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Old 01-21-2011, 09:23 PM   #1
Alexa OP
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45 Days and 2600 Miles of Dirt in the Western US

This trip was not our first road trip...

...we've spent a lot of time on the road.

This also was not our first motorcycle road trip...

...we did a 6,000 mile trip the summer before around the western States and Canada.

This was, however, our first "off road touring" trip, and it was the funnest thing either of us have ever done.

Our idea was to ride from Reno to Vegas, fly from Vegas to Canada to visit Kevin's family in Winnipeg for a week, return to Vegas, ride up through the mountains of Utah, and then, somewhere north of Salt Lake City, head west toward Reno. (See the pink line for this trip).

We didn't have an itinerary, other than to catch a plane to Canada; nor did we have an exact route planned, other than to bring maps for Nevada, northern Arizona and Utah. We were gone for 45 days, rode 2600 miles (95% on dirt) and ran our engines for about 90 hours.

This is our ride report. Please enjoy.

Alexa screwed with this post 01-21-2011 at 10:30 PM
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Old 01-21-2011, 09:40 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Alexa View Post

This was, however, our first "off road touring" trip, and it was the funnest thing either of us have ever done.

I'm in. Always love it when someone is out having fun trying something new.
"but why is all the rum gone?"

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Old 01-21-2011, 10:28 PM   #3
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We spent a week turning our motorcycles, an '07 BMW G650 X-Challenge and an '09 KTM 250 XCF-W (street legal in the great state of Nevada) into "off road touring" bikes.

We began with a packing list, amending it often as we figured out ways to lean our load. For example, I crossed off "sleeping bags" because I had the brilliant idea that we could sleep in our gear and a space blanket (note: this was a huge mistake and we froze all but three nights).

Basically, we needed to carry gas, food and water, a tent and two air mattresses, maps and a GPS, a bag of clean socks, tools, spare tubes, fluids, and an air compressor to fill our mattresses each night - all on our skinny dirt bikes.

The BMW already had a tail rack, so we just needed pannier racks for both bikes. Our friend, "Other Kevin", made a steel rack for Kevin's BMW (thank you, Kevin J.).

Kevin made an aluminum rack for my KTM.

The BMW carried two extra gallons of gas on one side of the bike and two gallons of water on the other; the KTM carried an extra gallon of gas on each side. This gave us a range of about 220 miles. The BMW carried all of the gear, and the KTM carried the food and cooking gear. Kevin mounted two hard plastic tubes on the skid plate of his BMW for tools; and one on the KTM's subframe - opposite the muffler - for extra oil.

Day 1: Lockwood exit off I-80, past Washington Hill, along Long Valley Creek, through Virginia City and Dayton.

We left Reno on a Saturday morning, avoiding Interstate 80 for as long as possible to make sure our gear was coming with us and not flying off bit-by-bit. As we passed "Summit Racing" (toy store for motor enthusiasts) we saw a "motorcycle safety class" in progress in the parking lot. I thought the whole class was waving to us, but Kevin said they were just signaling their readiness to the instructor. It was still a good omen.

Our first "step" off of the pavement was through a big mud puddle. It was the perfect welcome to our adventure (and an initiation for me and my geared-up bike).

The road continued to be "sporty" for several miles, and fun.

Only an hour outside of Reno and we saw these beautiful wild horses in this rugged green valley.

We took a wrong turn due to some map confusion (and the fact that we were relying on a free GPS) and found ourselves on a power-line road; the road was a waterfall of rocks. Kevin made it to the top and saw the road we thought we were on half a mile away on the other side of a cliff. Hypotheses: powerline roads are the worst roads.

By the way, this would be a good time to tell you that I have this thing about turning around and going back the way I came. I'm motivated by determination, curiosity, and stubbornness.

Kevin has this thing also, and we're totally codependent so we take turns telling each other things such as, "It looks like it'll be better around the corner," (whatever that looks like). This has gotten us deep into some tricky situations - you know the kind, epic.

Fortunately, it was steep enough that I couldn't get going up again and turning around was my only option, so we didn't succumb to the thing... that time.

Our first camp.

Day 2: Como Road, Artesia Road to Wellington. Highway 338 south to National Forest Road (NFR) 192, NFR 216.

Although we had avoided an epic the day before, one found us in the night: we froze our asses off all night because we didn't have our sleeping bags! Remember, I had had the great idea to sleep in our gear.

Fortunately the days were warm.

The beautiful scenery continued. We were both continually surprised at how green and scenic Nevada is (we love it!).

From far away they looked like rocks...

...but they were sheep (find Waldo, he's the one looking right at you).

Smith Valley was very beautiful.

Super fun switch-backs up this road.

Nice wild flowers at the top.

The road down from this spot was a steep, rutted, rocky, and off camber ATV trail, but it was worth it.

Day 3: Aldrich Grade, Fletcher Junction, NFR 028, California Highway 182 to Bridgeport.

More fun riding down to the valley floor.

Having a blast.



Fun and pretty.

Ok, this was weird. The map and signs stated this road was National forest, but these guys were adamant that it was private. Hmmm??? We think it was a military operation.

