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Silverton CO area ride


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Went for a little ride…

   The south west corner of Colorado is the most beautiful part of an exceptionally beautiful state. It’s mountainous and brutally rugged. We went there with the goal of motorcycling a bunch of the mountain passes over a 3 day adventure.

We ended up conquering 4: Stoney , California, Engineers, and Hurricane . Some had easy spots but the vast majority were brutal climbing followed by brutality scary descent tied together with rough washboard chatter. I managed 2 days and about 200 miles of this punishment before my courage gave out on a very steep rocky descent and then my stamina quit on the rocky chatter that followed. I just couldn’t conquer the fear anymore and physically keep up with the punishment required to keep the bike vertical. Very humbling experience.

   Rocky lived up to its name.starting out with a steep section of rocky switchbacks climbing out of Silverton. This part gave me confidence and my little 690 just ate up the assent never struggling or stumbling once. On top it was easier and spectacularly beautiful. The descent was rocky, steep and brutal. I fell over twice. My gear worked and I came through physically unscathed but mentally crushed with my previously earned confidence obliterated.

   On to Engineers. This one turned out to be the easiest. It comes out of Lake City and is popular tourist route. The climb up was easy other than the rough chatter that is omnipresent here. One rock strewn section took out Joel’s front tire so we had to stop and change out a tube. Made it to the top without further incident with just a few more challenging obstacles to navigate. The descent was a bit more technical with rocky sections and tighter switchbacks. I lost the front end on one tight left hander when I locked up the wheel in some silt on the corner. Bent my clutch lever but again my body armor did it’s job and I was unhurt. We finished out day one relatively unmolested. The bike was scuffed but easily repairable.

   Day two dawned with the aim to take it a bit easier. Joel looked up Hurricane and California as the next two passes to go for. I’m not sure which was which but the first started out easy and then as we progressed turned to crap. The crap came in the form of a rough very very very steep climb to the summit. First gear just pulling up and hoping I wouldn’t stop. I was praying “don’t stop” “don’t stop” “don’t stop” all the way up. It was steep enough that if I had I think I wouldn’t have been able to get going again. Thankfully I made it and reached the top. Pretty spectacular at the top but we didn’t tarry long due to a rapidly approaching storm that started to unleash some rather cold rain on us. Then began the soul crushing descent. This was wet, steep, rocky and scary as hell. I inched my way down with intense, paralyzing fear building as I progressed. I rode my brakes and just creeped slowly down, coming to a complete stop often just trying to survive it. This had me petrified and it took everything I had to get down. After I made it I stopped, got off the bike and did a crazy little happy dance but at that moment I knew I was done. I could do no more. Mentally and physically the mountains had me beat.

   Fortunately the remaining ride back was relatively easy. We still had more of the incessant washboard chatter but the scenery was beautiful and we stopped at some cool mining remnants and a little ghost town of Animas Forks. That was really interesting. The mill that we stopped at was a numbered kit. They must have built it somewhere, numbered the parts and then reassembled it at site. The ghost town was also well worth the pain to get there and contained 5 or 6 well preserved buildings. So anyway we finished off day two with me remaining vertical and uninjured but beaten. No more passes From here on I’ll have to pass thank you. Pun intended.

   We finished off the day with dinner at a former bordello that had a sign “We no longer offer those services, but we do have great food.”

   Overall a good time. I didn’t train enough and my age, stamina and mental fitness wasn’t up to the task. Am I glad I did it? Yes and no. On the positive side the views were outrageous. Spending time with Joel is always great. On the not so positive side the brutal terrain was too much, to physically demanding and to mentally demeaning. It left me old and having to face the fact that I just don’t want to do that sort of ride anymore. I’ll be perfectly happy throwing my camera in my backpack and toddling down some nice smooth road to take pictures of some nice easy to get to boring stuff. In the future if I want to see the “out there” stuff I’ll watch it on YouTube.

Lessons learned:

     1. Don’t attempt to camp in a tent at 10500 feet in late August. It got down to 28 degrees.

     2. Train harder/longer. You are old, fat and, round although a shape, is not the one you want.

     3. The “easy” pass seldom is.

     4. Sometimes YouTube is better than actual experience.

     5. If someone says “Let’s go ride a bunch of passes for 3 days based in Silverton.” Politely say “Are you out of your f-ing mind?” and “No thank you.” “I’ll pass.”

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I’ll agree with the poor plan on which pass to start with. 
Inadequate experience not so much. I’m 66 and have been riding for a long long time. 20 years ago on my XR650R it all would have been a piece of cake. 
Wrong bike? Nope. The 690 will go anywhere we went with ease. She was never lacking. I was. 
I just don’t  need to ride that hard anymore. 

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66 and still riding... hell yeah!

As I like to say - "EFF around and find out"... You did, and now you know!

I say good for you... if you ever wanna try it again now you know what you need to do to have a "good time". The pics are awesome btw!

