Death Valley Daze 2007

 

Dave: For this trip we thought it would be easiest to rent a truck and haul the bikes to Death Valley. So after picking up the truck our first stop was Scottsdale BMW to pick up my bike with its brand new set of TKC’s. This time we went with a 12ft and were barely able to squeeze everything in. Besides being smaller, the 12ft also doesn’t come with a ramp. The dealer was kind enough to loan me theirs to load mine at the dealership. Once we got my F650 in the back of the truck I knew we had a second issue. This is the 2nd trip we have “Penske’d" the URAL. Last time we took a 16ft and had room to spare. With the 16ft truck not only was it longer, but turns out it was a bit wider too. With the wider truck we were able to put my F in all the way up front sideways (width wise). With the 12ft the bike was too long to fit in sideways. However, I figured we would still have enough room since the sidecar on Karla’s bike was not as long as the bike. Now to address the ramps; next stop, Home Depot. Last time the truck came with one metal ramp and we simply bought a 2x6 board for the car side. Without the ramp from the truck this meant we needed two really good boards that would support the weight of the bike and sidecar plus all the force put on the boards from getting a running start (required when loading a URAL in a truck). Do they even make boards that strong? Guess we’ll find out. So we looked for the strongest looking boards Home Depot had to offer and headed back home to load the URAL. First I started up the URAL so it would run nice and smooth up the makeshift ramps. Then after lining up the ramps, truck and bike, I made a preliminary approach to test the strength of the boards. I hadn’t gotten the bike ˝ way up before the boards started to splinter and just about split in too. GAWD DAMNS. OK this is not going to work. Next Stop, Motorcycle shop. So we jumped back in the truck and headed to RideNow on Cave Creek and bought the Strongest, Widest set of ramps they had.
001 A Tight Fit
$200.00 later (and a free RideNow hat) we got back home and loaded up the hack. As you can see we barely had room for our gear.
002 Anyone Seen My Bike
002 Anyone Seen My Bike
Dave: The trip to DV was, for the most part, uneventful. Because we were in a rental truck we had to avoid the Hoover Dam. To do this I choose to go across at Bullhead City taking us about 45 minutes out of our way. In order to try and make up for some time, and to avoid the traffic in the Las Vegas area, I checked the GPS for a more direct route to Pahrump. Well what-d-ya know? There just happens to be a road called Pahrump road. Surely that will be a quick way to get there.?. Well to make a long story short, Pahrump road is about 20 miles of washboard gravel that put the old Penske's suspension to the test. Wahoo!!! Finally in Pahrump we got checked in to the Best Western, had the crappiest buffet dinner we have ever eaten, and settled in for the night. (Note to all, AVOID Pahrump!!!).