We went around on a different road and, sure enough, saw a military encampment with large tents and big guys holding huge guns. We wanted to stop and take a picture, but we didn't want our camera shot to bits.

I ran out of gas a few miles later (Kevin had the keys to the Rotopax), and I had to wait quite a while for him to realize I wasn't behind him anymore. When he arrived he told me that as he had tried to turn around to backtrack to me, his backpack had gotten stuck on a bungee hook (and he hates bungees on bikes) on his gear and he hadn't been able to keep his bike from falling over. He couldn't pick it up and was about to unload it when a guy in a courier truck (what's a courier truck doing in the middle of nowhere?) stopped and helped him. People are so nice.

When I rinsed my face in this river something smelled like cow poop. I don't know if it was the dust on my face getting wet, or the water that smelled. Yuck.

You can't see it in the picture but the blue dragon fly has a tiny little bridle on the water snake.

Bridgeport Reservoir with the High Sierra in the background.

Our camp at about 8,000 feet (and our coldest night).

Day 4: Aurora Canyon (NFR 168), Geiger Grade (NFR 169) to Bodie, Bodie Road through Fletcher Junction to NFR 026.


Riding by 8am. Snow right up the road.

Blissful high country riding.

Breath-taking beauty.

Kevin - still looking shiny clean. He rides in front.

The little-traveled backroad into Bodie, a cool ghost town.

Well-preserved equipment.

The old stamp mill.

Nice foundation.

Kevin was impressed with the many beautiful doorknobs.

The nice end of town.


The old gas station.

This aggressive chipmunk climbed up Kevin's leg, trying to get his peanuts, and amusing a nearby club of French Harley riders with a video camera. It's probably on Youtube. He really was eating peanuts, mixed nuts actually.

Old stage coach stop.

The wrong end of town.

Fletcher spring, another stage coach stop. Very windy and dusty, hence the goggles while filling up our water jug.

Amazing sunset.

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Old 01-21-2011, 11:08 PM   #4
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45 days and 2600 miles? What did you do all day? Looks like I'm in until the end to find out.

Be sure the safest rule is that we should not dare to live in any scene in which we dare not die. ~Lewis Carroll~
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Old 01-21-2011, 11:17 PM   #5
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Dang, that map looks like fun. In.
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Old 01-21-2011, 11:29 PM   #6
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In! Looks like a good time.
Coffee first, then all your other mundane bullshit. Benjava

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Old 01-22-2011, 06:12 AM   #7
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Wow! Keep it comin'.. looks like you had a fantastic ride

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Old 01-22-2011, 07:08 AM   #8
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Loving it! We did a west-east Nevada trip a couple years back. Great country, and plenty of of
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Old 01-22-2011, 08:24 AM   #9
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Is that a a poisen snake like the ones you see in westernmovies scaring horses and killing men ? No place for a swim eh?

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Old 01-22-2011, 08:26 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by larryboy View Post
45 days and 2600 miles? What did you do all day? Looks like I'm in until the end to find out.

My wife is lazy... Plus we're slow...

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Old 01-22-2011, 09:23 AM   #11
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Looking forward to this...
2007 KTM 990 Adventure
2008 KTM 450 EXC-R
2005 Honda Elite (just because)

If we don't change direction soon, we'll end up where we're going.
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Old 01-22-2011, 10:15 AM   #12
Alexa OP
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Day 5: Past Whiskey Flat Ranch through Rattle Snake Flat and Garfield Flat into Mina. Trails paralleling Highway 95 south to Highway 360 to Candelaria Junction, through Candelaria, south through Columbus Salt Marsh, across Highway 6, continue south on a dirt road to "The Crossing" in Fish Lake Valley.

I found a bug stuck in my teeth. Kevin said it had been there since the day before; he'd thought it was food. Rattle Snake Wells.

This is where we really started to feel remote and "out there in the wild". Prior to this day we would ride hard all day and then trip on the fact that Reno was just a few miles over the hill from us; but now we felt far from anywhere.

The sign speaks for itself.

Pavement after a hell of a great ride (giant drainage cuts = giant whoops). A truck had spilled a load of onions on the highway and they were smashed all over the road. A snow remover was making huge onion piles on the shoulder.

The remains of Candelaria.

Beautiful stonework.

Another mine.

Columbus salt marsh.

In the salt marsh.

Through the salt marsh.

The richly colored volcanics of Fish Lake Valley.

Our little compressor (we ripped the guts out of a $15 compressor). A second after I took this picture a dust devil swirled through our camp, pelting us with pebbles and filling our tent with half a pound of sand.

Fish Lake Valley.

Day 6: South from "The Crossing" into Dyer, south on Highway 264 to Oasis Ranch, Eureka Valley Road, Cucomungo Canyon, Tule Canyon Road, east through Lida Valley to Goldpoint, south to Slate Ridge.

We don't even care that we have rice for breakfast and dinner, or that we freeze every night - that's how much fun we were having!

Kevin, having more fun than he's ever had.

Heading toward the north end of Death Valley.

Fruit on the joshua trees. I have "baboon butt" - my butt cheeks itch like crazy (sorry, no picture).

Looking back at the White Mountains.

