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Old 12-01-2017, 09:23 AM   #41
MaxGs
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Awesome views. Thanks for the report Curt!
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Chisos are absolutely beautiful, I hope you rode it.. Also, saw the black gap sign.. did you get on the trail there? Pretty gnarly for that heavy bike.. but props if you made it through!
I don’t think tackling that on a heavy bike, alone is a good idea. I would with a riding buddy. Preferably a strong one that can pick up my bike for me.

I didn’t ride Chisos yet. Maybe today.
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Old 12-01-2017, 09:47 AM   #42
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Nice big bike ride that's safe for solo riding is S. County Rd just east of Terlingua Ghost Town on 170. It continues into N. County Rd and outputs onto 118 north of Study Butte.

Also make sure you take plenty of photos at Santa Elena Canyon. Next visit your view might be blocked by an ugly wall. Lol

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Old 12-01-2017, 10:05 AM   #43
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Nice big bike ride that's safe for solo riding is S. County Rd just east of Terlingua Ghost Town on 170. It continues into N. County Rd and outputs onto 118 north of Study Butte.

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Thanks for the suggestion!
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Old 12-01-2017, 09:56 PM   #44
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Day 2 in Big Bend.... did about 200 miles.

Decided to try a new way into the park via terlingua ranch road (also called marathon road, pronounced marathun). So instead of a 50+ mile ride into the park, it was just 22 miles.

The dirt road was well maintained but had long patched of oh sand. Had a couple of moments, but it was fun. Iíll go that way again tomorrow. Great views along the way. Highly recommended.

Terlingua ranch road drops you into the park on 385 which is 26 miles from the park headquarters ranger station, panther junction. I filled up just down the road and set off for the days adventure.

I decided to ride the tao dirt roads off of glenn spring road. The first is pine canyon road and the second is juniper canyon road. On the way there stopped and talked to an old man who turned out to be a local. He was stopped on glenn spring road.

I told him I was headed to pine canyon road and he said good luck.... ha ha ha. He didnít think i would make it. He said in the first quarter to a half a mile I would understand why. He said heíd be going up that way and would help me ot if i got stuck.... with that in mind i took off.

Pine canyon road is moderately maintained. The usual sand, rocks, and gravel. Sure enough a half a mile in there was a small climb with big pot holes near the top. I stopped before the pot holes and was able to find a path through. With that out of the way, the remaining 4 miles were standard fare. Great scenery.

Pine canyon dead ends, so after turning around next up was juniper canyon. Coincidentally, i encontered the same man on glenn spring road on the four miles to juniper. He asked if I made it and what I thought. I told him he was right about the road a half mile in, but i made it through. He said he hadnít been down juniper in a long time, but thought it would be uneventful. He went as far as to call it boring. Was he sooooo wrong.

Juniper canyon road is 5.3 miles of unmaintained road. There were big rocks, drop offs, and, of course sand. Very rough, slow, physical riding. Again, great scenery. When i arrived at the end of the road, a truck was parked there and two old men were out. They couldnít believe I had ridden that big bike up that road. They said it had dramatically deteriorated over the last couple of years. Said it took them forever to make the drive. This is a high clearance road where having a 4x4 would be even more helpful.

While chilling, talking to the two men I saw my first tarantula. It was as big as the palm of my hand. So glad there are none in my cabin.

I headed back the 13 miles to the main road again enjoying glenn canyon. That road would be so much fun on a dirt bike. From there, back to park headquarters where I ran into 5 older guys from houston all on real dirt bikes. They had ridden both ore road and black gap. None of them thought the GSA could make it. They said both roads had large rocks, slippery slate, and steps. Itís the steps that would be my biggest challenge. Iím not sure I could do steps on the ktm.

Next up was the paved chisos basin road. What a great ride... and so disappointing that its only 6 miles long! Just as I got into it, the road was over. Had a beer at the lodge and then headed back down. On a whim decided to ride the 7.7 mile dirt grapevine hills road. Well maintained. Great scenery at the end. Worth the ride. Encountered a hippy dude at the end and he talked to my about his solar panels, pico projector, and surround sound in his camper. Funny guy.

From there, road the 26 miles out of the park into Study Butte. Ate at a great little mexican place right off 170 less than one or two miles from 118. I believe it was called Rio Bravo. Had cubed steak in green chili. Will definitely be going back. Then it was time for the 40 ish mile ride back to the lodge in terlingua ranch.

A very good day... 200 miles, 4 new dirt roads, chisos basin road, and a great dinner.
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Old 12-01-2017, 10:05 PM   #45
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Old 12-02-2017, 12:06 AM   #46
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We are loving these reports and pics. Keep 'em coming!

Looks like a great adventure so far. It's so beautiful there.
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Old 12-06-2017, 11:12 PM   #47
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Final big bend trip report.

On day 3, i realized I had hit all the major dirt roads except black gap, old ore road and river road east. After all the warnings about trying black gap and old ore road on a big bike, i decided to ride glenn springs road again down to river road east and then into the Rio Grand Village area.

