The Ponderosa, or Rediscovering My Roots...and Rocks...and Sand...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Rapid Dog, Sep 17, 2015.

  1. Rapid Dog

    Rapid Dog bikes, booze, broads...

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    Rediscovering My Roots...and Rocks...and Sand...


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    2-25-07
    I took the derelict GS out for a longer test ride on Saturday, 200 miles of highway, freeway, hills, mountains, snow, and desert trails. Performed flawless, except for a sticky starter
    solenoid maybe... First out to San Berdino via Hwy 138 to get some off-road boots.
    I misplaced my old lineman's boots somewhere around 1972... On the way back I cut up to Wrightwood via the old Pines Hwy of Sheepshead Road. Wrightwood was full of snow and thousands of snow people in search of the...snow! (I will never use the term "white stuff"...)
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    The GS handled the road conditions better than the R11S street bike, what-me-worry?
    The bike went on reserve coming down the hill, making a wonderful back-pressure
    purr through the SuperTrapp, nice! Into Pearblossom for gas and a stretch, then headed back north thru Lake Los Angeles (ugh!) and out to Saddleback Butte Park area, where my dirt biking really began...

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    I busted up the graded road to the back of Piute Butte to the water tank road.
    This is where the desert racers went up "Heartbreak Hill", the turning back point when my parents and Jack Ross had the Ponderosa Hare Scrambles...."the first Sunday of every month".

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    I spent many afternoons up on that hill watching the mayhem when I should have been back at the ranch hustlin' hamburgers at the Ponderosa Tavern with my parents.

    The desert was perfect. We'd just had enough rain to give the roads and sandy trails a nice firmness. I cut out across to avenue G and back around to the Ponderosa and back up to 150th Street East and found the trail that cut across the hard pan to the smoke bomb area. I found a wide sand buggy trail that
    headed straight up towards the butte.
    The GS hummed right along in second gear doing 40-50mph without a hitch.

    Now I'm trippin'... Then I realized this was the trail that the riders came straight down the side of the rock strewn butte on the return to the final checkpoint....I remember tippy-toe'in down that rocky, silty face a few times..funny it all seemed larger than life back then...
    This is the way it was...these where my idols...

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    I stopped about 1/4 mile from the top. I was already pushing my luck with 9 gallons of gas aboard.
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    It's all coming back to me now in more ways than one...the skills, the memories...
    Hey! I'm desert ridin' again!...I'm just like JN Roberts, I'm cuttin' the course![​IMG]

    Here's some interesting banter over at the District 37 Forum:
    For Hodaka Riders Only ...

    Rapid Dog Circa 1969
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    I cut back south across the open desert, greasewood and joshua my close personal,uh, friends.
    One thing I noticed as soon as I got off-road, the mass quantities of dumpage...back in the day there was one common dump out there...apparently now the Mojave is one big dump.
    It's amazing this beautiful living dez...it has all the accommodations one could ever need...
    (this wasn't dumped...it's an original fixture...)

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    I decided to take some time to contemplate...

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    Heck, you can even go to church out here if ya want.

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    This is the south side of the butte...that's HB Hill on the left.

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    Anyway, we headed back across the valley to Littlerock and stopped at the best Mexican restaurant and picked up some tamales for dinner, cheeken or pordk?...

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    ...and blast off towards Mt Emma Rd on the power line roads...had to cut that short.
    I found out that trail riding on unfamiliar roads with the sun directly in your eyes is a gamble at best. Back on the pavement I gave it the full monty.

    Over Mt Emma, just in time for a sunset pic at the Angeles Crest junction...

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    Nice bike! ...think I'll keep it.

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    Later! ...but wait there's more...
    #1
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  2. Rapid Dog

    Rapid Dog bikes, booze, broads...

    Joined:
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    Ponderosa Revisted - The Real Deal - 1-13-08

    This is dedicated my parents who made a memorable childhood for me in the High Desert and for all the District 37 desert riders who where the icons of my youth, thanks for being around to remember these golden years.

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    1-13-08
    Sunday noon after a good week of rain I figured this would be the best time to go out and ride the old Ponderosa Hare Scrambles course.

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    The sand should be packed well, and on a 500+ pound R100GSPD, doing the whoops would be challenging enough.
    I figured I needed the "training" anyhow. Work on the old dirt skills...man was I right about that, except maybe for the packed sand part.

    Avenue J and 145th Street East. coming from the east, the old rancho comes into view.
    You guys will remember the starting line (red line).

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    Looking West and Looking East[​IMG]


    There isn't alot left of the old homestead I'm afraid, or anything else for that matter.
    Even the reservoir is has eroded into dust.
    Funny how everything some much larger than life when I was 15.
    The ranch, the house the bikes, the riders...it's an odd perspective 40 years later.

