Riding the Continental Divide 2013
This will be my third attempt at riding the Continental Divide Route (CDR). The first time, I crashed in northern New Mexico, cracked my sternum thus ending the trip. The following year, mechanical issues prevented me from continuing so I had to call it quits. So now, third time is the charm, right? Or will it be strike three?
As a prerequisite to this trip, my child bride (AKA: The Saint), had said I had to get in better condition and lose weight. She did not want to have to come drag my fat ass off the Continental Divide if I crashed (again).
The battle of the bulge is far from over, but I’m now down 25lbs plus my damaged ankle/foot continues to improve so my wife has granted my leave so that I may continue quest to conquer the Continental Divide Route (CDR).
The three stooges for this trip will be myself with my friends Nadeem and Kenneth. ,After working out some minor logistic issues the trip officially begins.
Our plan is hopscotch with a support truck. Meaning that even only two will ride at a time and one person would drive the truck ahead to a predesignated campsite. We rotate doing this northward on the trail until it is time to go home
We had always planed to drive there with bikes in tow but that was going to be using my small flat bed trailer. My friend, Nadeem, comes to pick me up and convinces me that “roughing it” is overrated and that we should give up all this tent and sleeping on the ground silliness when I have I a brand two toy-hauler (an RV trailer that can haul motorcycles or other toys).
I’m concerned but Nadeem is confident that we would be fine bringing the RV because the truck would be taking pavement routes anyway and not to worry. Trust me he says. I reluctant agree, but if my trailer gets stuck in the mountains somewhere, I’m leaving him with the trailer, taking his nice truck and going home.
So we are going to rough it in style.
Yes, it is Nadeem’s Ural! I’ll get some better pictures later but it is an odd configuration and we get a lot of looks from from folks wondering what the hell is that thing is and how the hell did he get it up there.
My ural is inside the trailer (picture to come). We head to pickup Kenneth. I text him that we are bringing the RV and he is concerned because he knows my ural fills all the space. He asks if there is room to load his bike and I tell him “no, but we will do it anyway”
After some “creative” packing we manage cram Kenneth’s small motorbike in there somewhere. It took a very large shoehorn and will most likely require a can opener to get it out.
Off we go! We got a late start but Kenneth (who lives in Dallas area) insists that we have to at least get out of the metropolitan area before we stop for the night.
After a few hours we find a small town with a Walmart and pull in. Yes, that’s right, we are “camping” in a Walmart parking lot.
We visit Walmart to get some last minute supplies and pizza. We crank up the generator for the A/C, eat some pizza, drink hot wine and call it a night right there in a Walmart parking lot.
***** CDR Day 2, June 26 *****
We are packed up and rolling by the crack of 9:30ish (yeah, we be slow)
The excitement of driving through west Texas and eastern New Mexico is beyond description.
It reached 107 and we saw 1 or 2 trees. I’m sure glad we had an air conditioned truck to ride in.
Nadeem needs to have access to wifi for some work issues and I needed to work on Lyekka (my ural) more on this story to follow.
A pretty boring day.
***** CDR Day 3, June 27 *****
While stuffing motorcycles into the trailer we managed to tear a rubber flange that connects a carb to the engine. After several attempts at repair we decide the only option is a new flange. There is a ural dealer in Santa Fe, NM so we drive there instead of Pie Town. No pie this trip :(.
The dealer in Santa Fe did not have that flange in stock but we acted so pathetic they agreed to pull that part from one of their new rigs in stock. Great folks and if you are ever in Santa Fe and need some m/c assistance, make sure to stop at Santa Fe Motor Sports.
We then drove a little northwest and connected with the trail. We found a nice flat open area in the National Forest and set up camp.
We are finally on the Trail! It’s time to unload Mickey from its roost
We take a little jaunt down a service road so that we can say we have ridden on the trail today.
The CDR adventure begins in the morning.
***** CDR Day 4, June 28 *****
I get the new flange on but now but Lyekka being true to form is lyekkaing gas all over the place. Well it seems that while trying to repair carb, etc., a pin that holds the float in fell out. That pin is somewhere between here and Ruidoso. Again we try a make shift repair and again we conclude we need the actual part.