I left the ranch end entered the park via marathon road again. Just a couple of moments in the sand, but got through unscathed. Glenn springs road was a joy as it had been on the previous two rides. River road east was quite a surprise. It was relatively smooth and devoid of major sand. It’s a great road for ripping it up. Really fun. Rio Grande Village has several scenic overlooks. I stopped and looked at most of them while riding down to the Boquillas Canyon Overlook. At a gas station I encountered an older local gent who was both motorcycle rider and mountain biker. At 71 years old, he still rode every day. I asked about black gap and old ore road. He explained that the major issue of black gap in the step on the northern end. He said the only way to try it would be south to north. I also talked to him about old ore and he said north to south was the direction he’d recommend. He thought since I made it through juniper canyon ok, I might be successful on old ore road. Something to think about.

The next morning on day 4 I woke up and decided to try old ore road. I took marathon road over again, still no issues. Old ore road starts with an ominous warning sign... 4x4 only, full fuel tanks, and water. It starts out easy and then gets into rocky-ish climbs. Moreso than any of the other trails. Made it through those without major drama. I got to the big famous overlook and thought the worst was behind me. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. After the overlook there is a steep and very rocky downhill section followed by another one that was even longer. On the second, i was very nervous that if I lost momentum and stopped the bike, I might drop it. I made it though old ore road in about two hours thankfully without incident. It was clearly the toughest road I had been on in the park. With that one behind me with no incident I decided not to push my luck on black gap. That will have to wait until I return with a riding buddy.

On the way out of the park, i rode Paint Gap Hills. What i thought would be an uneventful dirt road turned out to be a rock fest. To make matters worse, i discovered on the way back out, i had not put the bike in enduro mode meaning the preload was way too high and bike too stiff.

On day 5, i decided to follow Byrdman’s recommendation and ride 170 to Presidio. It’s about 100 miles from the ranch. Byrdman said he thought it was the best road in texas. After riding it, i would certainly agree. What made it unusual beyond the exemplary scenery was the sudden and drastic elevation changes. There are numerous hills that are totally blind as you come over the top. Literally you cant see where the road goes just ten feet in front of you. It was a fantastic ride and recommendation.

When I got back to the ranch that evening, I had dinner at the bad rabbit cafe. While there, and older french couple talked to me about the roads I had traveled and specifically asked about trying marathon road into the park. The old man was all for it but his wife said she would take zero risk. I asked if he wanted to check it out that night and then perhaps he would be able to convince his wife in the morning. He agreed and more importanly, she did as well.

I jumped on the bike and he followed me in his nissan rogue front wheel drive. I had wondered what it would be like to ride the trails at night and riding marathon road gave me an idea. Riding in the sand was much more diffcult. I attributed it to not being able tk look as far ahead. I had many moments on the bike with mr frenchman following me but managed to keep it upright. I took him halfeay down the road, about 9 miles in one direction and then turned around. He agreed that it was reqdily passable in a car despite the warnings he had gotten from others at the ranch.

I had been watching the weather for a few days as a cold front was expected across texas. I decided to leave one day early as to avoid the sleet, freezing temps and rain.

On a whim, i decided to take marathon road through the park and the up to marathon. That was a fateful decision as my luck finally ran out. With the bike fully loaded for the return trip home I hit very deep sand in combination wth a rut at 30 to 35 mph. I lost the bike, slid sideways and then highsided. Thankfully I landed in sand and bushes... no injuries. I was able to pick the mkmster bike back up and proceed along the way. He bike was undamaged.

The temperatures were awful. It hovered around 40 all the way to fort stockton and over to Ozona. By the time I reached San Antonio it was mid to high fifties. 40’s is just too cold on the bike especially with an 80 mph speedlimit. I made it home by 6:00 pm covering 631 miles in ten hours with a one hour stop for breakfast. I was dead tired but very happy with the successful and adventurous trip.

I expect to go back perhaps in February this time in the truck with the KTM on the back. I want to ride black gap and all the little roads off of river road that i was unable to cover. To make it easier, I’ll try to stay right in the park at the chisos mountain lodge. Its centrally located and will reduce any worries about gas mileage range on the ktm.

My ratings of the dirt roads.... from hardest to easiest...

-Old ore road - clearly the most difficult i rode in the park. Long and physical on a big adventure bike.

-Juniper road - very very rocky. Very nice views

-Paint gap hills - very very rocky for the final half but worth it for the views.

-River road west - challenging sand and rocks due to all the recent flooding

-Marathon road also called terlingua ranch road. Easy 18 mile road except for lond sections of deep sand.

-Glenn springs road - only moderately difficult. Perhaps my favorite road. Nice mixture of sand, rocks, and scenery.

-River road east. Smooth, wide open. A dirt racetrack. Great fun.

-Old maverick road. Very easy. Standard fare dirt road. Highlights on the views into santa elena canyon.

Untried - black gap road

Thanks to everyone for all the great advice and suggestions in particular longdraw, jimrad, crossfits, byrdman, and brandon.
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Old 12-06-2017, 11:17 PM   #48
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Old 12-06-2017, 11:45 PM   #49
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Great write up man! I cant wait to get back out there! Maybe this time on a smaller bike as well. Im thinking of getting a WR450f to dual sport and sell my KTM300 :(
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Old 12-07-2017, 07:32 PM   #50
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Nice. I recognize the napping bike.
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Old 12-07-2017, 08:08 PM   #51
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