few stores that are
open in the small mountain towns are happy to see me and I appreciate them too.
I settled on some tires that work great for the steep, technical trails I ride in
the fall, a 3.25 kenda k270 front and pirelli mx-extra rear. Traction is critical
on the 250 since it doesn't have a ton of torque to recover from any momentary
loss of drive. I got in a lot of practice on steep ledges where it worked best to
slow down and maintain good balance to keep the tires on the ground instead of
bouncing. I love riding my 250 and am also setting up a new 400 for 2009.
2007 Spring Dual-Sport/Trail Ride
After spending this spring setting up my new KTM 250 XCFw and clearing trails with
it, in late June it was time to head down to South Fork. Bill and I drove down so
we could put in two full days on the bikes with long loops planned each day. It is
nice being able to ride right out of the lodge each morning and the weather was
perfect, clear and cool. The snow had just melted off the high mountain trails and
everything was green and full of life. When we got up on top above tree-line the
first morning, we paused to take in the scenery before riding over one remaining snow
drift. As we relaxed there a small herd of elk passed by about 100 yards below us.
We rode 135 miles of great trails the first day, riding into La Garita to get gas and
a bite to eat along the way. I had come over a couple weeks earlier to clear the
single-track trails that we rode this day and on that trip I found much more downfall
than I expected. Then on this ride we found the downfall problem was widespread and
severe, caused by a gigantic windstorm that hit the area about a month earlier. Many
of the quad trails were clogged with downfall which made the ride a bit more work, so
we were pretty tired when we finally got back to the lodge. The next day we rode an
easier 95 mile loop of dual-sport quad trails and jeep roads. It is another beautiful
day and the creek crossings are deep but not as bad as in the rainy season. As we
check our map up on Bennett Peak we meet a couple that have been riding dual-sport
trails all the way from New Mexico. We remark on the great gas mileage we are all
getting doing this type of riding, being able to ride all day on 2 1/2 gallons of gas.
At the end of the day, the buffalo burgers and pie a'la mode hit the spot at the
restaurant by the lodge. See our photos from this trip on page Photos 7, rows 1-10.
2007 Early Summer Big Loop Ride
With my new 250 XCFw setup the way I like it, it was ready for the acid test, my 3 day,
300 mile rockfest. One remaining problem lingered on this ride though, my bike even
though running great would boil some coolant out of the radiators on super steep trails.
I was slow to realize that something as simple as a radiator cap could be defective but
I decided on this ride that mine was and after replacing it with another stock cap after
this ride it became less of a problem and have seldom boiled the coolant since. Other
than that, my little 250 worked flawlessly. Can the 250 XCFw be a good trailbike?
Yes, once broken in, it is a fantastic trailbike. It does run ratty for the first 15 hours,
with the rings not sealing well, but after about 500 miles it really starts to shine.
Our dual-sport ride earlier got mine ready and on this trip I started to appreciate what
this bike can do. What becomes apparent is that it hooks up really well with soft,
smooth power like a trials bike. With my Slavens suspension it loves to go straight up
the gnarliest trails, never slipping like a 450 sometimes does. The shock is fantastic
and time after time on this ride I found that the hard sections were never easier. The
bike has good torque and can ridden fine at lower rpm just like the bigger bikes until
the trail gets steep and then need to keep the revs up. I use a G2 Ergonomics throttle
with the slower opening cam 200 because the 250 is delicate in picking up at low rpm
and I've found I need to let it pick up at 1/8 throttle before opening on up. With my
super quiet muffler added, the bike is a joy to ride. The first morning I encounter a
couple good riders, the Hammock brothers from Oklahoma, on top of the continental
divide. We ride together for a while and after seeing that they were riding well I
learn that J.D. had riding the GNCC circuit until breaking his collarbone. The rest
of my journey was a joy with perfect weather for all 3 days. This 250 is addicting
and I can't wait to ride again. See photos from this ride on Photos 7, rows 11-13.
2007 Summer & Fall Rides
This summer I went out west early to try to catch some good weather, but
instead got caught in our only heavy monsoon rain period of the year. This
area gets a lot of rain and it is hard to get lucky with the weather. Still, it is
an area of unmatched beauty. After getting drenched the first day, I ride out
early the next morning to visit the priest. Climbing up a long, steep and tough
trail, it starts to rain about half way up just as I come upon another group of
riders. They were looking up at the very dark clouds, but I continued climbing
with my 250 tracking well on the slippery trail. As it turns practically dark as
night in middle of the day, pouring rain and the lightning is busting all around,
the roots are slick and the trail is steep, it is time to bear down and ride well.
When I get to the top I am right up in the heavy black clouds but here and there
rays of sunshine are piercing through. It is really a beautiful sight with steam
rising from the tall vegetation around me and I get the feeling of serenity here.
