View Single Post
Old 05-15-2012, 11:55 PM   #3
motoged OP
Studly Adventurer
motoged's Avatar
Joined: Feb 2006
Location: Kamloops, BC
Oddometer: 908
DAY ONE: Mesquite to Toroweap

As the time between the "invite" and the start of the ride was a period of a few months, there were lots of pre-ride developments. The smartest one was to start the ride in Mesquite, NV instead of Vegas as it would save either many miles of whooped out stuff going north out of Vegas....or the 60-mile paved ride from Vegas to Mesquite.... I was informed that the group would rendezvous in Mesquite the night before we were to leave on April 20th. One guy, Bobby, flew in from Pennsylvania (Boy were his arms tired.... ), so the gang would be driving truck, trailer, bikes from upstate Nevada to Vegas to pick him up and we would all meet at the casino were they booked cheap rooms (as they prided themselves in being cheap bastards). I had been in Mesquite for a day, had sorted through my stuff, and still wasn't sure which of the three different jacket/pro systems I would use as it depended on weather and, as I found out , the altitude of the routes...last year they were in snow.

I was ready with a cooler of beer to welcome the guys to Mesquite and around late afternoon BobZ began to litter my cell-phone with their cramped yet beerey ride accounts as they approached Vegas airport.

Remember, I had never met any of these guys and only knew BobZ from his 690 thread contributions and his avatar....which certainly makes him look the role of some crusty desert rat who consults the moisture content of antelope scat to determine the best way out of sand washes that could swallow a trophy truck....and when we spoke a few times on the phone before the trip, his voice was a ringer for someone who sounded like a cross between Kris Kristofferson and Tom Waitts....about as smooth as a rasp .

As for the other guys....??? WTF did I know???? A social challenge for a misfit like me

I anticipated their arrival at their hotel/casino and drove around the parking lot (which was about 800 acres in size) and on the third circuit, saw a truck with a trailer full of orange bikes (two "red" as well). This HAD to be The Guys, so I drove up beside them at the hotel entrance, rolled a window down and got the attention of one of them closest to my truck:

"You guys can't park that are gonna have to move it!" The fellow looked in my cab and said, "Yeah, we know....we are just checking in."

I pointed out that the space was reserved for a group of misfits who were going to be riding around the Grand Canyon. This created enough cognitive dissonance for the poor guy that I was pleased to see the confused and mildly irritated look on his face.

"Effin A", I thought ! I just scored my first point I leaned a little closer and introduced myself....David was the guy and quickly acknowledged the situation....we both seemed to think it was funny .....but then, he had been drinking beer and farting in a cramped truck for 6 who knows what was really going through his head at that moment . I got out of my truck and began to get introduced to the group....BobZ was in the lobby stealing room keys so it took a bit for him to join us....nametags had been suggested by me in pre-ride e-mails just to demonstrate that, again, I am hilarious and have a poor memory for names at times....

The parking lot was also infested with HD "Pirates", so we poked fun of them as well as ourselves before driving over to where their rooms were. They accepted some beers as they began to unload bikes and gear ....the ride had just begun

I joined them for a while while they ordered and ate supper ...the conversation was quite varied and I agreed to meet them the next morning "ready to ride" by 9:00 AM.

The next morning the usual cluster-f was manageable and I finally determined which jacket I would take thanks to BobZ's claims that we would be riding at elevations up to 7-8000 feet. I decided on the Darien with the armor removed so I could enjoy my new pressure suit handcrafted by John in Spokane....the Juggernaut was a beauty... (BIG sizes for guys like me....)

And, in the parking lot packing frenzy, I realized I forgot my kneepads back in my truck so whipped back to retrieve them.....

So, around the crack of 11:00 AM or thereabouts, we rode southeast out of town into the desert.

The players at this time were:

Trail Bosses: BobZ and Kevin
Ride Pigs: Bobby, Dan, David, Travis, Travis (yep, 2 Travises....more on that later.)

I am not going to say much about these guys at this time except that they are a great group of folks. They sure as hell weren't sure about me, yet welcomed me aboard.....making it clear that my Canadian status set me up for third-world country jokes and other similar assumptions that Canadians hope to get electricity soon and don't know about cow's milk....but more about that later.

We rode east on gravel road up to some rockier doubletrack up into the mountains east of Mesquite.

Waiting for the last guys on way up to the high-plain:

We dodged a clot of quadders pulling large trailers full of camping gear up into the mountains....they were dressed in the usual attire of quadders....yet they seemed friendly enough....

