Dino Ride 2015

The Dino Ride is three day ride through Northwest Colorado. It’s organized on this advrider thread by a very generous forum member, Norm. This was the first time I’d done the ride, and I didn’t know what to expect. I ended up having a good time, meeting some fine folks, and learning a bit about my techniques and gear choices.

29 May 2015

Looking North while we’re stopped on the bench road.

On Friday morning, by friend Don (on a KLR) and I grouped up with Marty (on a possessed KLR) and Bobby (some fast orange thing).

Marty led most of the ride, which was great. I could sit back an focus on the new terrain and not crashing while Marty navigated. We all made it through the morning, with maybe a couple of thuds in the mud.

Once we got on the bench road, things were still looking good. We passed a couple ranchers driving cattle beside the road. There weren’t too happy with all the groups of bikes heading down the road.

The bench road is an absolutely fantastic ride, with the road itself suitable for noob riders like myself (a little bit of sand, some embedded rocks, and a few cliffs). Compared to the Front Range, the scenery might as well be on another continent.

We were about 10 miles from camp at Echo Park when we saw a whole bunch of bikes parked on both sides of the road. Uh oh… Norm’s DR650 had been acting up: the bike was cutting out occasionally, which seemed like possible carb issues. All the groups had stopped to offer advice, tools, parts, etc. The ranchers and cattle we had passed earlier were quite upset that we were now all hanging out on the sides of the road.

Unfortunately, no one could sort out the DR’s issue, so Bobby rode to camp, where his wife had their Jeep. Marty kindly stayed with Norm and the dead DR, and the rest of the groups rode to camp. Once Bobby got the Jeep, he picked up Norm and headed to Craig, where Norm got his pickup to rescue the DR.

30 May 2015

Unfortunately, Marty had a hard crash on the way back to camp last night, and had injured his foot. He hooked up with the “Pro Leisure Tour” for the day so he wouldn’t risk injuring his foot further. So, it was Don, Bobby, and myself for the day.

We stopped on the way out of Echo Park to look at a couple petroglyphs. The road up and out of the canyon was fun. Apparently the switchbacks require 4wd and tire chains when the clay roadbed is wet. Thankfully it was nice and dry.

We rode some county roads across the plateau and then a long, loose descent down in to Jensen, UT. We skipped the “Noob Killer” this year. After gassing up and grabbing a bite to eat in Jensen, we were off toward three corners.

We followed two-track and some county roads over the landscape Northeast of Jensen. I’m not sure what it’s called, but we were riding over big mounds of semi-dry dirt. It was really cool to ride on: the top inch or two was crusty, but once your tires broke through, it was like soft dirt.

Bobby was in the lead, and I was pushing to keep up, when all the sudden I see Bobby stopped just before a 6 foot deep washout across the road. My pucker factor shot up a couple notches getting the KLR stopped in time. We found a route through the creekbed that got us across the washout, and we continued on our way. There were a couple rocky hillclimbs where I had my first experience with “baby heads”. Fun times.

Since we were done with the harder section North of Jensen, I figured it was just going to be smooth sailing for the rest of the day. Nope, that was just the first course. Crouse Canyon Road was muddy and heavily rutted from Jeep/farm truck traffic. Don dumped it and ended up getting his kickstand safety switch stuck in the “down” position, so his bike wouldn’t start. I got crossed up in a rut (front tire in one rut, rear tire in another) and ended up launching myself and the bike into a sagebrush.

Bobby was very patient with us and, being a much better rider, gave us some pointers for riding in muddy ruts. We were trying to ride on top of the ruts, where the mud had dried. If you can hold a good line, this will work just fine. But if you get crossed up, you’re gonna have a bad time. It might be better to just get in the rut and trust that your tires are going to provide enough traction to get through. You can’t fall into a rut if you’re already in it, after all.

After we made it to Crouse Canyon, the riding eased up significantly. We made it up to Three Corners on some two track, and headed for Gates of Lodore. It’s a great feeling when the roads continue to improve and get wider in the direction you’re riding.

We’d been riding at a decent pace all day and I believe we were the last group to make it to camp. I didn’t recall seeing any groups pass us… It turns out we were the only group to actually follow Norm’s tracks and make it to Three Corners after Crouse Canyon. The rest of the gang was waiting for us. Almost before I could put my kickstand down and take off my helmet, I had a can of beer shoved in my face. It doesn’t matter what the beer was or how warm it was, it was one of the best!

31 May 2015

Don and I were toast after yesterday’s ride! We slabbed it back to Craig and then headed home.