So, someone has to take truck duty (drive truck to next location). I therefore, take truck duty so that I can get another pin. Fortunately this is not a unique part and most any motorcycle or ATV store should have one.
Nadeem and Kenneth head out on the trail.
In the meantime, our end point for today is Del Norte, CO. I plug that into the GPS and begin the drive with trailer in tow.
I spend a good amount of time running around to find a place that would have to carb float pin I need. I find a shop that sells me a pin out of an old carb.
I head on to Del Note to find us an RV park for the night. I set up trailer and proceed to the task of Lyekka repairs. The pin does not quite fit, but I am able to find someone with a grinder and we are able to get it to the right size. I put Lyekka back together and she no longer leaks but still runs like crap.
By that time it is getting late and the guys are not here yet. We had set a time of 7:00 pm that the riders were to send me an OK message with their SPOT tracking device. It’s 6:30 and I am starting to get concerned. Has something gone wrong? I’m making sure to keep Sat phone connected.
They finally show up soon after dead tired. They tell me that was a very demanding ride plus they had to take shelter under a tarp from a lighting storm.
Day is at end. G’nite Y’all
***** CDR Day 5, June 30
My ural still runs like crap so I have been driving the truck. Boring.
No adventures for me so nothing to report.
We have been working on that damn ural ever day. If one continues to fix the things that don’t need fixing you will eventually fix the right thing.
We notice there is an exhaust leak where a clamp is broken, so perhaps that’s the problem. So tomorrow, I’ll get some new clamps and fix that.
By the end of the day, we end up in Salida, CO. We did not have a designated campsite so I need to find a place and then text the other guys and tell them where I am at. The local RV parks seem to be full but I find the WalMart RV park. No there is not really an official WalMart RV park but there were already about 10 RVs parked in the lot so the Walmart parking lot resembled an RV park.
I fix the muffler leak, but it still runs like crap
Today is the last Saturday of the month so we are missing our monthly Pie Run. So we get an apple pie and some ice cream at Walmart. No blue bell ice cream in Colorado, so we had to settle for some inferior brand. We have out pie run in the Walmart parking lot.
Happy Pie Run, y’all
***** CDR Day 6, June 30
We decide to make today a rest day. Give us a chance to do laundry and see if we can get Lyekka running. Before the end of the day, we move to a commercial RV park so as not to overstay our welcome at Walmart.
The major problem with Lyekka has a long last been discovered. Long story short, it had to do with my attempt to stop a head oil leak and some additive I had put in the oil to fix this problem had actually caused oil to leak into the ignition system preventing proper firing. Anyway, after an oil change, Lyekka is running. Not great, but running.
***** CDR Day 7, July 1
Although Lyekka is running, we still need more time to test and fiddle to see if she is road worthy yet.
Another boring day for me on Truck Duty. Oh well. I head north to a remote Forest Service campground near Parshal, Colorado.
End of boring day. I’m sick of driving the damn truck.
***** CDR Day 8, July 2
Today was a good day
Yesterday we finally figured it out and Lyekka is now running much better, not good but at least running. So today, will be my fist day of riding. I am now smiling ear to ear and had a great time to day. After several days of working on Lyekka’s issues, we get her running sorta. I’m sick of driving the truck so today I ride!
I actually had a proper sling and splint in my first aid kit, but Kenneth wanted something improvised to go along with his Daniel Boone look.
Nothing major we think and he will probably be ok on a few days.
The previous night we decide to make some cobbler in our Dutch oven. We put it in the campfire to cook but we are tired and don’t want to wait. So we come up with this great idea to just put some coals on the pot and by morning we can have cobbler for breakfast. This morning there is a black brick of burnt mass.
The most helpful folks I’ve met. They help us diagnose the issue and now Lyekka is running great!
I wanted to kiss them but Nadeem said that would be a bit much, so I give them a big thanks and off we go.
We make it to our destination at Steamboat lake state park. Kenneth has found a pretty spot among wildflowers and has the RV all set up. Sorry, I forgot to take pictures.
