|Sunglasses At Night II
One XR650R, an Acerbis Sahara tank, one huge headlight, two small but very bright HID lights, Dunlop 606's, big gears, a down vest, 4 liters of water, 970 miles, lots of Rockstar, no support, no sleep.
By Martin Hackworth
Photos: Martin Hackworth
Last summer, after an enjoyable week long Tour of Idaho, I attempted to
ride the Tour between Pocatello and Wallace in 24 hours or less. This
summer my sole T1 attempt was a 32 hour blitz of the entire
Tour from Utah to Wallace. I have no explanation of why I thought that
this was a good idea - especially given last year's epic. Obviously I
am a slow learner.
My personal rules for this adventure were simple: the route ridden was to be the established Tour of Idaho from Utah to Wallace. Where there was an option I would choose the quickest route (the easiest to ride fast). But my goal was to ride the entire trail, sans side trips - including the long way from Pocatello to American Falls to Arco. I set off around 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 2 with the goal of making Wallace in less than 30 hours.
The first 30 or so miles to the top of Oxford Ridge went as smooth as possible. Recent maintenance buffed the network of roads and ATV trails from Jenkins Hollow to Oxford Ridge to near immaculateness. I reached Pine Corral Spring in less than an hour. At this rate, I thought, things were going to be a breeze.
Initially the trail descending into Oxford Basin appeared to
in primo condition like everything else. But about 1/2 of the way into
the Basin the trail began to deteriorate into a deeply rutted
and very rocky obstacle course. While none of this would have
problem on a casual trail ride, trying to make good time on a
large, fully fueled BRP - with Baja gearing - was more of a challenge.
As much as I knew that my number one goal was NOT to toss the bike in
technical terrain I was
feeling the juice in my throttle hand and could not resist standing up
the trigger. This all worked pretty well too until I came around a
corner, at speed, and bottomed out on a rock step so large that I
ripped off my skid plate and completely unloaded both
wheels - resulting in a spectacular tumble down a steep,
hillside. It took about an hour in 100 degree heat to get the bike back
up on the trail, get the skid plate reattached and to get the engine to
kick over. By the time I was done with this fool adventure I was on the
filthy and reeking of gasoline and on the verge of heat exhaustion -
and an hour in the hole. Damn.
The rest of the ride to Pocatello was without drama. Except for Oxford Basin and Chinese Peak the trails were in pretty good shape this summer. I spent 20 minutes in Lava getting gas and attempting to clean up before heading on to the Boundary Trail.
I chose to bypass Pocatello
(via Mink Creek Road) without stopping. The normal TID goes right
through my front yard. Given how dirty I was 1/10 of the way into the
ride I doubted that I'd have the strength
of character to not stop and change clothes. So dirty but efficient I
rode on. This decision resulted in reaching the ATV trails in
Sublett Range before dark. It got dark, in fact, just as I was
pulling into American Falls - right around 9:30 p.m. The first 220
miles, containing virtually all of the single track and ATV
trail, went by in 6.5 hours - for an average speed of
around 33 mph. T1 is not like the Baja 1000 (especially the first few
hundred miles) and any average above 25
mph for the first part of the route is not too shabby.
I rolled out of A.F. a little before 10 p.m. and around the A.F. Reservoir with as much speed as I thought I could get away with. Jensen/Powerline Roads required some care as small animals (mainly birds) darted, with amazing frequency, out of the fields and into the path of my headlight beam. I suffered two bird strikes at 60 mph+ speeds before reaching the double track through the lava fields at the north end of Powerline Road.
Here, amazingly, I got lost. The double track through the lava beds was overgrown and extremely difficult to follow - at least by headlight. After just a few minutes I was reduced to steering from one GPS waypoint to another across the lava flows. I lost at least a half hour before finally encountering the road again a few miles short of the Oregon Trail wagon ruts.
The miles around Big Southern Butte and to
uneventfully. The full moon lent an interesting light to
the desert roads.
I arrived in Arco at half past midnight, hot fueled, and
off toward Beverland Pass with less than a 5 minute pause.
Last year the ride up the Pahsimeroi Valley had been an exercise in unanticipated hypothermia. This year the temps were not an issue. Though I slipped on a down vest and glove shells at Arco they weren't really necessary. The ride up the Pahsimeroi was uneventful and rapid. And I swear an oath that the ride over Grouse Peak is more interesting at 4 a.m. than it is in broad daylight.
I hot-fueled at Challis and was rolling up the Darling Creek/Morgan Creek divide by 6 a.m. I started pounding my supply of Rockstars just before Morgan Creek Summit and the only impediment to travel in the subsequent 50 or so miles to Shoup was the need to get off the bike every half hour or so to take a whiz.
rolled into view right at 8 a.m. I downed as Mountain Dew and
as many Hershey bars as I could in 15 minutes. After
nature's call and doing a few dozen jumping jacks I was back on the
rolling up the grade over Beartrap Ridge and the
Continental divide to Alta, MT. Traffic was light and I was able to
average around 40 mph from Shoup, around Painted Rocks Reservoir, to
Perce Pass and the Magruder Road.
This year the Magruder passed uneventfully - at least in terms of fire and flood. But it was hot and I was really getting sleepy. Even though I was feeling bagged (getting off the bike to take a leak every half hour was the only thing keeping me awake) I was riding well and made it to Elk City around half past noon - just about 15 minutes slower than my PR for that stretch of trail.
It was very hot in Elk City - nearly 100 degrees - and while acknowledging and cursing my weakness I still could not bribe, cajole or wheedle myself into leaving the air conditioned comfort of a local cafe before downing a large number of cold drinks and eating some proper food - watching 30 precious minutes elapse in the process. Though I was well ahead of last year's pace I could feel the pull of the extra miles I'd ridden in much greater fatigue.
