My First ADV Experiment

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by molochnik, Nov 7, 2018.

  1. molochnik

    molochnik Desperately wants the blue pill

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2018
    Oddometer:
    34
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    HiDez SoCal
    CAVEAT LECTOR: Below is a summary of my ADV experiment I emailed to a couple of friends. One recommended I post it here. Forgive my digressions - they might be provocative and belong somewhere else - not trying to start any shit.
    Also, I don't have but two pictures from the trip (it was to be more of an interpretive thing) and the one I wanted to post keeps showing up sideways in the post...sorry.



    After sitting around depressed for a few years between 2010 and 2013, I found I had watched everything watchable on Netflix. I saw some of the “classics channels” had a good number of the old “biker B-movies” and among those, my favorite – Chrome and Hot Leather. It’s a somewhat improbable premise, especially watching it being so many years older now, but as a teenager it didn’t require too much of a suspension of disbelief. It had everything I liked; Army stuff, dirt bikes, choppers, biker chicks, etc. I began work on another custom, this time a rigid Sporty powered chopper. Long story short, I would find myself back on a racetrack with my old road race bike 3 years later. It wasn’t long before I would find the risk of hauling an ass on the racetrack wasn’t going to pop my weasel, so I thought I’d try some ADV riding. I had the DR which got me back to riding again, I used to tour a lot when I was a younger guy, I love the desert, and life has become too safe.


    My plan was to ride the “Old Mojave Road” (Old Government Road) from somewhere along I-15 (prospectively Zzyzyx Road) to Bullhead City. I was cocksure and thought I could do it with a cheap lensatic compass and a questionable map downloaded from the Mojave National Preserve website.


    I never found the trail as far as I know.


    It was a bifurcated endeavor in that I wanted to see what I might need to do to my DR to make it more ADV-worthy, try out my new camping gear (selected on theory and conjecture), and what I did and didn’t need for such a fandango. If I had been successful, I would have found the most decadent luxury resort-hotel in Laughlin, so I did have street clothes which proved superfluous. No luxury hotel, not even a pleasant shampoo from a kindly prostitute at a convenient brothel.


    I found I need to undo more of the supermoto modifications I’ve done to the suspension. The stock suspension links need to go back on the rear to raise it an inch and I have to let the forks back out to full travel. I also didn’t crank enough preload into the shock spring for the loading; otherwise I think the valving I did to the shock should be fine. I found that one needs to have their luggage strapped to bike *tightly* to avoid things getting all out of shape while trying to deal with sand. I was chagrinned to find the hold-down straps on my duffel would keep coming loose. I also found that it might have helped keeping a saddlebag from ripping off of one of its main support straps when I crashed (in some sand). Something that became very evident after crashing was that I’m either too old and/or out of shape for riding an already dated and heavy machine in sand with most of the luggage on one end of the bike. It was also clear that one should pack a generous amount of ratchet straps, webbing straps, and less superfluous items…especially if one is old and flabby.


    I raided my footlocker of Boy Scout and camping gear from when I was a teenager. It took me back, to see and use that stuff – not necessarily pleasant memories nor bad ones – memories that seemed less distant with the artifacts in my hands. I took two military canteens for water, an aluminum canteen cup that fit the hard plastic Vietnam Era canteen (in contrast to the newer version which is soft-sided and square-shaped), my dad’s kettle from his boy scout mess kit which became mine back in the 70s, and my collapsible Sterno stove. Jenny gave me a can of pork n beans and a can of black beans before I told her it would be plenty. I also took some Ramen. I had a 3-liter camelback so I had something more than 5 quarts of water – the soft square canteen holds more than a quart – and supplemented my water intake by buying and drinking bottled water when I’d stop for gas. I was completely out of water by the time I got to Backus road on my way down 14 as I headed home. I also took along my East German surplus entrenching tool for a poop shovel, which I think is funny because – poop – and that it’s German, and Germans have a thing for that sort of thing in a certain genre of their cinema. I didn’t have to use it for a poop hole, but I did have it at the ready to use as a weapon once I was in my tent.


    So I got to Zzyzyx Road and rode down to the springs where the map said the Mojave Road crossed. After the huckster who started the springs let it go when he was exposed as a fraud, it fell into disrepair to finally get commandeered by some university for the purpose of desert studies. I encountered many signs – white with red lettering – implying nobody was welcome unless they were in with the intelligentsia. I dithered and decided to ride into the compound. *Really Weird* and must have been something to see before the huckster got ran off and it was seized by socialist academics, whose M.O. is to just seize things and let entropy take its course. I found some young scholars sitting outside of what I presumed to be a dorm and asked if they had any idea where I could pick up the Mojave Trail. They claimed they had no idea what I was talking about, but did actually invite me to ride around the compound to see if I could find anything. I was astonished I wasn’t threatened, chased, or beaten…so my contempt is mostly directed at the academics in charge of the place rather than those particular kids. I’m becoming more and more impressed with how reasonable millennials can be when they aren’t whipped into a frenzy by some duplicitous boomer professor longing for his glory days or just looking to stir up trouble.