***** CDR Day 9, July 3
Today the plan is to cross over into Wyoming. After researching the map we see that there is not much civilization in southern Wyoming. We normally have been doing about 150 miles per day but the closest campground we can find is a little over 200 miles, so we will need to get an early start and make good time. The roads on the map look to be semi-improved so this should not be a problem.
Our concern is the accessibility with the RV. We are uncertain if RV can make it to the campsite, so we develop a “plan b”. There looks to be a small town by the name of Atlantic City about 25 miles north of the campsite location. So the plan is, if Kenneth gets to the area with the RV and it does not look to be accessible, he heads to Atlantic City and waits for us there. Conversely if we get to campsite location and the RV is not there we know to ride on to Atlantic City. So with plan in hand, we head out.
After leaving Steamboat Lake State Park, we find the road not as improved as we thought. Last nights rain had made the road muddy with a coat of ice. Yes this is July, but there was ice on the raid. This did not present and problem for a ural but a conventional 2 wheeled bike would have had big problems.
We are on a public road but it goes though free range ranch land. We had to stop to let a heard of sheep pass through. My phone was dead at the time so I didn’t get a picture.
A nice wide open road in the middle of nowhere. The washboards were hell! Every bone in my body were jittered, my left kidney relocated to the right side and I have no idea where my bladder ended up.
We finally get past the washboard area to a section that had recently been graded and packed down. We are still on a dirt road but it is wider and smother than many paved roads. To demonstrate the heavy traffic, we stop in the middle of the road for a break.
As you can see, the landscape was flat, but with mountains in the background and the riding was easy.
We arrive at our designated campsite but no site of Kenneth our the RV. We wait for a while. We try calling Kenneth using our sat phone, but no answer. We therefore resort to plan B. Plan B was that if Kenneth did not feel he could get the RV to the campsite, he was to head to Atlantic City and wait. So, we head on to Atlantic City.
As we pull into the only restaurant in town, a guy pulls in with his truck and apparently he has been trying to chase us down. He is interested in Urals and wants to talk to us about our rigs. We have a nice conversation and when I ask him if he knows of a place where we can park our RV, he invites us to set it up out by his cabin here in town.
In the meantime no Kenneth. We seem to have lost our support vehicle. I thought the support vehicle was supposed to rescue us. We have cell coverage here and try to call him. No success so we try the sat phone but no success. We came to learn that sat phones don’t work well in a vehicle that is moving. Where is Kenneth and more importantly where is the RV, my wine and our beds.
Kenneth finally shows up. It seems that he got delayed in a bad storm.
We are later joined by John. John is a local that lives here year round and rides an old vintage BMW with a sidecar. John is sometimes retained to take motorcycle adventure groups on a tour of the local trails. John graciously agrees to lead us around tomorrow.
Gary and Jo primarily live in California but fell in love with this area many years ago and spend the warmer months here every year. They are outside of any utility service but have devised ways to basically live off the grid. Their electricity is 12v generated from solar panels and refrigerator is propane. Water comes from a spring high on a hill that is gravity fed to their cabin and wash house.
For hot water they have devised an interesting system of coiled black hoses to heat water and then drawn into the wash house as needed.
Our RV is set up behind their cabin. We visit with our most gracious host on the front porch of their cabin until it is time to retire for the night.
************** CDR day 10, July 4 ***********
In the morning, after a large breakfast prepared by our personal chef Kenneth where we are joined by Gary and Jo, John shows up to lead us on some rides. All together we have 3 sidecar rigs so Kenneth, Gary and Jo load up in sidecars with John, Nadeem and I driving.
We encounter a river crossing that everyone had the good sense not to try and cross. Well, not quite everyone. This is my attempt at crossing. I hit a rock that slid me into a high spot. We had to get out the winch and pull me off before I could make it.
There was a group on ATV’s on the other side and they gave me a beer while we taunted the others to cross. After much badgering, no one took the bait and I had to cross back to join the group
John is an extremely interesting person and some what of a jack of all trades. He does a lot of study on plant diseases and is retained to teach classes and write articles on the subject. He also works with the University of Idaho to conduct research on Sasquatch (Big Foot)! John and his colleagues are convinced that this creature does exist and John presented some pretty convincing evidence. These are a few of the foot impression cast of Big Foot prints.