Within an hour we had gained some elevation up to an alto-plano....folks were jostling for position and to find their pace and we were off!!!!

Four riders in this pic:

I like to let the fast guys go ahead as I don't like to have someone "at my six" or to ride in dust. As such, we were all trading positions and looking for the ride groove.

At one point early into this section I waved Dan ahead and he accepted, only to run out of road at the next corner. He is an accomplished desert racer but was getting used to a bike new to him that had the Valdez Acerbis tank, so he took a while to find his brake pedal. I saw him go down fairly hard, but he shook it off....elbow damage seemed to be the entry fee for that corner.

We snaked along gaining and losing elevation and approached a canyon wall with a narrow jeep trail. This offered a technical challenge...the real first one of the good pics of it as it is one of those sections you are too busy riding to stop and snap a few pics....but it is off in the distance at the right side of the is the sandy-coloured part on the hillside:

I rode ahead of the group at the approach to this canyon wall as they were waiting for someone and I knew they would be along shortly. When I realized the track would take us along the cliffside, I thought, " this where I show my first "That Guy"moment by failing the ledge and rocks????

I managed through the one crux section with only a minor sideways move....and then nailed it !!! Too bad no one saw it . It wasn't really that difficult, but it was early in the ride and I was still anxious about what we would be getting into....

Here is that part ....these guys were helpful to one another ...

It was manageable, but any error had a high price for failure due to the drop-off. We were doing fairly well of keeping up with each other and following the rule of stop-wave-ride at route deviations:

Dan at the ledge section:

Kevin was the track-keeper Trail Boss and was lead guy most of the time. Here is one of his self-portraits where he is admiring himself:

He tended to walk around with his helmet on in various "mountings"....

but here he is full-face:

Kevin is a very good rider and placing #2 in last years King's of the West speaks to his abilities....

Aside from his riding and GPS skills, he is quite a mechanic.....sometimes demonstrating some reluctance to consider other's suggestions....until TT demonstrated his WWTTD acumen ....but that will come up later.

We rode off the cliff section into pine and juniper forest looking for BobZ's "shortcut", only to retrace our steps back along some VERY sweet damp red clay-sand-soil double track that we all liked beaucoup... no pics because we were having fun....except one of David waiting patiently in the sweltering heart for three of us to get out of BobZ's shortcut sidehill adventure...

The plan for Day One was to get to Bar 10 Ranch for a 5:00 supper that Kevin had arranged ....but as the day had a late start and some slow-downs, we got there in time only to be told supper would be at 6:00.....which would not allow us to ride to Toroweap for our first camp....

We were hot, tired, thirsty and hungry when we arrived at the ranch. It is a working ranch and a cool place....

You can sleep in good food, and take helicoptor or raft rides in the Grand Canyon from there...

We hung out waiting for dinner and had our first "destination readjustment", as we counted on our fingers and toes enough times to figure out we would not make Toroweap before dark....BobZ was bummed because the whole point of the trip was for him to sleep in a cave.....but he got over it...

Posing by the ranch lodge....

The water tap was social central....

A few riders were there (V-Strom and 800GS) and off-road was new to them....they rode in on roads, so we felt a bit smug about knocking off our first day with no major issues. They were nice guys and we had the usual conversations.....until two attractive female guests began to do yoga on the lawn nearby.....someone was said, "Are you doing yoga?" To which the older of the two (early 30's) replied, "No, we are showing off!"....We were too busy gawking to take any pics....

After dinner, I asked a cowboy if there were any camp spots between us and Toroweap as I doubted riding there in the dark was something I wanted to do...and a few others tended to agree....and we ended up a few miles south of the ranch at a pretty "Sedona-like" red sand/rack spot where we set up and had our first fire.

And wouldn't you know it.....ALL these guys had chairs !?! They were kind enough to pull up a large rock for me by the fire.

Ulterior Motives:
#1: BobZ indicated in initial e-mails that he wanted me to join the ride as he wanted another "Old Guy" on the ride (I am 60 and he is a youngster in his late 50's). Maybe I was going to be there to make him look good???? I wasn't sure, but he was explicit that this was ONE of his ulterior motives.

We woke up and started packing before the sun rose over the cliffs behind our camopsite. It was most fitting that we discovered some cowboy memorabilia in the sand as we were leaving on Day Two...

Ged Schwartz
Kamloops , BC

Baja '05 , Baja 06/07 , Baja 08/09 , BC Alpine Single Track

motoged is offline   Reply With Quote