Creepy Death Valley

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Low594, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. Low594

    Low594 Adventuring Creep

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,161
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    Our club (Creeps M/C) is planning a lil run to Death Valley at the end of March and need some experienced insight. We will be staying in Furnace Creek Camp and one of our day trips will be out to Ubehebe, Teakettle & Racetrack. Roughly 85 miles 1way! Originally, we were thinking to just double back from the Racetrack, but seems we might be pushing it for gas on a couple of the bikes. So I am wondering, would it be better to exit out through Lippencott and Saline Valley Rd? I haven't crunched the numbers, but it definitely looks shorter in miles. What about in time? How many hours of sunlight in late March?

    Our current bike roster looks like:
    - Low594 on KTM 640A 275mile range 18/21 heidenau K60Scouts [lil experience in dirt; did well thru Titus Canyon][1.5gallon Kolpin]
    - DJ Cycles on BMW R1100GS 250mile range 17/19 K60Scouts [lots of dirt experience; did well thru Titus Canyon][1.5gallon in Kolpin]
    - panda! on Suzuki DRZ400 275mile range 18/21 K60Scouts [very lil dirt experience; did well over Titus Canyon]
    - jejtastic on KTM 690E 170?mile range 18/21 K60Scout [almost no dirt experience]
    - (non-inmate) on Honda XR675L/SM 175?mile range 17/17 Heidenau K76 Sumo Tires [lil dirt experience]
    - reaymorgan on Suzuki DR650 150?mile range 17/21 Bridgestone front/K60Scout rear [no dirt experience][1gallon car jug]

    I'm kinda concerned about the 17s or will they be ok? All the riders are proficient street riders of more than 10 years each, but most have little to no time in the dirt.
    #1
  2. spafxer

    spafxer Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,668
    I wouldn't worry about fuel on your proposed route. It looks like the big tank bikes can share with the small tank bikes (can't they?)

    The 17 inch wheels may not be ideal, but they will be ok. Just run slightly lower than normal street pressures to help prevent rocks denting the rims and pinch flats. Pirelli MT60's should be fine too. I mainly like a knobby on the front to help prevent front end wash outs in high speed turns. Slow Down!

    Rider experience should be ok going out to the Racetrack. Going down Lippencott is one of the tougher rides you can find in DV though. BIG BIKES and inexperienced riders on Lippencott are not a good combination.... If Hunter Mountain is not still snowed in it is a good option to get out to Saline Road and over to Panamint Springs for fuel...

    Watch the road report thread over in West Regionals for latest updates. We will be there at the end of March too...Good information in ADV Rallies too.



    .
    #2
  3. Low594

    Low594 Adventuring Creep

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,161
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    Thank you! Thats some great info! I have been watching the Road Report, even linked to here! Yes, we plan to share using the Roto-Paxs and a auto-siphon.

    We will be there 3/23-26, how about you?
    #3
  4. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Oddometer:
    15,372
    Location:
    Returning likes on redemption road.

    I agree, plus going up the South Pass isn't easy right now...complete destruction compared to the past. I don't recognize any of it from the Lippencott turn all the way to the pass.

    Double back from the Racetrack, take a right at Teakettle. Watch for the silt bed in Hidden Valley and find your way over Hunter Mtn.

    On mpg's, I always improve mileage on dirt with over street, except on...BMW twins, drops to about 25 mpg. Figure about half your street mileage for the big bikes.
    #4
  5. Low594

    Low594 Adventuring Creep

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,161
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    Ahh, good to know that Lippencott is out of the question! I'll have to take a look at that Hidden Valley/Hunter Mtn route!

    BTW, people are welcome to join up with us, either on the trails or around the campfire. We just don't have any camp vacancy. Overbooked, actually!
    #5
  6. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,326
    Location:
    Central California
    The following is a 150 mile route:

    1. Furnace Creek
    2. Ubehebe Crater
    3. Race Track
    4. Double back to Teakettle Junction
    5. Ride over Hunter Mountain
    6. Connect to Saline Valley Road
    7. Gas stop at Panamint Springs Resort

    Based on your group and time of year, that looks like your best route.

