Exploring California - Journey of a Noob

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by KennyBooBear, Jan 4, 2020.

  1. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Set out yesterday afternoon with the Monkeys, which ended up being just a handful of us. Starting out from Temecula it was Jesse, David (the two founders) and Jesse's son along with myself. At the last moment though, Jay arrived and we set off toward Anza with the intent to ride up to the top of Thomas Mountain to catch the sunset - and catch it we did.

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    The last time I was up here I ate it on my bike, but this time around we'd take a different route up. Instead of riding around and approaching from the East, we'd take a direct stab at it by riding in through Azna on Bautista Canyon Road and ultimately via. 6S16.

    Jesse previously indicated that this was a more intermediate level ride and after doing it, I see why. While it was still an easy ride, it's far more technical than any of the other group rides I've done previously with the Monkeys apart from maybe the run through Happy Valley which at times was similarly technical. That said, if you're comfortable on your machine, it's kind of a cakewalk. I'm still not quite up to the task of keeping up with Jesse on his KLR through the lot of it, but I did a decent job and we quickly picked our way to the top.

    All in all, we knocked out the 10 1/2 miles to the top in short order and took some time to laugh, talk and share various motorcycling stories. By the end of it, we were rewarded with one of the best sunsets I've seen in years.

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    Once she set down below Diamond Valley Reservoir, we all saddled up and headed out toward Highway 74. As we waited for Jay to catch up, we found that his taillight was out. We group together keeping him in the center of the pack to keep him well illuminated all the way back into Temecula. Both Jesse and myself offered to let him stay over but he insisted that he didn't want to be a burden. He grabbed a room at a local hotel for the night until the light of day could get him home safely.

    At some point I may have quipped "But you have a Ducati. I thought Italians were famed for reliable electronics?"

    All said and done we rode 94 miles from my doorstep, about 18 of those being off pavement.

    If I get this footage cut up and such I should have an accompanying video soon-ish.

    Also this weekend I'm gonna try to get out somewhere challenging with the intent of testing my skills - we'll see how that goes though. Until next time!
  2. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Cut together my first attempt at a MotoVlog.

    I apologise on all accounts of my terrible editing, inability to not use occasional profanity, and the crap A/V quality.

    I'm working on the last one.

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  3. Wierdrider

    Wierdrider Been here awhile

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    I don’t want to hear any more f*****g apologizes ! :photog
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  4. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    I'm sorry for apologizing!

    :jack
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  5. dano619

    dano619 Long timer Supporter

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    Nice sunset pics!!
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  6. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Thanks Dano. Yea the sunset was something else and the ride, though relatively short was equally entertaining. I think next week we're doing happy valley again so I'll do my best to bring the camera along to capture the ride this time.

    Fitted this up yesterday and decently proud of myself since I've never riveted a chain before.

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    Opted not to replace either sprocket since neither are showing wear. I'll just continue to monitor them but after comparing the teeth to the teeth on this new counterprocket, it would seem as though they haven't worn at all.

    Gonna change the oil and do all those general tune-up bits this morning, and then maybe take her to Anza Borrego since it's re-opened for day use, or if time doesn't permit then maybe Margarita Peak back down to Wildomar though we'll see how the day progresses.
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  7. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    And the changes continue. Got up motivated this morning and finished notching this new skid.

    Also my EVAP system magically vanished in the process. :dunno

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    Gonna go see if it's done anything for the famous (infamous) Himalayan hanging Rev/idle issue.
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  8. GonzoMD

    GonzoMD Adventurer

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    The evap system disappeared?! You better find it in a hurry, think of the polar bears!!!
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  9. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    It's such a tragedy, I know haha.
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  10. rwinship

    rwinship n00b

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    Just curious what is the status on the klr
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  11. buckthedog

    buckthedog Eastbound and down

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    Me too... I am a sucker for comparisons on things I am interested in.
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  12. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Funny, the engine has been out of the frame for a month now but not much more progress than that. I've had some extra motivation this last week or so though so I'll spend some time this week after work tearing into it and finally getting the top end disassembled.

    Went and explored a bit into Anza-Borrego today which was fun.
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  13. rwinship

    rwinship n00b

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  14. rwinship

    rwinship n00b

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    Like I said just curious to see how you like it compared to the Himalayan. Also I enjoy your post.
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  15. Hijack

    Hijack n00b

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  16. Hijack

    Hijack n00b

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    I enjoyed following your adventures, thanks for posting.