I took a different route out of Elk City to Lowell (one I
better) - and except for taking a wrong turn that resulted in a 40
minute side trip it went pretty smooth. I rolled into Lowell before 3
p.m. feeling very good about my chances of finishing in 30
Unfortunately I was also completely gassed. I'd been riding for 24
hours by then and the day had been brutally hot. There was simply no
way I was riding any farther without sitting down for a while. It was
also my last chance to load up on Rockstar before the long,
uninterrupted trek to Wallace.
I spent 30 minutes in Lowell loading up on water, snacks, caffeine, and gasoline. In order to make the 200+ mile jaunt to Wallace without having to worry about running low on gas I bought a 2 gallon fuel jug to balance on my lap until the beginning of the Lolo Motorway. Though I intended to ride Pete King Trail to reach the Lolo it took less than 1/4 mile down the road toward Pete King Trail before I decided that this wonky carrying arrangement suggested a reversal of direction to Syringa and NFD 101.
NFD 101 was, for the second year in a row, in really good
Traffic was light and the 25 miles to Canyon Junction
passed rapidly. I headed up the Lolo Motorway and bent to the task of
making Cayuse Junction with all possible speed. About halfway between
the Motorway entrance and Pete Forks I encountered an apparition: a
right-out-of-the-movies cowboy on a very large horse complete
10-gallon hat, out sized belt buckle, quirts and a six shooter -
authoritatively blocking the road. Turns out that Lash LaRue was
lost and had no intention of letting me pass without spending
time going over maps of the Lolo Motorway with him. It was 15
minutes before I felt that I could mosey on without getting plugged
like some desperado.
I arrived at Pete Forks much earlier in the day than last year - in plenty of time to ride the Lolo Motorway to Cayuse Junction and beyond well before dark. So the only excuse I have for what came next is complete lack of character. I bailed from Motorway and headed north to Hemlock Lookout and the North Fork of the Clearwater.
This year the trek across Hemlock LO and up the NF Clearwater to the Cedars was both warm and well-lit. But by the time I began the climb up NFD 720 toward Fly Hill (this time well before dark) I was a little less than a half click out of delirium. I had about 115 miles left to Wallace and was so tired I was suffering vivid hallucinations. The one advantage to doing the ride without any support was obvious by now as had alternative transport to Wallace been available at, say, the base of Fly Hill I am quite certain I would not have had the strength of character not to bag everything right there.
NFD 715 was a rutted and rock strewn obstacle course that would have been no problem at a 20 mph pace in the middle of a casual day but the last thing I wanted to see at faster pace with the sun going down - 27 hours into the ride. Still I had little choice but to stand on the pegs and go. My legs were so tired at this point that I just stood straight up. Each new hit shook me from my helmet all the way down to my boots (exacerbating my need to pee constantly). At one point I considered just wetting myself so that I would not have to keep stopping - but, as it turns out, even I have my standards.
Finally the sign at the intersection with NFD 320 came into view. Salvation once again! From this point it was about 85 mostly mellow miles to Wallace. Barring catastrophe my sorry butt was going to make it once again.
By now I was coming up on 28 hours of riding and fatigue was overwhelming me. As I rode NFD 20 along the St. Joe River to Heller Creek and over Red Ives Peak I experienced extremely vivid hallucinations and becoming increasingly enamored of antics like standing on the seat of the bike and surfing down hills in order to stay awake. At one point I did an elaborate spinning dismount from a standing position on the seat in order to get off the bike and take a whiz. It all seemed perfectly reasonable at the time.
I rode up Gold Creek Road to NFD 391 - the State Line Trail - but a successful transit of NFD 391 in the dark at the needed speed struck me, even in my mind-altered state, as a failed suicide rather than a heroic deed. After a moment of reflection I found my way back down to the NFD 50 and made my way to Avery.
The thing about taking the Avery route (as opposed to the State Line Trail) is that is is actually a little longer (albeit much easier to ride in the dark). So when I reached Avery I still had 30 miles left to Wallace. Though I had absolutely no cause for concern some odd combination of stupors and vapor had me obsessed with the thought of running out of gas before I got to the summit of Moon Pass. The consequence of that would have been too awful to even consider - so I nursed the throttle all 20 miles up - foolishly squandering a quarter of an hour or so with the end in sight.
I rolled into Wallace sometime around midnight. My girlfriend had obligingly parked the car and trailer right out in front of the Ryan Hotel where, after loading the bike on the trailer, I found her sleeping. When she woke up, the look on her face was one of simultaneous relief and horror - plainly telegraphing that my appearance was one of dishevelment and the odors of gasoline, sweat and dirt.
Not counting my 40 minute side trip between Elk City and Lowell the whole thing covered about 960 miles and took around 32 hours. I spent an hour getting the bike back on the trail in Oxford Basin, 20 minutes in Lava Hot Springs, 20 minutes in American Falls, 5 minutes in Arco, 5 minutes in Challis, 20 minutes in Shoup, 40 minutes in Elk City, 30 minutes in Lowell - 3+ hours in all not moving an inch (not counting numerous piss stops in the last 400 miles). And though I now curse myself for not hot fueling everywhere it is surely easier to think about doing it now than it was to actually do at the time.
how this adventure
stacks up depends on how you want to look at it. I did, indeed spend
less than 30 hours on the bike (at a 34 mph average speed) but the
whole thing took more than 30 hours effort. Either way it was
insane, grueling, mind-warping adventure that I never want to repeat
Until next year.
The Tour of Idaho
Acerbis Sahara Tank
Ricky Stator 8" Race Light
Trail Tech SCMR16 HID
Fly Racing Enduro Jacket
Fieldsheer Mach 6 Glove
Fly Racing Formula Scramble Helmet