Joined: Mar 2006
Location: 20 miles from Santiago Pk.
FTI (Follow the Idiot) Nevada dirt 1000
This is an account of a 6 day ride a bunch of us did a couple weeks ago into Nevada and back. We’ve all been riding mtn. bikes and more recently motos for many years together as part of an irreverent, politically incorrect club called BGR (Billy Goat Racing) based in south Orange County, CA. BGR has a history of following the trail least travelled, i.e. lots of deer trails, steep down hills, hiking unridable terrain (while carrying bikes), trespassing and bushwhacking. Our leader on this trip, and I use the term loosely, is known as FTI (follow the idiot) for his passion of seeking out the most remote and unknown tick and poison oak infested trails.
The plan was hatched from a hospital bed or maybe from the couch soon after. Tom had just undergone surgery for a torn Achilles tendon. This could have been a game ending injury but he was lucky and it was repairable by one of the best orthopedic surgeons around. Although it occurred on a motorcycle ride it wasn’t caused by a traumatic motorcycle incident but a tear on an old scar of undetermined origin. So, needless to say, he had a lot of time (like 6 months) to study maps and invite people. The plan was to try and ride 120-150 miles a day through remote parts of Nevada and camp at a hot springs every night. We would have 4x4 truck support to carry our gear with a crew of super reliable and trustworthy guys to manage the gas, beer, water, firewood and food resupply logistics, and that was quite a job.
For months I hesitated to commit to the plan. I knew I would be the least skilled rider in this group of technical singletrack experts and that the “plan” would just be a loose outline for barely controlled chaos. Adventure, fun, drama and comedy were guaranteed, but the potential for disaster and mayhem was high. Finally, after reviewing Tom’s map, I decided that to pass it up would be stupid. Casting off into the unknown for a 1000 mile week with some of my best friends was too good to resist. It helped that everyone is mega experienced and that Jesse and Pete are paramedics in case anything really bad happens.
Day one: By departure day the group has swelled to 9 riders and 4 crew members. That’s really too many but we will have to deal with it. The first day the guys meet at Costco and buy a huge pile of food, ice and beer. They jam it into several giant ice chests and crates and head north up Highway 395. Tom, Mark and Rick drive up in Tom’s truck; Jimmy, Rob and Robert in Jimmy’s rig. Mikey, Mike and I pull a trailer with most of the bikes. Pete and Chris are coming from Escondido and would arrive late. Jesse and his dad Jon will meet us in Fish Lake Valley after the first day of riding. We decide to meet in Big Pine at the Glacier View campground. This is a great campground to stage from since you can leave cars there for $2 a day and camping is only $12 a night.
Day two: The morning is cold and we are up at 6 and ready to go before 9 after a frenzy of organizing and packing our mountain of stuff and shoehorning it into the two trucks that are starting out. Pete and Chris have brought a massive pile of breakfast food and we eat big, but dude, where’s the bacon? The back of Tom’s truck is packed to the ceiling front to rear; Jimmy’s truck has a little room left over. There is nothing like that feeling you get when ride time has arrived. The bike is warmed up, kickstands are up, bikes are looping around, anticipation, nervous energy and a steady adrenaline drip and then we are off. I love it.
DE and Mikey: We've got 4 gallon tanks!
The crew, Mike, Robert and Rick, decide to head up to visit the Bristlecone Pines high in the White Mtns. before continuing into Nevada and Fish Lake Valley. They will meet us at the primo hot springs there. This first camp is fairly remote and we expect to have it to ourselves.
We head east on the 168 to the Death Valley Rd. across the Inyo Mtns. to the Waucoba Summit at ~7500 ft. The dirt begins and we bomb down almost 6000’ into the Saline Valley. On the descent Chris gets the honor of the first flat on his XR 650R and stops to fix it with several others stopping to help. Later Mark dumps his heavy DRZ at about 30 mph while distracted by the stunning scenery but is OK. His KTM’s engine is apart for a rebuild in his garage. Mark has a garage full of bikes and the DRZ is a backup. We regroup at the Saline Valley hot springs turnoff. By now the day has warmed up and it’s pretty dang hot out.
Rob, Jimmy and Tom and I wait.
We agree to stop at the third (most primitive and uncrowded) hot springs for lunch and maybe a quick dip and are soon there. Mikey, Tom and I jump in while the others eat. The water is perfect and I soak my flannel shirt to help cool down. From there we head east past Steel Pass and the Eureka Dunes. Flash floods have hammered the road since I was last here in February on a solo ride. The rocks and sand are fairly brutal and the track disappears several times. Our next stop is back on the Death Valley Road past the Dunes. Mark breaks out the perfectly ripe cantaloupe he has carried as a treat to share.
Pete near the dunes.
We hang a right past the Road Closed sign towards Crankshaft Junction. East of Crankshaft Junction the track is washed out in many places. We are looking for a left turn to the north towards Tule Canyon, and soon a turn appears. We take it, but after 2 or 3 miles it turns into washes and then nothing. We backtrack and continue soon arriving at Roosevelt Well where there is a corral and windmill. Rob’s GPS confirms our location. I am glad that I had Amazon overnight the Benchmark Nevada map book, the Gazetteer Nev. map book is not nearly as good. Those with small gas tanks are getting nervous and one or two of the guys are already on reserve. They are eyeballing Rob’s giant 6+ gallon Acerbis tank on his KTM 540 and he is soon relieved of some of the extra weight. Mikey and I aren’t worried as we have 4 gallon tanks.
More gas! Chris must feed the pig (BRP).
We gradually climb out of the desert and into beautiful Pinyon Pine forest. Small creeks and meadows appear. By now it is clear that our mileage estimate is way off and it’s getting late in the day. We decide to make a beeline for the gas station in Dyer on Highway 266 after Tule Cyn.
The guys gas up, fireworks are purchased and we head north for 10 miles or so to the dirt road leading to the Fish Lake Valley springs and our camp. As I crest the small rise before the camp I am stunned to see a small city of motorhomes surrounding the springs, so much for having it to ourselves! It turns out it is a moto club, “The Ramblers,” from Salinas, Ca. on their annual Nevada outing. At least we will have something in common to talk about with the guys and gals while we share the hot springs. Minutes after we pull in Jesse and Jon drive up in their truck. Beers are cracked, the hot tub is visited, a campfire is lit and soon we feast on carnitas burritos.
Later a slightly out of control fireworks display is enjoyed by all including our neighbors. Well, maybe not those folks that are already asleep!
My bike odometer (Trailtech Voyager) reads 193 miles.
To be continued………
De Eee screwed with this post 11-10-2012 at 02:21 PM
Reason: Had trouble on Photobucket.