    With the two R1200GSA's I have ridden in Death Valley, I would usually get about 38-45 MPG based on this type of riding. It is all dependent on how hard you twist the throttle. I tend to ride in a more conservative manner.

    I rode my GSA up Lippincott and just barely made it with TKC 80's installed. I dropped the air pressure to 20 psi but when you do that you have to be careful not to ride too aggressively. I hope he knows to disable his ABS when heading down hill on some of these dirt roads.

    Riding from Ubehebe Crater to the Race Track will be a good test for your riders as there is loose gravel and rocks to contend with but it is level ground. There is also some silt to ride through as you head south on Hunter Mtn road which can also be a challenge but it is only about 100 yards long.

    It is good you have a good size group so you can help each other if needed.d

    You should have a great trip.
    #6
  7. David13

    David13 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    619
    Location:
    Los Angeles area (SoBay)
    Well if you are truly creepy in the Creepy motorcycle group, then you will want to stay at the Amargosa Hotel in Death Valley Junction.
    I like the place, and do like to stay out there when I am out there.
    However, I have been told the place is 'creepy'. And haunted.
    I can only attest that the dead do walk the halls at night. But I don't see that as creepy. I like the place.
    dc
    #7
  8. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,435
    Location:
    Abq NM
    We were going to ride Lippencot a few years ago but didn't get the chance due to time.

    What is so hard about it? Is it harder than going up the ledges in Golar wash, Mengel Pass, or Echo Canyon?

    Any pics of the hard spots?
    #8
  9. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Oddometer:
    15,372
    Location:
    Returning likes on redemption road.
    Nothing really hard about Lippencott...for me. :deal

    I get this question a lot, so I taped the whole thing.

    Loaded XR650R:

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/18397902" width="500" height="375" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/18397902">Lippencott Grade #1</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user3619323">larryboy8821</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>



    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/18398703" width="500" height="375" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/18398703">Lippencott Grade #2</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user3619323">larryboy8821</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>



    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/18400214" width="500" height="375" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/18400214">Lippencott Grade #3</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user3619323">larryboy8821</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>



    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/18401107" width="500" height="375" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/18401107">Lippencott Grade #4</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user3619323">larryboy8821</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>



    The flat that I didn't film down in Saline Valley can be much more difficult than the grade itself. Especially after a nice flash flood coming off of the South Pass like this year.
    #9
  10. spafxer

    spafxer Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,668
    Lippencott, like all of DV changes almost daily. There was a large thunderstorm that came through in August. Took out a fair amount of Goler Wash, made it almost impassable. Then someone (who?) came in and filled the steps with large gravel, making it the easiest I've ever seen it.. :huh

    Anyway like LarryBoy's videos show Lippencott has tons of loose rocks on top of hard packed sand/gravel.. With the psychological effect of the drop off to the one side, the mountain on the other, and a hard bounce from that unseen rock... :eek1 The bike is dancing around and traction is like you are on ball bearings..

    A big bike with a load is a handful.... a small bike it's not really a problem..

    ALWAYS watch for small washouts crossing any of the roads. The most injuries I've seen was from hitting these. Distances are great so you want to kick up the speed.. then it looks like a little 1 foot wide washout and bam you're over the bars.

    Ubehebe Road is loose gravel and usually washboarded. Your group will learn quick about letting the bike float and "dance" underneath you. I find that I have to get up over 40 miles per hour to smooth out that dance.. Of course at that speed your eyes have to be way out ahead of the bike! :wink:

    Sounds like you're asking all the right questions and going to have a good time with the right planning.


    Our group is going March 30. Thread is here... http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=841673


    .
    #10
  11. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Oddometer:
    15,372
    Location:
    Returning likes on redemption road.

