Rainbow Farm Rides BDRs, AZ Peace Trails, Misc So Cal, and Baja

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by PJ Bren, Mar 15, 2021.

  1. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    I didn't quite know how to title this ride report because rather than one continuous trip, this winter we did 4 smaller trips inside of one larger one. I guess I could do 4 separate ride reports, but for continuity sake as well as ease of posting I'm putting them all together. Don't hate me!

    Just as a note I'm also cutting together all of the gopro video to try and make another couple series of videos about our trip, but as many of you know that takes much more time. When I get it made and up I'll post a link to it here.

    After another productive and slightly unusual year on Rainbow Farm, it was time for us to take our annual winter trip to places unknown (to us). We've had our eye on the BDRs out west for sometime but since our schedule doesn't line up with summer travel, we hoped a winter traverse of the CABDR and AZBDR would be possible this trip. Our plan started as roughly this:

    1. Put bikes in van and drive west to Yuma
    2. Leave van in Yuma, ride CABDR, find interesting ride back to Yuma
    3. Service bikes in Yuma
    4. Repeat Step 2 (with AZBDR)
    5. Fill in rest of time if available

    A slight change from past reports is our bike choice. Over the past year we've come to the realization that our riding styles were leaning more towards the aggressive, so we bolstered our bike stable with 2 DRZ400 that we used for this trip. Lauren's comfort level with all things offroad dramatically improved with the DRZ over the KLR and Paul was satisfied that is was still simple enough to fix on the road.

    Otherwise our travel style has stayed the same. We always wild camp unless we are offered a roof by folks we meet, and while in the states we always cook food at camp, which allows us to both save money and find most excellent camp spots.

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  2. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    The trip west was uneventful - we built a bed above the bikes in the van so rather than pitch the tent every night we were able crawl in the back of the van for a sleep whenever required. Once in Yuma we found the VFW BLM campground, which would serve as home base for the van while we left on our rideabouts. Posted stay limit is 14 days, but we never had trouble or even encountered a ranger for the 45 days that our van was there.

    After getting our bikes sorted in Yuma, we set off to traverse the CABDR south to north. Section 1 is interesting right off with a desert/river view followed by a wash of deep sand that lasts a couple miles. Fortunately the wash in large in most spots so there is plenty of room to "swim" from side to side while cracking the throttle wide and scooting the ass back to stay above the loose stuff.
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    After getting out of the wash and surmounting a short rocky pass, its smooth sailing to pavement. One more offroad jaunt gets you back to pavement and Blythe. NOTE: If your cooking and carrying your own food, stock up in Blythe. The next spot you can get anything is in Shoshone gas station where we bought pasta and sauce for $8, and family dollar in Beatty after that. Slim pickings.

