Carrying Extra Fuel Or Water On Your Dirt Bike

No matter how large your fuel tank is, there may be times when you need to carry a little extra fuel.  Or perhaps you need to carry water for camping in the desert.  If your dirt bike has metal racks, you may be able to use something like a Rotopax canister.  But if you don’t have a rack, it is a little more challenging.  This report talks about a few approaches that have worked well for me.  Perhaps you can use similar approaches with your bike.

I previously wrote a report about a 2 liter canister holster made by Mike at OBR ADV Gear.  This holster works great for the Tour-A-Tech 2 liter fuel canister or a 2 liter water bottle.

Water bottle

2 liter water bottle and holster

Bottle Hoslter-008

2 liter fuel canister

I asked Mike if he could make me a holster to hang a 1.5 liter Primus fuel bottle on each tank shroud.  This would allow me to carry a little more fuel (or water) and keep the weight up front, rather than on the rear with my luggage.

Mike designed a bottle wrap that can be adjusted to hold any bottle between 3″ and 4.5″ in diameter.  A 1 liter bottle (fuel or water) is about 3″ in diameter, but the larger 1.5 liter bottles are 3.5″ in diameter.  His bottle wrap works perfectly!

Mike Bottle Wrap (4)

Adjustable bottle wrap

Mike also makes an adapter patch that fits under the fuel cap.  I found that I could mount the bottle wrap tightly to my tank shrouds even without the patch, but the patch provides a little more security to keep the bottle from sliding down.

Bottle Holder Feb2016-004

1.5L bottle mounted to tank shroud and adapter patch

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This setup works well and gives me room for my knees.

Mike Bottle Wrap (3)

Two 1L bottles attached to the patch

Of course you can also mount the bottle wrap in other locations.  It has a couple of D-rings so it is easy to mount onto your luggage anywhere you wish.

I made the following chart to show what kind of fuel range I can expect from different size bottles or canisters.  With two 1.5L bottles, I should increase my fuel range by about 40 miles.  Combine that with two 2L canisters, and I get about 90 miles of additional range.

Bottle Range

This photo shows a size comparison of some of these options.

Bottle Holder Feb2016

1L water bottles, 1.5L water and fuel bottles, the adapter patch, a 4L and 6L Dromedary

Some people use the MSR Dromedary bags to carry fuel, but I have chosen not to.  They are not legally approved fuel containers in the USA, and they out-gas, causing anything near them to smell of fuel.  But they do work great for carrying water.  I found that the 6L bag fits nicely on top of my luggage.  Once I empty the bag, I can roll it up and store it inside my luggage.

Cedar Mesa May2015-002

6L of water in an MSR Dromedary bag

2 more liters of water

2 more liters of water

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KTM 4T Fuel Tanks

When I decided to start doing multi-day adventure rides with my KTM 350 XCF-W, it soon became apparent that I needed to increase my fuel range.  Since we have three bikes in the family, we have been able to try a variety of fuel tank options.  This report is specifically for KTM four-stroke bikes with fuel injection, but the concepts apply to any bike.  In a previous report, I discuss some of the other modifications I have done to my bike to get it ‘adventure’ ready.

Acerbis makes a variety of fuel tank options, including the two KTM Powerparts fuel tank options.  There are also other sizes available from other suppliers, but I will not cover those in this report.

On a dual-sport ride, I usually get about 56 mpg with 14:50T sprockets.  But to be safe, I usually assume that I will only get 50 mpg.  That gives me a little margin in case things go wrong.  Your mileage will probably differ from mine – it is a function of your gearing, the type of terrain, and how much you twist the throttle.

Here is a table that estimates my fuel range for some of the common fuel tank sizes:

Tank Range

 

KTM 2.25 Gallon Tank (stock)

Tanks Feb2016-010

Stock fuel tank

I use the stock tank for trail riding and get roughly 100 miles of range.  For adventure rides, I use a larger tank. One disadvantage of fuel injected bikes is that there is a fuel pump assembly inside the tank.  This means you either need to buy a second fuel pump (at roughly $350), or take the time to swap the assembly to the other tank.  The stock fuel pump assembly fits in any of the tanks listed above.

