Wednesday, June 22, 2011

- 2011/06/21 Summer Solstice Sunset Ride

An organized ride up the back of Hogback Mountain to watch the sunset for the Summer Solstice was canceled due to a few snow drifts still blocking that trail. I look at Hogback Mountain from our home's window. It's a fairly long ride around and up the back of it. Turn my head 45 degrees to the right and there stands Hedges Mountain. Only about 40 minutes to the top from my front door. Time to formulate a replacement plan. I watched out the window the day before and noted that the sunshine stopped hitting Hedges at around 9:20PM so knew we had to be up there by then. My buddy, Jesse, would be joining me. Tuesday rolled around and we left 8:15pm and were on top of Hedges relaxing by 9PM.

I turned on the date/time stamp so it's all official like. Ha. Click any of the below images to open a larger view in a new window.

Self portrait in the fading sun.

Still a ways to go...

Canyon Ferry Lake and the Elkhorn Mountains in the background.




Happy Summer everyone!

Yes, I know that summer technically started at 11:16AM Mountain time on June 21, 2011, but something about the last sunset...actually the first sunset... of Summer makes it official feeling.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

- 2011/05/11 Ottowa Gulch Ride

I had to run an errand up in Marysville, MT today, so hopped on my wife's WR250R (I had left on mine, but immediately had a flat tire so swapped bikes and away I went). While up there, I took the opportunity to see how far up Ottowa Gulch the road was open. Only a bit further than where a buddy had gotten a few days ago. They are doing a lot of work on the roads, as they do every year, with backhoes and big trucks hauling out fill, fixing culverts and basically getting started on the annual maintenance of all the mountain roads and trails. I didn't make it too far, but far enough for some pics.

Still lots of snow up there. If you didn't know they were there, one wouldn't have been able to pick out where the other trails, that branch off of Ottowa Gulch, were located. Deep snow.

Cornices up on one of the ridges.

Since it was so warm today, even up there, the ditches were streams of muddy runoff.

They were doing a great job of ensuring the water flowed into, and remained in, the ditches rather than running down the roads and washing them out. There is still a lot of snow melt run-off in the future, so always good to see them up there shaping things to handle it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

- Short ride to the snowline

It did turn out to be a perfect Saturday ride. ADVrider's 'Turnenem' and I planned on a 9AM meetup, but after listening to the rain downpour from 5AM - 7AM, I figured we'd have to bag it. An hour later, the sky opened up and the birds began to sing (as they say in the movies). More importantly, the radar indicated the rain was over.

We met up at 9AM on Grizzly Gulch and headed southbound. The roads were perfect; tacky and no dust. Followed Grizzly Gulch to Lump Gulch to Corral Gulch. The observant will, by now, have realized we have no shortage of Gulches around here...and that's the way we like it.

We hit the snowline right by the Park Lake turnoff. Many of the high mountain trails won't be be snow-free until June or later. We then headed back East on Lump Gulch Rd. to Sheep Mountain and played on the trails there for a bit. Again, trails were perfect due to the rain and now drying out, but still tacky. Sun was shining, a great morning ride, and home by noon.

The mighty minis did their thing. More fun per cubic centimeter than you can throw a stick at. The steeds for the day: DR200 and WR250R.

Turnenem mugging for the camera.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

- Moab, Utah ATV Trip; Part I

Several buddies and I headed to Moab, UT. We left April 8, 2011 at 6:30PM and arrived in Moab at 6:30AM, got a quick bite to eat, then hit the trails! The first day we road until mid-afternoon. The next two days we road 10 - 12 hours a day. What a great time! This was my first trip to Moab and several of us are already looking forward to another trip on our dual sports.

This won't be a full ride report, but just a quick taste of the trip. I may do a more detailed report later. I am still working on a compilation video, but I have loaded some raw videos into youtube. They are further down this post, but one can always check out my youtube channel directly at:

JJM and John looking West at the inbound rain and snow as we did El Diablo trail. We didn't get rained on too bad largely because it came down as more of a sleet and then snow. Talk about a smile on your face...riding through Moab, UT in the snow.

Uranium Arch off of the Determination Towers loop.

John and Clint up top.

Last day. Second trail of the day. We road Kane Canyon Creek which had a lot of creek crossings (and one winching episode when a creek crossing ended short in a deep spot).

It was a great time and is highly recommended on bikes or ATVs. Next time, I would like to do it on bikes (but I would do an ATV-only trip, too, if the opportunity came up).

