Portland to Ridgecrest- 10 Days on an XR650R through the Eastern Sierra

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by bicycleweed, Nov 8, 2011.

  1. Bob

    Bob Formerly H20Pumper Supporter

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    Nice stuff.
    #21
  2. BigNastybrp

    BigNastybrp Big Nasty

    Joined:
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    high speed boogie land, Sunny Ca.
    any up dates for us? :huh
    #22
  3. bicycleweed

    bicycleweed Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Santa Cruz, CA
    A bight, cold, crisp morning with a warm breakfast at Pop’s Galley started the day. You know you’re in good hands when the sausage patties are larger than the hash browns! I was on the bike by 8:30- not exactly early, but earlier than if I would have been in a tent for the night. It was kind of nice to stay in a warm hotel. The hot shower was nice, too.
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    I returned to Bodie Road, after my campsite strike out from last night, and turned right past some sheeps, and rode down towards Mono Lake. I still hadn’t seen the lake yet, so it was pretty rad to crest a hill and be greeted with the lake view.

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    No Trespassing signs. What would you do? I turned around. It’s hard to tell if the road, which the map shows, is open, and the land next to it is private, or if the whole darn thing is shut down.

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    Did mostly guessing in a general southwards direction, plus some GPSing to see which guesses wouldn’t be a dead end, and found some awesome sand roads around the back of Mono lake. Most connect, and there were some nice whoops. I called them “friendly whoops” since they were easily digestible on the overloaded XR.

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    At one point, I was thinking “wow, things come up on you fast in the desesrt!” I saw a crest in the trail and got ready for a jump. Next thing I know I’m shooting across Hwy 167 at 50MPH. What I thought was a jump was actually an interstate. That was close. By the time I got on the brakes and stopped I was 20 yards past it. Woa buddy, mellow out!

    After quite a bit of mileage, I picked a road that looked great to connect to the next highway. Eventually it turned into a horse trail in deep sand. Not a problem, really, the bike pulled through the stuff just fine, but it was evident that a wheeled vehicle hadn’t gone that far down that road in quite a while. I pulled over for food and realized the road leads 9.8 miles to a dead end, and I’m a half-mile from that dead end. Great. That’s 20 miles for zero progress. Options at this point included a U turn, a straight shot through the desert to the next road, which wasn’t more than a 1,000 yards north, or just keep going and see the end. On a whim, I rode on to the dead end. But then I see a road. My road. It connects! The darn GPS was wrong!

    U turn, then 9.8 miles in the opposite direction…
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    Where I was coming from.
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    But look at this! The GPS was mistaken!
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    And oh so awesome, the found road is wide open, a bit soft, and super fast! I shouldn’t be proud of this, but it was kinda sweet and had to happen. The road was simply a long straight drag strip towards the next highway.

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    Uh oh…
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    What better time than to pin it WFO for a minute or so? I gave the GPS a glance later- 90MPH! I thought this bike could do a hundred? Guess not. Maybe the sand was too deep. Maybe the high gearing was too much and the motor was bogging. Maybe the 15/45 gearing was too low. I don’t know, but it was sweet to feel max velocity.

    Road Baxter road, which is an awesome desert 2 track, and hit seemingly endless forest service roads then suddenly end up on 395 after a sweet meadow blast.

    Yes, there is both water and color in the desert.
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    Found a controlled burn.
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    Trails like this were a blast on the big XR.
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    Rode the Shady Rest OHV trails for a bit until I stumbled onto the Mammoth Scenic Back Entrance bull crap. The GPS showed a gazillion trails and roads for OHVs- reality showed tons of area closed signs. Rode more Shady Rest including the Powerline death whoops.

    Death whoops into Mammoth.
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    Saw these little guys just outside of town as well.
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    Arrived at the municipal soccer field, turned towards town, then ran out of gas! Layed the bike over to get gas in right side of tank. Oh no! Pine needles burned onto the header, and I though nothing more of it. Gassed up, ate a burrito, went to the world’s best BLM office. They gave me tons of info on Bishop and Death Valley. In order ot make some mileage, had to skip a highly recommended dirt road in order to get to Big Pine. Gassed up again and chatted with 2 dudes on xr650s, an R and an L. They just rode Saline Rd and had a blast doing it. I charged out into Death Valley, with the sun on my heels.

