That day, we broke in the new four-stroke liquid-cooled Hondas. A quick ride from the cabin is Hahns Peak Village, where we fueled up before tackling trails through the Routt National Forest. More often than not, we're the only off-road motorcyclists in the area, but today there were scores of fully outfitted bikers. It turned out to be an annual event dubbed the Rocky Mountain 300. It's by no means a competition, just a fun 300-mile trek sponsored by Parts Unlimited, a wholesale parts distributor. Each year, 200 to 300 select dealer personnel congregate to ride at various Rocky Mountain locations. What does this mean to us? We found out what trails they were riding and went elsewhere--a critical step in avoiding head-on collisions.
We opened up on familiar territory leading back and forth across the Wyoming state border. These historic trails are no walk in the park, incorporating an abundance of twisting single-tracks. Then we ran parallel with the Continental Divide, steering back toward Hahns Peak. Part of one of the trails included an intricate rock climb.
Next was a straightforward run to Farwell Mountain. An older Honda XR600R was part of our group. The target summit came into clear view after traveling a substantial distance--but we never made it to the top. Here, the XR's drainplug oddly worked its way out of the engine's crankcase, allowing every drop of oil to gush onto the trail. The engine consequently seized, cutting the tour short, and leaving us to lug the victim back to base with a tow strap. Another functional XR had been retained as backup.
The following morning, we plotted a line out of Buffalo Pass. Advancing on the trails led to more technical single-tracks crowded with roots and rock ledges. Then we found the south entry to the renowned Grizzly-Helena Trail. The initial segment was fairly complex, and sunlight was vanishing behind the trees, so we opted to call it a day. On the way back, a young girl waved us down. The 12-year-old--dirty, dehydrated, and ready to break down in tears--was in a bit of a predicament. She had hiked out of the Teal Lake Campground and lost the trail. We gave her some water, put her on a bike, and shuttled her back to camp.
This is one of the most notorious motorized trails in the region, and we planned accordingly. It didn't make sense for our third rider to make an attempt on the Grizzly-Helena on the bulky XR600R. He acted as an escort, using the Colorado as a chase vehicle. At the south trailhead, we hid a container of fuel in case we had to double back. These bikes go about 60 miles per tank and the extra fuel would get us back to Steamboat. Rider three took the Colorado around the Mount Zirkel Wilderness to pick us up at the north trailhead. Total trail distance is about 30 miles; we estimated travel time at six to seven hours.