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Old 07-14-2013, 12:15 AM   #1
crsone OP
Joined: Feb 2012
Oddometer: 23
My First "long" ride. Sierras and Nevada desert.

Today I went for my first “long” trip on the F800GS. The general idea was to do a loop that would take me into Nevada and include high altitude locations as well as desert locations. Ideally I wanted to experience camping at these distinct/contrasting environments. I also wanted to avoid paying for my camping spots so “primitive” campsites were preferred.

I took about 3 weeks to consider different routes, consulted with advrider forum members, and gathered some supplies to get ready. New supplies included a sleeping bag, an air mattress, comfort seat air cushion for motorcycle, gps tracker, and soft motorcycle luggage.

I departed at about 8:30 am after a lovely hug and kiss from my beloved wife. Although I had intended on minimal photo stops to ensure I got to Nevada at a descent hour I soon broke that rule when I saw what looked like a controlled fire not even an hour into my ride.

By this point I had activated my Spot gps tracking device. I was later able to confirm with my wife that the Spot device was working as advertised, giving her coordinates of my location at intervals as I traveled my route.

I stopped in Jackson CA at about 11:30 for a quick and cheap breakfast at the local Denny's. Soon after that stop I passed the concert venue where my wife and I will be seeing a band in a few weeks.

Along the way I saw several sites I wish I could have taken a picture off including, altitude markers (9k being the highest), a town sign for Victor CA (inside joke between me and my wife), a guy towing a plane, climax road, and glory hole recreation area! These missed opportunities made me once again wish for the fancy adventure cameras i could have attached to my helmet.

When I was able to to pull over safely I did and catch a few fantastic views. Carson pass was impressive. Apparently it has been used with some frequency for well over 100 years. Taking immigrants, supplies, and vacationers as the times required.

Stopping here also gave the guy towing the plane a chance to catch up to me. Apparently this gentleman from Idaho had purchased the plane from some one in California that no longer wanted to maintain it. He was happy to let me take a picture of it. This fellow had unfortunately lost one of the wooden ramps he had used to get the plane on his trailer. A fact I was keenly aware of because I had narrowly missed hitting it several miles earlier.

Pushing on throughout the high mountain pass I started to get concerned about my fuel status. Fortunately I arrived at Markleeville CA just before things got too worrisome. Soon after my fuel stop I took on the legendary junction pass. This part of the route afforded some fantastic vistas. One if the most dramatic was seeing a beautiful valley floor from a perch 8 thousand feet high.

One of my hopes on this trip was to get a picture of my self and or the bike next to the Nevada state sign. Unfortunately the sign was fairly small and on a major highway preventing safe photo opportunities. This was near lake Topaz which was quite beautiful, almost manicured making me wonder about the history of this body of water.

Not far from Topaz the topography changed significantly. There was no doubt I was in the desert now. No tall vegetation for miles, just low to the ground bushes and majestic Rocky Mountains in the distance.

Arriving is Smith valley marked an important milestone as it meant I was close to my intended destination.

Seeing a sign for Rosie's dinner instantly put a smile on my face. I had to stop and see if my mother-in-law's name sake could offer me a nice meal. And that she did.

I got to meet Rosita, the fine owner of the Mexican food restaurant. She was very kind and welcomed me to Smith valley by cooking excellent tacos and serving me a free ice cream Sunday.

On the way to my ultimate destination I stopped, and was tempted to remain at lively RV park called Walker River resort. It had water and electricity at every tent site, as well as a pool, convenience store and a hut tub. However I resisted the temptation.

I set up my tent under windy conditions which turned out to be more comical than frustrating. What was frustrating was not being able to figure out how to inflate my air mattress before having a nap became necessary.

Woke up in time to capture a setting sun peeking over the bike. I later enjoyed the desert Night sky, a way better than expected rehydrated dinner and successfully deployed of air mattress (most comfortable thing I have laid on - next to my wife).

Lets see what tomorrow brings. (I will add pictures as soon as I figure out how)
Honda F4i Wrecked
BMW F650GS Dakar sold

crsone screwed with this post 07-14-2013 at 06:12 AM
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Old 07-14-2013, 12:21 AM   #2
crsone OP
Joined: Feb 2012
Oddometer: 23
The day stated well enough. The rising sun bringing early welcomed heat. The evening had been a bit cool but nothing to complain about. The sleeping bag I had thought unnecessary became useful at about 2 am when the temperature finally dropped.

To get the day started I decided check out the trails at the off road recreation area where I had spent the night. After all this was supposed to be an adventure. One mile into the “ride” I confirmed the wisdom of my earlier assessment that based on my current skill level, lack of suitable tires and the fact that I was solo, I should limit my off road travels to dirt/grave and avoid sand. This being the desert sand is what I found… Lots of it. Fortunately my bike only decided to “rest” once.

