Thursday, January 7, 2016

New Year Death Valley ride 2016 - day 1, 2

The New Year has arrived and its time for Vegashotwheeler's aka 'Mike's' annual New Years Death Valley ride!
This year the ride is held on January 2nd, a Saturday. 
After the debacle of  my last ride for the Christmas party in Vegas, I'm going to trailer down....ohhhhhhhh how it pains me so to admit that!

Unfortunately, Mike has a co-worker who becomes ill, requiring him to cover the co-workers shift and he can't attend the ride. Several other riders catch the bug du jour and also have to back out of the event. 

The NYDV ride is actually two rides; the dirt ride, and the pavement edition.
There were five dirt riders, I didn't get any pictures of them.
Four riders show up for the pavement version.
l to r
Your's truly, Steve aka DesertDweller, Brian aka HHH, and I can't remember the guys name on the Harley. 

Mike, good host that he is, shows up to see us off and snaps this picture.
About 20 miles down the road the Harley turned around and left us. 
It was a cold morning. 
(Photo courtesy Mike aka Vegashotwheeler)

Mike changes the route every year, but one constant is we eat breakfast at the World Famous Crowbar saloon.

We stop at Dante's overlook which is over 5000 ft above the Badwater basin that I'm pointing at behind me. Bad Water basin is 282 ft below sea level.

These guys from India brought their own entertainment. They played and sang for awhile, then the guitar player handed me the guitar....!
For the life of me I could not think of any song to play, so I just stumbled through some chords for a few minutes and then handed it back.
I just HATE performance anxiety!

Your's truly, Steve, Brian.

We leave Dante's overlook and ride to Bad Water Basin, now I'm pointing back up to where we were a few minutes ago, Dante's overlook. The elevation difference is about a mile and 1/4.
If you look closely you can see the sign that indicates sea level.

Steve says, 'it is not recommended to not recommend motorcycles.' 
He and Brian could easily do triple digits on this 'not recommended' road. 
And I could easily watch...

We next ride to Artists Palette.

Some famous people hang out here....

We end the day in darkness. We are all cold so we go for some Pho, my was hot and delicious!

Day 2
My brake light is stuck on, Steve has the tools and knowledge to help me fix it.
This is his cool honda CT 110.
He and 4 others on CTs plus one 'Monkey' bike rode a 1640 mile adventure up the California coast.
Check out the excellent ride report about their experience here;

After the brake light is fixed I follow Steve to see the ghost town of Nelson Nevada.
Sooooooooooo much to see!

DesertDweller rides a Hog!

I've been to Vegas a million times and never even heard of this ghost town, so I'm thankful Steve showed it to me!

We ride back to Vegas in the fading light.
Tomorrow I'll ride to Salvation Mt.

New Year Death Valley ride 2016 - day 3, 4

Day 3
I'm on my way to Salvation Mountain.
I stop at an old (mustang?) round up station.

I exit the Mojave National Preserve and turn onto Route 66

There is only a narrow two lane road, no house or building for miles and miles and I see this lion guarding....the great nothing... anyway surely the proud lion is a sign of good luck! 
There is a geo-cache on the pedestal, I sign in and leave my blog address. There wasn't a trinket in the bag, which was a good thing because I didn't have one to leave.

I'm getting close to Niland, the Salton sea is on my right, I'm 218 ft below sea level, its 61 degrees, and I'm having a devilish good time!

Salvation Mt.

Day 4
I stay overnight in Brawley, California,  then go northbound the next day.

I pass the world famous international banana museum. I didn't go in the museum, instead I peeled out and went on my way.

North of Mecca, I'm riding on Box Canyon road which has some incredible out of this world scenery when I see a dirt road; and think "cool photo op!"
But, I get stuck.

I sweat.

I swear.

I finally get unstuck.

I take the rest of my pics from the paved road...

Back into the Joshua Tree National Park...raining and foggy through the park and for most of the remaining 200 miles to Vegas.

Kelso Train Depot.

And back to 'sunny and warm' Vegas (its actually cold and wet).
I struggle getting Beaky back onto the trailer because the wooden ramp is so sodden wet it is very slick. I have to find a place where the trailer can be low enough that the ramp is not so steep. I find a good gutter to park the trailer tires in and go right problem!
In the morning I leave for home, stopping in Mesquite for breakfast with a long time friend - time well spent!

A good ride, 1060 miles on the bike. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Ohhh the weather outside is frightful....

One of the moto forums I frequent is the My2Wheels group. Most of the folks on that forum are in the Las Vegas area and a goodly number of them are dirt riders. But they welcome all types bikes and riders and are a good bunch to be around.
So when a Christmas party and white elephant gift exchange was announced I thought it would be a good opportunity for a ride.
The first thing I did was check the forecast and the weather was reasonable (cold, but dry) on the day I would be riding down and the day I planned to ride home. Sweet! This is all working out.

Beverly gives me the 'ok' to go but for some reason declines my offer to come along ... 
Now all I had to do was pack the bike and go.