Tanks Feb2016-011

Top view of stock tank

Acerbis 3.0 Gallon Tank

Both of my children have the Acerbis 3.0 gallon tank, giving them a range of about 150 miles.  The tank uses the stock shrouds, so it maintains the basic look of the stock tank.  The tank is slightly wider, but not much.  It is a really good choice if you need just a little more range than stock.  It is small and light enough that you don’t need to swap it out with the stock tank.

Adventure ready

Acerbis 3.0 gallon tank

KTM 13L Gallon Tank

The next size up is the 13 liter KTM Powerparts tank (made by Acerbis).  This tank uses the stock low-profile fuel cap and only comes in orange.  I have used this tank for about two years for both trail riding and adventure rides.  It gives me a range of roughly 175 miles.  It is a little wider than the stock tank, but at 6’2″ tall, the width hasn’t bothered me.  It also offers better protection for the radiators than the stock shrouds.

Tanks Feb2016-001

KTM Powerparts 13L tank (3.5 gal)

This tank came with some rubber bumpers that mount to the radiators to prevent puncturing a hole in the tank.

Tanks Feb2016-002

Rubber bumper

Acerbis 4.1 & 5.3 Gallon Tanks

Acerbis makes a 4.1 gallon tank, which is quite popular.  I personally have not used this tank, but I suspect it is a great choice if you want a 200 mile range.  I was actually considering buying this tank when I happened to find a good deal on a lightly used 5.0 gallon tank with a fuel pump.  They also make a 5.3 gallon tank.

KTM 5.0 Gallon Tank

When I bought the used KTM Powerparts 5.0 gallon tank I assumed it was the same as the Acerbis 5.3 gallon tank.  I knew it had a KTM logo, but thought it was otherwise the same tank.  It turns out it really is a 5.0 gallon tank.  I suspect the difference is that this tank will fit with the EXC emissions canister whereas the 5.3 gallon tank will not.  This tank is certainly wider than the others, but when you need a 250 mile range, it is a really good option.  It carries the weight up front and low, which is good when you have all of your camping gear loaded on the back of the bike.

Tanks Feb2016-003

KTM Powerparts 5.0 gallon tank

Tanks Feb2016-005

Top view of 5.0 gal tank

Here is a comparison photo showing the width of each tank.

Tanks Feb2016-006

Comparison photo

If the tank you have doesn’t give you the range you need, check out my post about carrying extra fuel on your bike.

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GPS Trip Planning

A few years ago I posted an article explaining how I use a GPS and mapping software to plan an adventure.  Those methods worked fairly well for my typical day rides on my dirt bike, but now that I am planning multi-day adventures covering a much larger area, my old methods have proved rather tedious.

New Tools

While planning a six-day adventure ride covering approximately 1000 miles, I found that my old GPS did not have enough memory to hold all of the planned routes.  Furthermore, my mapping software lacked advanced features that would make route planning much easier.  So, I began researching alternatives.  I would like to thank Dave McIntire for helping me evaluate and test alternate strategies and tools.

I haven’t yet selected which GPS I will buy, but I am currently leaning towards the Garmin Montana.  As for mapping software, I have settled on Garmin BaseCamp.  At first I didn’t like BaseCamp – it didn’t seem as nice as Memory-Map – but I found that most of the issues were just a matter of becoming familiar with the tool.  There are three key advantages that convinced me it was time to switch tools:

  1. BaseCamp supports auto-generation of routes.
  2. BaseCamp directly interfaces with Google Earth.
  3. BaseCamp interfaces better with a Garmin GPS than my previous tools.

Note: This article is not intended to be a full tutorial on BaseCamp – there are plenty of tutorials and videos on the web already.  My focus will be on the process of planning an adventure.

