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dave6253 07-26-2009 11:47 AM

Dave & Hel Tour California
I finally convinced my wife to join me for a long moto tour after she mistakenly asked me, "What would you like to do to celebrate Our 15th Anniversary"?:evil She has only ridden a handful of short daytrips around Arizona. She surprised me when she agreed and started to get excited about a long ride. She surprised me even further when she volunteered for, and completed the MSF Basic Motorcycle Operators course. She passed the course, but refused to consider riding a seperate bike. So 2up it is.

We wave goodbye to the kids.

We're off!

Before the real "Adventure" continues here's a few teaser shots along with some questions we hope to answer with this tour;

How much heat can you survive?

Does the sun set over the mainland on the West Coast?

How do you shred the sides of the tire first?

Will she enjoy her first long tour?

Just how big are these trees?

How cold is that water?

Will the KTM deliver as reliably as a freight train?

How many days does it take to lap the entire Golden State?

Ten Days?

Nine Days?

What's around the next bend?

Michaelfish 07-26-2009 11:53 AM

Looks good!
I been here in Cali 52 years & haven't seen it all yet.

Good luck!:clap :clap

SW4006 07-26-2009 12:26 PM

My wife and I: a few day trips together (one over nighter), two kids, married almost 13 years... This is going to be a good trip report for me! Hopefully you include some pointers for a successful adventure with the significant other!


Based upon the below post... that looks like the perfect tour of California!!!

dave6253 07-26-2009 12:27 PM

The Plan
Our original plan was to fly to Holland, leave the kids with Grandma, and tour the Alps on a rented bike. The plan was affected by several economic factors. I purchased the 990 this year, We were bidding on another house with property, and airline tickets (we needed 4) were very pricey. We decided to keep the money in savings. I was a little bummed to abandon this plan, but I know I will someday get the opportunity to tour the Alps.

Hel did agree to a motorcycle tour though...

So why not visit California's Trinity Alps instead? Last year when I did a big solo tour of Western North America I really enjoyed the ride in California, and found myself wishing I could share some of this with my wife. So I hatched a plan to lap California at a much more leisurely pace than I am accustomed to.

The planned route looked a little like this. About 3200 miles in 10 days.

Not everything goes as planned though........

dave6253 07-26-2009 01:21 PM

Red Light - (Sorry this post is wordy.)
So I'm cruising along at 75 mph with my better half behind me. I went to work early today and rushed home to get an early afternoon start. We had reservations at the Las Vegas Stratosphere about 290 miles from home. It's 112 degrees, but other than that, why am I not yet excited about this trip?:bluduh

It had been a very hectic week. Last weekend I was sure this trip was over before it started when a spark plug wrench took up permanent residence inside the rear cylinder of the 990. After four days of working in a scorching hot garage the wrench was finally removed by a friend late Monday evening(Thanks Glenn!). I took an extra day off on Tuesday to put the bike back together. There had been a lot of disassembly of the rear cylinder. When it was finally back together I was actually shocked the bike started on the first thumb of the starter. I took it for a 12 mile test ride and was even more surprised there were no leaks or weird noises. The bike ran like a champ. The trip is back on!:wings

Start Date; July 10, 2009.

About 30 miles from home I'm still pondering my lack of excitement over this trip. "Maybe I'll relax and start enjoying when... What's THAT!" RED LIGHT!?

The red oil pressure light is on! I pull over and sure enough there's a ton of clatter from the cam chain and valve train. If I rev the engine the light is intermittent and the noise becomes less, so I must be getting some oil to the top? I realize turning around means giving up on the trip and losing money on reservations, but we have no choice. What to do? Should I call a tow truck or drive it? It's 112 degrees and there is no shade around, so off we went. I don't feel like waiting hours for a tow.

It was about 25 miles back to the first KTM dealer. The single mechanic was too busy to get to it right away, but he was nice enough to call the other nearby dealer and they said they could get someone on it. Luckily we live almost exactly between 2 KTM dealers, both about 5 miles from our home. We return home and dump the luggage. Hel follows me in the truck to the second dealer. I figure if the problem can be fixed quickly we could still get to Vegas tonight, very late.

Late in the day the mechanic tells us he found no problems in the easy to reach areas. More disassembly is required, but the problem is definitely a loss in oil pressure. He is hopeful if the problem can be located tomorrow he can complete the repair tomorrow.

We spend the first night of vacation in our own bed. I begin to hatch Plan B...

GB 07-26-2009 02:31 PM

Gorgeous start! :thumb

Bummer about the engine troubles... on to Plan B


dave6253 07-26-2009 04:11 PM

Plan B
On Saturday morning I started prepping the second bike for a trip. I haven't ridden it much since I purchased the KTM. It hasn't been on a long ride since I beat it up on Utah backcountry gravel roads last fall. I was still hoping the KTM would get repaired today, but by early afternoon the mechanic informed me he would have to dig deeper, and it wasn't going to be done today.

