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  1. Ontario GS

    Ontario GS Ride Organizer

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    3 Canadians - a BMW 650, KTM 690 & KLR 685 - 27 days - 11,635 kilometres or 6,982 miles round trip

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    A 6 State GPS Track, 2,800 miles through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah & Nevada
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    We were exposed to the Parting of the Ways, the California, Oregon & Mormon Trails, Dinosaur National Monument, the Lincoln Highway, Pony Express Trail, Bonneville Salt Flats, Transcontinental Railway bed and the USA National Historic Site - Golden Spike

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    Andy, Warren and myself (John) enjoy the same interest in adventure travel.
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    In January of the this year I posted on Adventure Rider looking for anyone who had interest in a western USA dual-sport adventure trip. I organized a meet & greet to throw some ideas around and to gauge interest. 10 - 12 people attended with 3 people expressing serious interest besides me. A second meeting was arranged where Warren, Andy and myself discussed riding ability, vacation style, potential timelines and availability. We left the meeting all seriously interested in doing the Heart of the West Adventure Route and I made contact the next day with Tony Huegel of Backcountry Byways http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=845500 who administers the GPS track and provides some support of the route.

    Emails bounced back & forth from the 3 of us as the plan started to take hold, Tony was helpful with timing and planning suggestions, a 3rd meeting took place, tentative dates were set and the route was purchased. I made contact with a fellow Adventure Rider in Montana who arranged a contact for us to purchase knobbie tires for the bikes and agreed to store them until our arrival. State Benchmark Map books were ordered and I plotted the tracks on various paper maps as a backup.

    Warren had a prior engagement in Alaska which, he departed in mid July while Andy & I left August 18th for an easy ride out to Montana with plans to meet Warren around the 25th. Street tires would then be changed out for knobbies, oil & air filters changed along with some sprocket changes. Craig & Lori our gracious Adventure Rider contacts hosted us upon arrival and offered their shop to complete the maintenance tasks. We truly couldn't of asked for better hosts.

    Our adventure was about to begin.
  2. Ontario GS

    Ontario GS Ride Organizer

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    The Trip West

    The KTM had left me high & dry in Upper Michigan last year but, with a new fuel pump I had renewed confidence.

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    On the morning of the 18th I departed out of Peterborough with plans to meet Andy in Parry Sound at 10:00 am

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    We drove to Brimley Michigan just west of the Sault the first day and setup camp ($17.)

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    We were up early but, the dew was heavy so, we poked around the campground while the tents dried out.

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    While in Upper Michigan, it just isn't right not to stop at the Yooper Tourist Trap for a gander.

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    The second night we landed in Bruce's Crossings a mere 250 miles further west, Municipal Campground $14. including hot showers!

    ....to be continued.
  3. ecarnell

    ecarnell ODSC-OFTR Member

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    Where's that popcorn eating guy smilie?
  4. Ontario GS

    Ontario GS Ride Organizer

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    Heart of the West formerly Forever West

    I would be remiss in not recognizing fellow Adventure Rider, DockingPilot of New Jersey who completed this ride in 2010 and filed an awesome ride report which inspired me to pursue this track. http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=647968
  5. Ontario GS

    Ontario GS Ride Organizer

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    August 20th was a lazy day, heading west taking us into Minnesota on highway # 2 to just south of Grand Rapids. Initially I had followed a waypointed campground southwest of Grand Rapids on what appears to be a lake. 10 -15 kilometres off the main highway we find ourselves on a cottage road and the campground long gone! Low on gas and backtracking to Grand Rapids, we headed to the Pokegama Recreation Area which we initially decided against because it was beside the main highway with train tracks along the side. We register asking if trains regularly go by and were told they seldom do.

