Photography and commentary by Paul Yarnall

Posts Tagged ‘dual sport’

Eight Glorious Days In Colorado

I am again reminded of the increasingly rapid passage of time when I see my last posting and gallery was from last early spring. I still take plenty of pics… thousands since then and of those there are a few I think you will enjoy.

This little travelogue gallery shows a few highlights of a truly epic dual sport motorcycle adventure I shared with my brother Dave this past July. Farther down in the postings below you will find Riding the Continental Divide… A Two Wheeled Adventure. That experience in the summer of 2012 whetted my appetite for more of the great riding found in the western states. When I learned of the Backcountry Discovery Route series produced by Butler Maps, I immediately focused on the Colorado Route in particular.

It is a little confusing to people when I describe exploring our great land on two wheels in a way that purposely avoids paved roads as much as possible. For one thing there is little to no traffic. Another is getting to see miles of pristine “wildness” where the only sign of humanity around you is the primitive path you are on. It is well worth the dust, the heat and cold, and the tired and sore muscles at the end of each days ride.

Dad was a motorcyclist, and my siblings and I all grew up riding. My brother Dave is perhaps the most talented rider of the four of us. He is as equally at home on a race-bike at NASCAR speeds as he is in the woods on a dirt bike with knobby tires. I pestered him relentlessly to go on a dual sport adventure with me until he finally relented. On the faith of my assurance that he would have a good time we set about getting him the right motorcycle and other equipment he needed for the adventure. I hoped I could deliver.

The published Butler Colorado route starts in the southwest corner of Colorado at the “four corners” and works its way east and north finally ending at the Wyoming border. Since we had to trailer our motorcycles to Colorado, we needed a start and finish that was the same place. I modified the route by creating a loop of 1000 miles. Half was 90% of the Butler route and the other half I pieced together sitting in front of my computer. This part of our route was “untested,” but turned out to include some pretty great trails.

A friend of Dave’s lives in Buena Vista, CO, a small town right on the route, and he provided a spot to park our truck and trailer. Thus we started our adventure heading west out of Buena Vista and descended out of the mountain trails north and east of Buena Vista eight days later with 1000 miles and half a dozen 12,000′ passes in between.

This gallery, Paul & Dave Do the COBDR, shows a few of the highlights of the epic ride. To tell a better story, I included some of Dave’s photos, too. He has a good eye!

Oh yeah… I think I delivered on my promise that my bro would have a good time. Dave is ready to do it again!

The next new gallery will appear shortly and covers our recent trip exploring Iceland… an island of endless photo ops!


I published daily trip reports during the adventure.  They are collected together into one PDF file which is available for download here.

An additional resource is a collection of hotels organized around major towns near the route we took. They are available here.

Ecuador 2012 – Exploring off road on motorcycles and more

Sandwiched between Colombia and Peru, Ecuador is a small country, a bit smaller than Colorado for a comparison. Considering the land mass of the planet and what a tiny fraction of it Ecuador is, it is curious that I have been there four times since 2005. The first time was to visit the Galapagos, the second was for a wedding, the third was to help lead a photo tour, and most recently to experience a self guided dual sport adventure on motorcycles.

The common thread to every visit was my long time friend Jason. Jason is a certified gringo with blonde hair and blue eyes who has dual citizenship and speaks perfect Spanish. Our shared love of motorcycling, and dual sport riding in particular, was a big motivator when we discovered Ecuador Freedom Rentals in Quito. They rent cycles and specialize in arranging guided and self guided tours of this geographically diverse little country. I would not do such a tour alone or without someone fluent in the language. This adventure was meant to be!

This collection of images is another travel documentary with the emphasis on recording our experience rather than creating gallery grade images. About half of the images were taken with my iPhone 4s. The others were taken with my Sony NEX 7 system. The Sony is my concession to the harsh realities of travel and motorcycling in particular, and the need for a small, lightweight, camera system. I learned a costly lesson after hauling my big Canon and lenses on my last cycle adventure last summer on the CDR (Continental Divide Ride  gallery). The NEX 7 did a fine job and was much easier to ride with. Neither is an equal to my Canon gear in terms of image quality but, the best camera is always the one that is with you.

Our adventure was much shorter in length and duration than the CDR experience… 600 miles vs 2100 and four days vs fourteen, but it was no less memorable. Each day was a couple of hours longer than I would have preferred and the roads were, in general, much worse. So fatigue was with us every day as we neared our hotel.

Our adventure started and ended in Quito, nestled in the Andes at 10,000 feet. Our course would take us down to the tropic climate and geography of the coastal regions and back up to the cooler and drier Andes several times. The villages we would pass through were often only separated by tens of miles, but the roads following the tortured contours of the chaotic mountains would be two or three times greater in distance. Sometimes we enjoyed a few miles of pavement and more miles of wide gravelly roads, but we spent a great deal of time on extremely narrow “two track” which could be very steep, very rocky, very potholed, very muddy, very foggy, or some combination of all of these. And yes, VERY remote. The first aid kit issued to us with our bikes included powerful injectable pain killers. Serious injury could take the better part of a day to reach treatment!

Throw in the maniacal country bus and truck drivers, loose livestock, blind turns, steep drop aways with no guard rails of any sort, and you had a riding experience that challenged us every second to stay alert and focused. Our survival demanded no less.

Yes, it was intense. Did we have a great time? Oh, yeah.

While in Ecuador I also got to spend time with Jason and Elizabeth, their new son Paul Andres, and to explore Guayaquil and Baños with them. Please visit my Ecuador 2012 gallery to see images of this latest adventure!

Note: While on the cycle adventure I created daily reports much like I did for the CDR Adventure.  I have combined these into one PDF document that you may download here.