Death Valley pilgrimage

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Jean-Luc, Feb 20, 2007.

  1. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    I usually don't like going back to the same places... there is so much to discover elsewhere! But DV is an exception for me. Plus, it would be hard to find a better place to go in winter from here.

    Anyway Presidents' day weekend seemed like a great opportunity to go back there. Hell, I had Eduardo (Joder!) who needed to put some scratches on his brand new 1200GS and Dirk (Aquavit) who had never been there and needed a guide... Just impossible to miss :ricky

    We left early on Thursday pm with the plan to camp in Lake Isabella. On the way though, Eduardo told us about his brother living in Bakersfield and we ended up having dinner and a couch at his place. Thanks again for the amazing welcoming of the whole family :clap.

    Here are the 3 of us. We had a premonition about the BMW bags so we wanted to take a pic while they were still in pristine condition.

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    The 178 to lake Isabella on the morning was fine but with a bit too much traffic, includind groups of motorcycles in slow procession :huh. We used the parralel Kern River Canyon Rd instead: narrow and twisty it was pure fun. My other favorite in the area is the Chimney Peak/Canebrake dirt trail. After all Eduardo needed to warm up a little since it would be his first time in the dirt with his GS (or almost any bike for that matter!). No worries, he is a natural and went right away as a good pace. Canebrake leads to a paved road called Nine Mile Canyon that offers great scenery:
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    In Olancha, on the 395 we stopped for some beef jerky. The "store" must be 12x12 but they DO have a web site!

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    Then we took the 190 towards Cerro Gordo pass, a great way to enter Saline Valley.

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    Some great scenery on the way up

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    Eduardo was doing just fine :thumb

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    #1
  2. RiverRat

    RiverRat Service Geezer

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    :lurk
    #2
  3. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    However Cerro Gordo climbs pretty high and the snow started to appear...

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    The god think is that the climb is exposed South so the snow didn't stick. Therefore no problem for us and and here is my bike on the top.
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    Aquavit joining me
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    And finally Eduardo. Notice the big smile :evil.
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    Yes, the view at the top was awesome...
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    But also revealed what I had kind of anticipated: the downhill, facing North was still covered in snow. Remember, Eduardo had almost zero experience in the dirt :eek1. Here is Dirk:
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    You can barely see him on the top right corner, but for Eduardo things are not that smooth anymore...

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    A steep downhill turn was too much to deal with.... Turning and braking simultaneously in the snow in such an heavy bike is more than tricky! One bag down.

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    #3
  4. Zen Slug

    Zen Slug Spineless Adventurer

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    :lurk
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  5. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    Crashing with bags is sometimes a problem with any bag. But what about those fragile BMW plastic bags :bluduh! Those new bags are extremely ingenious in the way that you can increase very easily their size and all but how could they make them so weak?!? We're speaking here about a fall at less than 5 mph and still a hook broke, creating a hole on the top right corner of the bag! Anyway Eduardo took it very well, put some straps in place and continued more carefully than ever.

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    Still, that's not an easy exercise :arg

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    I was often checking the GPS to see how much altitude we were loosing and how soon the snow would stop...

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    Even Dirk's 950 with knobbies had some "moments"

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    One more fall on the right side and this time it's the luggage rack that fails :huh. Yes, this beautiful stainless bolt (the main bag's lock) is screwed on a plastic part!

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    What's awesome with Eduardo is that he never looses his smile and with a few more straps he's able to fix his bag.
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    The Joshua trees and the snow always make a cool combination.
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    #5
  6. 450kid

    450kid XC racer

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    :lurk Can't wait for the rest!
    #6
  7. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Looks good!! Your buddy on has the right idea for trips like this: Ortlieb waterproof soft panniers!

    Great pics!! Thanks for posting :thumb
    #7
  8. winterhk

    winterhk *Disminuya Su Velocidad*

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    Good start! :lurk Hard to believe what junk those bags are. :eek1
    #8
  9. wachs

    wachs just passin' through

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    what great weather and beautiful scenes.


    like many new products in all sports, they're 'designed' to photograph well, smell good in the store but once they are sold, it's not important that they actually function. (see: COSTCO)
    #9
  10. Dudsamoto

    Dudsamoto Been here awhile

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    Death Valley is one of my favorite places on the planet, thanks for the great pictures.
    One of the hardest things I have ever done on a motorcycle was ride over Hunter Mountain in the snow. My Quad's were on fire from using my legs as training wheels! Left a funny "three" track , looked like a trike went through. I applaud your efforts, and have felt your pain, keep on :D and riding.
    #10
  11. ErrinV

    ErrinV D Boon!