Research

I enjoy researching new areas to explore.  The Internet makes it really easy to find a lot of useful information, but I also enjoy reading guide books for the area of interest.  I have found a lot of very useful information in user forums by reading other people’s trip reports.  I also enjoy watching YouTube/Vimeo videos so I can get a sense for the difficulty of a trail or road.

Regardless of how much research you enjoy doing, the first step in planning any adventure is to have an idea of where you want to go.  If your adventure can benefit from a GPS and a little pre-trip planning, perhaps my lessons learned can help you on your way.

You may even find existing GPS files (GPX is a common exchange format) which you can download and import into your mapping software.  This may save you a lot of time, or at least give you a path to follow.

Maps

I really liked the maps I purchased for Memory-Map.  There were multiple levels of detail, so I could select the one that worked best based on the scale of my trip.  But as with most older tools, the maps were raster maps – meaning they are essentially a digital photograph of a map.

The newer Garmin Maps have vector data in addition to the base map.  This data provides a mathematical description of major roadways, giving the mapping software and your GPS the ability to compute a route.  So, it was time to buy yet another set of maps.  I ended up buying the Garmin 24k Topo maps for the states nearby.

After installing the maps into BaseCamp (a free application from Garmin), I also installed portions of the map into my GPS.  My older GPS would not directly support map sets larger than 2 GB, so I had to remove my 4 GB micro-SD card and load the maps via an SD card reader.

You can launch the Garmin MapInstall program from within BaseCamp.  You then select the map you want to load and the segments to load (highlighted in red below).  You can even select segments from multiple maps.  The green bar on the right indicates how much memory will be used.  I was able to load 100k maps for the entire western United States, all of Utah and Idaho and portions of surrounding states at 24k resolution on my 4 GB card.  It does take a few hours to transfer this much data to the SD card.

MapLdUtah

Waypoints

Waypoints are a way of marking a specific location. For example, you can mark key junctions on your route, campsites, towns, points of interest, etc.  You can even select a symbol that visually helps you understand what type of waypoint you have created.

When I transferred waypoints from my older software tools, the symbols were generally lost when transferring to the GPS.  With BaseCamp, many of the symbols are compatible with my GPS, so the symbol transfers intact.  The following snapshot shows a waypoint with a blue flag symbol.

Points Tracks Routes

Tracks

The above snapshot shows a hand drawn track in the light cyan color.  Because it was hand drawn, it does not follow the road very accurately.

Tracks are useful for highlighting your desired path – both on the map (which you can print out if you wish) and you can transfer the track to the GPS.

With my older software, none of my tracks would be visible in my GPS.  I would manually have to enable each track and select a color.  With BaseCamp, the color of the track is transferred to the GPS and all tracks are visible, reducing the amount of effort on my part.

The GPS will also record the actual track as you follow your path.  By using a different color for the recorded track, you can easily see if you are deviating from your intended path.  And when you return to your computer, you can replace your hand drawn track with the actual GPS recorded track for a more accurate record of your trip.

Note: If you store your planned tracks on the SD card and your actual recorded tracks in internal memory (or visa-versa), it is easy to upload just your recorded tracks to your computer after your trip.

Routes

The green line in the above snapshot is a route.  A route is essentially a series of waypoints (notice the small black dots) with a straight line connecting the dots.  It is easier to create a route than a track because you simply drop waypoints along the road rather than tracing the entire road.

With BaseCamp’s auto generate capability, routes are sometimes very easy to build (and sometimes not).  After selecting the route creation tool, click on the map at your starting point.  When you move the cursor to the next point along the route, you see a line between the mouse pointer to the previous point, as shown below.

Rubber Band

Once you click the next point, BaseCamp computes intermediate shape points (the black dots referenced earlier) and fills in the detail for the route to follow the road.  When it works, this is a huge time saver.

AutoGenerate

The tool generally works quite well if there aren’t a lot of intersections along the way.  But when there are alternate paths to choose from, the tool often gets confused, as shown in this example:

Bizzare Loops

When the tool generates bogus paths, hit Ctrl-Z to undo.  You can sometimes get a better result by zooming in and picking points closer together.  Or you may actually get better results by zooming out so the side roads become hidden.