    I'm intrigued by your experiences with the Royal Enfield. I do a lot of touring on my Harley. My best friend back in Indiana now exclusively rides small bikes and I have been considering a small to mid-size dual sport or something similar to ride with him occasionally. I am in good shape, early 60s and grew up racing motocross and enduro riding. I'm not looking at extreme off road riding but feel I can handle conditions like you posted. I was seriously considering a KLR but for the same money could get a KTM 390 that is lighter, has more power and is better equipped. I liked your analogy about the RE that it is a road bike capable of some off road stuff. Let me know if you have any further thoughts or observations on the RE. Thanks again...
  17. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    To both of you - thanks. I'll have a post up later today regarding my first ride into Anza-Borrego.

    That aside - further thoughts on the Himalayan - well, where do I start?

    The Himalayan is not as capable as a KLR on paper - I think that goes without saying. That said, I'm a firm believer that a very large majority of us will never be better than our respective motorcycles. With that in mind, the Himalayan is perfectly adequate at everything. It's a proverbial "Jack of All Trades" and while it's not particularly exceptional at much of anything, because of how rounded and capable it is everywhere, the Himalayan has a strange way of always painting a smile on my face.

    The Himalayan is gutless and you'd be hard pressed to do anything to change that, including things like exhaust mods, fueling changes via. various ECU piggybacks or chips, etc. It's much easier to accept that the Himalayan is a 55-60mph 2 lane highway machine than it is to try and force it to be a 800cc adv bike.

    Off road, the Himalayan will never be as good as a lighter dual-sport. It will never be a CRF250L Rallye, it'll never be a DRZ400 and hell, it'll never even be a KLR. That said, it is perfectly capable and even moreso if you make a few changes to armor it up in the right places. You don't need a doohickey, nor do you need anything else to start exploring on it - but when the going gets tough, things like crash bars, beefier skid plates, handguards etc. all come in handy.

    I'm in the midst of rebuilding a 2013 KLR650 and I've briefly ridden a 2nd Gen KLR previously - and what I'll say is this. Regardless of how much "better" the KLR may be, I'll still be doing the majority of my trail riding/beating on the Himalayan as it's still a better bike than I am a rider.

    I have taken it to what I believe are some serious extremes and it still surprises me every single time I get on it. Later today I'll pop up some photos from my ride in AB to hopefully give you an idea of the sort of things I came across and surprised myself when I was able to ride over them - things that I honestly feel shouldn't be attempted on anything but a lightweight dual-sport such as KTM's 300/325EXC-F and despite that, the bike cranked it's way through and over these spots.

    As a teaser I'll attach one of the photos now.

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  18. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Well, I'd like to first remind everyone that I suck and am posting the ride report up a bit later than last Wednesday. Whoops! But I digress.

    To make this as short as possible (it's still going to be long, largely due to what my Uncle Vern refers to as my having "diarrhea of the mouth") I decided on a whim to finally head to Anza-Borrego. This was a more whimsical decision than normal, as I had originally set out to ride up 3N17 from Yucca Valley but on the way up 79s it dawned on me that the weather was amazing and that Big Bear was best left for a hotter day - allowing me to escape the heat at a later time. With no real plans, I decided to commit to a route I studied on maps previously on multiple occasions - the route being Pinyon Mountain Valley down to Fish Creek, and ultimately out toward Split Mountain Road or up Diablo Drop-Off toward Agua Caliente Country Park. For reasons I'll get to, I didn't make the whole loop.

    I was on the road by 9 and by the time I reached Warner Springs - realized I was getting a bit hungry and should probably top off the tank before venturing into the desert. I had a few litres of water with me, a bottle of Gatorade, plenty of snacks to sustain me through the day, my trusty Spot3 GeoLocator and the mindset that I wouldn't press myself to go into treacherous places - as I was solo.

    After scarfing down a sandwich I rode a bit further down 79s and turned off onto S2 (San Felipe Road.) Having ridden this road before, I'm accustomed to turning off at S22 toward Borrego Springs. If you haven't ridden the stretch after before, I urge you to do so. It's absolutely breathtaking. I'd have stopped along this stretch to take photos but the wind was kicking, and kicking hard. Once I reached the junction of 78 and S2 though, I did stop for a drink of water and a quick snack. The wind down in the valley was easily kicking at 25+ mph with gusts exceeding 35. I couldn't wait to get into Pinyon Canyon and away from the constant battering I was receiving.