Karla: We spent Thursday
night in Pahrump, then got to DV at about 11am Friday, with no real plans made as to where we'd ride, or with whom. We were too early to check in, so we thought we'd unload (we rented a Penske truck) and fart around a bit. While doing this, we met a fellow who was also unloading, his room was ready. He had come knowing absolutely no one, so we said hey, come along with us if you like. His name is Eduardo, from LA, riding a BMW f650 Dakar like Dave's.
003 Unloaded at Furnace Creek
003 Unloaded at Furnace Creek
Dave: One of the most extravagant stops was at Scotty's Castle. Although it is impressive from the outside, this pales in comparison to the eccentric detail of every corner inside this magnificant house. Unfortunately we forgot the camera on the bike. Besides, pictures would not do it justice. A must do when you have a little extra time on your next ride to Death Valley.
003a Scottys Castle
003a Scottys Castle
Karla: We decided to ride to Scotty's Castle, one of the main tourist attractions there. Beautiful weather, sunny, crisp, but not out and out cold. We decided to take the tour, since Dave hadn't done that last year, and thought it would be fun and I'd enjoy it. It was great!! Amazing place! Guided tour, the tour guide was in character (a little cheesy, but it was good.) The incredible artistry, the furniture, the place even had a pipe organ built into it, if you can imagine- that still works and they play it for you!!! Now that was a surprise- and icing on the cake in terms of the extravagance of this place, built in 1939! They had electricity, air conditioning (of sorts) and heat- simply amazing use of the natural resources there. They used a natural spring to get the electricity, and built a boiler room under the 'castle' very similar to the way the Roman's did things centuries ago, for heat. Ingenious! Fountains in many of the rooms, hand tooled beams, just amazing! What they must have gone through to get the materials to the middle of nowhere in that day and age- wow!
003bb Scottys Castle
003bb Scottys Castle
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006 So RUDE
006 So RUDE
Karla: It was getting on into the late afternoon, so we headed back to check in and figure out the next move. Eduardo met up with some of our friends that happened to be at the Castle. They were off to another adventure, so we made introductions and he decided to go on with them. That night more of our friends arrived, we met up for b.s.-ing in the parking lot, then off to dinner. While waiting for our table, we met up with even more local cronies in the bar, and invited them to come with us for Saturday's riding. Dinner was yummy, and we firmed up our plans for the epic ride the next day.
007 Karla on Her Hack
007 Karla on Her Hack
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Karla: Saturday we all met at the gas station (accessible fuel is not aplenty there, so you must plan ahead) at 9am, and headed off to quite a grand expedition. We started out with about 12 people (including our new friend, Eduardo,) then picked up a few more at 'take-off' for a group of 14 riders! We had all ages, all riding levels from zero to lifetime dirt riding experience. I, of course, was the caboose, since I did not want to hold up the group with my slow but steady 3 wheels. From there we rode pavement for about 60 miles, A LOT of twisties (more work for me!) and amazing altitude climb from the starting point of -200 feet Sea Level, to arriving at 6000 feet! Well, as it turned out, the twisties were not so much a problem, since the climb really put me at a top speed of between 35-40mph. Ha ha!
100G The Gangs All Here
100G The Gangs All Here
101 They All Look Alike
101 They All Look Alike
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103 Fourteen - Not Pictured Me and Karla
103 Fourteen - Not Pictured Me and Karla
Karla: Anyway, I *finally* arrived at the dirt! Well, we had a couple people drop out at that point (street tires, misc reasons) and off we went. The first stretch (25 miles) was super washboard, yuck, but adrenalin and all that... Again, I took up the rear.
104 Airing Down
104 Airing Down
106 Paul
106 Paul
107 Kim
107 Kim
108 Clark aka Bumble Bee
108 Clark aka Bumble Bee
109 Jim
109 Jim
110 Eduardo - Forgot
110 Eduardo - Forgot
111 Brian
111 Brian
112 Jeff - Earl
112 Jeff - Earl
113 Karla
113 Karla
114 Earl breaks the First of Many Parts
114 Earl breaks the First of Many Parts
115 Getting Cold
115 Getting Cold