Sometimes you will get better results if you reverse the route.  This causes the software to recompute the route coming in the opposite direction.  Reversing routes is also handy if you want to combine two or more routes into one.  If one route goes the opposite direction, it may connect the wrong ends together.

When auto generate doesn’t do what you want, you may have to hand create the route segment by segment, or draw a track by hand.

Example Plan

The following diagram is an example plan that combines two nearby canyons into a scenic loop.

Loop

The green and blue lines are routes that I created using the auto generate feature.  I did have some trouble on the far left due to all of the side roads in town, but I eventually got it to work.

The red and cyan lines are tracks that I hand drew just for comparison.

After drawing my loop, I entered waypoints at key intersections and points of interest.

Once my plan is complete, I can transfer it to my GPS for navigation.  You can also convert between tracks and routes – so you can load whichever you prefer into your GPS.

When following a route on a GPS, it will show you the distance and bearing to the next waypoint.  This can work great if you are covering a large distance on major roads, but if you are riding on trails, the waypoints may really clutter up your GPS display.  For dirt bike outings, I therefore prefer to transfer tracks to the GPS and simply follow the colored line.

Google Earth

I have found Google Earth to be a great resource for trip planning.  It gives you a satellite image of the terrain as well as a coarse 3D representation of the terrain.  I have learned, however, that the actual trail is generally more technical than it might appear on Google Earth.

You can do route planning directly in Google Earth, which can then be exported and converted to a form that your mapping software can read.  But if you do your design in BaseCamp, you can view it in Google Earth without exporting and converting any files.  This makes it really easy to spot check your design as you go and make sure your plan is sound.

If you find any errors in your design, you should correct them in BaseCamp.  Alternately, you can correct them in Google Earth, export them, convert them, and import them back into BaseCamp – but you generally loose something in the conversion process – so proceed with caution.

Here is a top down view of our loop as viewed in Google Earth.  Notice that it is a little difficult to read because the tracks are overlaid with a large number of waypoints.  The routes also have all of the shape points showing.

GE Top View

You can deselect the points in both the track and the routes to get a much cleaner look.

GE Top View wo Points

You can also view your plan in 3D to get a sense for the terrain.

GE 3D

I have also found it interesting to examine photos that others have inserted in Google Earth along my intended route.  This allows me to get a sense for the terrain and difficulty of the trail.

The following snapshot shows how my hand drawn track deviates from the actual road.  If the deviation is too large, it may be worth redrawing the track.

GE Track Error

I would also note that you should be looking straight down (hit the “R” key) when checking for path accuracy.  Otherwise the inaccuracies in the 3D earth model will exaggerate the errors.

Summary

Learning to properly use a GPS and GPS mapping software takes time.  Luckily, I enjoy learning this sort of thing.  And I like to do the research to learn about new areas.  While my old methodologies still work, I have been excited to learn some new tools and techniques that will hopefully help me be better prepared for my trips.

But if you are the type that doesn’t consider it an adventure unless you head off into the great unknown, then by all means, go enjoy your adventure.  But for those, like me, that like to know as much as possible before exploring an area, I hope that some of my tips will be useful.  Plan your adventure and then go enjoy it in safety!

 

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Five Mile Pass – Nov 2015

Nov. 14, 2015

The forecast called for clear and sunny skies, with highs around 55º, so Jamie and I decided to spend the afternoon out at Five Mile Pass. Kevin’s work got canceled, so he decided to join us. This would be his first chance to ride the KTM 350.

We wanted a mellow ride, so we opted to stay out of the hills and ride on the south side of the highway. One of my objectives was to explore the single track trail I found last spring. I traced it out on Google Earth and it looks to be about a four mile long loop.

We worked our way south enjoying some fast cruising on easy Jeep roads with some smooth banked turns. It didn’t take us very long to get to the start of the single track loop.