    The start of Pinyon Mountain Canyon was a mere couple miles up the road, so I saddled back up and rode the rest of the way. Just as I got to the trail-head right off of S2, I could see a cloud of dust coming toward me. I waited for a moment and sure enough, a lifted 4 Runner made his exit to S2. It was about this time that I realized I had finally made it to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

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    I started up the trail and within the first 1/4 of a mile, I inattentively ended up in the center track and since I was cruising at relatively low speed (20mph as I tend to ride a bit slower when I'm solo) the bike bogged and front end washed. The Himalayan had decided to take a nap almost as soon as I had started.

    I laughed it off and righted the bike - quickly questioning whether or not I was going in over my head. I shrugged off the idea though and decided to ride on. "If this continues to be an issue, I'll turn back but I'm definitely not turning back this soon" I thought. This incident heightened my senses and I can proudly say I didn't drop the bike again for the remainder of the ride.

    Anza-Borrego is stunning - and the terrain constantly changes. At the start I was in a relatively flat area covered in low shrubs. Soon though, I was surrounded by a mix of Agave, Yucca, Cholla Cacti and Joshua Trees.

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    As the canyon slowly narrowed, the ground became a bit more solid but the track more washed out, allowing sand to settle to the bottom. Choosing my lines wisely, I continued on until the mountain to my left (looking North) opened up allowing me to see clear down to Borrego Springs and beyond. I knew I had to stop for a few photos.

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    After a swig of water I saddled back up and pushed even further in. The Canyon continued to close in and as it did, I reached my first major obstacle.

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    Unfortunately GoPro screenshots hardly do this justice - but in about 10ft of length, the path dropped a good 5-6ft over an uneven granite/hole/sand/rock ridden surface. I paused in order to make a decision on whether or not I'd continue on.

    I remembered previously passing a split that went toward the right. I had surmised that the trail I spotted was a bypass and that it would loop around beyond this despite my having apparently missed such a thing on the maps I studied prior to. Against my better judgement, I decided to creep down it and see what waited for me beyond.

    Taking my time I positioned the bike atop the left side as I figured my best chances of getting down smoothely were atop the granite. Once the bike was planted on it, I rode it down - pulling in the clutch for the last steep, drop to the bottom.

    As I continued further though, my excitement turned into genuine concern as I realized there was indeed no bypass and if I encounter something else, I may need to go back up the way I had just come. Soon after I arrived at a fork - one direction quickly became a dead-end so I hopped off the bike to explore a bit. I was getting noticeably light-headed at this point and incorrectly attributed it to overthinking the right back. I assumed the stress of the idea of having to leave the bike and hike back to the highway for a tow was getting to me. I just needed a break and a breath of fresh air, was the conclusion.

    I hiked down the dead end and found that it was actually a cascade of boulders that turned into a 50+ft drop. I was standing in the middle of a very large dry waterfall. Well - now I know why I can't go this way.

    Returning to the bike I took a few more sips of water and then continued on - but only very shortly, as I was met with my next large obstacle.

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    It wasn't that I lacked the confidence to go up this. I mean hell, it was easier than going up what I had just come down. No, it was instead the realization that I didn't know what exactly lay beyond this point and the more technical obstacles I left behind me, the more I'd need to traverse on my way back if I did indeed reach an impassable spot ahead.

    I made the decision at this point to turn back, but not before burying my rear tire into the soft, deep sand that made up the tracks. In the process of digging the bike out, the lightheaded feeling nearly became too much so I pulled out my water, took of my jacket and had a seat on a nearby rock. I sent my wife a ping with the Spot just in case and relaxed for a few minutes.

    Once my breath was caught, I proceeded to work the bike back and forth until I could get it loose from the Sand's tight grasp and then began riding back knowing I would indeed need to go back up where the trail was pinched off. A half mile or so later and it was facing me down, so I took a moment to hop off the bike and assess the situation. Right about that time, two older gentlemen showed up on foot. As it turns out, the one had driven his truck in and parked a bit further back before the trail pinched in so that he (I later learned his name is Pat) could fly his new DJI Mavic Pro drone around. Immediately a wave of relief hit me, as I knew I wasn't alone and in a worst case scenario situation - someone was present to assist me in getting help.

