Thursday, May 03, 2012

The In-Between Jobs Ride - Day 5

Started out from Durango, where I'd overnighted, around 8:30 AM.  I headed North out of town on US550 which is also known as the San Juan Skyway; a part of the highway between Silverton and Ouray is known as the Million Dollar Highway.

The weather was beautifully sunny and cool but not cold.  Traffic was light and my rig was running well.  I'd ridden this road before on Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Airhead Beemer and it was time to introduce the scenery to Valencia, my 2011 Ural Patrol Sidecar Rig.

 Rocky cliff sides near the settlement of Needles, CO

 Above and below, the mountain views from the
Durango Sports Center

 Twilight Peak

 Engineer Mountain

 Above and below, more views of
Twilight Peak

 Turks Head and Grand Turk Mountains

 View of several peaks from near Molas Pass

 Some more peak views from north of Molas Pass

 Approaching Silverton, CO

 Riding North of Silverton on US550

 Part of the Million Dollar Highway

After shooting the pics along the Million Dollar Highway, I tried to start up the trail to Engineer Pass from the western entry point near the above picture but the way was blocked by a truck!

I got to Silverton and after asking for directions, found myself on County Road 2 leaving Silverton and soon found myself at the start of the Alpine Loop which is how you get to Engineer Pass:

Alpine Loop entry point north of Silverton, CO

 Not much remains of the town of Eureka which
is on the Alpine Loop enroute to Animas Forks

The road to Animas Forks is "maintained" according to the lady at the visitor center but it's very rocky and rutted and not for the faint of heart.  Still, it wasn't too bad really and soon I was at the outskirts of the ghost town of Animas Forks:

 Animas Forks, a Ghost Town where I should have turned around.

From Animas Forks, the road got much more rough and conditions were pretty iffy.  Valencia was doing fine for the most part but I could tell the clutch was starting to overheat so I stopped often to let things cool off.

 Above and below, are the last shots I took on the way up.  

Less than two miles from the close and yet so far

After the above stop, I continued on and got within 2 miles of the summit according to my odometer.  Then I hit mud and this in combination with the steep dirt trail led to my clutch finally being "smoked".  The theory is that the clutch plate had overheated and gotten "stuck" to either one of the other plates or the pressure plate, preventing smooth operation.

Got myself turned around, the clutch not seeming to want to disengage the transmission from the engine when the lever was pulled in.  Still, it was all downhill, I had first gear and could shift up as needed even though the clutch wasn't working.

I slowly made my way back down the mountain, past Animas Forks was back at Silverton shortly after 5:45 PM or so.

Made it into town with no further issues, I rode over to the Triangle Motel which had a Vacancy sign and got myself a room.  I called a fellow Uralista: Craig H. and also my friend Oscar and discussed the situation with them.

Between our talks, it was decided to adjust the clutch cable to allow engagement of the clutch to some extent (not perfect but usable); called the dealer and ordered parts and turned in for the night.  The hope is things will become "unstuck" overnight as the rig cools to allow better clutch operation.

That's it for the pleasure riding for this trip I'm afraid.  I pushed Valencia way too hard on the way up to Engineer Pass.  I will ride her home tomorrow, using the route with the least amount of city traffic!


BeemerGirl said...

Just looking at the second to last shot of Valenca on the Miilion Dollar Highway has me cringing!! She's balanced s precariously on the edge of an HUGE cliff!!

Oh!! So sorry she is seeing clutch issues. I will hope with you that cooling off with help with it all. Good luck!!

Spat said...

This is an epic trip, great ride and report. so sorry to hear it ended like it did but you did ride home and that is how a good adventure should end.

RichardM said...

Beautiful pictures. Especially the Million Dollar Hwy. when does the new job start?

Gary France said...

Love the shot by the edge of the road on the Million Dollar Highway. Perched near the edge makes the reality of the drop off seem more real. No you have me wondering how the clutch situation got resolved - hurry up and post the next segment please!

Chris said...

more great pics. I enjoyed the road north of durango as well in '09. I am looking forward to it again in a few weeks one I make my way over there.

a shame on the clutch. and on such a new rig too.

redlegsrides said...

My thanks to all of you who commented and visited

Beemergirl, yeah that shot of Valencia on the edge of the cliff is a cool shot, my favorite of the day. Clutch issue will require a rebuild but no big deal I am told. It'll be the subject of an upcoming tech day I am hosting.

Spat, yep, there were some epic moments and scenery...I needed this trip and getting her home on her own power was a bonus! Especially after some of the spots we traveled through.

RichardM, thanks for your kind words. The new job starts this Monday, the 7th.

Gary...thanks, I should try to sell it as a cover shot to some magazine! I won't have more on the clutch issue till I take things apart on the 20th...basically going to replace all the clutch components since while she's rideable, it's not very "smooth". Something definitely got hot enough to melt and now is stuck together.