As we were about to start the loop, Kevin was unable to get his bike started. We checked the fuel pump, the fuel filter, and wiggled some wires. We finally figured out the start/kill button had rotated on the handlebars and the kill button was being depressed by the throttle cable. Once we figured that out, we were back on the trail.

Jamie took the lead, with me filming her and Kevin bringing up the rear.

Jamie starting on the single track

The first part of the trail is in a gully. It is fairly tight, but not overly technical. It is actually a pretty good trail for people to practice single track. There are no serious obstacles and no steep side hills to fall off of.

Portions of the trail that are in the shade still had snow. Luckily the ground was frozen, so we didn’t have to deal with mud.

There was snow in the shade

After a while I let Kevin pass me so I could film him. He hasn’t ridden very much single track, but he did very well.

Kevin

The trail went out into a farmer’s fields and we missed a turn. We ended up riding several miles of ATV trail and bumpy Jeep roads working our way around so we could pick up the last portion of the single trail. We ended up missing about half of the single track, so we will have to go back and try again someday.

The last portion is on a knoll. To get on top we had to negotiate a fairly steep hill climb with loose rocks. Everyone made it up fine, but it did require you to pay close attention to the trail. Kevin commented that it was much easier on the KTM 350 than it would have been on his old DR-Z400. The newer, lighter bikes are so much easier to manage. In fact, later on in the day I noticed Kevin darting back and forth on the trail “playing” around – something he seldom, if ever, did on the DR-Z400.

Kevin makes the rocky hill climb

View from the top of the knoll

Heading down the other side

After finishing the loop, we took one lap around an old motocross track on the edge of the farm field. We quickly remembered why we don’t race – we don’t jump, we can’t make tight corners, we don’t like whoops, and we ride really, really slow.

A jump on the old motocross track

Banked turns

It was getting late, so we started working our way back to the car. We rode north to the bottom of the wash coming from Seven Mile Pass. I have previously ridden down this wash several times, but this was my first time riding up. It is a really fun ride with lots of banked turns. But it was a little difficult to see because we were riding into the setting sun.

Heading up the wash towards Seven Mile Pass

Fun banked turns

This is one of my favorite trails

There is one rocky section near the top. I think Kevin was in a gear higher than he wanted, so he got stalled for a while.

There is one rocky stretch near the top

We then cruised back to the car on the easy roads down below the foothills.

Cruising back to the car

We quickly loaded up the car and headed home for dinner. It was a fun afternoon. We rode almost 35 miles in only 2.5 hours. And best of all, no one crashed.

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Millville Canyon – Richard’s Hollow – Oct 2015

Oct. 10, 2015

Ed Lamborn offered to show us some of his favorite childhood trails up near Logan. With Jason now attending Utah State University, I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet him and enjoy some new trails. Unfortunately, Jason just got a new job and had to work on Saturday, so he was unable to join us. Ron Muffler and I rode up with Bob Dawson, and we met Ed at the trailhead. We also met Al Hill and his two boys. Unfortunately, the trail was steep and rocky and proved quite challenging for the younger boys on their small two-stroke race bikes. They ended up separating and going at a slower pace.

GPS Track

GPS Track

Unfortunately we were riding into the sun most of the day, so there is a lot of glare in my videos:

Millville Canyon (#168) was a long and grueling climb up a very rocky road. It wasn’t overly technical (on the bigger bikes), but it was relentless. The rocks just never seemed to end.

Millville Canyon is steep and rocky

Once we got up onto the bench, the trail mellowed out considerably. We stopped at an overlook to enjoy the scenery and took some group photos.

Ron, Dee, Bob, and Ed

We dodged a few mud puddles on the way up, which came back to haunt us (Ed) later in the day. We enjoyed a side spur up to Logan Peak for some more spectacular views. It was quite cold and windy up at almost 9,700’, so we didn’t stay long.

On the way up to Logan Peak

The autumn leaves were still more colorful than I expected, so we occasionally stopped for more photos.