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    The day had been sunny & hot, we had purchased icy cold rehydration fluid and raced over to our site, ripped off the riding gear, pulled out the camp chairs and don't even get sat down and this rolls by:

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    This was the headwaters of the Mississippi River

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    Met this traveling couple heading to Bend, Oregon on the 21st, the trailer was a Moto Mule which he estimated he was carrying about 200 pounds of payload. I mentioned that the front tire air pressure appeared low and he advised that new tires were installed earlier that day and that the dealer had put 28 pounds pressure in the front & rear. He thought the front end was not tracking well and had planned to let a little air pressure out, while Andy & I wondered whether it was even touching the ground with all their load! :D :D

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    We kept an eye out looking for our fellow travelers in the ditch along the way the rest of the afternoon but, never saw them again!
  6. DerekR

    DerekR ODSC-OFTR Member

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    Amazing! Keep it coming. :moped:
    (couldn't find popcorn guy either)
  7. Neil Edmunds

    Neil Edmunds ODSC Executive

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    :eat great trip (smilie added on the server)
  8. Ontario GS

    Ontario GS Ride Organizer

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    We continued our lazy pace west as the temperature hovered in the high 80's low 90's. We tried to get on the road early so we could get off and into a campsite by mid afternoon. From Grand Rapids we drove 237 miles to Fargo, N.D., to a municipal recreation park within the city, a time to resupply, do laundry and of course rehydrate once again. :-" :-"

    I should mention at this point that my bike had the shortest fuel range of the 3 so, after every fill-up I would calculate the mileage per tank and was averaging around 61 miles per US gallon (10% smaller than our imperial gallon). The bike has a 3 US gallon (twelve litres) fuel tank and a couple of the tracks on the Heart of the West were in excess of 200 miles without gas available. Tony Huegel suggested a minimum range of 235 miles so, needless to say I spent most of my time thinking on solutions of how and where I was going to carry the extra fuel.

    On the 22nd we drove from Fargo, N.D. to Dickinson, N.D. on the interstate highway 94, about 295 miles, another hot and punishing day in the saddle. On the 23rd we drove to Billings, Mt where we stayed in the KOA campground. Interestingly after setting up and settling in, I realized I had stayed here in 2006 on my return from Alaska after going over the Bear Tooth Pass.

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    Check out the tarped porch attached to the bike for when it rains, this idea was brought to the ride by Andy who has used it on previous rides. It only rained for about 60 seconds, long enough to get the tarp set up but, a least we got a picture of this great idea!

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    Some of the roads on the plains are pretty straight.
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  9. Ontario GS

    Ontario GS Ride Organizer

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    We had about 150 miles to go from Billings to Bozeman, Mt. I had been texting back and forth with Craig as we crossed the country and he had advised that he would be working on a forest fire while his wife Lori would also be away dog sitting at a friends. He had left the shop unlocked and had pulled our tires out.

    Craig worked for the State of Montana in the Forestry & Land Trust Division and during fire season he flew in a spotter plane, letting the water bombers know where he wanted them to drop. Unfortunately, he would have to leave about 6:30 in the morning and wouldn't get home until 7:30 or 8:00 pm at night so, we didn't get to spend a great deal of time with him.

    Craig & Lori live on the side of a mountain outside of Bozeman on a private road, they had provided detailed directions so, once we arrived in Bozeman topped up with fuel and beer, I pulled out the directions and we headed to Craig's

    Their property was absolutely picturesque, a beautiful home, wonderful shop and great views, it just blew Andy & I away as we both approached the property and arrived. Now a picture just doesn't reflect elevation change but, please believe me when I say the driveway was steep!

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    The Shop
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    The view
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    We drove up a private road through that valley to arrive at Craig & Lori's

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    And of course a small piece of the driveway
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    Upon arrival no one was home and all Andy & I could say was this had to be a summer home, there is no way you could live on the side of this mountain and drive up here in the winter. You would have to ATV or snowmobile to get access. Nope, Craig plows it and they of course live there year round! :shock: :shock:

    Andy and I started right in on changing oil and tires, cleaning air filters, sorting & repacking our gear and of course looking out at the view while drinking the occasional beer. Warren had been texting that he was in southern Alberta (about 800 km away) and that he should arrive late Sunday.

