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My Experience with the 2016 Challenge

by Arden Hill (Gold Tire Level Winner) 
Originally Published in the IAMC Newsletter, January 2017

Let me start this article with a lifle introduction. I started adventure riding in the spring of 2015 with the purchase of a 2014 XR650L. IAMC was found with an on line search, and I joined to find riding buddies. 

My first IAMC ride was when Bob Sims (AKA Honda Bob) posted a single-track ride in the Owyhees. Not knowing what I was in for, I contacted Bob, and he invited me to go with him. I showed up with low cut boots, Levis and a Fox coat purchased at a garage sale. Bob was very kind, and we had a wonderful day with me trying to keep up with his KTM 500exc on difficult single track. He was patient and the education began. I found other IAMC rides and have met so many great people on various rides. 

Checking in at Almo, challenge site #-2.
SPOT messages of some of the many places I visited while riding in 2016.

With retirement 2016 was a time to catch up on lost time, covering over 17,500 miles of dirt and twisted roads this past year. So many great friends have been made while eating dirt. 

IAMC challenge rides started in May with Cambridge, Lowman, Ola and Placerville. I had never been on the Banks cut off road down the grade from Ola. It’s quite a drop the last two miles. Placerville cemetery was very interesting with the age of the graves. The Idaho Gold story was evident everywhere from Featherville to Rocky Bar to Idaho City to Placerville with old dredges and piles of rocks everywhere. 

A second challenge site ride was a two-day marathon with Craig Olsen (AKA coolsen). We covered 1,000 miles and picked up many of the Southern Idaho towns. The cutoff between Subttef and Rockland was abandoned after rain turned the road into a clay mess, and my Tourance 90/10 tires gave up the ghost with a few spills. We ended up turning around just a mile from the summit. My favorite part was City of Rocks by Almo, which was part of the California trail. 

Doug Patchin (AKA Shuferman) and I hit four other southern Idaho sites on the way to Promontory Point in northern Utah with a few nights of enjoyable camping. We counted 9 rattlers on the old Transcontinental Railway Trail through northern Utah in middle May. At 6:30am while camping by Stone Reservoir, we looked at the radar summary and realized we were going to get drenched in less than 20 minutes. Camp was broken, bikes were loaded, and we made it to Mollys Cafe in Snowville just before the torrential rain hit. It lasted through breakfast, and we were back on the road again. I became cold on the way home and hit Magic Hot Springs for a warm up — a $10 indulgence for a private tub. 

On another trip, “coolsen” hit his last IAMC challenge site (Dingle) on the way to an eighteen-day, 1,800- mile ride of the Utah BDR and TAT from Moab, UT, to Port Orford, OR. It was July with 102 temps in southern Utah. The trail had lots of sand, washes and ruts with several penalty points in Nevada ending the ride for “coolsen” with a broken leg. Was I ever glad for the SPOT. 

EMTs helping “coolsen” into their transport .

At the end of summer, I had another great ride getting to Leadore the hard way. There was a respectable turnout to The Heart of Idaho Rally sponsored by Happy Trails with riders from North Carolina to Oregon.
I had the pleasure of riding with a couple that had recently moved from California. She had been riding since she could walk, and I’m afraid this prefy lifle elementary school teacher that stood a proud 5’4” out rode us all on her Yamaha TT. 

One memorable part of this trip was following Ed Torrey (AKA Special Ed) up the west slope of Big Windy. We had taken a wrong right turn, and the road had become a bad ATV trail. His F800GSA was leading and all of a sudden, there was no “Special Ed” in front of me. I couldn’t figure out what had happened until looking over my shoulder, I saw him still on his bike lying on a huge sagebrush. A very large rock had catapulted him and his bike off the trail in a specular manner. A few laughs later he was up and in the lead again. We were all relieved to hit the top of Big Windy. 

My favorite and final solo trip was in northern Idaho and the Idaho BDR south of Orofino. I picked up Winchester and Peck on the way up following the old road out of White Bird and picked up Weippe on the way to catch the Idaho BDR south. The French Creek Road (NF 246) was outstanding, topped off with a night in the old cabins at Burgdorf Hot Springs. Warren and Yellowpine were next along the Idaho BDR. So much wilderness and so lifle time. A great way home from Yellowpine is NF 674 along the South Fork Salmon River to Warm Lake to avoid all the ruts and dust. 

Thane Eddington resWng at the top of Big Windy.

IT’S BEEN A GREAT RIDING SEASON. 

“AG HILL”, living in Emmett, ID. Let’s ride. 

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