Colorado
Reports about Kevin
Basso's cross-country offroad motorcycle trip.
 
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Kevin Basso
Eagle Scout
Boy Scouts of America

COOTERS PLACE

TENNESSEE

MISSISSIPPI

ARKANSAS

OKLAHOMA

NEW MEXICO

COLORADO

UTAH

NEVADA

OREGON

 

Colorado

Colorado is remote trail riding to the extreme. I was greeted by 15 fires burning throughout the state. A thick haze blocked out some great views of the southern mountains. As I traveled north, the smoke dissipated and the Rocky Mountains appeared in the distance. The trails became narrow as I went up the mountain. My riding skills were pushed to the limit on several trails outside of Salida and the 3 major passes including the Continental Divide.

After a few scares, I stopped in Sargents to fill my tank. I noticed a squeaking noise from the bike's rear suspension - the rear fender was loose. I had a sinking feeling that the frame after Baja was not holding up. I asked the station attendant if the mechanic next door did welding. He told me that the mechanic was out of town. Luckily, Jerry (the assistant mechanic) was in and ready for the job, but three customers were ahead of me. I asked him if there were town camp sites since I needed accommodations for the night. I pitched tent next to the garage. Morning came and I disassembled the bike to prepare it for welding. The frame was broken in the same spot (from Baja) and with the added stress of this trip - two other sections were now broken. My rear rack and fender were held on by the lower frame brace and EXHAUST PIPE! The whole frame could have collapsed at any given time. Jerry successfully welded all parts and reinforced the frame this time to endure the luggage.

By noon I was packed and riding. The trail, again very narrow, was tricky in many sections to maneuver. Softball and football size rocks made for a very bumpy and unnerving ride. The difficulty with rocks, for a motorcycle, is that I had to keep moving in order to stay up. Stopping in the middle of a decline was never an option.

The Continental Divide, the route over the top of the mountain, is reserved for horses, hikers and dirt bikes only. Again, a difficult ride. The large rocks bounced the front tire around causing me to skid towards the cliff's edge. I kept the bike in first gear most of the time and leaned into the mountain ...trying to not look down.

At the top of the divide, I rode for 8 miles between the 30 or so downed trees. I constantly looked for ways around to see if new routes existed. The further I got down the mountain, the less alternative routes. I found myself unpacking and packing the bike several times over. I also spent around 4 hours creating new paths by walking the bike through swamps and dense forest. One section required me to clear logs up a steep hillside. As I lined up the bike, I thought, if I flip this over, it will be a 2 day hike out. I revved the engine and went for it! Everything was fine until the soft ground started to give way. The back tire was digging a hole and I was slowing down. I reached out for leverage to a dead narrow tree and pushed off - planting my left leg and pivoting down the other side.

WHEW! 7pm - time to call it a night.

 


New Mexico - Colorado border

Watching the sun go down over the Colorado fires

Smoke blocking out the view in southern. Colorado

Old church house, smoke getting thicker.

As I got further north of the border, I started seeing the Aspens on the trail
 

Broken frame in three locations.

Jerry welding back together

Reinforcing the frame
 

View of twin lakes near Aspen
.
I start up the Rockies to find, DO NOT GO ALONE! I skip that few miles of trail with a nearby dirt road.

Entering "The Rockies"

Starting on the second half of the Rainbow Trail, VERY NARROW

Starting the Rainbow Trail
 

Rocky section

Need to be careful not to bump anything, this can knock you off balance at slow speeds


taking a rest from the 95 degree heat.

Tight turns on the trail

more great views
 

eastern Rockies

more of the famous Rainbow Trail

Colorado has 12 maps, switching
to number 3.

heading up over the Continental Divide

Old mining cabin ready to roll onto the trail
 

view of the trail heading up to the divide

Old dump off this cliff, whew no motorcycles!

heading up
 
 
More pictures on the next page of the continental divide.
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