As I gaze out at the narrow ridge which I will ride for several miles across the
top of these mountains, bolts of lightning illuminate the trail. No worries, I'll
either be vaporized or I will be allowed to ride through the heavens unscathed.
After riding the ridge and a long fun trail down off the mountains, I arrive back
at the hotel soaked beyond belief and looking forward to coming back next year.
Several more summer rides worked out fantastic with great weather. In the fall,
I took the time to experiment and finally settle on some better jetting. I also
switched to a LeoVince X3 Enduro full titanium exhaust system which added very
impressive performance to the 250. With my bike running strong and with a 100
mile fuel range, I am looking forward to some good long rides next summer.
2006 Spring Dual-Sport Ride
Because of a very dry spring here, the snow in the mountains of south-central
Colorado has melted a few weeks early. Instead of going to Utah this spring I
opted to stick around, clear some trails and ride a few weekends in my favorite
local area. These day rides are fun with great technical trails but only offer
about a 50 mile loop. Finally in late June it is time for a good long ride.
This year I decided to make my spring dual-sport ride 3 days, and will be able
to start from Salida and ride an extra day in South Fork. Only Mark is able to
start with me at Salida, while Ed, Bill and Craig will join us at South Fork.
Mark wanted to try a 450 so I let him ride my '05 on this trip. The 325 mile
ride is an absolute blast. Mark is an amazing rider and looks at home on the 450.
He likes the power and appreciates how quiet it is with the CRD Absolute muffler.
Mark and I enjoyed the ride down and had a great time when the rest of the guys
joined in the next day. We saw a lot of elk, deer, marmots, grouse and a coyote
that raced by me just like last fall. It was very dusty and before the 3rd day we
put fresh CRD air filters in both of my bikes which made them run much better.
I no longer put my tire tools in the air box as I found the bike runs better with
that area unrestricted. I now carry some Zip-Ty mini tire-irons which we had to
use on the return trip when Mark got a flat front. I used knobby tires for this
spring trip but it was already so dry I think my dual-sport tires would have been
better. We get chased by a storm on the way back though which is the forefront
of some welcome wet monsoon weather. I enjoyed the days of riding with friends
in beautiful country which we seemed to have all to ourselves. We mixed in some
really good trails (see video of Mark) and the trip was a great kickoff for summer.
Complete article detailing this ride in March 2007 edition of Trail Rider magazine.
2006 Early Summer Big Loop Ride
Mother Nature has blessed Colorado with a month of solid monsoon weather
providing rain every day in the mountains accompanied by the most lightning
I've ever seen. I prepped my trusty '05 for my favorite ride and possible severe
conditions. The morning of the ride is clear and as I pull into my secluded parking
spot there is steam rising from the saturated ground. I unload the bike, put on my
gear, make final additions to the backpack and lock the truck. I pull on my helmet,
my favorite gloves and goggles, and look out through the light-blue lens at this
beautiful area. It sure beats being at work back in the city. I walk up to my ktm,
sitting there with new tires, all clean, greased and gassed. I raise the sidestand,
throw a leg over and settle down onto this amazing motorcycle. Before I ride off,
I reflect on how great it is to be sitting here. I've loved riding motorcycles ever
since I was a kid, and now on a bike this good, in an area this magnificent, I feel
very fortunate. The 300 mile ride ends up being fantastic. With a lucky break the
weather is perfect with only some occasional light rain. The trails are tacky and
the creeks are deep. I see two big herds of elk. Riding is so much nicer now with
my quiet CRD Absolute Performance silencer. Everyone I meet is very friendly and
I look forward to going back again.
2006 Summer & Fall Rides
It has been a MT-16 summer, very rainy, which has been good for the forests with
lush, green vegetation, deep creeks and an abundance of wildlife. Several more
trips all turn out great, although a few days are cut short due to severe weather,
and I am able to explore several areas that I've never to before. There is nothing
like seeing new places for the first time. I pass by various old cabins in the most
beautiful locations and imagine what it must have been like to live there only 100
years ago. The riding season is only four months long here and I try to get in a
great adventure every other week. I have my favorite places that I long to get back
to every year and I also to try to find a few new places each year. This fall, Bill
and I explore a couple more trails in the same area we went to last fall which has
a lot of rough canyons, ridges and tall vegetation. We get caught in heavy rain and
hail while riding in the clouds through a high elevation ski area, kind of eerie at
the time. The next day we meet up with Mark, Dave and the boys for another great
day of riding technical trails in a very scenic area (see ridge riding video). Then
in late fall I go back down into the Rio Grande forest to learn a couple more new
trails that I want to tie in next year. The days are getting short and the low sun,
shadows, breezes and yellow leaf covered trails mark the end of the riding year.