    We continued up to the geoglyphs as light was fading, checked them out, then continued along that loop road for a bit until we found a campspot for the night. Overall a good first day for a BDR (we've not done any of them before); it was strange following a GPS track rather than making our own way, but we got the hang of it.
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  3. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    When we started the next day and went round the geoglyph loop to get back to the paved road, there were some steep and rocky sections - rude way to start the day! Section 2 was not too scenic but the riding was engaging enough, including long relatively straight sections of both hard pack and loose sand, especially towards skeleton pass where it is particularly loose.
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    Sahara gas station is indeed expensive gas, then we continued north on Section 3. The riding is more interesting and the temperatures cooler in this section as the road climbs into the Mojave Preserve. We camped near "Death Valley Mine" at around 4500 ft.
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  4. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    The next day we descended down and checked out a mine tower in the morning.
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    When we returned to the bikes we found Lauren's battery was dead (she had left a battery pack charging) and shinagins insued in an effort to kickstart/push start the bike in sand. Finally we bump started the bike and headed down to the highway to got on Section 4. We choose the "expert" section up to Coleseum Mine which we didn't find bad at all, then peeked at the mine before joining back with the BDR.
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    We stayed on the main route and headed to Shoshone for our $8 egg noodles and jarred sauce, then made a quick dash to a campsite outside of Death Valley NP.
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  5. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    This section of Death Valley NP is expansive and the roads are well maintained, but the scenery isn't great. There are some interesting springs as we got closer to Furnace creek, and the heaved mud flats are interesting as well, but overall we weren't incredibly impressed.
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    Next we headed to Keane Wonder Mine on Section 5. Rather than just walk the base of the mine, we chose to hike to the top of the aerial tram, which is no small climb. The view was great at the top and was a good opportunity to get some off the bike time.
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    Back on the bikes we headed to Beatty to get groceries at Dollar General (the only option in town), then headed to BLM land outside of town for a campsite and quite night.
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  6. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    We entered Death Valley NP the next day it really started to impress us with its diversity. First was Titus Canyon, then the Ubehebe Crater, followed by the Racetrack, and culminating in an afternoon traverse of Lippencott Pass. After being buzzed by a fighter jet in the Saline Valley we found a great campspot at the base of some boulders.
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  7. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    The next morning we continued on Section 6 up to the Cerro Gordo Mine.
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    The road up was slightly snowy but just soft enough that we could motor our way up, and once on top the snow was completely gone. Some folks are trying to restore the mine, so we peeked around for a bit, then headed down to Lone Pine to get some supplies.
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    Section 7 begins with a ride through Alabama Hills with the snowy Sierra as a backdrop. We continuted to the Manzanar Internment Camp, the out across the highway to Reward Mine. If you check out this mine, pay close attention to the GPS; there is a mine just south of Reward that has terrible loose gravel access and is definitely NOT accessible by motorcycle (we know from experience). After getting back on track we took a short trip into Reward mine before keeping on north on the "expert" Section 7 in the Inyo NF. The section has some great riding and fortunately the snow was spotty enough to traverse with minimal slippage. We camped at around 9000ft of elevation and had a great night.
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  8. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    We stayed on "expert" Section 7 the following day and the awesome riding continued up an icy and snowy canyon/pass through the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest that culminates in a commanding view over Bishop.
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    A long downhill leads to Bishop, then Section 8. We decided to take a detour about half way through Section 8 that heads west about 20 miles to the Mammoth hot springs, where we set up camp for the night next to Crab Cooker pool. The night was cold (about 18F) but several soaks in the springs under the stars kept the chill at bay until the sun came up.
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  9. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    Back to Section 8 in the morning, we rode up to Benton and devised our Yuma return plan. We decided we would ride over to Tonopah on pavement, get supplies, then head south on the NVBDR until roughly Oatman, where we would put together the AZ Peace Trails back to Yuma. We camped in the mountains of Sections 3 on the NVBDR that night.
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  10. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    We felt like generally the first 3 sections of the NVBDR were not very interesting, though a couple of short bits of engaging riding are interspersed in an attempt to keep it fun. Gold Point and Hard Luck Mine Castle are "meh", and we continued past Beatty (with a Dollar General stop) to a camp spot outside of Ash Meadows.
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  11. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    Ash Meadows is pretty neat; clear flowing water in the desert seems to create a magical environment, so we checked out a few spots in the Refuge before continuing south to Pahrump for supplies.
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    In a fit of indecision about whether we needed to replace Lauren's front tire in Las Vegas, we headed east at Cathedral Canyon and into the the Rainbow Wilderness up Rocky Gap 4x4 road. A couple miles up this road we encountered a very washed out and boulder choked section that continued for a couple hundred yards, and rather than manhandle the bikes through it we decided to turn around and camp in the refuge for the night. Quite and cool.
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  12. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    The morning brought some clarity about the tire and we decided to push on south with our existing rubber. We returned to the NVBDR and traveled through mixed terrain through Primm (which has zero supplies), and then on to Bullhead City. The roads in these areas continued to be "meh" and were not very inspiring. After resupplying, we passed through the odd town of Oatman before finding a campsite in the desert.
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  13. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    From here we'd be traversing the west side of the AZ Peace Trails and so we started picking our way south. It should be noted that there isn't a lot of information about the trails online and basiclly none from the perspective of motorcyclist, not to mention bikes fully loaded, so we took each section blind. The character of this section of the trails switches between sandy washes, washboard open roads, and whooped out rocky roads. We were glad for the sand practice on the CABDR, because the difficulites on the Peace Trails are substantially higher when in comparison to the expert sections on the BDRs. We discovered later that the Peace Trails offer an atlas which describes each section in detail including rating them for difficulty, but we found this out too late for it to be of any use to us.
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    We made it Lake Havasu City in the rain, resupplied, then headed east to Rudy's Tanks through more deep sandy washes and camped.
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    More of the same the next day (though perhaps slightly better conditions), we passed through Planet Ranch, Bouse, and eventually Quartzite (for supplies) before finding a campsite outside of town.
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  14. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    The next day brought a difficult rocky section named "The good, the bad, and the ugly", which definitely requires attention and care.
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    We helped each other through various sections before emerging on primarily good and pretty roads that eventually siddle up next to the Colorado River for some much needed green contrast in the otherwise drab desert.
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    The final section of the trails into Yuma around Laguna Hills consisted of ridiculous hill climbs and descents which we bailed off of about half way through once we realized they were a fairly contrived way of covering the last couple miles back to the van. Overall we felt that the west side of the Peace Trails were generally a step or two up in difficulty from anything on the BDRs. Many sections of road felt more like a race course rather than a beautiful road in nature, but there are also the gems of roads that make you feel like an explorer in the wilderness.
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  15. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    Its going to take me a day or two to write up the next leg of our adventure, so I hope you enjoy the above until then!
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  16. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Outstanding @PJ Bren! Very much enjoyed your Baja report from last year (think it was last year?) and happy to have found this one. Especially as I did the CABDR last March, literally just as the world was going sideways (and we didn't hear about it until going into towns for fuel/supplies). Good that there's gas at Sahara Oasis now - not the case last year - we had to ride to Needles freezing our collective arses off on the interstate.