Plan B implementation: The Stratosphere allowed us to move our reservation back one night without additional charges. We had made 4 camping reservations that we could no longer use(but must still pay), so we canceled those to avoid additional "no show" charges.

The Aprilia is a great bike for this trip... solo. We had planned to camp all but the first night. With only 2 smaller sidecases and no topcase we have no room to bring camping gear. The suspension wouldn't handle all the weight anyway. (I already weigh as much as two normal size persons.:lol3 ) We dump the camping gear, food, Jetboil, some clothing, and the laptop. We stuff the rest in the Aprilia and decide we'll have to find motels each night.

We head out determined to have a great ride!

Day 1, Phoenix to Las Vegas

Sexy Tail!:thumb

My Aprilia is slightly used...

We get on the road in the heat. 112 degrees F.

We stop to suck down water.

Joshua Trees on the US 93.

She's got the ADV Salute down.

The Colorado River

We ride across Hoover Dam.

Lake Mead

They are making slow progress on the new bridge.

How would you like to work up there?:yikes

I still think someone should build a ramp to jump the gap across this bridge.:loco

Hoover Dam Holding Back a Little Water

We reach Las Vegas by nightfall.

Our room on the 24th floor is on the top of the hotel tower and was next door to the presidential suite. Nice!

We go out on the town to have some fun. We are in bed by 1 AM since we need to cross Death Valley tomorrow morning.

Gypsyfrog 07-26-2009 04:24 PM

Great ride. Isn't that engineering amazing?

dave6253 07-26-2009 04:35 PM


Originally Posted by Gypsyfrog
Great ride. Isn't that engineering amazing?

I'm not sure the engineering of the new bridge eclipses the Hoover Dam itself, but yes, it's amazing. I recommend the Dam Tour. I sure hope that bridge will have a pedestrian sidewalk. Wouldn't that be cool.

dave6253 07-26-2009 04:38 PM


Originally Posted by Michaelfish
I been here in Cali 52 years & haven't seen it all yet.

Good luck!:clap :clap

Thanks Michaelfish. You sir are lucky (as a motorcyclist anyway) to reside in California. So many twisty roads!:thumb

dave6253 07-26-2009 04:45 PM


Originally Posted by SW4006
My wife and I: a few day trips together (one over nighter), two kids, married almost 13 years... This is going to be a good trip report for me! Hopefully you include some pointers for a successful adventure with the significant other!


Based upon the below post... that looks like the perfect tour of California!!!

Thanks SW4006. I think you may find some pointers later on. It was especially hard for Hel to leave the kids behind for soo long. She has also always been pretty scared on the bike. I was worried she may not enjoy it much, but once she agreed to go she started getting excited.

Thanks Gadgetboy!

dave6253 07-26-2009 05:06 PM

Day 2
Day 2, Las Vegas-Death Valley NP-Sherman Pass-Sequioia NM-Camp Nelson

(Look at how close we came to Michealfish's Place.)

We find the bike unmolested in the parking garage.

We head out down the famous Las Vegas Boulevard, but it's not so attractive in the morning light. I didn't start snapping photos until we got into the Spring Mountains.

Nice morning for a ride.

Badwater Road

We got an early start to avoid the hottest part of the day, but it's 100 degrees by 8AM. I love Death Valley, but I'm gonna rethink riding through here in summer. I rode through here last July as well.:loco

Badwater Basin, 282 Feet Below Sea Level, Lowest Point in the Western Hemisphere

This Valley is LARGE!

We take a break in Furnace Creek for icecream and water. We soak our shirts in water to cool us down. The wet shirts work really well.... for 30 minutes.

dave6253 07-26-2009 08:52 PM

Surviving Death Valley
We pass the dunes...

...and climb a twisty pass to spot the long ride through another hot valley.

The last couple curves...

before crossing Panamint Valley...

and spotting the first view of the snow-capped Sierra Nevadas!:super Imagine dying of heat and thirst within sight of snow.

We head up the east side of the Sierras on Nine Mile Canyon Road (Sherman Pass).

Still in the rain shadow...

...we go from Joshua Trees... tall pines in the blink of an eye.

Sherman Pass Road:thumb

Now we're havin' fun!

SW4006 07-26-2009 10:15 PM

One last detail I forgot to mention... my wife also took the MSF rider's course. Great photos so far... Sorry about the KTM. But plan B look's like just as much fun!!!

xdbx 07-26-2009 10:23 PM

15 years, eh? I'm coming to celebrate too! :freaky


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