Colorado Adventure Bike Backroads Discovery Route (BDR)

The plan was to head out on our KTM Adventure bikes from Rapid City, SD and work our way as far south on the Colorado BDR until we needed to turn around and work our way back north. All told we put 1,853 miles on the odometer, with well more than half being on dirt.

Day 1, four of us loaded up our bikes and hit the trails. Day one took us to Wheatland, WY, via canyons in the Black Hills of South Dakota and lots of vast grasslands across Wyoming. In the grasslands, all that we saw were antelope who love to gracefully run to your side, until they decide it is smart to cross in front of your bike.

Day 2, off to Steamboat Springs. Our morning warm-up was push starting one of the bikes, which was thankfully the only mechanical issue of the day. Leaving the grasslands for the mountains was appreciated.

Panoramic shot

What wasn’t appreciated was my forgetting my gloves on a bathroom break resulting in getting behind a county sheriff as we started the Colorado BDR. Thankfully he pulled off twenty minutes later, and I made up for it with beers at the pool at the Steamboat Grand. After the pool came what was quite possibly the best filet mignon of my life at Aurum – highly recommend.

Day 3, huge day that included the Hagerman pass late in the day before descending into Leadville. One always gets a bit nervous when above the tree line when the rain and lightning starts. Toss in large wet-slicked rocks to go over and around, and you have quite the interesting afternoon.

Day 4, busting out of Leadville brought my favorite section of the trip – a roller coaster of ups and downs, bermed corners, and steep rocky climbs. Towards the end I had to stop for a mountain bike someone lost still attached to their truck hitch. Bad day for them… We dropped into Buena Vista for gas and a snack before attempting the Hancock pass. About forty minutes of fun dirt we reached the end of the dirt road and the start of a very rocky, steep trail. After encouragement from Connor we decided to give it a shot. I led and about a mile down the trail it got pretty ugly. While muscling my bike into a better position we had two Razor off-road vehicles approach from the opposite direction, they looked at us, shook their heads, and told us this trail was a bad idea for our big bikes. Blerg. Took some effort to turn the bikes around but soon we retreated back the way we came. No other option but the highway to Crested Butte, bummer.

Day 5, began with a big breakfast on the way out of town via the Kebbler pass. Gorgeous views and changing landscapes gave me the biggest scare of the trip when a deer jumped out of the ditch right in front of me. Whew, that was a close one. Working our way back to Gypsum, where we rejoined the trail we took on day 3. Surprisingly it seemed quite different riding in the afternoon and in the opposite direction. It was a hot, dusty day and a water crossing brought some relief and entertainment as we decided to see who could get the water to spray the highest – Mike gets this honor. Back to the Steamboat Grand for more beer at the pool while we brought our core temperature back into the normal range.

Day 6, gave us a new trail on the Buffalo pass road. Lots of enjoyable miles before we split off on a smaller trail that wound through the Medicine Bow National forest. At one point the comment was made about how wouldn’t it suck if we came up to a locked gate and had to turn around. Yeah, best to not even think, so of course shortly afterwards we came to a locked gate. Luckily we found a way through. While hungry and thirsty, at least we were back on pavement. No towns nearby left us eating remaining snacks under a bridge to stay cool. Everyone was tired and we almost bailed on our route in favor of highway before coming to our senses. The last 80+ miles of the day were a blur. Dirt roads full of loose rock couldn’t slow us down and we often cruised along at over 65mph. Towards the end of the day we enjoy a cool section in Palmer Canyon, lots of tight corners, rocks, and descents.

Day 7, we woke up and planned to power back to the Black Hills for dirt trails. This meant four hours of backroad highways to reach Custer, SD. It wasn’t horrible, but definitely the motivation was to get to the hills. Once in Custer, we fueled up on coffee and bagels before launching onto the Iron Mountain road. 108 turns in a short distance with tunnel views of Mount Rushmore and sweeping turns on Pigtail bridges, oh my! Reaching the dirt we muscled our bikes over technical sections and found more water crossings and mud than we had seen all week. Evidently the hills got rain while we stayed dry (except for a bit of rain on Hagerman). It was a good finish to our week, leaving us feeling satisfied – if a bit sad that the trip was over.

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