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KTM640Dakar 02-26-2013 08:11 PM

Death Valley invasion 2013
Febuary 2013, a great time to be in Death Valley California. Especially if you live in Michigan and your covered in snow. My name is Todd and eight of my friends decided to go have an adventure in the desert. Our journey begins in the suburbs of Detroit.
Since it is snowy and too cold to ride, I mount my KTM to the hitch hauler and make my way to Andy's garage.
We are assembling our bikes in our friend Andy's garage. Andy and my other good friend Btome have raced the Baja and their racing efforts have resulted in Andy aquiring what we like to call the booby trailer. This is the rig that will deliver our five bikes in Detroit and 3 more in the Chicago area to Death Valley. We will be going to Tecopa Springs where Traveltoad will meet us to begin the adventure.

Here we load the bikes into the booby trailer.
Andy rides a KTM 660 that was ridden by Charlie Russo in Dakar. His bike sounds like pure evil when he cracks the throttle. My KTM 640 is beside his.

Here is Btome's KTM 950 and Joe's Dog's Suzuki DR.

Here is the chase truck that tows the booby trailer.
We are all very fortunate that Andy lets us use his rig to tow eight bikes across the country. We will be flying to Las Vegas to meet our bikes the following week.

Once the bikes are loaded the truck heads west to pick up Bigtraillie's Honda XR650 in Jackson Michigan, and Radak, Mark, and Peter's bikes in Chicago. Radak rides Jonah Street's old Yamaha 450 rallye bike the Jonah rode in the Dakar. Mark rides a KTM 640, and Peter rides a KTM LC4.

It takes two and a half days for Mark to pull the rig across the country. We fly to Vegas and meet Trailtoad and Mark in Tacopa Springs.

Here is some of our crew.

We are excited to get the bikes out of the trailer after arriving late the night before.

Tacopa Springs like most Death Valley towns is only around because they have water.

Bigtraillie aka Matt with his XR. Do you wonder why it is called the booby trailer?

He is the only guy with a kick start only bike. We bust his chops constantly that he needs a KTM.

We all have big gas tanks except Joe and Matt.

Silly Honda. Kick,kick,kick.....

Bruno looks excited to start the trip.

Did I mention Matt and Joe's small gas tanks? They used these little bottles to store more gas.

We leave the truck and trailer to eat breakfast at the Crowbar.

We love to eat.

There is a museum next to the Crowbar.

Lots of desert stuff.

Once finished with breakfast we go back to the truck and wait for Traveltoad who is riding his KTM 950 from LA. Here is the spring at Tacopa.

Not much but water is water.
Here is Mark's 640 next to mine.

Aaron arrives on his 950.

Bruno fixes a leaky fuel line.

I can't stop taking pictures of my bike. I love it. This is the first time that I will be riding in the desert where this bike was ment to be.

KTM640Dakar 02-26-2013 08:46 PM

We head out to ride.

The desert is huge and we follow Bruno and Aaron to the dirt road.

Mark on his 640.

I traveled with a Cannon camera around my neck. It was the best way to make sure I would take pictures. It is easy to do when riding on pavement but not on dirt.

We finally hit dirt.

Here is Peter. He is an Eastern European drinking champion.

Mark is Czechosliovakian runner up in the drinking olympics.

We are finally going to eat dust. Lots and lots of dust.

Back on pavement.

We are going to the steps once we turn off this road.

We stop to fill up first.

This town was 110 feet below sea level. It was really warm at the lower elevations. Probably 60 degrees F out at this time during our ride.

Gas is not cheap in the desert. Californians pay too much for it. $2 more a gallon than in Michigan.

I think this is Echo Canyon we are about to ride through.

We reach the steps. Not so bad since a rain strorm covered them up with rocks and gravel, but a challenge all the same.
Andy goes first. Then Mark and Bruno.

Bruno gives it a try. Not so easy on a 500 pound KTM 950.

Three bikes up and safe.

