The back-country boogie

The back-country…

What the heck are you talking about?

Ever since I thought about this elaborate plan to travel from the L coast to the R coast, I had a certain kind of vision in mind.  I wanted to enjoy, and be fascinated by America, and I wanted to test myself by traveling over some remote fire roads, for extended distances.  From the very beginning, the plan seemed like it could be planned, and then executed without too much trouble, accepting that there would be a certain amount of risk while riding in the back-country.

Now, when I say back-country, I want to be sure that you understand what I mean, so I’ll lay it out for you.  I’m an Adventure bike rider, and when we talk about the back-country, we’re generally talking about roads through the wilderness, which can range in complexity from the simplest dirt roads, to the most complex and rocky roads or trails imaginable.  All of this terrain is passable on an Adventure bike, as long as it has a skilled rider aboard.  There is no reason to think that a skilled rider can’t make it the entire length of the selected trail.

That said, I’ve probably got the skills and experience to travel on trails like this, but almost all adventure riders that I talk to say that if you’re going to ride remotely, you should do it with someone else with you, That’s good advice, but it’s not good news for me.  You see, I’m riding this trip alone.  I might meet a nice person along the way, and maybe even ride along with someone for brief periods of time, but for all intents and purposes, I’m riding alone.  So, let’s see how this affects my plan.

The CO BDR – An awesome bit of riding

Unless you’re knee deep in mud

The plan that I had been developing since the very beginning included a stretch of off-road riding, through the state of Colorado, which would be between 600 – 800 miles in length.  The roads and trails that make up this 600 mile section are called the Colorado Back-Country Discovery Route.  The route was documented and published by the not-for-profit organization called backcountrydiscovery.org.

This group of folks decides on which state of the US they would like to develop, then they enlist an expert of the local roads, and they begin planning a route that goes N-S or S-N across the state.  When finished, they publish a video (DVD) and a map, and also the way-points and tracks that describe the route through a series of GPS coordinates that form into a navigable route.

I had chosen the CO BDR for my best-of-life-experience, and the planning began.  Then, back in February, I sold my tickets to the MotoGP race in Austin, TX (April 4-5, 2016) to a guy named Jim.  Jim lives in CO, and we sort of got to talking about motorcycles.  Ever since then, Jim has been my eyes and ears in the State of Colorado.  We email occasionally, and I had planned to visit Jim and meet him and his family, while riding through CO.

Last week I received an email from Jim.  He was asking about how the planning for the trip is coming, and he wanted to let me know that it had just snowed in CO, and that the Ski Resorts were planning on staying open until mid-June.  Alarm bells went off inside my head…

If it’s still snowing in CO, then by the time I get to the Rockies, and if I try to ride the CO BDR, I’m certain to be bogged down in mud; Lots and lots of mud!.  Now, I don’t mind a little bit of mud, and if I drop the bike, I’ll just pick it up, and give the hill or the mud another try.  But, when you’re faced with the prospect of dealing with mud that goes on for miles, and you’re by yourself, you can see how it might take you the better part of a day, just to travel 10 miles.

I’m an adventurous guy, but the idea of riding for hours, only to travel 10 miles, and dropping the bike numerous times just doesn’t excite me too much, so I started to think that my dream of riding the CO BDR was over.

Hey Cliff, you know there are other BDRs

As it turns out, there sure are other BDRs.  In fact, in 2012 the gang filmed the expedition for the Utah BDR, and it just so happens that I have the DVD.  So, I started watching the DVD and looking at my intended route.  As luck would have it, the UT BDR goes across Utah at a point that is very close to Moab.  And, I’ll be riding through Moab, as I was en-route to the CO BDR.  So, if I alter my plans slightly, I can do at least one segment of the UT BDR, and avoid the problems with the mud on the CO BDR.  Let me explan

The original plan – The CO BDR

It’s a little confusing, so bear with me.  Starting at 4 corners, in the lower left hand corner of this map, I would have travelled on the dark green route all of the way through CO, to the WY border.  Along the way, I would have exited the trail to drive to Boulder and Denver to visit friends, and then rejoin the BDR, finishing my off-road adventure at the WY border.

But, since (as I already told you in painstaking detail) the trail is likely to be muddy, I needed a back up plan.

CO-Full

Let’s take a look at the UT BDR

As we look at teh map of Utah, you should focus your attention on the lime green line.  That line represents my planned route.  On the Right Hand side of the map you can see Moab, surrounded by a few flags and pine trees.  These icons represent places that I wanted to see in Moab.  The dark green, red and magenta trails on the Right Hand side of the map represent the UT BDR, and if you would be traveling along that route, you would come upon this section as the end of day 3.

UT-Full

The map below is a blown up version of the map from above, but it’s a little bit easier to read.  Now, my new plan is to begin travelling through the Canyonlands Field, stop at Arches Rock, and at the Park in the sky in Canyonlands.  I would then proceed to Moab, where I would spend the night before getting up the next morning and travelling to 4 corners, and then NE to Durango, where I would have new tires installed prior to starting the CO BDR.  But, with my new plan catching fire, I wanted to take a minute to describe it for you.

UT-BDRIn this new plan, I leave Moab, and then after only 10 miles, I exit the main road at the green flag, and begin traveling over the UT BDR, driving through the town of La Sal, and continuing south to the Red Flag.  I will then continue on the UT BDR until I come to Newspaper Rock, a site where there is a huge rock, covered with petroglyphs.  From there, I’ll head south for about 10 miles, cut back towards the highway, and re-enter the highway after about 90 miles of dirt, and make my way South on 191 to my hotel, which will probably be in the town of Blanding, UT.  I still need to do a little bit of research, but it all seems very reasonable at the moment.

So, how do I feel about all of this?

Heck, as Doc Wong (my Chiropractor, and a certifiable motorcycle nut) always says, it’s really not an adventure until you get lost.  Given all of the transitions (which are not visible at this level of amplification), it will be somewhat remarkable if I don’t get lost.  So, to put it in the words of the imortal Billy Bob Thorton in the movie Sling Blade.  I reckon I feel alright, yep, I reckon I feel alright.

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. This ‘Blog is the story of all of his adventures.

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