John also has a green house so he picks some fresh vegetables and we head back to Gary and Jo’s place for dinner. Jo takes some chicken along with John’s veggies and makes a fantastic dinner for us all.
We bid our new friends good night and head back to our trailer. Today is 4th of July so we hear some of the locals shooting fireworks but we are too tired to go watch. Sleep awaits.
***** CDR Day 11, July 5
John has many irons in the fire and is a busy man, so he cannot play with us today. It is time for us to move on and not overstay our welcome. I really hate to leave, Gary and Jo are the best hosts and their hospitality was great. We left feeling like we made some great new friends.
After Jo made us some oatmeal (she called it “oaties) we hit the road. Nadeem and I riding and Kenneth driving the truck.
This was a real treat. Not only was it a fun ride, but the thought of riding on the real Oregon Trail was an adventure. My mind thought of the covered wagons that made their way along this very trail.
Kenneth pick up some T-bone steaks and potatoes that we grilled over an open fire. Yum, yum. There goes the diet.
The day is done, with our bellies full, we call it a day
***** CDR Day 12, July 6
In the morning, after breakfast prepared by Chef Kenneth we head north. Nadeem and I riding, Kenneth driving. Kenneth still is unable to ride due to his elbow injury. Nadeem and I are not complaining because Kenneth is a much better cook than either of us. If Kenneth gets well enough to ride, we are just going to push him over so he gets hurt again and stays the cook.
We make it to our next campsite, Camp Flag which is just south of Yellowstone. This is a nice, but overpriced, RV park but being right between Teton and Yellowstone it is able to command a good price.
We decide on a change of plans. It does not look like Kenneth is going to be able to ride anymore this trip so we decide to just call this our northern end point for the CDR trip. We will now just spend some time exploring Yellowstone with Kenneth riding in one of the sidecars and that we would return to this same campsite everyday. We plan to do this for a few days and then head home.
We get to this campsite fairly early so we opt to do laundry at the facilities here and try our hand at making cobbler again. There is actually a lodge with a restaurant. So we decide to treat ourselves to a restaurant meal. the food was so, so and very overpriced. Afterwards I go do the the laundry and leave Kenneth and Nadeem to make us some nice cobbler. They end up burning it again. Not as bad as last time, but yet inedible. Maybe another 4 or 5 mixes, we might get it right.
Storms come in that include a good amount of hail. I’m sure glad we are not in tents. End of day.
***** CDR Day 13, July 7
Today the storms seem to have passed so we head on to Yellowstone
While we were stopped, some girls pulled in and were all excited about out rigs. I keep telling Kenneth that he needs to get one of these chick magnets. Anyway, they kept asking questions about what it was like to ride in a sidecar, etc. we were all heading to old faithful so I let let take turns riding in my tub on the way to old faithful.
We make it to old faithful just as she was erupting. Oh well, we will just wait for the next one. Turns out there are several geysers around here so we took a walking tour of the other geysers and hot pools.
We waited for what seemed to be forever for some other geyser to erupt. Nadeem and I headed to the a/c lodge area but Kenneth insisted that this geyser was goin to erupt any moment and wanted to sit and wait in the sun for this miraculous moment.
Kenneth eventually joins us. His geyser never erupted.
We head on the the northern end of Yellowstone. Our plan to go west from there and hook on to a section of the CDR trail that would take us back to our campsite.
We encounter a horrific traffic jam. Is is a wreck? It is just bumper to bumper for what seemed like miles. Our air cooled engines were not going to tolerate this slow going without the benefit of air flowing over their heads, so we killed the engines and just pushed. Once I had let a gap form between me and the car in front and a car from behind to take this opportunity to swing around in front of me. I mean Jeese, we have been able to go 2 to 3 mph for the longest time and some jerk wants to cut in front of me. Using my tact of which I am well known for, I politely explain to this man that he was being an ass hat and convinced him that he he should go back to his position in line.
