Just Passing Thru... 6 days in Death Valley

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by cjbiker, Mar 6, 2012.

  1. cjbiker

    cjbiker Nobody's Robot

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    Southern Maine
    Let me begin this with a disclaimer. We drove an RV from Maine to Death Valley for a week or so of riding around the DV area. If starting the trip by RV disqualifies this for Ride Reports, feel free to nuke.

    Ok, with that out of the way, the plan was for my riding buddy, Sam and I to ride our bikes, my KLX250s and his 450EXC around DV for a week or so. We had two weeks off from work, so that meant burning up the road to get there and back. The title of this ride report comes from the RV that we borrowed from my Sam's parents:

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    I am very thankful that they allowed us to use their RV basically for free, but it was way bigger than we needed and was quite a handful to drive on the highway. Other than getting blown off the road by 50mph side winds in the Texas panhandle, the trip west was fairly uneventful. Note the trees on the right:

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    We arrived at the Panamint Springs campground after 4 days on the road. Panamint Springs turned out to be a pretty good choice to stay. It's one of the nicer RV campgrounds in the area and was handy to some good riding.

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    We got our park passes and were ready to ride.

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    I'm on the left in the white shirt:

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    Our first day's ride was from Panmint Springs north on 190 to Saline Valley road. We'd then ride up Lippincott Pass to Teakettle Junction, Hidden Valley road to Hunter Mountain and back to Saline Valley.

    Sam had a GoPro video camera on his helmet and shot this video on the road to Saline Valley.

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    If I can get it to upload, he also shot a video of Saline Valley road, but it's 2 gig.

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    Next was Lippincott Pass. He stops and points to me way behind.

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    Just a note here, Sam is an awesome rider. Me, not so much. I've been riding motorcycles since 2010 and only started riding dirt last summer. I think I'm doing well for a n00b, but I have my moments. One of which was on Lippincott. When I hit the section at around 5:30 in the above video, I dropped my bike. The wheels were uphill of course, and it was just too steep and loose to pick up. I struggled with it for 10 minutes or so, and was exhausted from trying to pick it up. I rested for a bit, and was able to drag the rear wheel around and spin the bike around so I could pick it up from the uphill side. That worked ok. By then Sam came back looking for me, and we continued on at a slower pace to the top.

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    From there it was an easy ride to the famous Racetrack Playa.

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    Next up was Teakettle Junction. Sam hadn't heard about this, and when we got there, he told me that I should have brought a tea kettle. I said "Sam, I wanted to bring a kettle so bad, but I knew if I strapped a tea pot on the back of my bike, you would have thought that I've completely lost my mind.", to which he replied, "Yeah I would have!" Oh well.

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    We were warned about the silt bed on Hidden Valley road, but it still was a shock. It's just like they say, like riding through water, only dry. Weird. I guess I can scratch Baja off my list of places to ride because I can't imagine riding through that all day.

    Sam noticed this pile of wood atop a hill with a road leading up to it.

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    We investigated and found that it's an old mine. I think it's "Lost Burro Mine".

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    Hunter Mountain road was really cool. There was just a trace of snow here and there. The dirt was a little damp and I got to practice sliding the back end around the corners using the brake and/or throttle. Tons of fun.

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    Back to Saline Valley road.

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    If you watched the first video, you probably noticed that I was going painfully slow on 190. I had just put on new tires, a Trackmaster II in the back, and a Pirelli XCMH on the front. I really had no idea how hard I could push the tires on the tar. I got a better feel for it, and went harder on the way back. I used pretty much all the rubber on the way back to camp.

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    Stats for the day

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    I plan to do one day per post, so stay tuned for day 2!
    #1
  2. Lartech

    Lartech Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Wyoming
    Thanks for the report. I love Death Valley :D
    #2
  3. RedRockRider

    RedRockRider Long timer

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    Some very nice pics. Those moving rocks are cool. Thanks! :thumb
    #3
  4. cjbiker

    cjbiker Nobody's Robot

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    Thanks! We actually stayed in St George the first night on the way home. We had thoughts about checking out Moab, but it had turned cold and was snowing, so we hightailed it home.
    #4
  5. mikewillsmith

    mikewillsmith Not the f'g fresh prince!

    Joined:
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    The real Mid-Coast Maine
    :thumb
    :lurk
    #5
  6. Tslapper

    Tslapper #!