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    BETTER DAYS...
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    You can buy just the the buildings and a couple acres for anearly ten times what my parents sold
    the 160 acres for back in the late 60's.
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    All the trees are dead or gone. Prey???.
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    Depressing... time to get out on the course. The famous whoops seem to be pretty well blown down too.
    ...but I imagined the smokebomb.
    Go due north.
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    Pondersa starting line circa 1967.
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    About a mile out,at the first hard pan, I searched for stacks of old burned tires...non to be found.
    It's been a while.

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    Finding the trail heading east was hard enough. This pic facing due east towards the butte.
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    Here's a ballpark aerial view of the course if you ever have the hankerin'.
    I remember it as a 13 mile loop, original Lost Coyotes member Darrel Ellis remembers it as 16 miles.[​IMG]

    I think I found the trail, lots of them out there. Jack Ross, the big daddy that promoted the race and laid out
    the course probably took it out farther than I think.
    Heck, you just followed the course markers after the bomb...if you could see them...
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    The trail east is firm and you could make good time here.
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    Then the hard stuff started. Heading up towards the butte you cross an alluvial fan, a good mile of short whoops.
    The fast guys learned to skim the tops risking only their necks. Nowadays it's no biggie.
    The 'youts who might read this won't remember front forks with 3" to 6" of travel.
    My stock Ace 90 had 2.5"...
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    The closer you get to the backside of the hill the steeper and deeper it gets...duh!
    Maybe this wasn't such a good idea...
    I started to sweat. I started to loose my direction. I started to cheat.
    Staying on the whoopage of the trail seemed silly when going across flatter sections of virgin dez was mucho easier.
    If the Saddleback Butte park ranger could see me now.
    Lucky for me Saddleback is the next butte south of here...

    Shitza! I can't remember which trail it is!
    The sand and whoops pushed me farther esat, kinda like being in a cross-current.
    Once I found a trail with some purchase I just hit it.
    This one cut up and back in the general correct direction...
    But not da kind.
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    ...then it got steeper...
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    UP top it had a nice view....now to get der bearings.
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    I could see Heartbreak hill right in front of me, but it was either transverse a fairly technical section...
    (Hey, remember I'm riding a GS)...or, head back down a deep sandy section that would catch the uphill
    deep sandy section, after making a hard left from the first steep sandy section...

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    What's not seen in this pic is the drop off about 50 feet ahead. I chose to turn down into the soft stuff.
    Less pain when I get off...ahem.
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    ....I am so proud of myself, yes... Down and up, piece-of cake.
    Welcome to Checkpoint One, Heartbreak Hill.
    Have the man in the orange vest mark your fuel tank, please!
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    Did I mention how everything seemed larger than life? Well some things remained the same.
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    View from the ridge: the water tank, and now cell site.
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    Old dude, sweating profusely...
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    From up here you can see forever...the trail down from the hill is direct and easy to see.[​IMG]

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    Gee it's great to be back...after gulping water and telling myself I am one macho mofo', it's time to head down the steep sandy section...
    I'll spare the readers the details, but suffice to say, going down the other side was every bit as exciting with my behemouth airhead as it was with my tiny Ace 90, just different....and steep...and deep...and sandy.
    "After it rains the sand is well packed"...NOT! I did not however, "tump" over.

    For Hodaka Riders Only....another as-youth hero Jack Morgan >>>

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    Ho hum...This pic makes it looks like a baby donkey trail.
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    HEE [​IMG] HAW!!!

    The rest of the downhill is more cheating... flat un-touched sand is better than hero-whoops.
    Lots of those coming down to the flats.
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    ...and finally the trail smooths out to hard pan along the fence.
    This is the fast section going due west.
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    ...and finally, coming into the home stretch going south where the whoops came at a lower frequency.
    That's good cuz I'm beat.
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    Get your tank check (correct color crayola please!) and head back out.
    Big bikes 2 loops...
    Trail bikes, your done, go get a cold beer and a Ponderosa Burger.
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    Glad I did it, glad it's over. That's the beauty of a dualsport.
    Back on the pavement you're abusing the law to utilize your god given swampcooler rights. Ahhhh!
    Next stop, 90th East and Avenue J.
    The really old dudes will remember the Old Timers tavern, yet another watering hole.
    There was one about ever 10 miles back then, from Lancaster to Hi Vista, 25 cent drafts.
    The old Old timers was on this corner before it was torn down in the late 60's.
    This was their gas sign. It's now the Big 9 Market's sign.
    The Old Timers was moved to the new building seen here in the back, now called "A Wing & A Prayer" or some such...[​IMG]

    Surprise! The Big 9 Market has always been owned by Jewel, that's my buddy Darrel Ellis' mom.
    Just by luck Darrel was in.
    Shit, Darrel is always in. He's as goofy and laughable as ever.