    The plan was coming together, our bikes were readied and then disaster struck! :twisted: :twisted:
  10. Shawn Hall

    Shawn Hall Ride Organizer

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    :eat Great stuff John!
  11. Ontario GS

    Ontario GS Ride Organizer

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    Preparing in Bozeman

    Andy and I had gone back into Bozeman for forgotten items & supplies, because of the fuel range on my bike I had decided to buy 2 - 1 US gallon gas cans to carry in the Aerostitch panniers, this would give me a comfortable 120 miles of additional travel, well above the recommended 235 mile range. Stops at R.E.I., WalMart and of course Subway rounded out the morning and then we headed back to Craig's. I pulled right into the shop at Craig's and started unloading the bike when I hear Andy calling out that he dropped his bike, I turn around and there he's hobbling up the steep driveway saying he hurt his leg. I ran down, picked up the KLR (Fat pig), the side mirror is smashed with the kickstand pretty well snapped in half so I drove it up to the shop and parked it to attend to Andy. By now, he's sitting attempting to get his boot off, I gave him 2 cold beers, one to drink and the other to rub on his ankle while I walked (climbed) up to the house to get ice. We iced it down all afternoon and continued to ply him with beer while assessing the damage to the bike. I walked back down to the seen of the the crime and there were virtually no skid marks or scrapes on the driveway. God only knows what happen! :?:

    In late afternoon Warren arrived and we caught up on his trip to Alaska and then got down to changing out his tires, sprockets, air filter, etc., as well as, we started to repair Andy's bike. Craig arrived home from fighting fires and he wielded the kickstand and we re-installed it.

    By 1:30pm Monday the 26th, we were stocked up and ready for adventure! \:D/ \:D/

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  12. Ontario GS

    Ontario GS Ride Organizer

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    The adventure begins - Day 1

    The Heart of the West route consists of 16 GPS track files plus a number of alternate "go rounds" and optional difficult routes. You can virtually start anywhere on the route and can go clockwise or counter clockwise whatever you choose. Because Warren would be meeting up with us, coming from Alaska, I decided that starting in Dillon, Montana made the most sense and then sought out a fellow Advrider (Craig) and arranged the tire purchase & meeting location.

    It was simply the BIG GUY in the Sky that connected us with Craig, a State employee involved with the forest fires. The day before our departure from Ontario, Tony had written advising the Gravely Mountain Range section had been closed due to the Eureka forest fire on the south side. The Gravely portion is an loop within it's self where you rode up and around, backtracking back down, it is one of the more coveted sections of the track for scenic views, needless to say we had been pretty disappointed.

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    Although Craig wasn't fighting the Eureka fire, he had inside knowledge and watched the reports, giving us the 5:30 am daily update of it's progress. The westerly road remained open and he felt it was completely safe to complete the north easterly side (most scenic), cut across the middle (Cottonwood Creek Rd) and down and out. He helped us plot a route coming up onto the Gravely Range from the north side, down the east trail and out. It worked out great!

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    We finally hit gravel.

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    The Gravely's

    We setup camp for the first night
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    We're not there 30 minutes (middle of nowhere) and a Park Ranger drives by and stops to chat. We get him to take our first group photo, pretty excited that we are on our way after 7 months of planning & preparation.
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    It was cold (55 - 60 degrees) and very windy, challenging to get the tents setup without pieces blowing away.

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    Dusk

    I didn't write down the mileage for day 1 but, would estimate 100 + miles only
  13. Ontario GS

    Ontario GS Ride Organizer

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    Heart of the West

    In the morning we rose, had breakfast and broke camp. Andy's ankle was assessed:

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    Looked pretty ugly

    and we re-wrapped it with tension bandages. My Boy Scout first aid badge came in handy some 44 years later.
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    And then we were off, southbound down the Gravely
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  14. Laird

    Laird Ride Organizer

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    :eat Looks awesome John!
  15. Ontario GS

    Ontario GS Ride Organizer

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    Day 2 - 175 miles

    Day 2 was windy and cold but sunny, we drove across the Gravely's to the road closure signs and then picked up the Cotton Creek Rd. east to the end of track 1. I know that I took a number of pictures through parts of this track but, whether is was the camera or operator, we have experienced a malfunction. I virtually don't have any pictures until the end of the day. :( The 3 Canucks have yet to met and exchange DVD's of each other's pics so, I will have to wait until we gather and then post some of the afternoon.