    So I left Zzyzyx Springs and looked for a well-used trail heading southeast on my way back up Zzyzyx Road. I found one that led me onto a vast dry lakebed – you can see it just off of 15 on your way into Baker. I began down the trail, stopping now and then to confirm with my compass that I was going in the desired general direction. The soft sandy trail gave way to firmer ground with lots of rocks. There were tire treads, but they appeared to be for a car or a light truck; no matter, I continued on and on, figuring I’d get somewhere or find a bunch of dirt bikes out of gas with skeletons sitting on them. I finally came to a gate at the foot of an elongated butte. I figured anyone out there with a closed gate to their property wouldn’t appreciate me coming by so I turned around and backtracked as I remembered seeing a slightly less used, but well-worn trail heading SSE. That trail was soft and sandy and I would find myself crashing.

    The crash took a lot out of me; it was becoming a long day, I banged up my left knee, and tore one of my saddlebags off of its main support strap. I had to completely unload the bike to lift it back up and get it off the trail. Once I did that, I had to set about finding a way to re-secure my saddlebag with the ratchet straps I had, and it was only two I had that I was already using to keep my duffel secure on the tail rack of the bike. I also had four ROK straps doing various duties, but haven’t tested them enough to know their limit.


    I got things back on the bike and set out to find a place to camp because the angle of the sun indicated I had limited daylight left. The shadows were getting awfully long coming off of the buttes. I wound my way around the aforementioned elongated butte to find a bunch of 4x4 trucks and people looking like they were going to be camping there. I kept going and found yet another bunch of the same sort in the next hollow of the butte. I didn’t want to crash any parties so I continued until I just couldn’t ride any further in the soft sand as I was exhausted.


    I found a wash coming off of the butte and while it’s wise to *not* camp in such a place, I wasn’t sure I could make it any further. However, it was clear that it was home to some kind of critters due to the number of holes in the sides of the wash. I figured the residents didn’t have fur or legs so I knew I had to find other arrangements. Stumbling up one side of the wash I found a “spit” created by washes to either side. It was covered with igneous rock but I figured I could clear away some of the larger stones to make a decent place for my tent. There was even a large rock that was somewhat chair shaped and I didn’t see any evidence that anything else was living there. Looking over the other side of the spit, I saw that I could probably make one last effort to try and get my bike up there as the slope didn’t seem too bad.


    I went back down to my bike, fired it up and bumbled my way through the sand to the other side of the spit and began my last – ditch attempt to park for the night. Halfway up I dug the rear tire into the dirt and decided that the bike would stay there for the night. I ran a lock around the front tire and forks and figured that if anyone could remove it, like Excalibur, they deserved it…sort of an incidental security measure. I knew I sure as hell was going to get it out of there that night. I dragged all of my luggage to the top of the hill – only about 10 yards – and began to make camp. I got everything set up by the time it was almost completely dark. Too tired to cook anything, I just finished the rest of the jerky I bought earlier in the day, took an ibuprofen and a Tylenol 3, then crawled into the tent and laid on my sleeping bag.


    I was pleasantly surprised, perhaps even astonished, at how quiet it was, and that I wasn’t at all bothered by being there alone. I don’t mind being alone, but laying inside a tent in my underwear with nothing but an entrenching tool for weapon didn’t faze me a bit. Perhaps it was the Codeine. I’ve been somewhat irritated that I’ve gotten to the age where I typically have to get up in the middle of the night to pee, yet that night, after pulling on my MX boots and standing downhill from my tent peeing, I was treated to one of the best night skies in memory. I thought I’d look for Polaris so I looked for Ursa Major and right in line with the end of the butt, there was Polaris. At that point I figured I ought to be able to see Ursa Minor and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t there as bright as it could be. I can never find Ursa Minor from Lancaster. Orion looked like it was painted on a black canvas that sat about 10 feet from me…all the while the night was conspicuously silent. I crawled back in the tent and went back to sleep.


    I woke up the next morning and just sorta laid there until I could see the rising sunlight scattered through the atmosphere. I pulled on a fresh pair of bicycle shorts, fresh socks, my riding pants and began clomping around in my unbuckled MX boots trying to decide what to do first.

    My phone was dead, and my wife had implied concerns I was going out there to die/disappear so I thought it was paramount to get a charge on the phone and assuage her worry (despite the fact I look forward to death the way a hobo fantasizes about winning the lottery, it’s unfair to leave someone worrying that has interest in you…and even if you didn’t know better at the time, it’s unfair to enter into a relationship at all).


