COBDR – Riding the Backroads

Solo 1manventure here from Pierce.

This entry chronicles the epic motorcycle journey on the Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route (COBDR). This is a route that starts in the 4 corners area of Colorado, and traverses all the way across the state to Wyoming, mainly on Backroads. We had great weather the whole trip which lead to some spectacular scenery, but we still had our fair share of tough riding and plenty of dropped bikes! Read on for the whole adventure!

The idea for this trip started at the beginning of the summer, with our buddy Mike “Mikey” Susasusaberg riding his brand new KTM 990 Adventure up to my Father’s house in the mountains outside of Boulder. I was still working in Oregon at the time, and we managed to decide on a small 5 day window at the end of the summer when we would all be free.

After wrapping up my internship at Insitu, and spending a few last precious days windsurfing in Hood River, I quickly blasted down the interstate back to Colorado. I managed to take a few 4runner shots (ok maybe a few dozen…) on the way back. Usually the only subject I have for photography when Zach isn’t around, but the 4runner will do quite nicely!

I got back on Sunday night, and quickly packed with the help of Lucy the Wonder Dog!


Not too much space on a motorcycle, so we tried to pack light. The next day, Father Time and I strapped the saddle bags to the mighty KLR650s and managed to leave Sugarloaf at the early hour of 9am. Our goal was to ride to Mesa Verde, and meet Mike who had left the day before.

Not much to report here, just lots of slab at 70mph on the KLRs. The bikes have lots of wearisome vibes at these speeds, so we were ready for a beer when we finally reached Mesa Verde at 8:00 on the dot. All in all 400 miles in 11hours, not too shabby for a pair of thumpers. We reached the campground, and found Mikey who had already unloaded some of his 500lbs of gear. At least he had cold beer waiting for us!

Mikey relaxing with a cold IPA at Mesa Verde campground.

Mikey relaxing with a cold IPA at Mesa Verde campground.

The next morning, we woke up and bought some fresh-made pancakes from the camp-store. Good eats would definitely become a theme of the trip. We looked over the map and planned out the route for the day. This involved riding through the Boggy Draw area outside of Cortez, CO. This was our first indication of the route to come, and we soon found ourselves blasting through muddy puddles. Hearing the mighty V-twin from the KTM 990 roar as it blasted mud 20 feet into the air was an awesome experience! Sorry for the lack of pics, focused on not falling down in the slippery muck.

After the Boggy Draw area, we blasted on some high-speed gravel roads up into the San Juans where Father dropped the KLR while trying to turn around in 4th gear in the loose gravel.

Dropped KLR.

Dropped KLR.

We turned off onto some rougher backcountry roads, and were greeted with some amazing scenery deep in the San Juans. Good thing Mikey had a GPS mounted to his KTM, as there were many small turnoffs that we had to find.

Our next challenge for the day was conquering Ophir pass. This turned out to be the most dificult aspect of the Journey, as there was tons of loose rocks and the numerous Jeepers had churned up big ruts and holes full of loose rocks on the western side of the pass. It was still great fun, and the mighty KLRs just tractored over everything.

After going over Ophir Pass, we headed down the awesome million dollar highway into Ouray. We found a campsite outside of town, set up our tents, and then headed in to town for a much needed hot meal and a cold beer!

Setting up camp outside of Ouray

Setting up camp outside of Ouray

The next morning, we work up and headed out towards our longest day of riding yet. We had about 6 steep, rocky, mountain passes to traverse in the heart of the San Juans. Although the riding wasn’t too difficult, the high altitude and slow speeds were causing the KLRs to overheat and they were running really rich.

Overall, the passes made for some really amazing scenery and we were lucky to have great weather the whole day. Of course, when Mikey dropped his KTM in a loose section, I got the camera out instead of helping him!

We grabbed some grub in the small town of Lake City, and then pushed onwards to find a campspot for the night. Mikey had a hunch that there would be camping off a random little road leading to a small reservoir.

Sure enough at the end of a small rocky road, we found an awesome single little campspot right next to the reservoir, with a picnic table and a small outhouse stocked with Toilet paper! Time for a Game of Thrones moment! The reservoir was completely filled with small green tendrils of algae, but that didn’t stop us from taking a swim and chilling our beer in it!

Following the best night of camping, we pushed onwards for a mellow day of riding on faster gravel dirt roads. We went over a few easier passes and soon found ourselves in Taylor Park.

At this point we found the KLRs were running super rich and hardly had any power. We had attributed this to the altitude, but decided that the air filters on the bikes needed cleaning. After taking them out, we found they were completely caked with dirt! Probably from eating Mikey’s dust the whole trip. We cleaned them as best we could, and put them back in the bikes. Much more power now!

We pulled into Buena Vista, where we decided to get a hotel room for the night. Time for a shower and a meal on the town! Next, Mikey led me on a  disolute pub crawl of Buena Vista whilst the wise Father turned in for the night.

Shots from the day:

We woke a little later the next morning after our night on the town. Although in total, This was not a trip known for early starts.

This day of riding included lots of cool back country roads outside of Buena Vista. This was my favorite section of actual riding, as the roads were still small and had a backcountry feel, but were much smoother than the rockiness we experienced in the San Juans.

On the downside, the softer roads turned into a major dustfest. Following Mikey all day led to some dusty faces!

We rode later into the evening and eventually found a nice camp spot near statebridge. We cooked up some tasty grub, and enjoyed one final evening together. Pics of the final campout:

In the morning, we decided to push on home as Father had a plane to catch the next day. We blasted home on the slab, over trailridge road, and we were home by dinner time. Overall it was an amazing trip, and I highly recommend the COBDR. We definitely timed it right, doing it at the end of the summer. Wetter weather would have made the route much more difficult. If you made it this far, thanks for reading!

P.S. What do three guys talk about when they spend a week riding motorcycles together? Motorcycles, of course. And what does that lead to? Buying more motorcycles, of course. During one stop in civilization, Pierce discovered a sweet BMW F800GS for sale on craigslist. Father flew off to the east coast as soon as we got back, but before leaving we hatched a plan to sell the family KLR, Honda Goldwing and ’93 4Runner, and buy the Beemer. Pierce miraculously made this happen, and the GS joined the stable. This gnarly steed chews up road and dirt in style. As soon as the old man got back, he took it on a 2400 mile trip to Flagstaff and back. Via the back roads. Of course. Much more power than a KLR now!

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