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Old 11-15-2008, 07:20 PM   #1
Country Doc OP
Joined: Dec 2006
Location: somwhere north of Kingston, Ontario
Oddometer: 2,746
Laugh Little DR's, Big Mountains

After this trip, I now hold several new truths to be self-evident.

1. A fully-loaded DR350 does not a motocrosser make.

2. Baby wipes can do anything.

3. No matter how you shoot the photo, it looks like easy, smooth riding.

4. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, puts a finer exclamation point on a day of dual-sporting than sitting around a roaring campfire with a fine briar pipe, a bowl of fresh English tobacco, and a flask of Pedro Ximenez sherry. Magic.

For a Canadian leaving cold, rainy Ontario in mid-November, roosting through the high deserts and scrambling through the deep canyons of Southern California made me feel just about like this.

Ok, now for a little context. Living here in Ontario, I happen to be lucky enough to have one of my best, and oldest friends, living in sunny Pasadena, with a driveway big enough to store a few bikes. California lets me plate and own a motorcycle, so I now keep a cherry little 94 DR350S tucked away next to his house, begging for adventure riding whenever we can scrounge a few days off and a cheap flight. My buddy Wes (rinconrider) rides an F650GS most of the year, but keeps a DRZ400 for just such an occasion. We had hit Death Valley earlier in February, and this time, Wes had plotted out a interesting route.

We planned to head north from Pasadena across the San Gabriels on mostly USFS fire roads, then up the western part of San Francsiquito Canyon, through the Hungry Valley OHV area, across the mountains again to the Carrizo Plain monument, through the Plains and over to the coast at San Luis Obispo, then down through the Santa Ynez valley, over west Camino Cielo, down to Santa Barbara, and then along East Camino Cielo through to Ojai, and then back to Pasadena. At least that was the plan. The last part in particular presented a few challenges.

I found a cheap flight to L.A. leaving on November 4th. Turns out nobody wanted to travel Nov 4th. For me, it was great!

I had a 3 hour layover in Denver, and got the chance to peruse a New York Times at the Wolfgang Puck restaurant, watching the early election returns come in.

This guy kept me company with great conversation most of the evening. Turns out he was a political junkie, very well-informed about the electoral system and many of the intricacies of both local and distant state politics and races for seats in the House. I met a handful of really fascinating people while layed over here, and it greatly enhanced my experience and enjoyment of that amazing election day.

I was glued to this TV for most of the afternoon. I was so fascinated, in fact, that I missed my connection to LA... so I had to return to the Puck and watch for another 3 hours, though I did get to see them call Virginia, and thus the election, just before I boarded.

Bike prep the day before we planned to leave. I got sidelined with a leaking magneto cover gasket and we were scrambling to get it all prepped for early the next morning.

This made my heart skip a few beats when I took off the cover. A little more involved than I wanted it to be.

We got it all together and packed up, and this was about an hour into the ride, turning onto a USFS road past a locked gate just off the Angeles Crest/Tujunga Canyon road.

Locked gates are no problem for little dual-sports.

Taking a rest stop at the bottom of this canyon. Riding fairly challenging off-road after months of commuting took a while for us to get our legs.

Unfortunately, this road dead-ended at a huge old rock-slide, which, based on the vegetation growing, had been there for years. You could barely walk through it, so we certainly weren't riding. Ah well, we'd get used to retracing our steps this trip!

High up on the Mt. Gleason road. California is remarkable for both the variety of the geography, and how close it's all packed together. Hardly an hour from Pasadena, we'd already ridden through a deep, rough canyon, and were now up at 6000 ft in breezy, cool pine forests with spectacular views over towards the Central Valley.

Bathroom break at a closed USFS campsite up on this road. Good thing the toilets weren't locked.

The next morning, after camping in some lovely olive groves at Lake Piru.

Riding back through the village of Piru the next morning, we stumbled across an open door to a fascinating chap who was doing restoration body-work on vintage European sports cars. Great find. He gave me some nuts and washers which had vibrated loose off my taillight the day previous.

The many, many hammers of a body-shop guy.

I think this was a late-50's Porsche 356D

Classic grill from a very old MG.

One of many classic, bleached, weathered buildings in Piru.

