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Old 02-20-2013, 03:36 PM   #1
Ridercam OP
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Joined: Jan 2011
Location: The Island of Alameda, across from San Francisco
Oddometer: 44
Airhead Death Valley Rendezvous 2013

Once again it was an epic time with a weather window which was spectacular. Dry and cool conditions were exactly what we could best expect. I was ready with my packing and tested my bike and even got gas at the local 76 station paying nearly 4.45 a gallon for 91 octane the night before. As usual for such long trips, I warmed up the opposed twin engine, checked her oil and even put her to bed with the key in the ignition to be at the ready. I went to bed happy and even my wife was surprised at my preparations.

I had a hard time sleeping. I finally woke up for the last time at 5 and made coffee, checked my work email and even reloaded and tightened my pack. I was excited to warm up the bike at 6:45 and went to the garage only to find I had in fact left the key in the ignition but had left the headlight on... A big bummer to the start of the day. I immediately put her to the charger and waited for nearly another hour and a half before trying to start the bike. I paced like an expectant father while she sipped the power very slowly. Ugh!

Finally departed on heavy Thursday morning traffic after 8:30. Valentines day- February 14 from Alameda. The air was cool and the traffic heavy down 101 to Hollister. The bike is of course an airhead BMW R100CS, a bike I have had for over 20 years. The familar tic, tic, tic at 70 miles a hour and sharing the commuter lane - i made good time. Yeah, the traffic sucked but is was a good sign the economy is recovering at least in San Jose and South Bay.




I caught up to my friends at the Cozy Cup on 4th street in Hollister for a late breakfast after being on the road for over a hour and a quarter. There I got some good eggs, toast and hash - just the right thing to stick to the bones. I began to relax with old friends and great riders. We were going to Death Valley via some of the best, familar roads in California.


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Old 02-20-2013, 03:56 PM   #2
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Location: The Island of Alameda, across from San Francisco
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Hollister to Creston DVR 2013



My R100CS and I have been through a lot. She looks good from the curb but has a tricky steering system. She had been a toughie ever since I totaled her on the Bay Bridge nearly 9 years ago. She did save my life along with my Aerostich suit. I became a believer in the suit that day and chose to ride only with it from that day forward. Since that day I do work on her to fix this and that - yet she still is lacking despite the head bearings, new forks and wheel bearings. Maybe she will always be a little week in the corners - i do not know.

For this trip - I did put on a new front tire just a day before the ride and sanded it down to remove the slickness. It worked quite well. She tracked as good as she has since the mystical Sacramento Frameman work yet i still feel there is more to be done for my and her confidence.

Anyway we started down the road from Hollister on highway 25. A great road with so much to see, smell and experience.


Those who are familiar with the roads - 25 to Indian Valley road to River Road are in for a treat. Unfortunately the airheads and those uber r11rts were on a time crunch so no pictures were taken or even allowed for a new video camera mount I have been working to create (stay tuned for that!).

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Old 02-20-2013, 04:30 PM   #3
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Highway 58 to Merl Haggard Blvd to 178 in the dark...

58 is one of those roads missed as you fly by on 101, 5 or 99. Do yourself a favor and ride it for yourself. do a loop through McKitrick, spend the night if you must. Just ride it as it is the best of Central California roads with enough golden hills, dozens of twists and very little traffic. You can ride 70 to 15 to 30 to 45 to 30 in a 1/2 mile. Not too shabby.

Motorcycle rides are not about being linear but a journey. When you ride in a group - shit happens. It just so happened that i noticed our hard-working super-model Air Marshall, Kristina's nicely equipped 1100RT was running on its rim - probably a fast flat picked up a outside Buttonwillow in a gas station off I-5. Speculation suggests it was a broken windshield wiper blade...







It was dark when we headed up 178 to Lake Isabella. On this section of road, there is no time for pilot error, locals push you with speeding trucks, the blind curves are ever present and rock slides happen on a hourly basis.

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Old 02-20-2013, 05:31 PM   #4
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Lake Isabella to Inyokern

We arrive nearly at 7:45 at the Lakeview Motel, in Mt. Mesa. My friend Tony had made it hours before and waited it out at the only restaurant in town, a mexican place that lacks love needed to make it special destination. The Motel is famous for local who meet to have a nooner without to much questions or driving time. The motel is higher than Ridgecrest or Bakersfield - luckily Tony and I split the cost making it work for the both of us. To be sure - the sheets are clean, rug vacuumed and towels freshly washed. I think it is good place to place a riders head. We even got some home cooked muffins (a nice touch) and hot coffee for our early morning departure.



I got off to a late start as I was goofing with my camera mount, stripped the plastic screw and lost my chance to use the videocamera. My screwing around made me the last one to leave the motel and finally catch up in Inyokern for a real mexican breakfast. The bike started right up after a good 350 mile ride and charged the battery to full. I rolled out of the parking lot and headed to walker pass. The Joshua trees and oaks in the morning shadow were beautiful. The cold air warmed in the early morning thermals as I peeked over the pass into the valley floor below.

In less than 48 minutes, i made it down 50 miles to Bernardino's, a mexican restaurant that serves traditional mexican and standard american breakfast. My recommendation is stay with the mexican.

Gassing up with Huevos Rancheros...