The riding is great and I wish it would never end but knowing that the forecast is
for snow I let it all hang out for one last good long ride. I had a great day and
am quite tired. I load up my bike with the sun going down and take off my boots.
I've emptied my bucket and can now sit back and reflect on another great season.
2005 Utah Ride
Finally coming out of hibernation from the long Colorado winter, I again made the
trip out to Utah, joining Bill, Craig and Pete for a day of riding in Goblin Valley.
The 5moh trail doesn't look like much at first but quickly turns into some kind of
psychedelic freak show. It was mid-April and starting to get hot there but we still
had nice weather. I used my Pirelli dual-sport (MT-18C front & MT-21 rear) tires
for good traction on the rock formations. The loop there is more fun than a barrel
of monkeys and a great way to restore ones coordination each spring. See video.
2005 Spring Dual-Sport Ride
I used this ride to break in my new 05 KTM 450 EXC which has a street legal setup.
The ride was 2 days and 200 miles of remote jeep roads and trails. We had to skip
the first section that I normally do because of lingering snow on the continental
divide. I zip-tied my tire repair tools inside the airbox again which worked great
and I never had to use them anyway. My 450 was so comfortable I could have
ridden for days. We had great weather, hot and sunny. There was one snowbank in
a steep, rocky part of the trail at 12500 feet which was some work to get through
when going up but much easier the next day coming back. As usual, we saw elk
and big bucks on this ride. One young buck came running by, passing us while we
were going past some trees at timberline, cut in front of me and bounded up the
mountain though a big snow drift and was off like a prom dress.
2005 Big Loop I
At last, it was time for my early summer big loop ride. I had just cleared half of my
loop 10 days earlier, where one area had massive downfall and all the rest was normal.
Surprisingly, I encountered more new trees already down from recent storms. It was
very hot with afternoon thunderstorms and severe lightning while they passed through.
The mornings were nice and clear and I enjoyed riding some of my favorite trails again.
My new bike worked very well and was trouble-free. My Braking brakes were awesome
as always and my solid rear rotor and EBC-X rear pads worked fine in the rain. The new
450 runs strong and I was able to just use the torque and a higher gear at trail pace.
The return of the 2 bushing forks is most welcome and my Slavens suspension provided
a very comfortable ride over the 300 miles of rocks. I tried a pair of Dunlop 739 tires
which were ok in the dry but not that great in the wet so I will go back to my MT-16s.
I saw many deer and my favorite elk herd which had many calves. The beavers have
been very busy building more new dams on every creek. I stopped again for some
delicious peach pie a'la mode along the way and it was good to see some familiar faces
in some of the small mountain towns.
2005 Big Loop II
Several weeks of monsoon moisture patterns continued through my late summer ride,
but like the girl in The Crow said "It can't rain all the time". The result was nice cool
temperatures and at least part of each day was optimal riding conditions. It was really
beautiful with lush, green vegetation, revitalized trees and flowing streams. I had
recleared a couple of trails which not only made them more fun but left me with more
energy for the whole ride. My 05 450 is so nice and the shock is now seriously good.
I like the stronger chain guide mounts and the redesigned cdi box for tighter turning.
I wish the EXCs would come with machined triple clamps instead of cast clamps which
occasionally let the front end get slightly twisted. With my bike setup the way I like
it, now broken in and dialed in, I was on cloud nine. My MT-16 tires were absolutely
fantastic in the rain, rocks & roots. What I like most about really long loops is the
variety of terrain. In such beautiful country I take my time and soak it in. I saw many
deer, marmots and coyotes. All seemed to be enjoying the cool, wet, summer days.
2005 Fall Rides
In early September, Bill and I made the long trek back to the town hosting the annual
hippie fest. We arrived a day early and set out to do some exploring on our own, quickly
becoming engulfed in the extraordinary beauty of the area. We found a couple of great
new trails, one taking us into a canyon that time forgot (I expected to see flying reptiles)
before being drenched by the last heavy rain of the year. The next day we met up with
DaveK and friends to enjoy a beautiful day of riding. The third day we were taken on a
spectacular tour by some good-hearted local trials riders (thanks DaveR). It was fun to
watch Mark and our guides clean all the impromptu sections. The next weekend I rode my
fall dual-sport route. Two days and 260 miles of solitude helped me wind down after being
on the go all summer. The aspens were turning colors and I again saw some elk. I include
some very technical trails so its not a ride for BMWs but a KTM 400/450/525 is ideal and
my dual-sport tires worked well on the dry, hard ground. A few weeks later I went back
to this area to scope out some new trails to include next year. It was the last high country
ride of the year as a major snow was moving in the next day. I stopped and had lunch at
a beaver pond and watched some brookies casually swimming and feeding in the crystal
clear water. I cross paths with a coyote as the sun sets on another memorable season.