    Entering Saline Road at sunset.
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    Rode onto Saline Rd just as the sun was setting in a pink alpine glow. After a few miles of seeing some sweet drifting skid marks from the guys on the XRs, found an old mining camp. It was the perfect place to camp. Off the road, hard to get to, and oriented for the eastern sunrise. The wind had picked up, and temperatures were dropping quickly. As I was scrambling to set up camp, I noticed that it smelled funky and that my panniers had hit the pipe and burned. Badly. The number plate was toasted!

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    I pulled out my sleeping bag from my pannier. It smelled funny. And looked bad. Burning feathers and polyester stinks.

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    Well, I had a full roll of duct tape (I’m not very good at packing light) and feathers were blowing everywhere. Some handiwork and the bag was… good as new? It still stank, but the sleeping bag sustained the worst of the damage. I’ve had this bag my entire life. My parents bought it in the early 1970’s in Denver, CO. In short, it kicks ass, it’s older than me, and it’s been all over North America and Europe.

    Staying warm in Death Valley.
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    Exploring the area a little and I noticed a box with a ladder sitck out of it. That’s odd. Oh look, it’s an open mine shaft! Grab some rocks!

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    And awoke to the coldest morning of the trip.

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    The plethora of scenic 30 year old cans helped fix the hole in number plate. The official Giant Loop air dam could get taken out by the brake caliper, so had to rig it a little.

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    Charged hard onto Saline Road to warm up. Feeling good, riding fast. Until I came into a steep right hand descending turn. Way too fast. Grabbed tons of back brake and lay bike down. Hit the hill side and barely managed to hit the gass. Pull it off! Slow down. See road construction, 4 other cars, and not much else besides the Joshua trees for over another hour and 70 miles.

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    Road didn’t seem closed…
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    Made it to Hwy 190 and wow, the chain is sketchy! The knobs are done on the rear tire, and there are cracks around all the knobs. Rode on and down a sketchy road descent down to Panamint. The outside was a cheese grater style barrier and the inside was raw lava rock. It freaked me out. Gassed up and hit a sweet rocky BLM road to Nadeua.

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    In Trona, got on a stupid powerline sand wash. This was the sloppiest, deepest sand to date. And I got quasi lost until the Naval Air Weapon Station, or NAWS. 17 miles into Ridgecrest, and I think I did a semi-circle.

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    Any, got a tire and a sandwich. At the local moto shop, I got taken to the cleaners! The tire, which back home is $85 with free install, is $149 with a $30 install. Uggg. Got a map and headed into Dove Springs and Jawbone Canyon.

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    I’d been down some steepish stuff with all the gear outside of Carson, but it was fairly wide open. 3<sup>rd</sup> gear compression braking sort of stuff, no real problem, with a massive run out incase anything went south. But here was a proper singletrack descent. It looked like a fun little trail. And it was until the first small rock garden. What would have been an easy obstacle on the old YZ crashed me out immediately. Not a bad crash or anything, but hey, it’s good to get tossed off the bike occasionally, it keeps ya loose.

    Doesn’t even look like much. Add a 300lb bike, 60lbs worth of gear, and a full days ride just before, and it got kinda gnarly. Man, I feel like a wuss looking at the photo. You had to be there…
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    Heading out of Jawbone, the sun had set and for all intents and purposes it was dark out. I wasn’t real sure where to camp, but suddenly my headlight decided to work! Suhweet! Not only did it work, but it was adjusted to a decent position and really lit the trail proper. Shreded up to Piute Pass, and grabbed the first pull out I could for a campsite.
    #23
  4. ktmnate

    ktmnate Long timer

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    :thumb
    #24
  5. slogger

    slogger Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Enjoying it all!
    #25
  6. BigNastybrp