Autumn leaves

Our primary objective was to explore some of the single track trails in the area. We started by going down trail #019A, which I think is called White Bedground Camp (or spring). This was a really fun trail, but there were some sections where the stream runs right down the trail.

White Bedground Camp trail

The trail joins into #019G, Richard’s Hollow. Richard’s Hollow was an absolute blast to ride. It follows a narrow valley with a small stream. Most of the trail is smooth and flowing.

Richard’s Hollow

There are a few technical sections with some steps and rocks, but most of them are pretty short.

A rocky stretch on Richard’s Hollow

We stopped at the junction of Cart Hollow (#123) and enjoyed a lunch break. It was a beautiful spot.

A beautiful lunchspot

From this junction to the bottom the trail is significantly more technical. It has long stretches with steep side-hill exposure and a few nasty rocky bits. But with a little care, it is pretty easy to work your way down. I suspect coming back up would be more challenging.

The lower portion of Richard’s Hollow is more technical

Once we popped out the bottom of Richard’s Hollow, we took a quick ride up Left Hand Fork of Blacksmith to see Grey Cliff Spring.

Grey Cliff Spring

Bob had ridden by here a few years ago on his adventure bike and remembered being turned back by a boulder field. He wanted to see if he could tackle the rocks with his KTM 300, so we rode an additional six miles up the road.

Bob’s Rocks

Bob and Ed rode through the boulder field while Ron and I enjoyed watching them.

We had so much fun on Richard’s Hollow that we altered Ed’s original plan and decided to ride back up Richard’s Hollow. Rather than start from the bottom, we rode up Seep Hollow (#026) until it joined Cart Hollow, then returned to our lunch spot. Seep Hollow started off really rocky, but soon turned to a nice single track. It had a lot of downed logs that we had to cross, and we missed a turn somewhere and ended up on a cow trail for a short time.

The lower part of Cart Hollow is a steep descent as it works its way down into the valley to join Richard’s Hollow. I suspect it could be a challenge coming back up, especially if the trail were at all wet. But it is pretty short and we were soon back on Richard’s Hollow. It was just as fun going back up as it was coming down.

When we reached the junction with White, we decided to ride up the remaining portion of Richard’s Hollow. It was also very fun, but the first switchback caught us by surprise and we almost missed the turn. It was so fun we turned around and went back down, and then rode up Whites.

We had plenty of log crossings

Whites was also a fun ride back up. One log crossing threw Ed off balance and off the trail. He made a quick recovery, but he still may have made my blopper video for the year.

Ed heading back up Whites

After completing the great single track trails, it was time to head back to Bob’s truck in Millville. We weren’t too excited about going down the rocky road, but it actually went by pretty quickly after taking a much needed break.

Heading back to Millville

The ride totaled just under 65 miles. We were all tired and hungry by the time we finished, so we loading up the truck met Jason for dinner at a local hamburger joint. It was disappointing that Jason missed the ride, but it was fun to visit with him for a while.

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Bear Lake Shake Run – Sept 2015

Sept. 12, 2015

The plan was simple enough; meet at one of three staging areas, be at Curtis Creek by 10:00 AM, two hours to ride to Garden City for lunch and a raspberry shake, a two hour ride back, and be home for dinner by 6:00 PM.

Lynn and Lewis arrived early at Ross’s house; they rode over Trapper’s Loop and waited for us in Huntsville. We (me, Jamie, Jason, and Phillip) planned to be ready to ride from the Monte Cristo snowmobile staging area by 9:30 so we could be at Curtis Creek by 10:00. We finally set off at about 10:15, so we were already 45 minutes behind schedule.

But it was a beautiful day and all seemed well as we rode up Hwy 39 through Monte Cristo. The aspen leaves were already turning yellow, so it was going to be a spectacular ride.

Back in 2012 we rode from Garden City to Monte Cristo in 3.5 hours. For some reason (age perhaps?), I remember it only taking 1.5 hours. So our plan was faulty from the start.

