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Old 12-15-2011, 11:01 AM   #1
jdmetzger OP
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Josh's Salton Sea Adventure

While winter is settling in nice around these parts, other areas of the country are fantastic for riding purposes. I recently got quite lucky that my employer needed to ship me off to San Diego, where the weather was beautiful by comparison. The trip ran over a weekend and I ended up with a little bit of weekend free time, so I rented a bike (a brand new BMW R1200R), and with the help of suggestions from friends, I picked out a nice route for a Sunday ride. It was about 50 degrees in San Diego when I left in the morning, and while the receptionist at my hotel seemed concerned that I was going riding, I assured her that I was from Ohio, and 50 was a summer day for me.

The route:



The first part of the ride was mostly boring. 50 miles out of SD east on the slab. As the altitude signs went from 2000, then 3000, and eventually to 5000 feet, the temperature changed and the bike was telling me it was around 40 degrees. Definitely chilly, but I was dressed well enough so no worries. I finally exited and hit "County Road S1", aka Sunrise Highway. This road winds you around and up Mt. Laguna to just over 6000 feet. It's quite a scenic ride with a few nice twisties thrown in. As it was so cold, I was taking my time watching for icy spots while enjoying the scenery.

Just off the highway:


Pretty:


Looking a bit "desert" off in the distance:


A bit of snow hanging around at the elevations (heated grips were nice):


Scenic:


A nice grassy valley:


Towards the north end of Sunrise Highway:


A very nice road to be on:


Cool photo of the rental bike (which was brand new - less than 700 miles on it):


Continued...
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Old 12-15-2011, 11:02 AM   #2
jdmetzger OP
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After riding Sunrise Highway, I connected with Route 78 and headed east into the small town of Julian and then onwards to Banner. The section between these two towns is called "Banner Grade Rd", and it was some of the best riding I've ever had the pleasure of doing - so good, in fact, that I couldn't bring myself to stop and take any photos. It was endless "U-turn type right turn, sharp left, u-turn type right, sharp left"... and on and on. I'm sure I was smiling the whole time, and it was still plenty early, so I had no traffic to fight with.

Finally past Banner, I ended up in what I would consider a valley. Lots of mostly flat land with mountains all around, and things were starting to look more "desert". Even on these remote roads I spotted CHP looking for speeders, which was a but of a surprise.

I eventually headed Northwest (briefly) being going back east and riding "Montezuma Valley Rd". This is another great mountain road with a good elevation change and some nice twisties:







The road eventually leads into Borrego Springs - you get a nice view of the town and the desert on Montezuma Valley Rd.



Bike and nice view:


From remote Borrego Springs (Which somehow still provided me with non-roaming cell service), I continued the last 30 or so miles through the desert to the Salton Sea:

You can clearly see how much the lake has evaporated - the "ridge" is the old water line:


More view of where the water used to be, and the sea itself:


Somewhat scenic-looking view of the Salton Sea:


There was a fairly noticeable hint of "dead fish" smell in the air, and a number of dead fish on the shoreline (from the increased salinity as the water evaporates), but most of them had long since died and dried up. Still, I never quite made it to the water line.

The birds still seem to be OK with the water. This guy was making all sorts of noise:


From the Salton Sea, I dropped south on Route 86 and caught Route 78. If you want to know what riding in the desert is like, stare at this photo for a while:



Finally I made a last turn to catch Yaqui Pass Rd which was mild but still enjoyable:

View from Yaqui Pass Rd:


Eventually I hit Banner Grade Rd. again and thoroughly enjoyed myself before running back into the highway and burning back west where I picked up some good food that isn't available for me, locally:



I had to return the bike at 5pm and there was a "group dinner" with work people (so I got a $27 steak and free beer). All in all, not a bad little trip.
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Old 12-15-2011, 11:12 AM   #3
larryboy
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Nice little day loop!!!
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Old 12-15-2011, 12:14 PM   #4
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oh man you didnt go around the sea - on the other side there's salvation mountain, slab city, and the mud pots! go back!!!!
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Old 12-15-2011, 12:17 PM   #5
jdmetzger OP
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Originally Posted by fierostetz View Post
oh man you didnt go around the sea - on the other side there's salvation mountain, slab city, and the mud pots! go back!!!!
Believe me, I want to. I had read about the mud pots recently but I just didn't have the time... I had a "group dinner" with some executives and my co-workers that I couldn't get out of, so I had to get back to SD, return the bike, and make myself presentable for dinner. Hopefully I'll get back out that way, again!
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Old 12-15-2011, 12:24 PM   #6
jdmetzger OP
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Just 4 more photos. After getting the bike on Friday and working until 8:30, I had to go into work on Saturday and work until just past noon. I hauled out of there to go ride on a road I randomly found on my last visit (when I was in a shitty rental car), so I started there and took a nice ride to the Palomar Observatory.