Here is Aaron making fun of Bruno's small bike. :lol3

Andy's 660 got a scratch.

Matt on his Honda.

A three hundred pound guy on a 299 pound bike.

Some Jeep guys join the show to watch the carnage.

Joe makes it up.

I think the Jeep guys thought we were crazy.

It is much easier to go adventuring with help from your friends.

Peter with the LC4.

NSFW 02-26-2013 09:23 PM

great start....:clap

i like your style...more pics less words....:lol3

nice rally bikes. traveltoad hates shiny bikes and he takes them to echo.


reubenRN 02-26-2013 10:02 PM

Very nice, a dream coming to reality! Subscribed!

GB 02-27-2013 03:46 AM

and a welcome relief from winter's cabin fever :thumb


traveltoad 02-27-2013 07:23 AM

I posted my pics in the Detroit thread, but I will add them here:

This one might be worthy of a caption contest...

traveltoad 02-27-2013 07:24 AM


Originally Posted by NSFW (Post 20820235)
traveltoad hates shiny bikes and he takes them to echo.

What are you trying to say? :rofl:lol3

toomanykaws 02-27-2013 12:09 PM

Nice ride! I am from Mi. Live here now. Stop for fuel in Tocopah on my 1100 when doing a death valley loop. Need to get out there on my KTM 990 soon.

KTM640Dakar 02-27-2013 01:56 PM

We continue through the canyon. *Sorry I don't remember the name of this trail but it was super.


We make it through the canyon and get to dunes. *It is Thursday afternoon and we have the place to our selves.

I have owned this bike for 10 odd years and have waited so long to take my 640 on real desert sand dunes. *It was like riding a snow mobile. *We have tons of sand in Michigan but it is usually bordered by trees so you have to ride carefully. *They dunes make sand riding easy. *Sit back on the bike hit third gear and keep,your speed. *So fun.

A bunch of kids in a sand box.

Aaron insisted we stop at this place for a beer and a chat with a lady friend of his.

We headed to Beatty and on to Panamint Springs where we would stay for two nights and do loops into the desert.

Here is the resturant after a hard days ride. *Do you like $20 cheeze burgers? *This place ran it's power via generator. *No phones, no TV, no Cell coverage. *Just hippies, photographers and dirt bikers. *And $7/gallon gas.

But the beer was cold, the food was good, and the Czech's were getting drunk and crazy! *We had a blast.

Panamint Springs.

Ready to gas up and ride to Scotty's Castle.

We head out and stop on this high plain. *It is 3000 ish feet above sea level and is cold.

We are waiting for Andy to finish a conference call that he had on his Sat phone. *Business never stops.

Joshua Trees

Our gang.

The desert is huge.

We are trying to get to Saline Warm Springs. *Here is an old Cat track that someone uses to grade the road.

While riding through this section Mark hits this rock with his front tire. *He crashes and dent the crap out of his front rim. *Here is the evil rock. *Like an iceberg sticking out of the sea. *It was not moving for anyone.

Mark had a Pelican box on the back of his KTM. *It flew off the bike and we could not find it. *If your in the area try to find it. *It has a treasure trove of KTM tools, tubes and bike stuff in it and was black.

Somewhere in those reeds is a box of KTM goodies. *Where did it go?

Can we fix it?

The rim is gaping and we are afraid that rocks will get into the tube and flatten it. *So we wrap it with the bad tube and zip tye it in an effort to fix it.*

more ziptyes?

Almost fixed.

Will it last the 130 miles back to Pamamint Springs?

On our way to the warm springs we see this werid art sign thing.

Dust in the distance.

KTM640Dakar 02-27-2013 03:21 PM

Here is Bruno with his 950. Bruno is one helluva rider.

Joe on the DR. Probably the smartest of all of us for bringing a nice light bike.

Who dat in the distance?

Matt. My old friend and one of the best you can get. We use him to dispose of extra beer.

Desert art is facinating.