JJM fell into this mucky hole. Most of the creek bottom was fairly shallow and rocky and sandy, but this hole was a low spot and decomposed leaves, etc. had made a nice mucky blackwater bottom. The creek had tricked us.

There were usually two or three possible routes as we followed Kane Creek. One on either side of the bank and one right up the creek. The trail jumped back and forth across the creek if you followed the main one and we probably crossed it about 20 or more times.

This was a fun section because we'd often split onto different trails. On the way out, we were scooting along pretty good and passed through this section right around sunset. I looked up a couple times to see someone pass me on the bank trail as I was in the creek trail. Then, around the next bend, the trails would criss-cross the creek and the other person would be in the creek or on the other bank. Fun section.

Even though it wasn't too hot out, it was nice to find a shady spot for a break. The sun was pretty intense and by this, the last, day, didn't feel the best on sunburned/windburned cheeks and necks.

Some petroglyphs on a rock on the way to Kane Creek. I zipped right by these, but luckily everyone else saw them and stopped. We didn't see any Pictographs. Definition: Petroglyphs = scratches. Pictographs = painted.

JJM then John crawling up an approach as Clint watches. It was fun to watch some bikes and jeeps do these sections, too:

Me crawling down with Clint and JJM spotting. There is a lot of traction on these rock faces and it's steep. There were a lot of sections that I would never do without spotters that can pull down a corner if you start tipping:

Watching a bike, from another group, on the same section. Note that he should be standing up on the pegs with his weight forward. Being non-aggressive only gets you in trouble on these steeps.

Me going up. I didn't winch, but JJM had a hold of my winch cable to yank the front end down if I started to go over backwards. Nice to have friends! Clint had just winched himself up the 6 foot wall directly behind me. Pics and vid of that to come.

Clint teetering on the edge:

Two-wheel-drive-fun in the sand:

Another decent:

Friday, April 29, 2011

- Photos of snowy rides

Winters almost over...well except the 3" we just got in the last 2 hours. Cold and snow has never stopped me in the past, though. Here are a few images looking back on past rides that ended (and some started) with snow.

As always, click any of the following images to open a larger version in a new window.

October, 2009. Turned back by snow on Rimini Rd. west of Helena.

February, 2010. I waited until it warmed up to 16 degrees. Yes, heated gear is a wonderful thing as is a bike that can run it. Headed west of Helena on Lincoln road and was turned back on the Gravelly Range Rd.

Little Prickly Pear Rd. was in much better shape and the day's ride ended up being great. It was way above 20 degrees by the time I got home. Something like 22. 

March, 2010. Snow is melting. I went through Nelson, MT (The Cribbage Capital of the World!) and then east on Beaver Creek Rd heading for Hogback before getting turned back by snow.

April, 2010. One month after the above images. Decided we needed 4 wheels at our attempt at getting up Hogback. Snowfall and high winds earlier that day had the drifts piled high. We, once again, didn't make it to Hogback...but it sure was fun trying.

My buddy and I (me on the left) before we hit the snowline.

Here is where we had to turn back. I walked to the top of the ridge and looked West towards Hogback. The wind was still blowing hard and we could see 100' high walls of blowing snow cresting some of the ridges and blowing across open areas.

At one point, I realized J. was no longer behind me. I turned around and headed back only to find him patiently waiting for my return. He got to horsing around and paffed into the ditch. I had to take a pic before winching him out.

June, 2010. Still enough snow out there to turn one back on some mountain trails. This creek was only about 12 or 15 feet across, but I couldn't tell how deep until I gauged it with a stick. Only 2 feet deep but cold. I removed, from my pockets, anything that I didn't want to get wet and put them in the dry saddlebags in case I took a swim. In the winter, I always have an extra pair of gloves and warm jacket with in the saddlebags.

Here was the first long push. You can see my bike at the top of the hill.

After several more of those, I came to this snowpatch. Too steep. Too deep. Too tired. I turned around here knowing that I would just continue to hit snow patches. They were about a foot deep, but crusty so it took everything I had to push the bike up the hill with it in first gear and spinning.

Fun looking back through those images and seeing this bike's accessories evolve (hand guards, mirrors, tank and saddlebag changes). And since these images, it has changed even more; gas tank, seat, etc. 

Well, nothing to do now but wait a day or two for tonight's 3" to melt. "Let it snow!" Wait. I mean "Let it Melt!"


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

- My attempt at humor

Here is my blatant rip off of a cycle world funny...

"As men age, they often gain spare tires. So far, I'm up to ten".