The route:


The first part of the route, just off I-15, is "Highland Valley Road". There are some nice twisties through here, though I was still feeling out the R1200R and how it handled, so I really wasn't breaking any speed records. Still quite nice. From there I dropped into Ramona, then onto 78. The first part had some nice sweepers and generally nice riding. Speeds were good and while there was a bit of traffic, it wasn't too annoying. The view was also pretty nice. The ride eventually took me to my primary destination, the curvy bit up Palomar Mountain: South Grade Road.

South Grade reminded me of being in the Alps. It was fairly late in the day so I was occasionally dealing with the setting sun in my eyes (and the temperatures dropping), but I had a blast running up there, and I got to see the observatory:



On the way down, I snapped this hazy photo. You can see a bit of the road off in the distance. Really tons of fun to ride. Traffic was light, and I think it was because of it being later in the afternoon:



Oh, and there was some guy snapping photos of people "Killboy" style as a went up the mountain. He was gone when I came down but some web searching found his website and I snagged the photo he took of me:



After riding South Grade Rd., it was starting to get dark (and cool) so I found the fastest way back to my hotel in SD. Still not a bad day of riding - especially when I didn't have to deal with heated gear.
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Old 12-15-2011, 12:54 PM   #7
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well worth hauling the riding gear along! Glad it worked out for you!
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Old 12-15-2011, 01:08 PM   #8
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Finally past Banner, I ended up in what I would consider a valley. Lots of mostly flat land with mountains all around, and things were starting to look more "desert". Even on these remote roads I spotted CHP looking for speeders, which was a but of a surprise.
Quote


It's called 'Revenue Generating' and has nothing to do with making the populace safe. California seems to have no shame at doing this!
But I digress.
What was your opinion of the Beemer?

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Old 12-15-2011, 01:18 PM   #9
jdmetzger OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatTirePlease View Post
It's called 'Revenue Generating' and has nothing to do with making the populace safe. California seems to have no shame at doing this!
But I digress.
What was your opinion of the Beemer?

FatTirePlease


It's worse in Ohio, trust me. Coming back from Detroit Metro Airport, I spotted a plane overhead - just over the border into Ohio. The area is a well-known speed trap (Well, apparently not well enough), and the speed drops from 70 in MI to 60 in OH. Sure enough, I get a few miles down the road and there are *7* police cars with people pulled over - totally screwing up traffic in the area. Definitely all about revenue and not at all about safety.

The Beemer was nice. I have Airheads but I rode an R1200GSA in the Alps for a week, last year. I was expecting something like the GS (but lower). I have to say, the lighter weight makes a big difference and I was really able to toss the thing into turns. I actually had to adjust to it needing less input to make the same moves the bigger GS required. LOTS of fun. I really need to get a newer bike, one way or another - having decent brakes and suspension make such a difference, and on something newer I'm not constantly shifting up and down on twisty roads.
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Old 12-15-2011, 01:43 PM   #10
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Glad ya got out on some of the roads I useta ride on at least a weekly basis.



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Old 12-15-2011, 01:44 PM   #11
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Thanks for the ride report. It was nice to see my old haunts. I was stationed at MCAS Tustin and flying over Palomar, Borrego Springs over to Salton Sea was an everyday flight. I really do miss it. Plus, you got to go to In N Out Burger! Very nice ride indeed!
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Old 12-15-2011, 01:50 PM   #12
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I spend my winters on the East side of the Salton Sea but have driven the roads you did in my truck

That is a nice area for riding, I am a dirt guy myself and steer clear of the paved roads but they are fun!! I am leaving here tomorrow to go to the Salton Sea for the rest of the winter. I figure I will put about 6000 miles on my XRR in the next 3 months, maybe more. Nice ride. Thanks for posting the pictures
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Old 12-15-2011, 02:01 PM   #13
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Good route planning!

You made some great choices and did a very good job of maximizing the ride quality for the short period of time you were here. Those are some of my favorite winter riding roads.

I'm sure you'll receive a plethora of suggestions for your next trip! Thanks for the great pictures.

Sincerely,
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Old 12-15-2011, 02:09 PM   #14
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Nice report, Josh!


Sheez, you think i would get out more often, instead of posting and working

Nice to see pics of my backyard. I really need to ride. More.
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Old 12-15-2011, 03:30 PM   #15
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Well done Metzger, well done indeed! Great pics! I am so glad you decided to take your gear and rent the bike!
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