    Now I was the primary navigator and take full responsibility for what happened next. :oops: :oops: We had landed out on the North Centennial Rd and headed east out of Montana into Idaho. It was a nice wide gravel road and an nice opportunity to open it up, we were all excited about this 14 day adventure. Needless to say, I missed a turn and we went bombing across Montana without a care; until we met almost 2 miles of deep, loose blow-sand! Yes, we spent a week one afternoon paddling our way, lifting bikes and of course sweating out asses off.

    Remember, we have overloaded big bikes and Andy has a swollen, black & blue foot which he refuses to take off the pegs when in trouble. Inevitably Andy would end up laying the bike down, often Warren would approach the scene of the crime and sometimes end up laying his bike down. So, there in 90 - 100 degree weather we would first attend to get Andy out from under the bike, resurrect his bike to a vertical position, get him back on the bike and then if Warren's bike was down, get it upright and start again, only to have one of us drop our bike again.

    I got an email last night from Warren who had weighted his loaded panniers upon returning and both sides including the extra fuel & water weighed over 125 lbs and I can tell you a lot of stuff got pitched on our return to Bozeman before heading home!

    Needless to say, getting Andy out from under the bike, having him walk through the sand, etc. did not bode well with his ankle. We eventually got out of the sand and back on track where we found a creek and put Andy in it to relieve the discomfort.

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    After a good rest and soaking we ended up on better terraferma, meeting this fellow on a bicycle trip down the Continental Divide
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    We pulled into Ashton, Idaho refueled and got something to eat. At that point it was decided that Andy better get an ex-ray of the old paw so we headed south to Rexburg, Idaho.

    The prognosis was grim, Andy's adventure had ended, he had a broken ankle which, the doctor wrapped and provided crutches. :( :( I got us a motel room, we ferried the bikes back and then Andy contacted his Health Insurance Company to get a directive.

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    Warren located a dealership and we headed over to speak to the owner about storage and arranging pickup of the bike. Rexburg Motorsports were fantastic in assisting us.

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    So, back to the hotel and after supper and a good night's sleep, Andy sorted out his belongings, we packed up his bike and Warren & I ferried it over to the dealership.
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  16. Ontario GS

    Ontario GS Ride Organizer

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    Day 3 - 280 miles

    We had spent an extra day ensuring Andy was sorted out and would be flown home without issue so, on August 29th, we packed up the 2 bikes, said our goodbyes and started off again.

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    We had skipped part of track 3 to get Andy into Rexburg and today cut part of track 4 out as it would have entailed backtracking. At Ashton we headed through farmland then into the Targhee National Forest and south-east to Grand Teton National Park. This also took us into Wyoming.

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    The Theodore Roosevelt Parkway was just after this reservoir, it turned out to be a forest road. :eek: :eek:

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    The Teton's are an amazingly beautiful mountain range!
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    Apparently we are in Bear Country
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    With the occasional Bison or Buffalo
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    We completed track 4 and loaded track 5 taking us over Union Pass, throught the Bridger National Forest and into Pinedale, Wy.

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    Our leg challenges had not ceased as I stubbed my toe in the motel room which, turn black & blue within 30 minutes. ](*,) ](*,)
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    This was a good day but, both Warren & I were sadden to leave Andy behind. We knew how much of a disappointment it was for Andy after 7 months of planning, 2 days of riding with a broken ankle and of course having to sit in a motel room waiting to be flown home while we bombed around the States. :( :(
  17. Neil Edmunds

    Neil Edmunds ODSC Executive

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    I'm enjoying your photos (and waiting for the rest of the story).
  18. ecarnell

    ecarnell ODSC-OFTR Member

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    X2! More please!
  19. CoyoteJeepGuy

    CoyoteJeepGuy Ride Organizer

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    Great write up so far John, amazing trip.
  20. hardman

    hardman ODSC-OFTR Member

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    Great story and trip!!

    Want to hear more.