    The county did, there is a residence up there and they have an obligation to maintain the county road.

    I never even noticed the 'step' until 2010, the county had fixed it after the 2005 washout and it took until 2010 to become even a blip in the trail for me.




    <IFRAME height=375 src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/18246915" frameBorder=0 width=500 allowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen webkitAllowFullScreen></IFRAME>Goler Wash from larryboy8821 on Vimeo.




    It was definitely difficult on the 1150.


    <IFRAME height=375 src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/33541422" frameBorder=0 width=500 allowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen webkitAllowFullScreen></IFRAME>Goler Wash from larryboy8821 on Vimeo.




    and now, it's buried and doesn't even exist. :lol3
    #11
  12. Rob.G

    Rob.G Mostly Harmless

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,289
    Location:
    Fulltiming in an RV! Currently NW Oregon
    The route proposed by 2on2off would be a fun one.. plus you can have a meal at Panamint Springs (the food is good). Hunter Mountain is a fun ride if it's not too snowy or muddy. And yeah for the love of God, do NOT go down Lippencott on a big bike. Yes it can be done but if you've never done it before, don't let your first attempt be on a big bike. And if anybody in your group isn't absolutely up to it, you WILL regret it.

    Rob
    #12
  13. Low594

    Low594 Adventuring Creep

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,161
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    Thanks guys! I'm really glad I asked for help! I cant wait to get home and watch those videos, since my phone doesnt support flash!
    #13
  14. Rob.G

    Rob.G Mostly Harmless

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,289
    Location:
    Fulltiming in an RV! Currently NW Oregon
    If you're on an iPhone, go to the AppStore and download the Vimeo app, then you can watch 'em on it just fine. Probably have one for Android too.

    Rob
    #14
  15. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,435
    Location:
    Abq NM
    Larryboy. Thanks for the videos. That looks like great fun. But I can where one would have to be very careful of the dropoffs.

    Golar was pretty hard in Apr 2010 when we went. I made it up the ledge on my loaded KLR and a couple of guys on KTM 990s made it up. But most of our group opted to be pulled up. It was the single hardest thing in our 1600 mile trip. Pics of Golar and the whole trip report are here:

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=587761
    #15
  16. 2on2off

    2on2off Head'n somewhere new

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,326
    Location:
    Central California
    Based on my personal experience riding all over Death Valley on the dirt, I have found I can ride just about everywhere on a Suzuki DRZ400S, Honda XR650L and my current KTM 500EXC primarily because they are all light enough for me to man-handle in difficult sections and easily pick up should I find myself upside down off the trail.

    My BMW R1200GSA was a completely different riding experience in Death Valley. Going up Lippincott, I found that on the GSA, if I lost my momentum and had to stop on a few off camber rocky sections with hard packed dirt and loose pebbles on top, I could hardly get going for lack of traction even with TKC knobbies aired down to 20 psi. My riding buddy was on an R1200GS and I had to push him in a few sections for him to gain traction and hitting one rock the wrong way can throw you down before you know what happened.

    With a few friends to help if needed, it is possible to ride a big and heavy Adventure Bike up and down Lippincott but it is alot of work.

    A rider with advanced off road riding skills can ride the bike bikes just about anywhere in Death Valley but they are an elite group and I'm not in that catagory even though I have been riding for over 44 years.

    There are no steps on Lippincott but it is a very narrow road with some steep sections with not enough width on the trail for me to be able to turn around a fully loaded GSA alone. It is the off camber sections where you can loose traction and loose your momentum. And if you are riding this solo on a big bike, you might be stuck for a while.

    Going down is easier than going up.