    I had concerns over getting the phone charged using the charging provisions I have installed on my bike. If I plugged it directly into the battery, would the phone drain the battery too far to use the starter? If so, would the battery be drained too far to provide enough voltage to bump-start the bike? To mitigate those concerns it would be an obvious choice to start the bike and have it running while the phone charged, but the charging system doesn’t really put out enough power to run the bike *and* charge its battery unless it’s spinning somewhere around 2000 rpms. Do I start the bike and hold the throttle on to keep the charging system in play and risk overheating the bike? It was still sitting in its hole, and I wasn’t about to just start riding around in that soft crap even if I could get the bike free. I opted to run the bike with the phone plugged in long enough to get a 20% charge. When I did, I shut it down and expected there was enough power to be able to bump-start the bike. If I failed at that though, I was screwed as I would then be sitting the soft sand of the wash.


    I sent a text to my wife to let her know everything was cool. I then set about repairing my saddlebag – repairing a textile item with mechanical fasteners using my Leatherman tool and a set of spare nuts and bolts I had the foresight to purchase a couple days before. I got the bag fixed and then set about getting my sterno stove set up for some pork n beans. It really took me back to my teenage years on the Appalachian Trail as I got the stove unfolded and re-folded for use, then opening the sterno can and lighting it up. It’s true that smell has a huge link to memory. After I cracked open the can of beans with my Leatherman, the first creature showed up – a big fly. I dumped the beans into my G.I. canteen cup (one of the most useful cookware items I’ve ever had) and set it on the stove to cook while I began taking down my tent. Aside from stopping to stir the beans now and then, I got the tent, rain fly, sleeping bag, pad, and footprint all packed up and in their dry bags by the time the beans were ready. I sat on my crooked volcanic stone-chair and ate the beans while feuding with the fly. By the time I got most of my bags on the bike, the sterno can and stove were cooled off and I got them packed back into my kitchen kit (a re-purposed small tank bag). After policing the area and getting all of my garbage packed up, I put my knee/shin guards back on, buckled up my boots and suited up the rest of the way to head back to Baker.


    As it got dark the night before, across the wash to the east I saw about a dozen cars moving at a pretty good clip. My guess was that there was a paved road over there – maybe 100 yards – across the soft sandy bullshit I fought the day before. The morning light confirmed my suspicions when I was able to see the yellow diamond signs indicating curves in the road. I was correct in assuming it was the Kelbaker road; the paved road running from Baker to Kelso. I got the bike free and bumbled across the wash to a spot where I could get up onto the pavement. On my way to Baker (best guess it was around 20 miles?) I saw a fairly heavy woman jogging toward Baker, but a good 10 miles out. I don’t know where she came from or where she was going, but I was thoroughly impressed with her dedication to be that far out on foot with no backpack or water bottle as far as I could tell. It did seem clear she was out there on purpose though. I’m going to presume she was sick of living in Baker and was getting in shape to be a showgirl in Vegas…it’s a good enough story to me anyway.


    Back in Baker I stopped at the Chevron for gas, a call to my wife, a few mouthfuls of trail mix, and a spritz of lube on the chain. The gas station was besieged by a bunch of bikers running colors. I was trying to make out what the club’s name was while I was relieved their colors weren’t green like the Vago I got gas next to in Rosamond on my way out the day before. The patch on this club in Baker was “Messengers of Recovery”. A facile guess would be a bunch of guys who met up in NA and/or AA. All I could think about was how miserable some of them must be. Some addictions, untenable as they may be, become addictions because they’re worth it. I hoped against my doubt that they had found something meaningful to replace their drug of choice.


    I mounted up and headed back out onto I-15 bound for Barstow and eventually Lancaster. It didn’t take long for my ass to start hurting. The seat on my bike is typically good for 100 miles and I could barely do 50 without stopping. The ride back was pretty much unremarkable except for the surprisingly light traffic on 15 and the typically miserable stretch down 14 from Mojave to Lancaster. I got home, hugged Jenny, and had a few shots of Jim Beam and a cigarette with Sea Dog my garage cat. I wheeled the bike in the garage, took a shower and Jenny took me out for dinner.


    I didn’t find the trail I wanted, but I *did* learn what I wanted to had I found it anyway; I have to make some changes to the bike’s suspension, carry less crap, more ratchet straps, and research my route a little better.


    Meh, if you don’t get lost, it’s not much of an adventure.
    #1
    SuperChuck, B10Dave and mudson0424 like this.
  2. 243Win

    243Win Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
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    775
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    Port Orchard, WA
    Ha, that was great.
    #2
  3. molochnik

    molochnik Desperately wants the blue pill

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2018
    Oddometer:
    34
    Location:
    HiDez SoCal
    Thank you; I'm glad you liked it! Admittedly, I took some dark digressions but, an author-friend told me one needs to flesh out one's character to better engage the reader. Gotta keep it real :-)
    #3
    SuperChuck likes this.
  4. ADK

    ADK -------------------------

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
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    Is there sposta be pictures? :scratch
    #4
  5. molochnik

    molochnik Desperately wants the blue pill

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2018
    Oddometer:
    34
    Location:
    HiDez SoCal
    Nah; sorry bud. I only got a pic of my bike sitting on a vast dry lake. I was mostly sending videos and Marco polos to wife and immediate family.
    Picture a DR650 loaded up like Jed Clampett's pickup. Got it? There you go :-)
    #5