Fixing the taillight outside of his shop.

All bolted up and ready to go, outside the body shop.
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Old 11-15-2008, 07:40 PM   #2
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Location: Sydney Hills - Australia
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Love the photography.. I have just returned from California and was amazed at the diversity... Sequoia Nat Park being my favorite. Looking forward to the rest of the report.
Agito ergo sum - I ride therefore I am!
Your ride.. Your adventure!
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Old 11-15-2008, 07:46 PM   #3
Country Doc OP
Joined: Dec 2006
Location: somwhere north of Kingston, Ontario
Oddometer: 2,746

First canyon ride on Day 2, heading north up the western side of San Francsiquito Canyon. Water crossing!!

Wes almost took me out. Good thing I had a weather-sealed camera lens!

Gaining elevation up the canyon. Perfect, glorious day.

Beautiful ridgeline trail in the northern part of the canyon, heading towards Lake Hughes. There was NOONE else up here, and the views were spectacular.

Gorgeous mountain ranges.

Trusty steel horses. These little bikes were thrashed soundly, and never missed a beat. They are rugged indeed.

Best cajun chicken sandwich I've ever had, at the Rock Inn in Lake Hughes.

Setting up camp that night in the Hungry Valley OHV area. Gorgeous high-desert, and bitterly, bitterly cold at night.

Morning prep in Hungry Valley. We unloaded the DR's and took some gnarly, jaw-dropping, heart-pounding (for us!!) singletrack in the OHV area, trying to keep up with dudes on CRF450's and KTM 2-strokes. This was an amazing experience, and certainly gave us some skills that came in handy later in the trip... unfortunately we didn't get any pics from the OHV ride. No way to carry the cameras!

Lunch stop on the mountain pass after leaving Hungry Valley, headed towards the Carrizo Plains. This was the Mil Potrero/Cerro Norestre road, which now ranks as one of my all-time favourite paved rides. Every turn positive camber, every view was phenomenal, great campsites enroute. Awesome stuff.


More great views from Cerro Norestre. I quite literally almost rode off the edge of the cliff a few times, I was so preoccupied with the view.
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Old 11-15-2008, 08:02 PM   #4
One wheel wonder...
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Joined: Aug 2004
Location: Moneyapolis, MN
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Originally posted by burgerking So?
Holland is about the most expensive country in Europe when it comes to bikes and fuel..Stop whining and go riding It's just money and you only live once...
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Old 11-15-2008, 08:14 PM   #5
Street Adventurist
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Joined: Jun 2008
Location: Southside of the Grapevine, SoCal.
Oddometer: 198
Nice Report

I live in Castaic,Lake Hughes and Gorman are within an hours ride for me. Glad you enjoyed our neck of the woods!

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Old 11-16-2008, 06:37 AM   #6
Killing with kindness
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Joined: Jun 2008
Location: Locust Grove, VA
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Cool man. Makes me wanta get out and ride this morning.
WR300- It's not a "Sunday go to breakfast" bike.
Husky 2012 CR144, it doesn't go to breakfast either.
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Old 11-16-2008, 06:48 AM   #7
Country Doc OP
Joined: Dec 2006
Location: somwhere north of Kingston, Ontario
Oddometer: 2,746

After the great ride over Mil Potrero/Cerro Norestre, we started our desert romp through the Carrizo Plains. This was wide-open, lonely, beautiful country, with high mountains flanking the desert valley.

Wes heading towards a steep sandy hillclimb.

You can spot the Hi-Viz from anywhere. He almost made it to to the top!

Beautiful views looking back east at the top of that same hill.

Rest stop at a cattle fence in the middle of the Carrizo Plains. This was a phenomenal route section. We were standing up, elbows out a-la "Neduro", huge rooster plumes of dust behind the bikes, throttles pegged in 5th gear, feeling for all the world like Marc Coma and Cyril Despres. Days like this keep me feeling alive for a long time.

Light falling at the end of the Plains, the sunset illuminating the surrounding hills. The road we were on dead ended in the middle of the Plains, and we had to do a little cross-country desert riding to find the main road out to the highway.

DRZ in the Carrizo sunset.