I then decided to break camp And head to Yerington for food, fuel, and to check out the local museum. Breakfast had the added benefit of being at a gambling establishment and was fairly descent. After both my belly and fuel levels were topped off is swung by the local museum hoping to learn more about the town. Unfortunately it would not open for another few hours and I could not spear the time. I chose instead to press on with today's ride.

I had two options here. I could use a long freeway loop that would take me to the town of Hawthorne or I could take an of road route that was “only” 60 miles but according to google maps would take 4 hours to traverse! This being an adventure the choice was easy.

11:37 AM I leave pavement behind. Now I must point out that prior to this trip I had probably had maybe - and I am being generous here - 25 miles of off road experience in my entire life. So taking on this challenge was exiting and I was really hoping I was not taking on more than I could handle. I had 3 liters of water, about 200 mi worth of gas, and a Spot GPS tracking device pinging my position every few minutes so that my wife and friends could tell where I was. Still, I definitely wanted to avoid putting any of them through having to find a way to assist me all the way out here.

And Out here I was, farthest away from any people I think I have ever been. I kept thinking “I am really doing this. Just like I have seen on magazines, forums and TV shows.” My smile and confidence broadened with every mile. Yet I kept my speed to within my limits and stopped often to check my route as I had no GPS navigation device.

For about the first 40 miles of the trip the terrain was incredibly varied. Gravel of various degrees of looseness, packed dirt, loose dirt, granulated sand, sand as fine as sugar, all challenged me and my stock 90/10 Pirelli Scorpion trail tires to our limits. I could not allow any lapse in concentration. My hands, particularly my right, began to feel cold despite perfect not too wam not to cold weather.

The views were also incredibly varied. Desert landscapes with characteristic short brush stretched out for miles in all directions. Snow capped Tall mountains in the distance seemed at times oblivious and t others judgmental of my efforts. Dust devils in the distance tore across the plains unrestricted. Majestic valleys selfishly hid their depths from view, while little critters sped by me in short life saving sprints leaving me in their dust.

I eventually did see signs civilization. 3 vehicles crossed my path heading in the opposite direction. One was kind enough to confirm my navigation choices. I passed an private air field that seemed to serve a very large local farm a clear indication that I was on the right track. I was not so certain on several other occasions and had to stop and refer to my map stored in my ipad. Eventually I reached this ominous sign at a fork in the road that I could not locate on my map. Tired and a bit in pain I decided to play it safe a use the more inviting road. My theory was that if I had to turn around at least it would be on a nice hard packed surface that this road had turned too. As it turns out the nice dirt road led to a mining operation near Aurora peak. A kind security officer informed me that I indeed had to take “road less traveled” to reach my destination - the ghost town of Bodie.

To the bold go the spoils… Or something like that I told myself as I passed the generous warning sign. The following twenty miles were the quintessential adventure bike experience for me. Never had I felt so proud of my choice of the f800. I felt in tune with bike in a way I had not before because frankly I had no choice. The technical level quickly ratchet up. Throttle control, line choice, trusting the suspension, varying approach depending on terrain, hill climbs, all became way more intense in this narrow, winding and very rocky canyon pass. Every yard had nasty jagged rocks just begging to give me tire repair practice. A truly harrowing moment came when a hidden sand wash sent my rear wheel in an “unauthorized” direction. I had to put my right food down HARD to keep upright, a fact my knee complained about the rest of the way. My “cold” right hand condition progressed to intense pain at the elbow necessitating a few stops to regain proper circulation. Several narrow “bridges” and two few actual water crossings rounded out by far my most intense and extensive off-road experience. I was happy to finally arrive at Bodie 60 miles and 5 hours later without dropping the bike once.

I defiantly got some curious looks as I emerged from the seldom used northern pass covered in well-earned dirt :)

I took a few quick pictures at Bodie and hit smooth pavement thankful for the opportunity to experience higher gears again. The view of Mono lake from 9k feet up would have to suffice as I was eager to get to my campsite beyond the Carson pass.

Reaching Bridgeport to refuel I fought of the temptation to stay there overnight. Saw three fellow BMW owners on the way to the rally who tried to tempt me to follow them. But instead I pressed on.

Before getting to the legendary pass I “found” what I could only imagine being a site of both extreme pride and tremendous sacrifice for a select few. Unites Sates Marine Core Mountain Warfare Training Center. Nuff said.

I chose this pass on purpose and it did not disappoint. Taking the approach from the east meant that I climbed to just shy of 10k in a ridiculous short amount of time/distance. The views were incredible. We are so lucky to live in a place of such striking beauty.

