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Old 04-04-2014, 11:00 AM   #1
Jenn OP
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Death Valley n00b Ride n00b Report

After my little warm-up ride in February, I was advised of a space in the RV for the Adobe contingent heading down to Death Valley. I got permission for time off (which coincided with my first day as an FTE, concidentally) and packed with assistance of my trusty majordomo:





And loaded up the DR to head to San Jose on a very rainy Wednesday:



Please pay special attention to the license plate - that's the last you will see it looking like that!

Jenn screwed with this post 04-04-2014 at 11:10 AM
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Old 04-04-2014, 05:16 PM   #2
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Old 04-04-2014, 05:56 PM   #3
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Old 04-04-2014, 10:13 PM   #4
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Of course, we got to San Jose to meet Seth and load up the trailer and there was no rain - all blue skies and tweeting birds!







We got on the road, Seth drove like a pro all the way to Bakersfield - playing awesome music - while Felix worked away on his laptop. We stopped at Cycle Gear for ... well, gear! Then when we got near Tehachapi Pass, we saw an awesome rainbow:



Yep, motorcycles still attached!



We arrived safely and set up camp, walked around and socialized a bit and then tucked in Seth with his special sleeping bag before heading out to star gaze





In the morning, we planned to head over the South Pass to Saline Warm Springs -- my special request and one of my favorite places. It felt nice and temperate in camp so I pulled out my jacket liner and was raring to go.



So was Seth!


OK - just one adjustment:


Then we headed off, a trio, for Saline Valley Rd. A larger group of ADVers caught up with us, and we leap frogged them along the road.

A good thing, too - when we got to the first lookout before the Hunter Mountain turn off, I was quite chilly. Fortunately, a very nice man with green-hazel eyes had an extra shirt that fit me perfectly and gave me the extra layer of warmth I needed.



And then everyone pulled ahead of me so I could putter along like an old lady (not having been on dirt much in the last 4 years) and admire wildflowers. I've never been to the desert for spring wildflower season and was very excited to see this display (between 2000-4000' all over the park, I later realized)







Felix & Seth waited for me patiently - watching the other riders tear off in a cloud of dust









We made it to the turn off for Saline Warm Springs -- the way in was a lot sandier than I had ever seen with these moguls, like skiing, but for dirt bikes (it WAS much more fun on the way out!)



After hiding our firearms in the desert, we headed in for the upper springs, aka "Palm Springs" to leave the crowd at the lower springs.

Shower is just on the other side of those palm trees - go get clean before you soak!




Wizard pool



Hot springs, mountains and dirt bikes - what else could you want (other than chocolate and a massage, but I got that as well!)

Jenn screwed with this post 04-17-2014 at 07:28 PM
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Old 04-04-2014, 10:40 PM   #5
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Old 04-04-2014, 11:06 PM   #6
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Seth and Felix take a lesson in how to efficiently and effectively clean a hot tub from this guy (who was impressed that the tub full of motorcyclists was clean -- either that or he was afraid to kick us out and empty the water!)



"wait, I have to get some pictures!"



Felix prepares to take a soak with his motorcycle:


Enough shenanigans - let's head back to the campground!





Lock down the GoPro!




Father Crowley Overlook




Frank took our pictures, so we took his


Our campsite was full of Adobe people when we got back!



And tents & motorcycles!



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Old 04-05-2014, 08:39 AM   #7
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Great stuff..!! Heading there this week.

Good pictures and ride report. I am heading to Death Valley this week with 2 others. Tried to find the Saline springs on the map but could not. Is it right near South Pass? We are going to be on 800's and 1200's and one rider is very new to off roadiing on a bigger bike. Do you think that road is difficult? Any other good spots for us to look at? We will do the Titus canyon look and probably head to Telescope peak.
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Old 04-05-2014, 10:13 AM   #8
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Thursday Recap

Overall, Thursday was probably one of the best days for riding for me out of all three -- it was a good warm-up, and the best part was a very long rest at the warm springs before going back out to Saline Valley Rd and the South Pass.

The ride back to camp was definitely easier -- in fact, I really enjoyed the mogul-hopping part of the road to the warm springs on the way out and wanted to turn around and do that part again! I definitely felt more confident in the big sand pit at the turn by the farm/lake turnoff, and was a lot stronger going up the pass as well.

Rest is good!

After returning to camp on Thursday evening, I took my motorcycle over to Lior's camp to leave for him to change out the tires on Friday morning (I have not ever successfully changed a rear tire -- it's really difficult and time consuming).
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Old 04-05-2014, 10:14 AM   #9
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Friday

Friday morning, Moishe and Lior pointed a bunch of things that needed attention: front & rear brake pads (just changed rear brake pads in July, only 9K miles? come on!), a completely missing rear spoke ("Only professional riders break out spokes like that!") and my rear chain guide/guard was completely cracked through but not interfering with anything mechanically.