Karla: Well, I'm putt-putt-ing along, and come around a corner to see everyone stopped at the top of a curve. Weeellll, around the bend, a little dip, and we have about a 100 foot stretch of snow, melted over to ice. One rider down, but fine. Everyone else talking, debating whether or not to proceed. Needless to say, it was cold; we'd been riding past patches of snow on the ground, but none on the road/trail to that point. Well, half the group seemed fairly trepidatious, Dave of course was leading the half that wanted to proceed. So, Dave hops on my Ural, pops it into 2-wheel drive, Eduardo jumps on for ballast, and off they go to do some recon! : ) Of course, no worries on the Ural! Anyway, after much debate, we decided we will group walk the bikes across the ice patch, as it looks clear after this.
116 Snow and Ice Causes Kim to Lay It Down
116 Snow and Ice Causes Kim to Lay It Down
117 Jeff Earl Brian waiting for the Word
117 Jeff Earl Brian waiting for the Word
130 Walking My Bike Across the Ice
130 Walking My Bike Across the Ice
Karla: I took pictures (gosh, sometimes it's nice to be a girl) Anyway, we all got across, with only one spill, no broken bones, all vital motorcycle pieces attached, and only one cracked ferring. And off we went again. Amazing place this is, just enormous, and you can see for miles and miles and miles from the vistas.
130G Karla on Camera Duty
130G Karla on Camera Duty
131 Jim Clark Jeff Walking Clarks Bike
131 Jim Clark Jeff Walking Clarks Bike
132 Gotta Love Ice
132 Gotta Love Ice
133 Almost on the Less Slick Snow
133 Almost on the Less Slick Snow
134 CrozB Gets Bowowed of All the Bike Walking
134 CrozB Gets Bowowed of All the Bike Walking
Karla: Our next rallying point was a place called tea kettle junction. People come and leave their tea kettles. Have no clue why. Then the big choice was, as it was about 2:30pm by now, whether to continue on as planned, to a place called Racetrack, then complete a difficult trail (Lippincott) beyond that, and still have about 40 miles of dirt, then that 60 miles of pavement back to the Ranch, or to head the other way to an easier ride, but with still quite a few miles of dirt & pavement. Well, we seemed to all still be crazy, and the consensus was to do the difficult ride.
140 TeaKettle Jct
140 TeaKettle Jct
150 Lippincott
150 View from Lippincott
Karla: My oh My!!! Steep. Rocky. Banked. Banked the wrong way. Banked towards the if-I-fall-off-this-edge-I-die side of the trail. Narrow. *Sigh* Now THAT was a workout!!! Well, we had many more bike spills. I did rather well, all things considered. I did have Dave help me on a couple spots that were just too freaky. But I WAS able to handle some parts that, at first glance, I thought I'd need help with. I would say this was the toughest riding I have ever done. We've done tough, steep stuff, with lots of slippery mud in Oregon, but this was completely different. Big rocks, rough terrain where you really had to plan where to put the tires, lose gravel (yeah, you can use the brakes, but it's only going to stop when the rig is good and ready!) with lots of switch backs, very difficult. But, I have bragging rights!
151 Karla on Lippincott
151 Karla on Lippincott (the Little Spec)
153 Eduardo on Lippincott
153 Eduardo on Lippincott
154 Waiting Below
154 Waiting Below
155 Karla on Lippincott
155 Karla on Lippincott
156 Getting Bumpy
156 Getting Bumpy
157 Brian Helps Earl Pick Up His F650
157 Brian Helps Earl Pick Up His F650
158 Karla Rock Climbing
158 Karla Rock Climbing
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160 Earls Bike Takes Another Tumble
160 Earls Bike Takes Another Tumble
161 Jeff Helping Earl Down A Tough Part
161 Jeff Helping Earl Down A Tough Part
162 Karla Rides the Edge
162 Karla Rides the Edge
163 LEAN
163 LEAN
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Karla: So, then we got to the bottom, and stretched out before us is a straight path you can see for what looks like miles. Yippy!! Um, nope, wait, it's straight, but it's large rocks and multiple washes. Then, oh, about 25 miles of dirt to get back to pavement. By the time we all make it past the 'runway strip' it's just about sunset. We are high on our euphoric accomplishment. In reality, we are spent. But, only way back to the Ranch, is, well, back to the Ranch. By the time we roll again to do our 25 miles of dirt, it is dusk, quickly heading into dark. 25 miles doesn't sound so bad. (It really felt like a looooonnnnggg 25 miles!) Washboard again. It's dark. Like I said, we are tired, we are bruised, we are sore. We need a hot tub and a beer in the worst way. Well, off we go. Believe it or not, it starts to rain. I am muttering some prayers by now. (Let me clear, I was never afraid, I knew we would make it back, it wasn't that- we were just so tired and it was late)