    BigNastybrp Big Nasty

    Joined:
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    Location:
    high speed boogie land, Sunny Ca.
    Very good Keep a eye on the top subframe bolt first time I packed like you are it broke. bad welds or not enough really. keep it coming I will be down there Sunday to ride DV:freaky
    #26
  7. bicycleweed

    bicycleweed Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2011
    Oddometer:
    16
    Location:
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Finally, I awoke to a nice, warm morning. Elevation was only 5600’- one of the lower camping elevations of the trip. Headed out earlier than later, and rode to French Meadows. A ton of folks were staging up to ride the trails, and I approached a camp of three dudes. Turns out they are from Paso Robles, and they ride Pozo a ton! Pozo is one of my all time favorite places to ride. They recommended Stone House trail, which was super fun, even on the big bike with all the gear. The big bike was a total work out, but it was the most legit ripping singletrack I’d found all trip.

    Good stuff right there.
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    The trail has a great flow, but it’s over too son! Across from the exit is a trail the Paso locals referred to as “Purgatory.” I figured “Hey, let’s give ‘er a go!”

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    The initial hill climb was steep, loose, and had some downed trees, but the XR powered through. After snapping a photo of accomplishment, I rounded the next bend only to see a gnarly rock section. A loose, shale steep bit fed into a root section just before a thread-the-needle rock pass with a near vertical step of 18” or so into the needle eye.
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    First round and the roots kill all momentum and I almost looped the bike going up the step. Backed down for round 2. The bike tips over in the precarious rocks and it takes 20+ kicks to not start. A bump start later and I charged back much faster, only to too fast, get knocked off line by the roots, and to slam into the rock on the right side of the needle eye. Once again, came really close to looping, and I realized how gnarly 350+lbs of stuff smashing into your legs can really be. Well, it was time to call it. Backed the bike down, dropped it again, bonked out, started shivering, and got super thirsty. I think this was the most overheated I’ve ever been- even though it was only about 70°, my darn jacket was super warm and I was out of water.

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    Well, the only logical plan was to go back and try to ride the trail in the other direction. After some exploring, and several sketchy tree crossings, I got hung up on a nasty turn with 2 downed trees in a row, followed by a third. It was clear my touring rig wasn’t gonna be worth it to drag to the top.

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    Heading down towards Lake Isabella.
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    Riding back to town, even the fire road had me nervous. Worn out, over heated, thirsty, hungry, and dizzy, as soon as I saw a gas station in Lake Isabella it was time for Gatorade. Then a delicious burrito. Feeling much better, I rode over to the Keyesville OHV area where they host a horrible mountain bike race every year. The climb up the downhill course wasn’t too tough, but it was awesome to do the same trail in such a different circumstance.

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    After summiting the DH course, I rode towards Rancheria Road on a road my roommate and I had previously tried to explore in my old rerunner truck- Black Gulch Road. Turns out we wouldn’t have made it- the trail was a true rock crawler style 4wd run. It even had challenging sections for the moto. Then, despite the no-outlet sign, Rancheria road appeared.



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    Rancheria road is a mellow 19 mile dirt affair that is perfectly graded and low on traffic.
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    Rode Rancheria till it hit a highway, then continued down to Arvin for gas, and rode along to the 166.

    Yuck.
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    Slightly better.
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    The headlight started working again. Amazing! However, the battery wasn’t holding a charge and it would shut off every 10 minutes or so. That was also a bit scary, between the sketchy headlight and lot of tired field workers, I couldn’t help but feel vulnerable. Made it to SLO in the dark, after my headlight died in a busy intersection outside of town. Had a great night visiting some old friends, crashed a borrowed bicycle into a planter box, destroyed a burrito, and admired the costumes at the bars downtown.

    My buddy Dan. Dan needs to buy a new moto. Everyone, tell Dan to get a new bike.
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    Sunday morning I woke up not quite feeling 100%. Set out after a delicious breakfast to ride north on Hwy 1. Conditions were not my favorite. I’m not a fan of the exposure of being that close to the coast for that long. Weird, since I live only blocks from the beach.

