Logs often block trails in the NW.
I used to consider enduro rides too extreme for me. What can an office rat gain from riding hard dirt trails other than an injury. Well, besides enduro riding being so much fun, it is also a great training for adventure riding in third world countries on heavily loaded bikes. I found myself in quite a few situations where I wished I had had better enduro skills, simply to get through a rocky river crossing, landslide blocked road or deserted track covered with deep sand. These are all commonly encountered on roads in India, South America, central Asia, etc.
Below are photos from some of the rides I did alone or with friends. Most areas are from the SW USA, but I traveled to the NW USA as well, where challenges and the scenery are quite different.
So close to Moab, it is often overlooked as an ugly duckling. However, there are plenty of scenic and challenging roads to ride from a base in Monticello. Below are photos from a week of enduro riding around Monticello.
One of the side canyons off highway 95 in Utah.
Dark wilderness has only one road in and out.
Lavender Canyon - fun ride in deep sand.
Elephant Hill trail.
Descending into the Comb wash, the Comb ridge can be seen on the horizon.
Dugway ascends the comb ridge.
Elephant Hill trail.
Elephant Hill trail.
San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains are hands-down, the most beautiful part of Colorado Rockies. Ouray, the adventure center of the area, claims to be the "Switzerland of USA." A lot of old mining roads that go to over 13,000 ft are jeeper dream come true. The same goes for adventure motorcycling. Most roads are easy enough for big adventure bikes. But some trails are best done on pure dirt bikes.
Calico single track trail in San Juan mountains of Colorado.
Riding a boulder field on the east side of Stony pass.
Calico trail offers amazing views of San Juan mountains.
Ridign up to Taylor pass.
Twister single track trail to Torquerville falls.
Hurricane area near St. George, Utah, is famous for challenging desert rides. However, there are plenty of easier ATV roads to be enjoyed. We spent a week exploring the area.
One of the side canyons off the main ATV trail.
We got caught in a sandstorm while visiting nearby sand dunes.
We used this rough dirt track to access riding area from our camp at the edge of a mesa with sweeping views of the Arizona strip.
We played on sand dunes just outside Hurricane.
On the way to Torquerville falls.
Just playing around in one of the canyons.
The trail to Torquerville falls crosses the creek many times.
Grand Bench mesa on the north side of Lake Powell - blissfully desolate.
One of unofficial wash roads in Grand Staircase Escalante.
Steep, tight switchbacks, roots and logs
Riding in the Pacific Northwest is quite different from that in the desert Southwest. Most rides feature steep, deeply rutted, narrow tracks, overgrown with vegetation and littered with super slick tree roots. Of course, there is a fair amount of mud as well. But the thing that got me was a trail strewn with logs - easily one of the hardest rides I've ever done.
Firefox trail outside Tilamook, OR.
Nicely maintained Blue Ridge trails outside Coos bay, OR.
Tree roots, extremely slick when wet, can be major obstacles on steep climbs.
Many trails feature very steep climbs, often with deep ruts.
Moss and fern are everywhere.
Firefox trail embellished with motorcycle parts.
Often times, it's hard to see the trail from all the vegetation.
Flowers are in full bloom at the end of June.
Many steep hairpin turns to be enjoyed.
I came across this single track system of trails on Mt Rainier by pure accident, but it turned out to offer excellent riding.
Surprise, exposed tree roots after a tight hairpin turn.
I played it safe and walked the bike over this broken bridge.
I thought it was tough getting bike under this log. Little did I know that a few days later, I would be stuck on a trail strewn with logs.
Climbing steps formed by tree roots is one of the hallmarks of NW trails. Notice the radiator guard left behind by some riders.
Sunset ride up Lilian Mt. trail at Mission Ridge ORV system near Wenatchee.
Tronsen ridge trail - going down a steep rooted hill was a lot easier than going up.
Mission Ridge trail.
Jolly Mt trail leads to the very top of the Jolly mountain. In the distance are snowy peaks of the Cascade mountains where we hiked a few days earlier.
The Log Hell - 8 Hours for 2 Miles
I had to cross 46 logs on the otherwise easy Middle Fork of Teanaway river trail.