Who would go to so much trouble to assemble this?

You could see this oasis from miles away. It was a little dot of green life.

As we rode closer to the warm springs you could see naked people walking around and swimmimg in the springs. Too bad most people willing to do this are not very pretty. It was like looking in the mirror.:lol3

What's wrong with guns?

We park at the springs. I dont take pictures of the naked hippies. You are glad I didn't.

What are the chances that the guy in the blue shirt speaks Czech? He talks to Peter, Mark, and Radak in some Slavic language. They probably are discussing beer.

As we dismount to explore the spring and eat cold pizza we brought we are straffed by a low flying F16 that had been flying all over that day. It came over so fast and low that Bruno pooped his pants.:ear

Here is what a natural hot spring looks like. This one was up the valley a bit further and was surrounded by fencing to keep the buros from eating all the lush greenery.

inside of the fencing Matt checks the spring out.

From this spring we head up the most gnarly two track of rocks and bolders we have had to ride though. Think of it like a riverbed with out the water. It takes some of us out and I had several near miss falls. There is bearly a line to follow and as we park you can see better the trail.

While we rest Andy has another conference call on his Satilight phone.

Aaron is looking at the jets that keep flying above us. We wait for another sneak attack.

Matt dumped it and catches up with us. It was a hard trail.

Our tax dollars at work. Money well spent.

Dubl-A 02-27-2013 03:31 PM

Awesome!! Keep em coming

KTM640Dakar 02-27-2013 04:21 PM


Originally Posted by traveltoad (Post 20822164)
I posted my pics in the Detroit thread, but I will add them here:
This one might be worthy of a caption contest...


Traveling in a fried out Kombi, on a hippie trail, head full of zombie.

Aaron you posted the only picture of me on a bike that I have. I was hoping to show up!

KTM640Dakar 02-27-2013 05:23 PM

We leave the straff zone and head into the mountains to try and get to Scotty's Castle. It is getting late and the girls Kerry and Margaret are waiting there with the chase truck with gas. We rode along what can only be described as a riverbed until Aaron stops and gets off his bike. He runs up the hill and pulls a three gallon gas can filled with gas out of the sand. Joe and Matt fill up. Nice one Aaron. This would turn out to be an amazing good fortune that we would soon realize later.

We enter a huge gorge. See the bike in the middle of the picture?

Andy's 660 is so sweet.

Aaron and Radak.

It is getting late and our gas is getting low.

Bruno is concerned we are going to miss the girls at the Castle. We are 5 hours late.

Honey Badger don't care. Eat my dust!

So here is what you won't see in pictures. We race to Scotty's Castle, Mark is limping on a totaly trashed front rim. We are running out of gas. We are five hours late to our check point. We get there......

No girls. The park rangers are locking the gates. The place is empty.

We miss the girls by fifteen minutes. We need to get to the next desert town and it's 30 miles away. It is getting cold, dark, and we are screwed.

We empty the last mini can of gas into Joe's bike. We head off. Ten miles down the road Matt is out of gas. We siphon from Andy's rear tank. Head out, Aaron stops, is out of gas. Repeat, then Matt again, then Joe again. This time Joe had gotten in front of us and had pushed his bike three miles before we run across him again. We finally make it to the gas stop. Barely, cool, and still 30 miles away from our final destination in Penimint Springs. We do make it. What a day! We feast, drink Schleebovitz, drink some more Schleebovitz, the Eastern Euros love to drink Schleebovitz. I can't keep up and go to bed.

The next morning we look at Marks rim. His trip is over. We have no spare rims.:cry

They have a breakfest buffet at the lodge. We bust it.

Hey! There is our gas!

Riders slowly get their gear on.

We ride to Ballarat in the desert.

They have one of Charlie Manson's trucks sitting outside. An old GMC 4x4.

I love old trucks.

Metal does ok in the desert, but not fabrics.

I want it.

The old guy in this building said that Charlie Manson and his posse used to steal cars and strip them out here.