Oh, yeah -- and I broke my license plate! I only lost the last character (the 1) so now I am just "CLARKO."

Returning to camp, everyone was getting ready:




A larger group of Adobe folks, about 9, planned to go ride together on Friday -- and we all started to gather at the gas station across the street. That's when Felix remembered: his throttle had been sticking in the "on" position. He headed over to Lior's to have it checked out and after a little bit, flagged the group.

I stayed to wait with my friend while everyone else (now 7) started off and promised to wait 20 minutes at Stovepipe Wells.

Lior worked his magic on Felix's bike and swapped out the return cable so that he could still ride! Yay!

The two of us headed down the road and just past the pass -- we came upon Joe on the side of the road with Rachel & Dustin. His KTM had switched off so he had, sadly, coasted down the pass. Seth and the rest of the group continued on to Stovepipe Wells.

We waited for them a few minutes and then headed to Stovepipe Wells for gas all together (now 5). We hoped to catch up with Seth and the others at some point, so headed down the road.

Felix zipped ahead of me and less than 2 minutes out of Stovepipe Wells - I noticed something VERY strange: dangling off the right side of his motorcycle (from my perspective) was -- WTF? His REAR BRAKE?!?

HEY! FELIX! HOLD UP BUDDY! I blew the horn, I dropped into 4th and sped up to catch him. He thought we were playing and passed up another motorcyclist to keep his lead -- meanwhile, we were leaving Joe, Rachel & Dustin behind us.

Finally, I got up next to him, honked and pointed DOWN -- after last year, I think he has learned that is not a sign for "Wow, your bike is really awesome!" but "Houston, we have a problem!" (ie, your bag on the rear rack is on fire or, in this case - your rear brake is flying in the breeze).

I dropped back as he slowed to pull over -- and I hoped he would realize he had no rear brake and stop safely (which, of course, he did).

The other three caught up to us - Rachel whipped out her amazing tool kit and the three guys started looking for bolts to cannibalize for the rear brake caliper.

Crisis averted! We got back on the road and headed to Furnace Creek.

What the hell, might as well get more gas since we're here. OK, it was really Social Media Time.



Finally, after a our cascade of mechanicals - we discussed our plan and decided to have our lunch at Badwater and got back on the road. Our morning had already been nearly 4 hours at this point.

Here we are BELOW SEA LEVEL and not even wet!



Contrary to what we were informed - there was no shade structure or picnic table at Badwater.



We ended up sitting on the pavement of a ramp on the north side in some shade, which worked out pretty well and gave us a nice view.

In all my trips to Death Valley, I've never been to Badwater Basin -- so we took some pictures.




I just knew this sign really was begging for something else, like being used as a seat:



So everyone else had to get in on the fun:




C'mon Rachel, don't you wanna?


Group photo (Jenn, Felix, Joe, Rachel & Dustin)


Badwater wasn't too crowded though there were a few visitors of interest, including a young couple from Connecticut touring Death Valley barefoot, in swimsuits -- because 75F is really hot to them.

And there was also this Austrian man who was touring the world in this totally bad ass truck/camper thing:



Jenn screwed with this post 04-05-2014 at 10:23 AM
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Old 04-05-2014, 10:22 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TBickell View Post
Good pictures and ride report. I am heading to Death Valley this week with 2 others. Tried to find the Saline springs on the map but could not. Is it right near South Pass? We are going to be on 800's and 1200's and one rider is very new to off roadiing on a bigger bike. Do you think that road is difficult? Any other good spots for us to look at? We will do the Titus canyon look and probably head to Telescope peak.
Saline warm springs is actually on Google maps -- so find it there and then you can see where it is on the paper map. Probably listed as "Palm springs" and "lower spring" or something.

Check out the Death Valley Road conditions discussion here on ADV Rider.
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Old 04-05-2014, 11:06 AM   #11
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Dang! I just realized the problem I am having sorting my photos in with other photos (from my iPhone or other people on the trip) is that I didn't change back the date/time/timezone after my trip to the UK last August/September - DOH!!!

Here's the album on Flickr
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Old 04-06-2014, 01:37 PM   #12
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Death Valley n00b Ride n00b Report

By the time we got to the turn off for West Side Rd from our lunch at Badwater, it was already around 1pm.




We headed down the dirt road -- lots of land spread out around us.