    We spoke briefly and I then opted to ride up the granite side. I lined the bike up and backed it up for as long a run up as possible, and once my minimal confidence piqued I rode straight at it. To my amazement, the bike started to charge right up. Unfortunately due to my lack of confidence I neglected to give the bike full beans, so about 70% of the way up the front tire got swallowed by the last large dip and the bike lost all momentum and stalled. Pat reached over to try and help me keep it upright (I managed to do so regardless) and in the process lost his balance and ended up falling in between my front wheel and the granite wall to my right side. "Shit!" I thought - here's this good Samaritan just trying to help my dumb-ass out, and now he's getting injured. Thankfully he got away with just a scraped elbow.

    Once Pat stood up, the excitement of everything paired with my light-headed feeling got the best of me. I immediately realized the light-headed dizzy effect wasn't stress but instead low blood sugar. I have an extremely high metabolism and hadn't had anything sugary all day. That paired with me exerting myself meant that suddenly my vision started to go white as I was on the verge of passing out. I quickly took off my gloves and jacket, pulled the Gatorade and a sugary muffin out of my bag and devoured both. After a couple of minutes I was right as rain and ready to try it again. I thought better of it though and instead asked if they'd be willing to help push. At this point I just wanted to get home safely and chill out on my couch. They obliged and after a couple of drops up the slap, the bike was on the other side.

    We parted ways and as I put my jacket back on, a bee found its way into my jacket and stung me on the shoulder blade. Great - just what I needed.

    I packed up and made my way back out - stopping one last time for a photo op.

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    The bike and I both made it out unscathed - having ridden 16 miles in the Anza-Borrego Desert. I learned a lot along the way (primarily about not venturing solo into the desert and also making better decisions/knowing damn sure what my contingency plan/backup is) and ultimately had a damn good time. I realize going solo wasn't the smartest thing to do, although I do feel as though I was 50% intelligent about the ordeal having brought my Spot along with me as well as recognizing when I did that it was time to turn back.

    I was fully prepared to strip off the gear and hike the 8 miles back in shorts and a t-shirt with tail bag on my back (it's modular and turns into a backpack and there were 2 Jeeps on the trail as I exited so worst case scenario my hike would have been a lot shorter too) but I'm glad it didn't come to that. As an added bonus, I waited at the highway for Pat to exit where we exchanged info.

    He since offered up a truck tour of some well known spots in ABSP and this past weekend my wife and I even treated he and his partner to lunch. It's sort of funny how you make the best of friends in the strangest of places - and in this case we most certainly did.

    Looking forward to getting back into Anza-Borrego, but this time with friends.

    Cheers and ride safe y'all.
  19. buckthedog

    buckthedog Eastbound and down

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    I gotta say, you have a knack for entertaining your audience on here. I don't comment much, but having grown up in L.A. (Calabasas, Woodland Hills area) your writing, though in a different area of SoCal, makes me really miss it. I like my Gen1 KLR, but I do like the Himalayan. I don't know, but seeing where you ride, I'd likely take my XT225, as wrangling a fairly poorly ridden (by me) KLR out of the AB or any desert trails alone is no easy task. Bringing alternative clothing and shoes/water/snacks is and can be a lifesaver.

    I think you did well in your planning, thought processes and recognizing limitations. Keep on truckin brother!

    Keep it up brother!
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  20. KennyBooBear

    KennyBooBear Been here awhile

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    Thanks Buck! I appreciate the encouragement. I try to think of everything but also realize with my inexperience there's bound to be a learning curve of things I later say "The hell was I thinking going to *insert here* without *this*"

    I'm now a calendar year into my 2 wheeled journey with about 9 1/2 months of actual riding and I can honestly say that I don't think there's ever been something I've loved doing more than going into the unknown on two wheels.

    Admittedly if I had something like an Xt225/250 or a 250-300 DualSport from any other player, I'd likely take it over the Himalayan - but there's something really fantastic about getting places on the Himalayan to then have people ask questions like "You got here on that?!" (Exactly the response from Pat during my trip into Anza-Borrego).

    As long as my body allows, you can be assured I'll keep on venturing into places and blabbing on about it.

    I finally started to organize a plan to tear into the KLR too, so hopefully soon I'll have options for these various trips!

    Cheers.
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