Its 420 super slab miles from my house to Sin city, but this time I decide to stop in St George (300 miles) for a couple days instead of riding straight through. I arrive at my lodging late Thursday and plan to do some riding, and maybe visiting some old friends Friday, but when I wake up I'm feeling a bit under the weather so I spend the entire day cooped up in my room...
Saturday morning I feel somewhat better and get on the bike at around 10 am.

Obviously its a very short ride from St George to Vegas (118 miles), so when I leave the condo Saturday morning I have a couple places in mind to visit.

The first is The Coyote Gulch Art Village in Kayenta, Utah - a few miles outside of St George. Kayenta is a little off the beaten path, but the Art Village has a TON of cool and eclectic art to look at and of course purchase if you choose.
The wind sculptures in this picture are made a few hundred yards behind where I'm standing to take this picture.

Its been a hard winter, these horses are stick thin!

I almost fell in.....

I thoroughly enjoyed my time browsing the art village, but its time to move on.

This tiny town was not a part of my plans, in fact I didn't know it existed until I saw this sign. But 17 miles of dirt road to a remote town sounded like fun so off I went.

I had to do this crossing twice, on the way in and on the way out.

Beautiful scenery along the way.

And in the distance you can see the 'town'.
Just outside of the town I stopped and had a very nice chat with one of the residents. He gave me the rundown on what roads were impassable due to the recent storm, and told me to come back in the Spring and he would show me around.
Small towns and friendly people...gotta love em!

 Back on pavement again I come across this swimming hole... A bit cold for a dip today, but it looked like fun. Look close and see the rope swing.

I make it to Vegas by 4:30 and had time to clean up before the Christmas party. 

What a fun group of people!
The guy in the green sweater (Steve aka Desert Dweller) brought his Dad (white shirt) who was celebrating his 81st birthday. 
It was a nice evening and fun to connect faces with some of the posters in the forum.

I felt bad that I didn't have a cool sweater!

Sunday morning, and once again I'm feeling under the weather. But this time its a gout attack. It gets worse as the day goes on but in the afternoon I go for a short ride out to Pahrump.

Its a good thing I'm not old enough to patronize these places....

Back to the condo and the gout continues to worsen, I can't sleep or even relax due to the pain. Finally a little after midnight I get on the bike and ride to a 24 hour grocery store where I buy some home remedy - cranberry juice. I drink a half gallon and sure enough about 4 am I'm finally able to get to sleep.

Its Monday morning, time to head for home; my plan is to ride the 420 miles straight through, stopping only for gas. I limp slooooooowly out to the bike and leave Vegas at 7:30 am.
I was able to go about 175 miles on the super slab when I run into a surprise (and nasty!) snow storm!

In the distance of about 1/4 mile I go from cruising at 75mph on a mostly dry road  to a terrified 25mph in a raging storm and snow/slush covered road. I'm a mile or maybe two from the next exit and extremely worried about cars that are coming up from behind me.  After winding my way through some cars that had slid into the guard rail, or into each other I look ahead and see two UDOT snow plows trying to make a U-turn onto my side of the road. The first one pulls out in front of me, and I'm hoping the second will do the same as I really didn't want to be in front of the snow plows...but the second truck waits until I get past him then he pulls onto the road. I am now a motorcycle sandwich between two big snowplows on an extremely slick road....dang it all!

Both plows have a front blade and another blade on the side of the truck that deploys and retracts as needed. The plow behind me had both plows down, but the one in front has his side plow retracted. I'm not certain if he can see me in his mirrors so I don't want to get close to him in case he deploys the blade and I get smashed.. We are all going around 25mph.

It takes me a minute but then I realize that he is waiting for me to pass least that's what I concluded as he was driving far slower than plows usually drive. So I take a deep breath and speed up as much as I dared and go past him as wide as possible on the right, which wasn't very wide as I was forced to ride in the tire tracks that the semi far ahead of me had left. That's when I figured out that the two drivers were likely communicating via radio, and they wanted me past them so they could block cars from coming up on me until I could exit the freeway. As soon as I passed him he lowered his side blade (they look a lot bigger from the front..). I finally reached the exit and as I moved off the freeway the first plow driver came abreast of me and gave me a friendly wave.
Thank you to both the plow drivers for watching out for me!

Once I was off the exit, it was obvious that continuing my ride home wasn't an option so I rode (read: slid) to the nearest motel and got a room for the night and then after a series of phone calls I discover the updated  forecast calls for more snow and then freezing temps for the next few days. So a plan is hatched for my son Fenton to drive down the next day with the haul trailer and give me a ride home on  what turned out to be icy roads.

Another huge Thanks to Fenton for rescuing me.

The My2Wheels party was a load of fun, and I enjoyed the ride home with Fenton, but other than that this was a crappy 890 mile ride, least it was a ride. And with out the help of friends I haven't met (the plow drivers) and family rescuers it could have been soooo much worse!

Wintertime rides....sometimes its a miserable way to scratch the itch...

Oh...and I'll be doing it again in about two weeks when I go down to Vegas for the New Years Death Valley ride.
Kids eh?