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    Mainely here
    :lurk
    #6
  7. Pundy

    Pundy Been here awhile

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    Jul 9, 2007
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    North of North New Portland
    Nice report CJ!
    #7
  8. team8

    team8 Been here awhile

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    Southwest Maine
    Very nice start to the report, I had no idea meeting you last year that you were new to the dirt, would not have guessed that!
    #8
  9. cjbiker

    cjbiker Nobody's Robot

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    Yeah, I think that day was the 2nd or 3rd time I'd ridden on dirt :eek1
    #9
  10. TK-LA

    TK-LA SoCal Rider

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    Southern California
    Where in Maine are you? I'm originally from Biddefrog, but have since relocated out to Los Angeles. (12 months of riding)

    We did DV last year. Mezmerizing place.
    #10
  11. cjbiker

    cjbiker Nobody's Robot

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    Right next door, in Buxton. I lived in Torrance, CA for a bit. Small world!
    #11
  12. MasterMarine

    MasterMarine Long timer

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    Now serving just Snohomish County
    I enjoyed watching your video of going up the Lippencott Grade. I did that a couple years ago when I was in Death Valley and the video brings it right back. :clap We had done a big loop from Furnace Creek to Crankshaft Junction past the big dunes and then over Steel Pass, the hot springs, up Lippencott, past the Racetrack, the crater and back down to Furnace Creek. I think it was around a 270 mile day. Fantastic!

    Good Times! :D

    I cannot wait to see more.
    #12
  13. Parx400

    Parx400 Long timer

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    Sacramento CA
    We were just there over prez weekend. The blue Tea kettle is ours :)
    #13
  14. cjbiker

    cjbiker Nobody's Robot

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    The plan for day 2 was to head south on Panamint Valley road to Indian Springs road, ride Surprise Canyon, back to Indian Springs road to Ballarat and ride Pleasant Canyon to Rogers Pass and down South Park Canyon.

    Indian Springs road is washboard dirt.

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    We headed up what I thought was Surprise Canyon, but the GPS tracks I got from Countdown don't agree. I think this is actually Jail Canyon. Can anyone verify?

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    We found this cabin and old mining operation at the end of the road.

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    I'm guessing this is some kind of blast furnace for smelting ore? The engine must have run a blower.

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    My father saw this pic and says this is a Studebaker truck.

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    This one is a mid 50's International. I believe this was pictured in an issue of Four Wheel magazine a while back.

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    We headed back down the canyon and continued on to Ballarat. We ended up going through Ballarat a bunch of times and I don't think I ever got a picture of it.

    Pleasant Canyon

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    Clair Camp

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    Some videos Sam shot:

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    I started having trouble near the top when it got real steep again.

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    Note the open pocket on my Camelback :baldy

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    We made it to Rogers Pass.

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    Heading down to South Park Canyon was the steepest I've ever seen.

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    We came across another old mine.

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    At this point I went to get my chapstick out of my Camelback and discovered that my wallet was missing. I was too tired to go back up and look for it, so dejected, I headed down South Park Canyon.

    South Park Canyon was really loose and rocky and not much fun, especially given my sour mood at that point.

    Sam got one quick video of a bridge about half way down.

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    Stats for the day

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    #14
  15. motoged

    motoged Been here awhile

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    Kamloops, BC
    Cool ride :clap:clap:clap Those loose uphills...and downhills... :huh :evil

    Vids and pics are great !!
    #15
  16. kobukan

    kobukan almost gnarly

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    Great stuff cj. I've gotta get out there! :clap
    #16
  17. Honkey Cat

    Honkey Cat Tailights Fade!

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    I HATE FLORIDA SO MUCH. I can not wait to be off from work for two months ( aug & sept ) heading west.
    #17
  18. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Wishing I was back in DV...

    I loved the Lippencott Mine RD video in HD. Great job. I rode that downhill on a fully loaded big bike. Wow! Your buddy was flying up that rocky hill.

    Standing by for the next day...
    #18
  19. Jwats

    Jwats Bike till u Die

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    Cooler than yours,NW Wyoming
    Larryboy Chime in
    #19
  20. EvilClown

    EvilClown Reality show stunt double Super Moderator

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    Finally getting to this...Nice!:clap



    :lurk
    #20