I’ve seen bison before but this is the closest I have ever been to one without a fence to protect me. I’m glad he was not wanting to go for a ride in the sidecar
Soon we are riding on a section as we learn later is called the “rails to trails” project. This is an abandoned section of railroad where the rails and beams have been removed allowing this section to be used by ATVs and other smaller off-road vehicles. Where the cross ties were there remains a valley which made the going interesting. It was like washboards on steroids with a lot of whop-de-doos. Nonetheless, it was a fun ride and now and then we would cross a narrow train trestle just barely wide enough for a Ural
And then ….
Its starting to get late and I want to get back to the campsite before dark, so I lead us to a wider, more level gravel road so that we can make better time.
And then …
I hit a right curve too hot causing the sidecar to go in the air a little bit. I was able to get it under control but by time I did, I had gone off the road a little bit. Once stopped I then set out to get back on the road. I’m in the lead and I think if I can hurry I can get back on the road before Nadeem and Kenneth see that I had missed a turn. I wanted to save myself the grief I know I would get if they knew. I put the rig in first, give it some gas and slowly let out the clutch
And then …
Well now I not exactly sure what happened, but I guess my hand had slipped of the clutch or for some reason the clutch grabbed before I was ready. The clutch dumped and I am now heading to the other side of the road at full throttle, I hit a ditch and a tree stump on the other side causing Lyekka to go airborne and flip completely over tossing me to the ground
And then …
Ouch! At least I am lucky that the rig did not land on top of me. Sadly Nadeem and Kenneth saw gas leaking form the upside down Ural so they had righted it before they thought to take pictures. I was upset that they did not get a picture of Lyekka napping but at least Nadeem had the foresight to get a picture of me still on the ground.
Once I am up, it is apparent that I am hurt and need to go to a hospital and get checked out. While we are trying to figure out how to get me to a hospital a nice family of folks come by in there truck. They are heading to the town of Rexburg, ID which happens to be the closest hospital and they offer to take me. So the Mom and 3 kids pile in the back seat, we load me in the truck and off we go with Nadeem and Kenneth in pursuit.
I am deposed to the Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg. As hospitals go, this one happens to be pretty top notch. The ER room is mostly vacant and I am tended to in short order. Kenneth stays and Nadeem heads back to get the truck.
Even though the ER is vacant it still takes several hours for X-rays, CT scans, Dr. evaluation, etc. The final diagnoses is multiple fractured ribs involving rib# 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. So pretty much my left side is broken with at least 6 fractures. In addition, I also have a partially collapsed lung. It is very late and I am eventually admitted to the hospital. In addition to the morphine they had been giving me in the ER, they hook me up to a device that provided me with a “happy button” that when pressed will inject a short of morphine into my IV. My pain is under control and I am happy
The ER doctor has some connection at a local motel and is able to get Kenneth and Nadeem a room at a discounted price.
***** CDR Day 14, July 8
Today is spent by Kenneth and Nadeem retrieving my deserted Lyekka and my mid afternoon I am released from the hospital. I had explored options to fly home but the doctor had a big problem with that and feared that high altitude would cause my lung to fully collapse, so I must travel by land.
We return to our campsite with the plans to load up and hit the road. Bu they have some difficulty getting the bikes loaded up and decide we need to stay the night and head out in the morning.
The guys unload me from the truck and stuff me in the trailer.
***** CDR Day 15, July 9
During the night I am unable to rest in the trailer bed and wake up the guys and have them load me back in the truck so that I can sit more upright. It seems that laying flat hurts more.
In the morning we head out. Kenneth and Nadeem take turns driving while I pop pain pills
We dive and drive and drive. At some point in the middle of the night, they stop so can grap some shut eye. They just sleep in the truck, I pop another pain pill and go back to lalla land
***** CDR Day 16, July 10
We head first to the DFW area and return Kenneth to his home. Then we head to my house in New Braunfels to be greeted by a rather pissed wife. She tells Nadeem to keep me that she does not want to deal with me being injured AGAIN! After a while, she reluctantly accepts delivery of me, Nadeem stays the night and heads to his home in the morning
END OF TRIP
This was third attempt at completing the CDR. I’m thinking this a quest that was not meant to be.