We are going about 20mph on this stretch, our group bringing up the rear of the last 5 of us. (Even I was wanting to go faster, but we really needed to ride to skill and fatigue level.) Well, we all regrouped at the point of pavement. All accounted for (even 1 more guy that we picked up at the top of Lippincott; we still don't know who he is or where he came from!) no broken bikes or bones. A few new scratches, but like I said, more bragging rights... Pavement was looking lovely.

It was now about 7pm. We insisted everyone go on ahead, as we new that for me, the pavement was to be slow going, compared to the 2-wheeled crowd. I was exhausted, cold (even with my e-vest and heated grips!) and I just had no fight left for the corners that I new were there waiting for me.

We took a break at the (closed) gas station, ate something and then headed out. Dang it, it started to rain again. I'm prayin' again. We get to lower elevation, it warms up, it stops raining, I am now doing much better. Even better once we arrive at the Ranch and have that beer and a hot shower! All said and done, it was amazingly tough, but I'm glad I can say I did it. Would I willingly do that again? I am still thinking that over. BUT, I can say that I didn't turn back, and I didn't whine about it, and I did something that many other people would never even try. So, it is a feeling of accomplishment.

200 CrozB Says Lights Out
We *finally* arrive back at the Ranch at 9p.m. Nothin' like a 12 hour day of tough riding to make you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow (or sooner).

Hidden Valley Rd, Hunter Mountain Rd, Lippincott Trail, Saline Valley Rd
PDF (6.7 MB)

Karla: Needless to say, Sunday was a day of easy riding! Just Dave and I rode together, took pavement for about 30 miles, then turned off to do Titus Canyon. Now that was another amazing ride right through the canyon. Simply beautiful scenery. It started out with more of our favorite (not!) washboard dirt road. Eventually it became some pretty riding along the hillsides, some twisties, with more incredible views. There was a small portion that was what I would call medium challenging, but it was all stuff you could drive a truck or SUV through with zero difficulty. (I wouldn't take my convertible through it, but easily could take a Highlander or better through there.)
500 Heading to Titus Canyon
500 Heading to Titus Canyon
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Karla: On the way there, Dave took some fun pictures of me on the Ural. I came around one corner (pavement) to see him standing in the road, motioning to me like he's some kind of air traffic controller- I'm like, What are you doing? What is that supposed to mean? I realize then he wants me to keep going past him. THEN I see our camera on the ground in the middle of the road! Crazy man is making a movie! But I must say, it's pretty fun! I am just glad I had enough where-withal to not run over it, and keep it in between the tires!

Quick Time Moive (4.5 MB)
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505 After a few Mile Of Washboards
505 After a few Mile Of Washboards
506 The Road is Nicely Graded
506 The Road is Nicely Graded
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Karla: At one point, we noticed a drip pattern on the road. When we got to a stopping point, we met up with some other riders who asked if we by any chance had motor oil. I had brought some for me, just in case. (Ironically, the supplies that I had brought for my rig (knowing it's past history) I ended up gladly sharing with other riders!) This poor guy had managed to not only bend up his skid plate, but also crack something in the engine and was leaking like a sieve. Worst part was, it wasn't even his bike, he had borrowed it from a buddy for the trip! Oops! (Sorry No Pictures)
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Leadfield: This was a mining boom town founded on wild and distorted advertising. 300 hopeful people swarmed here and a post office was established in August, 1926. In February 1927, the post office closed and the town died.
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Leadfield
Karla: We rode through a ghost town, had lunch, then the real show began. Like I said, we rode right through the canyon. Walls of rock, carved by time, wind, and water. Varying colors, textures and rock types. It was great, to say the least. At the end of the trail, there is another vast and amazing view.
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609 Karla
609 Karla
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615 GAWD I Hate Sand
615 GAWD I Hate Sand
616 NOTICE the Sand is So DEEP that I DONT Need A Kick Stand After Picking Up The Bike
616 NOTICE the Sand is So DEEP that I DONT Need A Kick Stand After Picking Up The Bike
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Karla: We headed back to the Ranch, pre-packed up our stuff, then had a meal with those riders who were still there, full of stories, drinkin' and more stories. Then we got up really early Monday and headed home. What a great time! I will quote one of our other riders, "Death Valley is like one giant IMAX experience, and no pictures can do justice to the vastness or beauty of the place." It's really quite indescribable and enormous. The song "Dust in the Wind" comes to mind! Crozb was in heaven! And as usual, he was 'celebrity dog.' Got his picture taken quite a lot. He slept the entire drive back home, and is sleeping on the couch right now! He may be getting older, but he was having a blast this weekend, as were we all! We have a few new scratches on the bikes, but my new saying is, Scratches are like wrinkles, you earn them! Nothing broken, bikes or bodies. No break downs and lots of adventure, for sure! There are still so many things to see there, I'm sure it will keep us busy for many more annual trips to come!
999 The End
The End