    Back in the day he was one helluva desert racer.
    I told him I just rode the Ponderosa and he cracked up.
    He said "On that!?!" incredulously, and cracked up again.
    Funny guy that Darrel...
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    It was giving him shit for not having ridden since 1984...taking care of his parents and all...but he had a story right off the top about how he rode the second Ponderosa Hare Scrambles on his Honda 160...
    not a Scrambler, a CB160...street bike...he finished 189th...
    So I one-upped him with my story about how my first race there I came in so dead last that there wasn't anybody at the finish line..everyone was gone.
    Darrel cracked up...

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    Bonus! Big D told me he had a two and a half hour VHS of Ponderosa footage...then he went and got it for me!
    He said Lonnie Petersen had it for years and just got it back recently.
    He said there's another tape floating about somewhere, probablly one of the Lost Coyotes crew.
    Well, at least I now have 1/2 the holy grail of the Ponderosa Hare Scrambles archive.

    Caveat - this blog is from 1-13-08 on my website.

    We lost Darrel a short time after.

    Godspeed brother.
    #2
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  3. hardwaregrrl

    hardwaregrrl Can't shoot straight Supporter

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    Ah that was a good one!! My Grandpa Tiger Bright lived in Lancaster....or Palmdale as it is now...

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    Oh yeah....added!
    #3
  4. Rapid Dog

    Rapid Dog bikes, booze, broads...

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    small world Jenna
    #4
  5. eaglescan

    eaglescan Borrego rocks

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    Most excellent report. I am a snowbird, hangout in Borrego Springs on my X challenge. I bought it in 2007 cause it reminded me of my 1967 Triumph, TR6 C. It was Blue, a 650 and had crossover pipes. My wife says is that why you bought it? I said yep! Anyways I used to ride some enduros in those days, ( did you know Mel Starr ?) and still do off road now, would love to have been along on your adventure. Well done.
    #5
  6. hardwaregrrl

    hardwaregrrl Can't shoot straight Supporter

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    Tiny.....I bet I stomped in that area without even knowing it....only was there a couple of times. Drank his ashes in a keg of beer out of the back of his pick up truck somewhere in the desert. His idea...:1drink
    #6
  7. Rapid Dog

    Rapid Dog bikes, booze, broads...

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  8. AZ TOM

    AZ TOM Long timer Supporter

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    Great memories. Great to see Jack Morgan's name he was always my idol. Though he upgraded his motor to a 5 speed & did suspension improvements he had the same Ace 90 frame his whole career. Also great to see Monte Lees name. I used to hang out after races at his & Pop Lees place on 395 just down from the aquaduct. Great memories of great times in the greatest place to ride a motorcycle there has ever been. Thanks again for sharing this place. Me at finish BtoV 1969
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    #8
  9. Rapid Dog

    Rapid Dog bikes, booze, broads...

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    That is cool.
    Great memories for me growing up in that environment as a teen.
    #9
  10. AZ TOM

    AZ TOM Long timer Supporter

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    Much as I hate saying this most who remember this place outside of you & I are gone!!
    #10
  11. Rapid Dog

    Rapid Dog bikes, booze, broads...

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    There's still quite a gaggle of old timers over at the District 37 forum if you look at Memory Lane.
    #11
  12. Mojave Mutt

    Mojave Mutt Long timer

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    I have to say that I really enjoyed this story when you originally posted it. I was really interested in exploring the area and I have done so many times riding from my house in Apple Valley or staging from 395/ Shadow Mountain Rd. I'ts a spectacular area to ride and really a neat place to take a lunch break on a high ridge and look out over Edwards AFB, Jawbone in the distance, and beyond. I started racing desert in the early eighties, but sadly missed the Ponderosa era. I actually met AZ Tom a couple times at our 100's MC club meetings but he was already just about ready to move from Ca. to Az. so never got to know him.

    I'm 64 now, haven't raced since 1999, but still love to get out and ride offroad.


    Glenn
    #12
  13. Rapid Dog

    Rapid Dog bikes, booze, broads...

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    #13
  14. AZ TOM

    AZ TOM Long timer Supporter

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    I am WR Tom on that one. Great site.
    #14
  15. bomose

    bomose Long timer Supporter

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    All I can say is fantastic report! Thanks for the memories.
    #15
  16. MadMarkWFO

    MadMarkWFO Adventurer

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    I know this is old but I was just out there trying to find the course today. started at ave j and 150 and headed north East towards the small white hill then south East toward the bigger hills and that’s about all I did. Think I got on a little of the original course at some point. it was my dads first race in 1971 so I wanted to see what it looked like.
    8C0290B9-9717-4C23-B60C-00F7CB3E6CBA.jpeg
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    This from a mile or so south of ave j looking north in the big sandy hills.
    4997E397-B13F-4F2E-BA89-B69A749DAD9B.jpeg
    #16
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  17. MadMarkWFO

    MadMarkWFO Adventurer

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    And I wanted to explore the butte with the water tank/radio thing on top but there was a tweeker compound built right in the middle of all the trails in there so I didn’t want to get to close sadly.
    #17