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    Jammed north until Willow Canyon road, then noticed my clutch cable was exploding. A quick fix of removing the broken strands, and it was off and up Willow Canyon road. It was a massive climb, up to 3800’, rewarded with huge views of the Salinas valley and the coast.

    Damnit clutch cable! Not again!
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    Hmmm, I’ll bet this will be fun!
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    Looking west.
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    Straight ahead.
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    Salinas Valley to the east.
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    I made my sketchiest pass of the trip on that road, on the shoulder to the right, past a suburban towing a camping trailer. I had envisioned installing dual Hella horns on the XR, and that would have been a good time for them.

    This was pretty cool looking…
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    After Nacimiento Furgesen road, it was non-stop Hwy 1 north. The clutch cable was on its last stand. Literally. With 45 minutes of daylight left, I grabbed gas in a densely fogged Monterey. I did not want to ride the freeway, but the cable was going to break at any minute. It was also getting dark and my headlight, though had been working all day, still was not trustworthy. Hit the freeway for another 30 miles and I rolled into my driveway right at sunset. What a great trip!

    Home sweet home.
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    Wish I could figure out how to upload the trip to Garmin Connect, but I can’t quite make it happen. You get the idea.
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    #27
  8. bicycleweed

    bicycleweed Adventurer

    Joined:
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    16
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    Santa Cruz, CA
    Hey Nate, what's the OBCDR?

    I have the Coyote (I think!) and it was great! Pricey, but I'm going to ask a friend if he can sew it back up. For shorter trips I think I'll just use the Giant Loop and a tent, no dry bag.
    #28
  9. bicycleweed

    bicycleweed Adventurer

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    I don't doubt it on the hot spring. I was too pressed for time to explore more. What's your recommended route through Death Valley? Or do you go through Nevada?
    #29
  10. bicycleweed

    bicycleweed Adventurer

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    Thanks, that's a really good idea. I'm so used to thinking about bicycle shoes, but moto boots totally have enough room for that. Noted!
    #30
  11. Sean-0

    Sean-0 straya carnt

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    Thanks for the Ride bicycleweed
    i had a blast .. great photo's

    cant beat an xr on a open trail

    BTW Dan get a new bike ... may i suggest an XRR:evil
    #31
  12. jordan p

    jordan p projects > time alloted

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    dude, am I the only one that the pictures are not showing up for? It says bandwidth is exceeded... I need to see pics!!!!!!!!!!!!!! sounds like an awesome ride.
    #32
  13. KYLEISCOOL

    KYLEISCOOL Who

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    Dec 13, 2010
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    So. Cal. U.S.A
    same here. No pics.
    #33
  14. Sean-0

    Sean-0 straya carnt

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    Yes thats a shame .... great R/R with good pics ...... i hate when ppl delete there pics from PB ..... i got 1,000's of pics never delete them .... its good to go back over R/R yrs later and still see all the pics

    not saying thats what happened here tho just a bummer when it happens
    #34
  15. JettPilot

    JettPilot ADV Rider

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    NONE OF YOUR PICTURES ARE VISIBLE :baldy

    I really wanted to see how your bike was set up... Is is possible to host the pictures on Flicker so that you will not have a bandwidth limitation. &%#@ Photobucket !

    Mike
    #35
  16. bicycleweed

    bicycleweed Adventurer

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    Wow, that sucks that the bandwidth was exceeded. The photo quality was also really poor- Photobucket was really compressing the images, too.

    I'll probably get a Flickr Pro account and do it that way, but I'll need a few days to make that happen. Photobucket sucks!

    Are any of the free photo hosting sites significantly better than Photobucket?
    #36
  17. Sean-0

    Sean-0 straya carnt

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    what seems to be your problem ... i have lots of pics on PB never have i had a problem in yrs

    get a smugmug if your going that way least it helps the site
    #37
  18. AFCFORME

    AFCFORME Adventurer

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    Try Tinypic or Imgur.
    #38
  19. bicycleweed

    bicycleweed Adventurer

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    Bit the bullet and just upgraded the Photobucket. Let me know if you don't see the photos.
    #39
  20. Sean-0

    Sean-0 straya carnt

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    :clap:clap:clap
    #40