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Old 02-20-2013, 06:16 PM   #5
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Inyokern to Furness Creek via Wildrose Canyon

We left breakfast and rolled the 10 miles or so into Ridgecrest. It really is the town before Death Valley. It boast more than two Chevron stations, a great motorcycle shop and a myriad of stores to pick up the last minute times. I got oil and a fill up. I know I get nearly 48 when I travel my pace. I am always happy to see I get 40 miles to the gallon when I group ride. At 4.55 a gallon for 91 octane there on the eastern side of the Serrias - those pennies do add up.

Once filled up, we pushed on to Trona. It is fabled place of alien abductions, obscure mining and secret military bases. we were fortunate as we didn't lose a rider.

Escape from Trona




Local crazy giving sunrise saluations to the rock and highway gods...

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Old 02-20-2013, 08:11 PM   #6
Mercenary
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Oh...I'm in on this one
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We can handle it....We're Canadian
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:43 PM   #7
mtndayrider
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Great ride report

Hi Ridercam. We met at the tech day in Montana this summer. I'm glad you made it home from your birthday "discovery" ride. I have ridden many of those central California roads when I lived in Alameda and would venture south. Thanks for the report.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:12 AM   #8
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Wait a minute!

It just so happened that i noticed the air marshall nicely equipped 1100RT was running on its rim

is that karma or due justice?

Skoron
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtndayrider View Post
Hi Ridercam. We met at the tech day in Montana this summer. I'm glad you made it home from your birthday "discovery" ride. I have ridden many of those central California roads when I lived in Alameda and would venture south. Thanks for the report.
That was a great ride to Montana. I enjoyed meeting all of you up there. There is nothing like riding an old airhead, meeting the nicest folks who add to such a unique thoughtful clique and sharing our love for this basic & balanced two wheeled passage maker.

Tech weekend - Montana style. Hospitality, comfort and great food!




If you ever make it back down here... I would hope we can go for a ride otherwise I might have to visit up north again for the beauty and friendship I know is up there.
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:47 AM   #10
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Torna - wildrose canyon road

The Wildrose canyon road is the back door to Death Valley. The road goes from paved, to graded to pot hole mess with standing water, rock and steep walls. Every time I ride on and through it, I feel like a character from one of my favorite westerns... The Professionals. (Many sections of film was shot at the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada - a great day trip and awesome ride from Las Vegas - about 175 miles southeast of DV.)





Unfortunately - Claudia Cardinale was unavailable for the ride.





But to get to the potholes and springs, you need to ride the canyon road up at the last chance T intersection. The other, more civilized way into the valley is to stay on 178/190 Paramint Springs rd. Here we split from our super-model Air Marshall, Kristina's patched R1100RT - Graciously, Tony on his RT kept her company. The remaining airheads continued on Wildrose. Death Valley Map


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Old 02-21-2013, 12:16 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skoron View Post
Wait a minute!

It just so happened that i noticed the air marshall nicely equipped 1100RT was running on its rim

is that karma or due justice?

Skoron
I like to believe our hard-working super-model Air Marshall, Kristina was the conduit which all bad karma was absorbed and then released as hot air via her tire.

Upon perverted reflection, How often do you get to fondle an air marshalls head light as others ream it good from the rear? Sadly I was caught in the act!


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Old 02-21-2013, 04:34 PM   #12
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Furness Creek Campground, Death Valley

When you ride morning past Telescope Peak on your right and scoot down into Emigrant pass, there is a building excitement renewed by better road conditions and the smell of the barn - Furness Creek Ranch and Campground. But this is February and at nearly a mile up, things do get nippy even in the sun. Nothing like a cold shiver to make one ride to warmer sea level temperatures visible just off edge of the road.



With a 7:40am Lake Isabella departure, we made exceptional time even with a leisurely breakfast in Inyokern, gassing up in Ridgecrest, a few photos along the way, a stretch at the 178 T - we arrived at the campground gate at 1:10pm. A quick check in with the Ranger (showing him my Annual Park Pass), we at camp central by 1:18... Not too shabby for taking "the old guys route". Less surprising was that Tony and our super-model Air Marshall, Kristina R1100RT tag team beat us there 20 minutes earlier.



There Andrew Hartman and Bob Shelling sat at the official check in desk. They have been doing a great job for 10 years and more if you count Bob and others long hard work. There has been much talk how things are gonna change as they both have stepped further away from the organized running of this special DV annual airhead rendezvous. (Yeah - things will change - it falls further on more shoulders to pull off this great event.) For less than 35 dollars, one has a patch of dirt some would say is better than most homes. Airhead camping isn't as rugged as one would think. We may fall into a loose definition of luddites - but we take our creature comforts seriously. There is always a cold keg or three of great beer, snacks and an extra chair.

My good fortune did continue with a great shaded spot for a tent, 50 feet from the bike, close enough to the toilet and fresh water.



I was kinda relieved to take a long afternoon break and enjoy the sun and 76 degrees. I even managed to sneak into the resort pool for a dip with a beer in hand.

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Old 02-21-2013, 04:51 PM   #13
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The tribe gathers at sunset






If you can end the days ride with some good folks, a bowl of meaty pasta, a pint of Race V on tap and a 1/2 dozen Oreos... you are living well.
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