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    Always enjoy your reports Jean-Luc. Looking forward to this one.
    #11
  12. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    You're so right about this! I use them too and they're great. They even "pop out" when crashing so even though the locks are also plastic they haven't broken yet. Being soft reduce tremendously the impact on the bags and the bike too. I had a crash on pavement at 70 mph last year (front tire punctured): sure the Ortlieb were damaged but not that bad and with duct tape I was able to continue riding for the rest of the trip.
    #12
  13. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    Back on the road towards Saline Valley. But no sight of Eduardo... This is unusual because despite his lack of dirt experience he was able to keep a good pace until now.

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    Something is wrong and we're back tracking, hoping that he will be fine...
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    Turns out he had another mishap on a last patch of snow and had even more issue with his bag, or actually, the luggage rack. You see, to hold his bag, Eduardo has been using the straps and the "holes" in the luggage rack or the ones initially meant for the broken locks of the bag. The problem is that EVERYTHING is pastic (besides the sub-frame) and so the straps were braking the remaining "holes/loops" :huh. I do applaud BMW efforts to produce a much lighter GS but I'm afraid they've pushed it too far and an after market luggage is definitely in order for anyone who think they might crash with their bike one day, even at the lowest speed.
    #13
  14. Ricardo Kuhn

    Ricardo Kuhn a.k.a. Mr Rico Suave

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    Jean Luc your posting are always as amazing as your riding skills...:ricky

    thanks for the most exelent pictures and adventure sharing.
    #14
  15. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    Thanks all for your nice comments. And Ricardo, I did think often about you in this trip, since I was riding with another Columbian on those very same roads where we had a good time together a few years ago :D.
    #15
  16. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    'nough about luggage! We were in a wonderful place, Eduardo was a trooper despite trashing his brand new bike and the sun was shining :jive.

    Staying in remote places in DV means many miles to get gas, that's why we were all carrying an extra can of gas. Before to setup at the Springs though we still needed to go to Panamint Springs to fill up in gas and... beers :slurp.

    Here are a few pics from the 190 before to arrive to Panamint Valley.

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    A beautiful road too!
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    We even loaded the bikes with firewood :kumbaya but decided that for food, we will just stick to our frozen-dry meals :arg. Tiny and Whammo, where are you with your gourmet camping dinners?!?

    On Saline Valley road, view toward the North of the Panamint Valley.
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    It was getting dark already so we hurried through Saline's washboard and other obstacles...
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    I would have closed my helmet, what da ya think? :lol3

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    After the South pass a quick break to admire the view. Notice Eduardo's expression: it is a stunning place, especially with the sunset light.

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    After that, it was more of a rush with the excuse that the washboard is more comfortable at high speed :lol3. The BMW lost his rear fender since anything not using Loctite will get loose on this kind of stuff.

    We found a spot in the lower springs, close to a couple in a tipi :huh. Then it was just one of those nights that I've only experienced in this place: long, relaxing soak under the stars... The stars were brighter than ever since there was absolutely no moon and no clouds the 2 nights we stayed there... Paradise! The conversations at the pool are also quite interesting since most people over there are unique caracters.

    Bottom line: we stayed in the hot spring for hours, without cooking, without lightning a fire, just eating a huge Salami and drinking beers and Single Malt (thanks Eduardo :thumb).
    #16
  17. BAGSTR

    BAGSTR BAGSTR

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    Jean-Luc,

    I admired your bikes in the lot at the Panamint Springs Cafe, but you had departed while I was using the plumbing. The use of soft bags on what I think is the factory rack was a nice touch. Three of us were on FJRs out of Stovepipe. Sorry to have missed your group.

    BAGSTR
    #17
  18. ryanwilliamcantrell

    ryanwilliamcantrell Get Out and Ride!!

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    Great post. Nice ride. Sorry about your bags...:cry
    #18
  19. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer

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    Thanks for sharing...great scenery.

    Jesse's Rule !
    #19
  20. shoco

    shoco Not So Gnarly Adventurer

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    Makes me want to take a ride out there. :clap

    Great pictures.
    #20