THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE RIDE

 An epic 2,700 mile dual sport ride
By Larry Langley
 
 
 
Originally I planned to put this story into the magazine. But it’s just too gnarly, too monstrous and I couldn’t do it the justice it deserves. The story is a Dual Sport ride, albeit a rather robust version that spans 2,700 miles and crosses the great Continental Divide. The author is Larry Langley, a great friend and a superb rider in his own right. I met Larry 30 years ago when he was the District 37 Enduro Czar and he wouldn’t bump my status from a B rider to the A class. Although I wanted to spit down his frothy throat at the time, it turned out to be a great catalyst to make me learn to suffer, and charge through diversity. We’ve been friends ever since. Larry is going to send in on going reports from this adventure and you’ll read about them on the Dirt Bike Website. So enjoy.
TW
 
Tom
 
CDR is the acronym for the Continental Divide Ride. If you’re new to this blog, or to dual sport and adventure class motorcycling, the CDR is considered a premier riding challenge in North America.
 
Starting at the Canadian border in Montana, the CDR courses through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and new Mexico before touching the border of Mexico. 
  
 
 
While there are terrain challenges during the 2,700 mile of mostly unpaved rough Forest roads, the true challenge is the amount of saddle time the riders have to face each day. Because of the length of the ride, the ride will take eleven days or more to complete so the rider’s physical and mental ability is tested.
 
Changes in weather compound the changes in terrain. Riders will encounter snow, rain, heat, even sand storms as they move from mountain elevations, down to lower deserts as they criss-cross the continental divide more than 25 times.
 
Surprisingly, a great deal of the route was scouted and connected by mountain bike riders. Taking this tour on a bicycle would certainly be a challenge, but soon the word got out and dual sport motorcyclist where soon taking the route under power. A fair trade as the world famous Moab, Utah mountain bike trails were originally developed by off-road motorcyclists.
 
As noted above, the CDR certainly taxes the rider nut it tests the equipment as well. The motorcycles used must be in impeccable mechanical condition, capable of being able to go well over 150-miles with the fuel onboard, and must be outfitted for comfort and able to carry the equipment necessary to survive the elements and an emergency.
 
For our CDR we have an selection of motorcycles saddled up by the six riders. Nearly all of them were expressly obtained and prepared for this ride. Here’s the break down of the riders and their bikes:
 
Bob Mueller (our trail boss): BMW F650GS
Larry Langley (logistics): Honda XR650L
Eric Bondy: Suzuki DRz440S
Jim Baldwin (ride support): Suzuki DRz440E
Larry Comstock: KTM 450 EXC
Avery Innis (technical support): KTM 950R Super Enduro
 
Our ride will commence from the Canadian border near Eureka, Montana on Monday morning August 18th.  11 Days later we hope to visit the Mexican border in New Mexico.  We’ll be posting pics and info each day (if email connects).  We are fortunate in that friends did the route last year and we were able to scam their route info including GPS tracks.  But all rides ultimately depend on each rider’s resources in route selection and bike dependability.  And we hope for as few crashes as possible. 
 
Each rider is carrying tubes, tire irons, master links, tools.  Four of the bikes are equipped with newly developed rack system by Turbo City and neat travel bags by Helmet House so we don’t have to utilize heavy back packs.  New tires, chains, sprockets to start the ride as well.  One rider (Bob Mueller) is a Iron Butt vet and he prefered to ride his 650 BMW to the start, ride the CDR and then ride it home to So Cal. The rest of us prefered to trailer the bikes to the start and home from the finish.  We wanted a chase truck in case of bike problems or worse an injury.  Each rider will take a turn or two rotating driving the chase truck each day.  
 
As we do final bike prep on Friday Aug 15 in Colorado a storm front has moved through drenching the area and we hope it will have subsided by the time we drive to Montana (tomorrow and Sunday).  Lot’s of miles on this adventure, both in the truck and on the trail but we’re all confident that we’ll see the finish.   
 
 
Driving the Truck, Driving the Truck
August 17, 2008 – Eureka, MT

We completed our pre-ride prep and left the Denver area yesterday (8/16) morning with five (of the six) CDR riders. Larry L, Larry C, Eric, Jim and Avery all loaded up in Jim’s Chevrolet Silverado, crew-cab DuraMax diesel pick-up pulling the 24-foot strato-liner trailer loaded down with the five bikes, tools, extra tires, food, ice chests and who knows what.  We have brought everything we could possibly think of in case of “What”? 
 
Jim aimed the DuraMax north through buckets of rain as it poured down hard out of Colorado and all the way to Wyoming. At a fuel stop in Cheyenne we all had the worst breakfasts of our life. So poor was this fare we’re obliged to warn you about the Flyin’ J truck stop.  All we could do was joke about it for the next 900 miles.  The hash browns were particularly singled out to trash.  Basically inedible, these potatoes were not even visually appealing. 
 
Jim’s truck was the ideal tow vehicle with the DuraMax diesel pulling the load with ease.  The only problem was if you got stuck in the middle of the back seat behind the center console you we rewarded with a tight fit that was tough on the knees.  But we maintained a seating rotation that kept the whining and suffering to a minimum.  Miles passed quickly, even more quickly as the rain stopped as we headed into western Wyoming. The scenery was great, even on the interstate there was always something of interest.  
 
We occasionally took breaks, five to ten minute stretch-your-legs respites – especially when we saw something of beauty or interest. At one point we pulled off the interstate, over some railroad tracks and pulled up along side the Yellowstone River for a break. A long freight train came by and trapped us along the river for a longer break, but it was forth a few extra minutes along the calming influence of the flowing water.
 
 
After nearly a thousand miles we stopped for the evening in Helena, MT and found some reasonably priced lodging at the local Days Inn.  A great steak dinner at the local Outlook Express sent us to sweet dreams of the upcoming ride.  We were getting giddy; after a year of planning our “ride of a lifetime” was coming close to reality.
 
 
Up and ready to go Sat. morning and heading north to the ride’s starting point in Eureka, Mt just a few miles from the Canadian Border.  We pulled into the Riverstone Family Lodge in early afternoon and were pleased to discover our lodging was adjacent cabins sleeping four in one and two in the other.  Very new and very nice, these small wooden structures were excellent accommodations. 
 
 
We really had to do some last minute tweaks to the bikes as we got them out of the trailer, adjusted the tire pressures and did the final backing of the gear bags.
 
While this was underway our sixth and final rider; Bob Mueller showed up from his two day ride up from the LA area. Bob, riding the same BMW F650 he would tool down the CDR trails, had visited friends and family on his ride up. Bob’s a two time Iron Butt participant and thinks we are all a bunch of wussies for hauling our bikes to the ride, and he’s sorta right but we figure 11 days, 2400 miles is about all we can handle but we admire him for the extra miles he’s putting in.  Bob also had a little extra adventure with a failed battery and a broken saddlebag latch. He resolved the problems (helps to have a credit card at all times) and did a quick check over before loading his bike in the trailer (as Bob would be our support truck driver the next day).
We were surprised to notice the “No Alcohol Allowed” sign posted inside our cabins, but the new restaurant just a few hundred yards away across a field of barley and offered up great hamburgers and a wide selection of micro-brewery beer for the group.  It was so good we came back for dinner and enjoyed delicious smoked ribs and brisket. 
 
 
After our dinner we trundled back to the lodge to solve a few GPS problems and make sure everyone had the phone numbers to our satellite telephones. 
 
 
We’re planning to be on the trail tomorrow morning at 7:30 am to start our epic journey.  Come back and check out how Day One went!

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