    Also awesome you guys were able to take the expert route from Lone Pine up that ridge on your way to Bishop. That was impassable when we were there this time last year; sounds like it might be that way now too as they just had lots of snow in the upper elevations there.

    Haven't done the parts of the NVBDR you describe, but hope to some day. How many miles did you guys cover going up and then back down? It's at least 800 miles starting from Yuma to Benton and you varied that some; so cool.

    Look forward to the next leg of the trip update, great to see you guys out and about.
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  17. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    We were overdue to take another trip - our last one was 2 years ago. I think the out and back for the CABDR/NVBDR/Peace Trails was a bit over 2000miles, and all totaled on this trip we did 6-7k miles.
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  18. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    Back in Yuma at the van we took stock of our supplies and desires. We knew that we wanted to give a shot at the AZBDR, but bad weather had moved in and the previously clear track was showing substantial precipitation/snow in the center/north part of the route. We decided it would be best to do a shorter ride to check out some ground west of us, then loop back to Yuma. In this way we could wait out some of the weather as well as get some tires/filters/etc that we had ordered and mount them up so that we'd be ready to tackle the AZBDR when the weather looked good again. We did a few walkabouts while in/around Yuma - there is some nice scenery to be found.
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    We mounted a new tire on Lauren's bike, geared up, and aimed the bikes west. Our only real "destination" for this loop would be Anza Borrego SP, and then we would wing it from there. Just as we were heading out, Paul noticed that his kickstand was sitting higher than it should and had been wearing a large hole in the pannier. After addressing that issue at a fabrication shop, we headed out of Yuma and took sandy but wide open roads west, paralleling large sand dunes and the interstate. The land is wide open and we set up camp for the night.
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  19. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    Heading west the next morning we entered Anza Borrego from Ocotillo and got on the Canyon Sin Nombre/Seco del Diablo roads heading north towards Fish Creek.
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    The terrain was more interesting than we had hoped; in addition to sandy washes there was plenty of riding through mud canyons and rocky rises. The map indicates that some roads are "one way" and we found why - there are steep hill sections that have been both washed and rutted out and makes for rocks and big ledges. We were able to help each other through these sections with a bit of effort. We only hit one road that was blocked by a slide, and that was easy enough to route around.
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    After checking out wind caves we setup camp in a wash about a 1/2 mile away.
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  20. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    Heading north in the morning we checked out the Elephant Tree walking trail, then got on the bikes and went north on the "Slot" trail which has a very sandy descent followed by awesome canyon riding.
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    Continuing north the sand get deeper and more challenging and a bit dunny in spots - we were glad to have accumulated a good amount of sand experience that we could put to use. Eventually we came out on a hard road and headed into Borrego Springs for fuel and supplies. Outside of town is a really interesting collection of sculptures that we checked out, then we headed east on the pavement for a couple hours until we got to Indio.
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    Here we were able to suss out a back way via a dirt canyon into Joshua Tree NP, but before we entered we setup camp for the night.
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