Clever sign. There was another sign down the road that said "was out" - someone had erased the "h" from "wash".

Beautiful mountain.

Freshly graded road. So fresh we almost hit the grader coming around a turn. The grader had already made one pass on the road, leaving a ridge of dirt with a track along the side of the road.

The last time we had been on this road, last January, it had been covered with snow. At first it had only been a short section that was covered, but around the next turn there was snow again. We rode 5 miles up the mountain in deep snow, believing that it would end "just around the corner." It didn't occur to us, until we turned around, that we had been going up in altitude and that there would be more snow, not less. An excellent example of our thing. It was, however, fun going back down. The sun had set, the temperature had dropped below freezing, and the snow had crusted over, so our bikes tracked through the snow, although with a bit of a swagger in the rear.

We got lost on this road (we could see the road we wanted to be on down the hill), but we found this cute little place.

What would a ride in Nevada be without an abandoned, shot-up Plymouth?

To answer the proverbial question, "Can it get any better than this?" "No, it can't."

Feels like we haven't seen anyone for days.

Good chance we won't see anyone for a few more. Look at that endless fun road.

Goldpoint - another ghost town, but this one has a few living souls. The ranger was in town and he said the BLM owned the land but they can't kick the people off because the homes are privately owned - good deal.

Charged with the crime of having too much fun; governor pardoned. (We heard later those were authentic gallows).

We hitched our bikes outside of "Sally's Brothel".

Another mine.

Our Bedouin camp made out of the tent fly, tarps, space blanket, sarongs, bikes, tent, rocks, string, clamps, 'biners, and knots - it worked well.

Day 7:
Rest day. We didn't have anything to do, so we read the maps. Tantalizing plot.

Day 8: Past Hanging Mesa and The Hard Luck Castle to Bonnie Claire, south-east through Sarcobatus Flat (on "Vegas to Reno" race route), into the Nevada corner of Death Valley National Park, through the Bullfrog Hills into Beatty, south on Highway 95 a few miles, left on dirt road, leading up Bare Mountain.

Another beautiful day.

Nice spot.

Top of the pass.

The other side of the mountain.

This is us.

There's our road.

Another mine.


Fauna. This fatty lizard was on the top of a bush when I walked by. Some of the lizards would run on their hind legs and looked like funny little dinosaurs.

Resting on a leg of the "Vegas to Reno" race route.

30 miles of whoops (all the way to the base of the mountains in the distance). What a blast!

A beautiful, quiet corner of Death Valley that is worth seeking out.

Beautiful, fun twisties.

Day 9: Over Secret Pass, continue on the road east and then south, back to Highway 95, south on Highway 95, south on Highway 373 to Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge, Ash Meadows Road into Pahrump, south on Highway 160 to NFR 576, NFR 536.

Warm last night. Highway 95 had just been repaved and it was super smooth, and fun, and fast.

This is one of the many beautiful blue ponds at Amargosa Wildlife Refuge.

It was hot enough today to cook boil-in-bag mac'n'cheese by lying it on a rock on the hot ground. We felt pretty cooked ourselves after having to ride on the busy highway after a supply stop in Pahrump.

Day 10: Continue NFR 536 to NFR 537, NFR 549 to Red Rock Canyon Road ("The Loop"), Highway 159 into Las Vegas.

On the bikes by 7:30 am. This is our last day of riding for a week because we're going to store our bikes in Vegas and fly to Canada. We already miss riding.

Heading toward Red Rocks National Recreation Area (a place where we once did a lot of rock climbing).

Very green and beautiful.

We just need to go over that rocky mountain.

The pass had a rocky section for about a quarter of a mile. Kevin made it through and then dropped his bike at the end (he's not under the bike).

We met "Crawdaddy" (yes, the Crawdaddy on advrider) on the pass. We had exchanged emails with him back in April to get route info for the Grand Canyon. He figured out we were the same people who had emailed him and we all had a good laugh. Crawdaddy rode my bike through the big rocks for me (thanks, Crawdaddy).

The road down was fun, even though it had scary steep sides and loose rocks.

Hard to believe Vegas is just on the other side of those mountains.


Go, Crawdaddy, go.

We made it through!

What a view.

Good rock climbing back there.

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Old 01-22-2011, 10:26 AM   #13
Alexa OP
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Originally Posted by rednax View Post
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Is that a a poisen snake like the ones you see in westernmovies scaring horses and killing men ? No place for a swim eh?
He was probably a harmless little water snake, but I wasn't about to share the water with any sort of snake (don't want them slithering up my shorts). We did see three teens floating down the river but they didn't look too bright.
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Old 01-22-2011, 10:51 AM   #14
U'mmmm yeaah!!
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Awesome pics... 45 days for 2600 miles though, that's a lot of spare time. One could probably hike that distance.

Don't sweat the petty things; Pet the sweaty things !!!
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Old 01-22-2011, 11:02 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Kmike View Post
My wife is lazy... Plus we're slow...


Shaping up to look the time of your lives from here. Really nice pictures!!

Be sure the safest rule is that we should not dare to live in any scene in which we dare not die. ~Lewis Carroll~
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