    Places that were too hard for me to ride my GSA on include:
    1. Goler Wash because of the loose sand and gravel
    2. Mengle Pass because of the big rocks near the "rock cairn"
    3. Echo Pass because of the steps and rocky trail
    4. Steele Pass because of the rocky 10 mile section just north of the hot springs
    5. South Pass because the current washed out conditions (rode it in the past with no problem when it was in better shape)
    6. Escape Route (Manly Pass) because of one very steep down hill section that sent my buddy over the handle bars and left the bike upside down off the trail. Took both of us to get it back on the trail. I did it once on my GSA but wouldn't do it again.

    I have ridden all these on my dual sport bikes and it was challenging but fun.

    This is just what I have experienced. Other rides with better skill will have a different opinion.
    #16
  17. sagiphile

    sagiphile Wife is Sagittarius

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2004
    Oddometer:
    83
    Location:
    Northern California
    Glad to see this thread.

    I'm planning a trip on my R12GSA at the beginning of March. Have to be in Phoenix on business so taking the bike there from SF.

    After the meeting I'm meeting my brother for a run down to Marfa Texas.
    Planning to come back through DV and I'm looking forward to taking the Saline Valley route.

    I need to run street tires for the 98% of the route that is paved. Probably Anakees. So I'll ride them on Saline Valley Road too.

    Just mounted my rotopax to Zego Pro cases so I can carry the goods I need for camping and touring. I've ridden DV before including a trip to the racetrack. Been offroad near Bodie, in Mendocino, and in Idaho.

    Could use a ride buddy if anyone wants to run Saline Valley around March 10th. I have some flexibility on date.
    #17
  18. ZappBranigan

    ZappBranigan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    470
    Location:
    Englewood, CO
    I've never ridden a bike there but I was in DVNP 2 years ago at that time (mid-late March) with a 4x4 group and here's what I can pass on:

    1. The gas stations at Scotty's Castle and Grapevine/Mequite Springs will be closed, so plan accordingly.

    2. The road between Ubehebe Crater and Teakettle junction was the WORST washboard road I have ever driven on, period. It took us around 2 hours to go the 20 miles. On our way up there, we ran into a couple of women in a late-model Suburban who had driven from Teakettle to Ubehebe without airing down their tires. They experienced 3 flat tires and were only able to keep going by driving a little, then stopping to air the tire back up, and then driving some more.

    3. Be prepared for extremes if wind and cold near the Racetrack. I don't know if you're going to camp out or if you're doing the trip all in one day, but we camped out near Teakettle Junction and the temp dropped to about 28, and the wind was whipping around with gusts of 25 - 50mph.

    We didn't do Lippincott or Hunter Mountain so I can't comment on those trails. We did do Mengel Pass and Goler Canyon, from East to West and they were both pretty decent. I think it helped that we were heading downhill on the worst part of Goler.
    #18
  19. Rob.G

    Rob.G Mostly Harmless

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,289
    Location:
    Fulltiming in an RV! Currently NW Oregon
    That gas station has been closed for years; it's a shame too since it sure would be nice to have gas available up there.

    I was there not long after you -- end of May. I agree, it was nasty washboard. I was on my DR650. I found myself standing for most of the ride because the vibration from the washboard, even at 25-30 mph, was giving me a headache.

    Unless there's cold weather/snow predicted, I'd much rather do Hunter Mountain than that washboarded road from hell. It's a much more fun ride, as long as it's not snowy or muddy up there. And lots of nice places to camp in the trees, so at least you'll be protected from the wind, even if it's cold.

    Rob
    #19
  20. Countdown

    Countdown Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2003
    Oddometer:
    6,078
    Location:
    Carson City/Ridgecrest
    There are two ways over Manly pass. Are you talking about the jeep road ro the single track trail?

    Actually other than at the very bottom of east side the road is no where near the Escape Trail which goes straight on up Fish and then down Isham.

    For my skills there are no hills on the Jeep Raod. Since I built switchbacks on the single trail, it really doesn't have any hills now. Now easy to ride in both directions, before it was east only no matter your skill.
    #20