Leaving the pass behind me I started to quicken my pace. I was loosing daylight and wanted to avoid setting up camp in the dark if I could. I reached Beardsley reservoir tired a ready get some rest. Day light was still available but diminishing quickly. I was disappointed to find the camp grounds quite crowded and there was in fact no room for me. Partially annoyed due to fatigue I quickly went hunting for another suitable location. My bike ended “choosing” the site for me when it decided to take a nap during a 0 speed turn onto a logging road. I hurriedly set up my tent in the dark and chose to skip dinner as to avoid temping any critters from bothering me overnight.

What a fantastic day!
Honda F4i Wrecked
BMW F650GS Dakar sold

crsone screwed with this post 07-14-2013 at 10:13 AM
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Old 07-14-2013, 12:30 AM   #3
crsone OP
Joined: Feb 2012
Oddometer: 23
I woke at about 2:30 am lamenting that in my haste the night before I had not made sure that the tent was on level ground. As such sleep did not come easy. I ended up writing a good portion of this report.

I was eventually able to sleep for a few more hours before breaking camp by 830. Today's goal as to get home as quickly as possible. This mean minimal stops but I could not resist when I saw a sign that said “Mark Twain's Cabin”. Apparently the famous author lived at this location for a short time but was inspired to write several of his influential works due to his time in this area.

I finally made safely home a bit after 1 pm.


Total miles: 605
Off-road miles: 75
Highest altitude reached: Just shy of 10 k
Notable locations: Junction pass, Carson pass, old Bodie Rd. south-bound from Nevada

Lessons learned
Dedicated tires would be nice for sand.
Stock scorpions tires do fairly well on A LOT of terrain types
Do not pack a heavy, tool laden Kriega bag on top of the dry spec bags
Plan for alternate campsites
Extra camera batteries are a necessity

Kit review
Air hawk 2: Well worth the price if you are not ready or able to get a custom seat. Increased my riding comfort ten fold.

Spot tracking device: excellent for piece of mind. Wife loved it once I figured out how to use effectively.

Expend Synmat 9lw: probably the most valuable piece of kit next to my camelbak. This compact light weight air mattress with integrated air pump was remarkably comfortable with or without a sleeping bag.

Camelbak back pack: light weight, easily adjustable straps and room for additional water. What else could you ask for.

Grip covers: another ergonomic feature I was happy I picked up from adv designs before I left. Despite being in significant pain for a good deal of the technical portion of my trip, I cannot imagine what type of hell it would have been without them.
Honda F4i Wrecked
BMW F650GS Dakar sold

crsone screwed with this post 07-14-2013 at 10:16 AM
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Old 07-14-2013, 06:23 AM   #4
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Joined: Aug 2012
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Congratulations on your many "first" experiences and taking the time/effort to post them.
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Old 07-14-2013, 08:29 AM   #5
One day at a time!
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Joined: Jul 2009
Location: MN. (summers) AZ. (winters)
Oddometer: 699
Great country......

Very nice RR, that's for sure! Great photos along with some awesome country. Oh how I hate to get caught on roads that change suddenly to sand!
Stay safe and thanks for your time and efforts......

Gary "Oldone"

Grampa’s Lake Superior Ride
Grampa’s National Monument Ride
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Old 07-14-2013, 09:10 AM   #6
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Joined: Jul 2008
Location: So. Oregon
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Very cool report with nice pictures! Remember to stay loose when off road. Gripping too hard (thinking you need to when off road) can lead to hand/arm pain, especially in the throttle hand. Nice to see someone using those F800GS off road.
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Old 07-14-2013, 10:20 AM   #7
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Location: Houston, Texas
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Enjoyed it!

Great job!
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Old 07-14-2013, 01:27 PM   #8
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Location: The Cleave
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Originally Posted by crsone View Post
Awesome ride and report. I lived in San Diego for a few years and I always wanted to go to Bodie, but every time I ever had a chance the roads were closed due to snow. I worked with a guy that had a book about Bodie and let me read it. He had turned me on to several places in CA that I did have the opportunity to visit. One day I will return and make it up there.
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Old 07-14-2013, 05:22 PM   #9
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good job!!
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Old 07-15-2013, 02:17 AM   #10
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Old 07-17-2013, 05:47 AM   #11
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Joined: Jan 2007
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It looks like you had fun out there.

I always enjoy riding the roads and trails that I have spent so much time looking at on the maps and Google Earth. There is much to explore in NV.

You might consider doing some local group rides in your area so you can make some connections with other riders who you can drag along on your expeditions. It is nice to have someone along to help pick up your bike! Plus they can take pictures of you riding thru all that unexpected tough stuff.
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