Cle Elum area motorcycle trails are challenging to ride and offer great views of the Cascade mountains. Now I could see the mountains that we hiked a week earlier along the Pacific Crest Trail from a different perspective.
After an enjoyable ride up the Jolly Mountain, I wanted to descend the Middle fork of Teanaway river (local riders told me it's an easy descent). In order to reach it, I had to ride Jolly Creek Trail - steep and exposed, but since I was going downhill, it didn't seem so bad.
Beginning of the trouble - descent down Jolly Creek trail towards Middle Fork Trail.
Once I descended the steepest section, the real troubles begun - logs across the trail. Considering the steep and exposed climb back, I figured I could handle one or two logs. I'll get bike somehow over or under the logs. Besides, I saw fresh tire marks on the trail and over the logs. So how hard can it be?
Well, wery to extremely hard. What I failed to consider is that those guys who left marks on the logs were:
- much better riders than I ;
- could do wheelies (crossing logs would have been so much easier if I was able to wheelie the front wheel onto the log);
- riding in a group (even someone holding the bike upright while I roll the front wheel onto a log was an enormous help);
- riding lighter motorcycles.
I started off with just sliding the bike under some logs.
Some logs were too close to the ground to slide bike under, so bike had to go over the log.
I slowly got sucked into the log trap. I thought it would be just one or two logs to cross. After I crossed 10-15 of them, it was already too late to go back (especially considering very steep and exposed section of the climb up).
Bypassing some logs turned out to be actually harder than crossing them.
At this point, I started getting worried - four hours into the ordeal, low on water, no food and no end of logs in sight.
Launching bike over a log worked well for me, but landing was too ugly for the bike, so I stopped using this technique.
How did the bike end up there? With a lot of sweat, tears and cursing.
So I pushed on and on. It took me 8 hours to go 2 miles (and cross 33 logs). At 5 PM, the battery died (too many starts and too few miles ridden) and I was officially stuck in the middle of nowhere. Bike was dead, I was exhausted and little worried about how I am gonna get out. I had to pause to consider my options.
It was another 5 miles to the end of the trail and a connecting dirt road, but then another 20+ miles around the mountain. Even though it was Saturday, I didn't see or hear any other riders on this trail. Could I get a ride from someone to get back to the car? What if I had to walk the remaining 20+ miles back, that would take more than an extra day of walking in MX boots.
Another option was to hike 10 miles back the way I rode in, but it called for a 2500 ft ascent. I chose the second option. Hiking up the steep 2500 ft pass in MX boots was not only hard but rather painful too. The descent in the dark was no fun either. When I finally got back to the car after 10 PM, my feet were covered in blisters and wounds and three of my toenails were purple.
The following day, Sunday, I did not even want to think about retrieving the bike. I needed at least a day of recovery as I could barely walk. I didn't care if someone rode along the trail, saw the bike and stole it (in a way, I secretly wished for it, so that I don't have to deal with getting the bike out). As it turns out, despite many riders riding that weekend, nobody passed by my abandoned motorcycle. I guess people knew that the trail I chose for being "easy" was a no-go.
On Monday, armed with a new battery, traction board and plenty of water and food, my friend and I hiked in 5 miles from the other end of the trail and managed to get the bike out. As it turns out, I had "only" 13 logs left to get out. Had my batter not ran out of juice, I could have probably avoided the awful hike in MX boots. But this mis-adventure makes for a better story.
On the way out, there were many creek crossings, but only 13 logs.
While this turned out to be a valuable lesson in how to deal with crossing logs, the most important lesson I learned is "when I see a log across my trail, I must IMMEDIATELY turn back.
Idaho - Single Track Paradise
Lookout mountain trail - steep, rocky and exhausting.
Idaho offers some amazing single track trails to ride. For some reason, I never really explored Idaho, on motorcycle or otherwise. After two weeks of traveling and riding around Idaho, I can't wait for the next opportunity to come back.
A brand new bridge just for motorcycles. Most motorcycle trails are well-maintained.
Tight switchback with rocky steps and steep drop-offs got my heart pumping.
Wondering what I'm getting myself into - Rough Creek Trail.
French creek trail leads to the top of a mountain with great view of surrounding areas.
Challenging trail outside Stanley, Idaho.
Better not lose it on this one.
Sunset play on sand dunes in Northern Colorado.