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Ouray, Colorado (Getting Snowed Out in Late July)                                          

While Arizona has some of the best dual sport riding around, every once in a while you need to get up in the high country.  The really high country.  We're talking so high you can barely breathe.  That's Colorado.  Ouray is a picturesque little town high up in the Rockies that has some amazing trails at what seems to be the top of the world.  But first, we had to get there...

We loaded up the "little bikes" in Carl's serial killer van and started the long trek north out of Arizona. Given that most of the riding areas in Arizona are temporarily closed due to wildfires, I was itching to get up there and take the 525 project bike out for its first "real" ride.  While the drive up would normally take about 9 hours, we had some problems with the van overheating, and it took a total of about 12 hours before we pulled into the campsite. 

Given that Devin and Scott had arrived there the day before, they were up and ready to ride at 6am. But considering Carl and I didn't pull in until after 2am, we were a little less than enthused to be up that early.  The only saving grace was that Devin cooks up a nice breakfast.  So after some good food and a lot of yawning, it was time to hit the trails...

Cooling off the van First dirt in Ouray Discussing options Watch that first step... It's a doosey
Guard rails are for sucks Looking back at the valley  Even higher up First snow of the day Amazing views

The trails around Ouray are nothing short of amazing. It doesn't take long before you're riding at around 12,000 feet, looking down at the world below. At this altitude, I was a little concerned that the thin air would seriously hinder the performance of the bike. (I didn't have time to change the jetting before leaving Arizona.)  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the bike only had a slightly noticeable loss of power.  You had to work at it a little more, but the front tire would still come off the ground when you blipped the throttle. (At the beginning of the day, I was still riding in 640 Adventure mode, where you try to reduce the amount of impact with obstacles in the trail by slowing down or finding a line around.  With the 525, it's much easier to simply wheelie over obstacles without losing speed.)  I'm amazed at how much fun I'm having riding the 525.  I often catch myself laughing out loud while zipping along the trail on one wheel. I feel like a kid out there...

After exploring the trails for a while, we encountered our first road-block -- one of many snow banks that would prohibit us from completing a lot of the loops in the area. But that doesn't mean you can't have fun... Devin quickly established a high mark on the hill that the rest of us aspired to.  It was absolutely hilarious to watch each of us in turn head for the snowy hill at speed, and immediately biff it in the soft snow.  That was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

Carl gets into it...   And gets off it Our first road block of the day Making the best of it
Devin sets the high mark Check out the roost Carl misses the high mark But enjoys a nice
refreshing swim
The approach
Backtracking down the hill Looking a little beat H.D. Thoreau's Cabin   One of the many old mines

Then came the real fun... Poughkeepsie Gulch. For those who have ridden it, you know what we're talking about.  For those who haven't, you can look forward to a 1/2 mile of nothing but baby-doll head rocks loosely sitting on wet, slick mud.  Traction?!  Who needs it.  Momentum is the key here.  Once you slow down, you're gonna get stuck.  On the way up, we encountered some quads who were creeping up the trail. We quickly learned that passing a vehicle is easier said than done when your front wheel gets constantly thrown 12" to each side.  But Carl showed them...   

Poughkeepsie Gulch Nothin' but large, loose rocks Carl getting going Working it up Puking out coolant
  Finally getting going Only to run into some quads Literally, running into quads At the top, you definitely feel
a sense of accomplishment

What amazed us most about heading up Poughkeepsie was how quickly you get exhausted with even the slightest bit of exertion.  The air is so thin up there that you really have a hard time catching your breath. 

Once at the top, we played around for a while and headed back down to explore some other trails.  But one after one, we were turned back by snow drifts blocking the trail.  Still, though, it was some pretty amazing riding. We then headed back to town for a great lunch, and made an early night of it.  (Sleeping was not difficult that night, that's for sure.) 

The next day, we hit the trails early looking for a loop we could actually complete.

On approach And launching the XR
(yes, it's fake)
Attempting Black Bear Pass And getting stopped View from Black Bear
Trying another trail Some of the best views... Scott taking it in   Devin taking a break
Simply amazing     Yet another killer view  
Having to squeeze by two vehicles     More fun in the snow Carl bombing down

After getting repeatedly stopped by snow, we were hell-bent on completing a loop, and decided to take the back way into Poughkeepsie Gulch.  This turned out to be one of the best trails of the weekend, providing some great views, fun trails and a little spot to test your trials skills...    

A bit of highway Tired of these views yet? Scott finds a mine Beautiful mountain runoff lake  
The "trials" area     Scott showing off  
Devin blasting up the hill        
Carl getting dirty...   Dumping the XR Picking it back up Scott lends a hand and walks away
And down it goes again... Quads getting in on the fun Devin gives the salute    

Thanks to Devin and Scott for putting this ride together.  I couldn't think of a better way to break in the new 525!  It also allowed me to properly evaluate a lot of the mods made to the 525 project bike.  Look for product reviews and accessory write-ups on the 525 project pages by clicking HERE.