We got to the warm springs resort with optional water crossing - Joe and Felix opted "in"




After a snack & drink break at the warm springs by the abandoned pool - we packed up to head toward Geologist's Cabin - there's Rachel with a big smile and no helmet (and Joe in the background).



And no helmets here


More gorgeous mountains and flowers, motorcycle glamor shots:








ok on to the cabin, for realsies!








Another break at the Geologist's Cabin with a vista of the striped butte and gorgeous valley:












At this point, I was starting to feel kind of tired -- it had already been a long day, and I was feeling thirsty and hungry every time we stopped. And we still had not gone over Mengel Pass to Goler Wash!

So far, I was doing ok - just slow and everyone was patient and waited for me as I puttered and gawped at the gorgeous scenery. Hadn't dropped my motorcycle yet...






As soon as we left the cabin, we ended up on hard rock with lots of rocks on it -- and I went down. Not just down -- but down at slow speeds and could not extract foot from under motorcycle. So, I cut the engine and honked the horn -- Rachel & Joe were behind me and just dropped their bikes to come help me up from under mine (yay team!).

OK. If I was feeling a bit tired - this was the evidence. Now I was at the point where I was totally second guessing and losing confidence. Everything on me felt ok after that fall, so I got up and kept going.

Until we got to Mengel Pass -- which Rachel didn't realize was Mengel Pass and powered up it like a fucking champ til she hit a rock and went over. Joe & Dustin ran up to help her out -- and she went down a second time, roosting them (Felix got this on GoPro even!) and then BAM! She was outta there!





What a woman! I decided someone else would have to get my DR up -- Joe went up and made it look like a piece of cake, Felix dropped once and then BAM! Dustin did alright -- and I took pictures!





  • Joe - killing it in one go (video)
  • Dustin - taking my DR up to the first big obstacle (video)
  • Felix - "it's easier the 2nd time" taking my DR up the rest (video)
It looks much easier in video, I think, than when you are standing at the bottom of a boulder strewing piece of road.


Meanwhile, I was thinking "I wish I had brought climbing shoes" because there were a LOT of nice bouldering opportunities at Mengel Pass...





Oh yeah - and please note my license plate...


As Seth says, "If it falls off, it stays falled off!"

Going down through Goler Wash was ok - I did a few things that surprised me. The DR moving around to places I didn't expect freaks me out (like I think I'm going forward but then I am going WHOO! to the LEFT! then WHOO! back to the Right!).

Once we got down into the canyon, there were so many gorgeous rocks to look at -- and I was pretty tired. I had to stop and pause a few times to enjoy the scenery and recompose my molecules.

I was thinking of Seth, Felix & Joe's advice -- "Why are you sitting down? Stand up!" and "Give it more gas" and all that when I realized -- they are all far ahead of me again, so I better catch up.

Of course, I did this in the worst area -- ankle deep pea gravel on a right hand turn and BAM! I lowsided to the right (again) but tried to step off to stop it -- succeeding only in the bike landing directly on my heel while my foot was at a 90 degree angle to the ground with the toe straight down. Oh. Ouch. I could FEEL that.

I was able to pull my foot out and propped it up while I recomposed my molecules and then heard Joe approaching. Thinking "He better not think I am unconscious or dead" - I put my arms on the ground to push up to sit and - holy cow! What did I do in my left shoulder? Ow.

Speaking as someone who has had so many sprains that there is nothing left to sprain in the left ankle, and took nearly 9 months to recover from a bad lateral right ankle sprain 2 years ago -- and rebuilt ACL in both knees... I get a little protective and listen to my body when it says "tired."

After my knight in orange & black rescued me (again!) -- I really was puttering and enjoying the rocks. And the fauna - meet Jack and his harem:



I want to go back and climb this one - it is much bigger than it looks in the picture:


We got out of Goler wash well after 6 and headed to Ballarat, arriving around 7 -- but realized we needed to get back so folks could get the group meal (except me, 'coz I'm vegan).

Back at camp, I can't even remember what I ate - I showered, and was tired -- and went to sleep early. I should have iced the ankle but -- zzzzzzzzzzzzz -- not even midnight burrito microwaving could wake me up!

Jenn screwed with this post 04-06-2014 at 11:44 PM
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Old 04-06-2014, 06:03 PM   #13
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Great report so far JENN. We are going to that exact area in one week, so I am taking notes...
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Old 04-06-2014, 09:36 PM   #14
Harry94025
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Hi Jenn,

Enjoying your report! Did you have your smaller countershaft sprocket installed for the dirt? Would have come in handy on the tight sections...

Harry
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Old 04-06-2014, 11:44 PM   #15
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Thanks Pink!

Harry - I brought the 14t but didn't put it in - wish I had!


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