We were sure that this sign couldn't refer to the two of us on dual-sports. Of course not

After making it out of the Plains at sunset, we blasted over the next set of mountains to San Luis Obispo where we took the only hotel of the trip, as it was cool and rainy, and we were feeling well and truly beat up. After a dirt ride like that through the Plains, I'm pretty sure we set a few DR/DRZ speed records on the twisty paved highway over to the coast. Nothing like riding loose sandy hills to increase your confidence on the tarmac!

An iPhone shot of our celebratory Mexican dinner at Pepe Delgado's (sp?) in San Luis Obispo. I would sell a kidney for good Mexican food in Canada. Great, classic lime margaritas on the rocks wash away the desert dust very well indeed!

I think we sent these photos back to our wives and kids at home, with the caption that read something like "Trip sucks. Totally boring. Wish I were back home " What will be even better, of course, is repeating a trip like this when our two boys are big enough to join us. Can't wait!

This is my boy back home on "his bike". I'm sure he can't wait either. Now if I could only get a street-legal plate on the CT70...

Remainder of the trip report coming soon. Thanks for reading so far!
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Old 11-16-2008, 07:39 AM   #8
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Location: Toronto, ON
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Excellent inro to your excellent adventure

that CT70 is the first bike I ever rode!

ADV decals, patches & flag? Here
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Old 11-16-2008, 12:36 PM   #9
Scared of the dark..
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Joined: Nov 2007
Location: Currently in Canada.
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Awesome RR! What camera are you shooting with? The blues seem very crisp?
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Old 11-16-2008, 05:02 PM   #10
Country Doc OP
Joined: Dec 2006
Location: somwhere north of Kingston, Ontario
Oddometer: 2,746

I was shooting with a Canon Rebel XSi and a 17-40L lens. Wes was shooting with a Canon 20D, also with a 17-40L.

I used a circular polarizer much of the time, which accounts for the saturated blues.

ok, on to the next section!

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Old 11-19-2008, 08:56 PM   #11
Suzuki Phil
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Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Simi Valley, CA
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Great ride report from a fellow DR350 rider :).

A couple of questions for you, 1) Where did you get that monster gas tank? & 2) What tires are you running?


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Old 11-19-2008, 09:23 PM   #12
dreaming adventurer
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Location: right here on my thermarest
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Great story!
The future is bright, fruitful, and positive.
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Old 11-19-2008, 10:23 PM   #13
Sir Crash-a-lot
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Joined: Nov 2007
Location: Pasadena, CA (Long Lost Canadian)
Oddometer: 359
I remember the turn-around point on East Camino Cielo a bit differently through my experience at that point.

I was pretty done. I had probably dropped my bike 7-8 times and was exhausted. I also have health issues that tire me out they were largely affecting me. I was actually very done.

Every time I went up or down a hill that seemed looser, steeper, more rutted and generally further above my ability as a newer off-road rider I thought to myself, "well, this road has to go somewhere, because I can't ride back up/down that again". Not in a joking to myself way either. In that deadly serious I-am-getting-in-way-over-my-head way.

The very last goat trail hill was ridiculous. My bike got stuck standing up in the rut by the footpegs catching on the dirt. So when we decided we had to turn around and do it all immediately in reverse, I don't remember pumping my arm in any sort or bravado. I remember looking inside of myself and flipping the switch.

The switch I sometimes use at work when my job requires me to do something I really don't want to do, like fire a friend, or negotiate my employment contract. Most of my internal switches involve emotion. This one involves resolve.

So I got on the bike and rode. I rode the crap out of it. I gave the AVDrider salute to every hill i had crashed on previously. It is hard to overstate the absolute bizarro world reflection that the rides to the dead end and out from the dead end were. The triumph was magnified by the depth from which we had ascended from.

This is why we ride, folks. The simpleton seeks adrenaline, and I think some think this is why I ride.

I don't ride for a thrill. I ride to surpass my limitations.

08 R1200GS - docile
08 R1200R - mean
08 WR250R - superman
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Old 11-20-2008, 08:42 AM   #14
Difficult but Useful
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Location: Douchevillia
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Great work '75', beats riding the K&P eh?
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Old 11-20-2008, 10:38 AM   #15
Joined: Jan 2006
Location: California, Missouri
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Thanks for the Great report.
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