2004 Utah Ride
Bill and I again went on this trip in the spring to get in some riding while Colorado
was still frozen. We rode one day in Goblin Valley and the next day joined Dave's
clown posse in Moab. The March weather was great and the riding was awesome.
I had a Michelin S-12 rear tire on my bike which worked poorly on the solid rock.
I'll try a Pirelli MT-21 tire next time for better traction. Looking forward to going
back next spring. See video.
2004 Big Loop I
Having just finished clearing trails a week earlier, the first of my two annual Big Loop
rides was in mid-July. Someone up there likes me because although there were
thunderstorms all around I only got rained on one afternoon. The 3 day ride was
incredible and I savored every minute of it. I saw two large herds of elk (with many
young calves), deer, foxes, grouse (with chicks) and marmots. My '04 450 exc ran great
and my jetting was very good (see setup page). The Atkins friendly, Slavens "No Bog"
carb reducer made the power smooth and torquey. My Braking brakes were awesome,
consistently strong and smooth, and my Slavens suspension provided a fun, comfortable
ride over the 300 miles of rocks. I made a bad choice with tires though, when I decided
to give the Pirelli Scorpion Pro FIM tires a try. The front was very low profile and a pain
in the rocks. The rear was ok until it lost its edge on the tiny side knobs. At least they
were tough with no flats. To lighten my backpack next time, I'm going to try putting my
tire repair tools in a tool-wrap and moving them to the side compartment in the airbox.
2004 Dual-Sport Ride
I used my 03 KTM 450 EXC for my dual-sport ride because it is more mellow than my 04.
The ride was 2 days and 250 miles of remote jeep roads and trails. My Pirelli MT-21 tires
are so much fun on jeep roads, its like an all day super-moto. I did move my tire repairs
tools inside the airbox which worked great and was much better on my back. Bill joined
me on this ride and we got lucky with the weather again, only getting rained on one
afternoon. We saw elk, deer (big bucks), grouse and marmots. See our pictures and
'High Mountain' video of this pretty country. We saw no other humans anywhere in this
big back-country and you have to maintain your concentration at all times because any
mistake out here could be costly.
2004 Big Loop II
Its been a rainy summer which has been good for the mountain vegetation and wildlife.
Seeing lots of deer, an abundance of grouse, many large brown marmots and the smaller
charcoal-colored marmots. In Utah I noticed that the lizards had little paths formed
where they run between the rocks at the bottom of the bluffs, and on this trip I see a
marmot running between an old cabin foundation and large rocks over on the side of the
hill, and noticed how it had worn little paths where it traveled. There are all kinds of
cool creatures living in the most beautiful places along my route. Bill joined me for a
day and a half, and we enjoyed crisp, cool mornings and one rainy afternoon. We ran
into our friend Rick who was guiding some lucky riders from Thumpertalk.com, and later
we stopped for a great lunch while hoping the rain would pass. The rain continued but I
stayed warm with my fleece vest, gore-tex pak-jak and wind-stopper gloves.
2004 Fall Rides
With summer coming to a close all too soon, several big time adventures were in order.
Bill and I based one weekend out of a remote trading post with great food, in order to
ride an area that is usually just out of our fuel range. We were greeted with a frosty
morning and an early wet snow on the mountains made the ride even more invigorating.
Then Bill, Jeff and I joined Dave's core group for two days of riding in a beautiful,
rugged area where I used to hunt with my dad when I was young. Magnificent country
and deluxe accommodations with fine food. Then back to my favorite local area, home turf,
a dense forest where I do my heaviest trail-clearing each spring. There are many new
trees down again already and I expect another Conan effort will be required next spring.
I see many deer and again they have young ones. And wherever there is a creek there
is a bunch of grouse. I was watchful for bear which I have encountered in this area
before, but instead I get a close look at the grand daddy, top of the food chain, when
a large mountain lion cruises by in front of me. After the ride, I always stop at the
restaurant there for a great hamburger and incredible coconut cream pie. Life is good.
2003 Big Loop
Having cleared most of the trails on my route in early summer, I finally got to ride the
"big loop" again. With the bike perfectly prepped, I embarked on my favorite trailride.
I think the first mile is the best as I start up the trail with 300 miles of fun ahead of me
and leave all my worries behind. The trail gets really good within the first 50 yards and
there is no letup in quality for the next 3 days. There are a lot of branches hanging
into the trail and they are still wet from the previous afternoon's rain. The scent of sage
down low is replaced by sweet pine air as the trail follows a steep creek through the
forest and climbs over the top of the continental divide. I cross paths with a black bear
who was drinking from the creek or trying to catch a brookie. Along the way I see deer,
elk, grouse, turkey, beaver and marmots. A young deer likes to play and the marmots
are very curious. The ride is a sensory overload with a treasure chest of memories.