That rusty little machine is a cinder block molder. Dump in the cement and the metal form opens up to make a block.

Play it again Aaron. That piano still worked.

Andy and Bruno get a cold pop. Ain't nobody got time for dat! Youtube...:lol3

The bikes are ready lets go!

We ride by a big salt lake and chloride mine? The head up into the first mountain pass of the day. We are off to see Barker's Ranch.

Never get tired of these cool gorges.

We are without Mark today. Sorry buddy.

A good GPS is a must. Garmin 176. The best for off road in my opinion.

Joe is the kind of guy who would give you his gloves in a snow storm.

Kickin ass and taking names.

We make it up a gnarly canyon to arrive at the gate.

Nice rest spot.

This house is were the police caught up with Charlie Manson and his crazy family of car theives and murderers.
It burnt down in 2009 unfortunately
What's in here?
We give the place a good inspection.
I wish I could have seen it before the fire.
Time to go.

KTM640Dakar 02-27-2013 06:26 PM

We get ready to go.

Aaron warns us about washes that may take out the road. Sometimes you don't see the wash until it is too late so you need to pay attention. He has said this several times during our trip.

Let's go!

My camera is taking a beating and the shutter cover starts acting up.

Something looks challenging down there.

We wait for the Jeeps to get out of the way up the trail.

I climb up to a huge rock for a better view.

Some class A riders right there.

These rocks are a challenge.

I wanted to get a shot of this cool mountain with stripes. If you look down the trail you can see a really bad wash you can't.

This stretch of trail was made up of really weird slip rock.
It was solid but when you rubbed it with hand or tire it would release sand. The reason I say this is because shortlybafter taking these shots I ran up on a wash out and grabbed too much front break. It was the only crash I had all week and I slid for 30 feet on my back.

It was like a wake up call.

We stop for lunch. Trail sauage, pizza, trail mix, camel back water. No one has had a flat tire or gotten hurt.

Iron pony's.

We get on the trail and run into this gold mine.

I'm an engineer so this stuff really fascinates me.

This machine was run by steam and used belts and pulleys. Which have probably rotted away in this desert sun.

Matt is standing in front of a box that emptied into a crusher.

You can see the slucenand a tumbler.

Andy waits while we explore.

The patentnon the gearbox Matt is looking at said 1918.

This steam piston and flywheel set ran the machine. I wonder were the boiler is?

The mine entrance.

Notice the timbers used to hold up the outer rock of the entrance,

Stoopid camera shutter cover.

We ride to a lake in the middle of the desert. We rode down a freshly graded dirt road doing 65 mph to get here.

The dust clouds rose 200 to 300 feet into the air.

We had to space out about a mile apart. This lake had some fish that is only living in this lake. Poor fish.

Back to the Dumont Dunes.

Hundreds of feet high.

KTM640Dakar 02-27-2013 06:43 PM

We get our fill of Dumont Dunes and ride back to Tecopa Springs.
Back to the booby trailer.

It is our last day of riding. We are all tired and load the bikes into the trailer along with our gear.

Bruno fixes the trailer.

I am sure Mark was bummed out that he couldn't ride with us.
Matt gets one last look at the desert before the Schleebovitz.

The truck is loaded. We eat dinner at a Bistro next door and eat like kings.

Later after much Schleebovitz drinking the Metallica begins to play and the Czechs get their dance on. The owner of the place comes out and yells at us to turn it down. He leaves and the chef from the restaurant tells us to turn it up again. We are in the desert for crying out loud. Nobody is around.
We laugh.
We all go to sleep so we can get up at 4am to head to the Vegas airport. What a blast we had. Good times with good friends.

As a side note Mark got stuck in a snowstorm in New Mexico trying to get the booby trailer back to Michigan. They closed the highway with him on it.

Thanks Bruno, Andy, Mark, Aaron, Matt, Joe, Radak, Peter, and Kerry

It's not the destination it's the journey.:D


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