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I used to ride constantly. Started 55 years ago when I was 11. Back in the XR650R days I rode the wheels off that bike. I once rode it up a rocky incline that was being used for a trials competition. I got comments at the top “You rode that thing up here?” Yeah it was easy. I could go anywhere and ride through just about anything. Twenty years later I don’t ride as much and am not in the shape I was. Plus I’m a bit more worn. You start to think more about just having fun riding and not pushing or working as hard. I wanted to try some of the passes out there and I did. Then “discretion is the better part of valor” kicks in. Do I need to push and take risks or do I want to ride easier and enjoy everything? I can get hurt in the dirt or ride easier and come home and take my F Type for a ride.  What would you do?

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I am not quite as old....60.  I have been riding that area every year for the last 5 or 6 years.  Before that, mostly around Taylor Park and lots of single track.  You are right that the bike is capable, but probably too heavy for you.  Several years ago, I added a CRF250X to the flock and I ride that most of the time.  A lightweight bike that rides like a lightweight 2-stroke but with 4-stroke grunt makes the day go much easier.  We ride those same passes every year and at a pretty good clip.  Our longest day is usually (from Lake City) Engineer, BlackBear, Imogene, Hurricane, and Cinnamon, and then back into Lake City.    Try it on a 250 4-stroke liquid cooled.  Easy peasy.

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17 hours ago, scott_01_xr400 said:

I am not quite as old....60.  I have been riding that area every year for the last 5 or 6 years.  Before that, mostly around Taylor Park and lots of single track.  You are right that the bike is capable, but probably too heavy for you.  Several years ago, I added a CRF250X to the flock and I ride that most of the time.  A lightweight bike that rides like a lightweight 2-stroke but with 4-stroke grunt makes the day go much easier.  We ride those same passes every year and at a pretty good clip.  Our longest day is usually (from Lake City) Engineer, BlackBear, Imogene, Hurricane, and Cinnamon, and then back into Lake City.    Try it on a 250 4-stroke liquid cooled.  Easy peasy.

This. The 690 is a nice HEAVY, cumbersome bike for a SR rider in that terrain. And all that torque compounds the issue. A 250/300 EXC type KTM  would have made the ride much more enjoyable.  I'm 76 and hoping to be there doing the same in a couple weeks if I can get a few more SRs to tag along. My wife doesn't like me riding that stuff alone anymore. I prefer to stay in Ouray for several reasons but Lake City is great also. One of the best hamburgers I ever had was in Lake City. After spending half the day on Hurricane Peak we were starving, that alt does something to the appetite. . 

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The passes are a lot more fun in a Jeep or other 4wd.  You can actually sight see rather than have to concentrate on riding the rocky mess that the SxSs have turned most of the routes into.  Even the simple route from Silverton to Animas Forks has turned into a torturous rocky mess.

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1 hour ago, BOAB said:

The passes are a lot more fun in a Jeep or other 4wd.  You can actually sight see rather than have to concentrate on riding the rocky mess that the SxSs have turned most of the routes into.  Even the simple route from Silverton to Animas Forks has turned into a torturous rocky mess.

I totally agree. That’s one of the things that took the most toll on me. The constant pummeling of the rocky washboard surface left little time to recover much less look around at the scenery.

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Nice pics!! Tire pressure makes a HUGE difference in that terrain. If you are aired up for street riding it'll destroy you in the rocks. Everyone says " I don't want to pinch flat" but I think thats only an issue if you are riding race pace all day, which you probably were not doing. 

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So thanks to this trip I now have these custom levers. The brake lever is shortened to help train your hand to only use 2 fingers to stop and the clutch lever has a custom bend to help keep your hand on the lever over rough stuff. Normally you would have to pay huge bucks for special gear like this but I was able to create them by just being inept. You too can make your own with tools you probably have laying around the house.450ACA1F-3345-4390-ACE0-9BB08D93C1FB.thumb.jpeg.8d1b2fed568cf8a9c24063d21afd17f6.jpeg

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On 9/5/2021 at 9:34 AM, bhfcolospgs said:

So thanks to this trip I now have these custom levers. The brake lever is shortened to help train your hand to only use 2 fingers to stop and the clutch lever has a custom bend to help keep your hand on the lever over rough stuff. Normally you would have to pay huge bucks for special gear like this but I was able to create them by just being inept. You too can make your own with tools you probably have laying around the house.450ACA1F-3345-4390-ACE0-9BB08D93C1FB.thumb.jpeg.8d1b2fed568cf8a9c24063d21afd17f6.jpeg

Just noticed the Flag handguards. Get some proper bar, lever saving barkbusters on there for the next trip.

Yeah, I guess we were up there about the same time. Don't remember seeing you. Looks like we did a lot of the same passes/terrain, just came thru at different times. We based out of Silverton. I was on a 2020 690 with a Rekluse and my buddy on a 1090. My 690 did great. I pretended it was my 300 underneath me, just with a little more weight to it.

You have to ride the 690 like a dirtbike, standing up, in such knarly terrain. Can't sit down thru that stuff, as it will beat you up.

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