Purple=pavement, green=easy, blue=intermediate, red=advanced

Purple=pavement, green=easy, blue=intermediate, red=advanced

Autumn leaves along Hwy 39

We started down the Curtis Creek road (#5) and found that the road conditions were not as good as our previous ride. There was a lot of loose dust and silt, making the road more slippery and it was very difficult to see at times.

Curtis Creek Road (#5)

Rather than take “easy” dirt roads all the way, we wanted to spice things up a bit by taking some of the intermediate side trails along the way. We ventured off onto trail #43 which is ridden by a lot of ATVs. The trail was very dusty and had sections with loose rocks. It wasn’t overly difficult, but it was slower going than the main road.

Trail #43

Lewis on Trail #43

At one point we took a wrong turn. The trail turned to a narrow ATV trail down a steep mountain. The dirt was loose, and those on the larger bikes kept sliding. We rode for about ½ mile down this steep, narrow trail only to find that it was a dead-end. So, we turned around and rode back up. Going up was more fun than going down. This took at least 45 minutes, so now we are 1.5 hours behind schedule (not including the 2 hour error in my time estimate).

The steep dead-end trail

Back on #5 we were able to pick up our pace a little bit, but it was still slower than last time due to the road conditions. Lynn took a couple of spills in the loose gravel and bent one of his cargo boxes. It took another 15-20 minutes to fix that, so now we are almost two hours behind schedule and everyone is starting to get hungry.

Lewis on #43

Lynn’s bent cargo box

Jamie enjoying the scenery as she rides

From #5 we turned onto #50 and planned on taking a shortcut to #51. Unfortunately the shortcut was on private property – so, we had to take the longer way around on #52 and then part of #3. Road #3 had some pockets of extremely deep silt. If you were following too closely behind someone, you would have a total brown-out and not be able to see anything. Lynn took another spill here and broke his clutch. Now we are over two hours behind schedule.

We slowed down the pace some since Lynn was tire and losing his confidence. Later he learned that his front tire was going flat, so it wouldn’t hold traction on corners.

Trail #51 (Kearl Pond Road) is a really fun ride through some open meadows and wooded forests. This was my favorite part back in 2012.

Kearl Pond Road (#51)

Did I mention that it was dusty?

This trail drops out in Temple Canyon, which we rode down to Hwy 30, and rode in to Garden City. We finally arrived at La Beau’s just before 3:00 PM – everyone was very tired and hungry. We enjoyed a nice break, a raspberry shake, and a burger.

Phillip approaching Hwy 30

Lunch at last!

After lunch, Lynn and Lewis decided to take the highway back home (which is where he learned that his tire was flat). The rest of us rode up Hwy 89 to the pass heading towards Logan.

From the pass we headed south on #3, which was in great shape and allowed us to cruise at a good speed. We turned west on #2, then south on an ATV trail #53. The first part of #53 was quite rocky – it wasn’t too difficult, but it was late in the day to be dealing with a rough and bumpy ride. The middle section was quite nice, but very, very dusty.

Rocks on #53

The “cream filling”

Ross enjoying the view

The last part of #53 (or #033 according to one sign) was steep and eroded with loose rocks. I suspect #54 would have been a better choice.

Steep, rocky descent

Jamie staying out of the rut

Great views from an eroded trail

Elk Valley Guard Station

After getting safely off #53 we buzzed along #3 to Hardware Ranch, and then took the Ant Flat Road back to our car.

Beaver dams along the way

Hardware Ranch

Ant Flat Road

We arrived back at the car at about 7:00 PM with just enough daylight left to load the trailer and start for home.

According to my GPS, we rode a total of 133 miles (the GPS is usually a little low), had an average riding speed of 14.8 mph, and a maximum speed of 61 mph. It was a fun trip, but the loose conditions made it more stressful than anticipated, so we were very tired and ready to head home long before we arrived back at the car. Next time we will plan better…

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North Rim of the Grand Canyon – Sept 2015

Sept. 8-10, 2015

 

Panorama of Bright Angel Point

Kim and I decided to drive down to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We left home the day after Labor Day. It is roughly a six hour drive from SLC to the North Rim, but much of it is fairly scenic.

When you arrive at Jacob Lake, you turn south on Hwy 67 and drive roughly 45 miles to the North Rim. We were surprised at how thick and beautiful the forest was. It was a very pleasant drive and there wasn’t very much traffic.

We arrived mid-afternoon and explored the lookout points around the Grand Canyon Lodge near Bright Angel Point. It had rained earlier in the day, so the skies were fairly clear.

Bright Angel Point

Late afternoon shot from the Lodge

Bright Angel Point

Grand Canyon Lodge

Kim on the balcony of the Lodge

We checked into our cabin and made reservations for dinner. We were surprised to learn that we were now on Pacific Standard Time.

Dinner was quite expensive, and as usual, expensive restaurants don’t really suit. But we had a pleasant evening enjoying the surroundings and the staff was very helpful.

Our cabin was quite a disappointment. It is smaller on the inside than on the outside. The room kind of reminded us of our cabin on the cruise ship – you could pass out in the shower and not fall down.

Our cabin (#17)

Some of the more expensive cabins have a porch with rocking chairs and a view of the canyon. Our cabin was wedged in between several others, with no view at all. The cabin was very dark, making it difficult to read as we passed the evening away. But worst of all was the bed – it was the most uncomfortable motel bed I have every slept on (or tried to sleep on).

We brought our own breakfast so we wouldn’t have to pay expensive restaurant rates again, and checked out as quickly as we could. We took a few morning photographs and then took the scenic drive out to Cape Royal and Point Imperial.

Morning shot from the Lodge

Morning shot

View from Cape Royal

The drive out to Cape Royal was very nice. It might be stressful in a big vehicle or with heavy traffic, but we only had one car that just about side swiped us. This would be a fun ride on a motorcycle.

The views from Cape Royal and Point Imperial were nice, but not as spectacular as Bright Angel Point.  The views might be better in the afternoon when you are not looking towards the sun.

The temperature was absolutely perfect, so we enjoyed a nice leisurely lunch at Point Imperial.

Jacob Lake

After lunch we exited the park and made our way to Jacob Lake. We stopped at the fire lookout tower not far from the junction. Kim didn’t want to climb up due to her failing knees, but I thought I would give it a go. I think I made it about 1/3 of the way up when my fear of heights got the better of me. I wasn’t even to the top of the trees, but it was high enough for me. Going up was actually pretty easy, but those steps seem really narrow when coming back down.

Fire lookout tower near Jacob Lake

We also drove out to see Jacob Lake. It is more of a pond than a lake.

Jacob Lake

We checked into our cabin (#A). This cabin was much less expensive than the one at the North Rim, and it was much, much nicer. It had a lot more room and a much more comfortable bed.

Our cabin (#A) at Jacob Lake

The food at Jacob Lake was about half the price of the Grand Canyon, and twice as good. I think that was the best bacon cheeseburger I have had in a long time.

We spent most of the evening sitting on the porch reading books. After dark we went to a photography workshop put on by Matt Rich, who sells spectacular photos of the Grand Canyon and surrounding area. His family owns and operates Jacob Lake.

Glen Canyon Dam

The next morning we checked out early and drove Hwy 89A along the Vermilion Cliffs. The morning light and haze limited our visibility, but it was a relaxing drive.

Vermilion Cliffs

We stopped at Lee’s Ferry and watched the river guides rig their boats for their upcoming trip down the canyon. The dories were very colorful and the rafts were huge!

Boats at Lee’s Ferry

 

We then stopped at Navajo Bridge, and then the visitor’s center at Glen Canyon Dam. Kim and I recently read “The Emerald Mile”, so it was interesting to visit the dam that was the focus of much of the book.

Glen Canyon Dam

On our way home, I received a call from my dirt bike mechanic informing me that my bike was fixed and ready to ride. That made my day! It had been in the shop for six weeks – causing me to miss most of the summer mountain riding season. That put a nice highlight on our three-day scenic vacation of the Grand Canyon.

 

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