I guess it starts with the ride home. It’s Sunday December 4th, 2022. It would have been Day 6 for us on the California Backcountry Discovery Route but weather (snow) stopped us from getting into Benton Springs. It’s also Day 11 for me on the road.
Yesterday we got most of Section 7 done until I had a bolt issue on the bike force me to turn around just before Bishop. Section 8 runs just 40 miles from Bishop to Benton but was reportedly snowed in. If we had good weather and no bolt issues we would have easily done all of 7 and 8 and then gotten back to the Motel in Lone Pine. But it wasn’t to be.
We made the call to “bee line” it home instead.
The plan was to get an early start and slab it down Hwy 395 to Hwy 178 by Lake Isabella, Bakersfield and then Hwy 5 up and then home. It’s a shame to have to go south so far just to turn around and go north for even more. Two steps forward, one step back.
If any of the passes were open that would have taken hours off the return journey. As it was, we were racing the weather as the next wave was coming over the mountains heading southwest.
We started at 6:23 AM and immediately stopped for Coffee at the McDonald’s that was almost next door. Half an hour later we were on the road.
We missed the little triangle of Hwy 14 and had to do the Hwy 178 proper – but that was ok. No biggee. We now can say we’ve been to Inyokern.
We were doing 70 or so down the highway. We would hit sprinkles here and there but not pouring rain yet. As we came over the pass and headed down towards Lake Isabella there was the best rainbow I’ve ever seen. We had to stop and take a picture. Even with my crappy cell phone camera that came out ok.
As we were descending down into Lake Isabella maybe 20 miles from here, I’m following Mike as he’s carving along the canyon turns. The road is great but every time I’ve been here it’s been in the rain. We come around a right hand turn, pretty fast. It’s just one lane in each direction with a yellow down the middle. In the middle of nowhere there’s a girl/woman slowly walking across the road! Mike barley misses her. I slow down and get a better look. She’s young, her clothing is rag tagged and mismatched (which isn’t out of the ordinary for this area) and her hair is unbrushed. She smiles at me as I pass by without a care at all. I’m doing maybe 50 or so, down from 70 mph.
I don’t know who she was, where she was from, what the story was – but that smile and her lack of caring kind of shook me!
The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. We stopped for Taco Bell somewhere west of Bakersfield and then just put our heads down and rode!
I pulled in my driveway at 3:34 PM. I climbed off the bike, stripped, showered for a long time and then took a nap. I had the road buzz going.
I woke up, had a bite to eat and then remembered to snap a picture of my Odo.
11 days earlier I had taken this picture:
Forget about the clock function. It’s never been set.
SCORECARD: Google said it was 438 miles and my butt said it was 9+ hours on the bike.
I did a total of 2,356 miles over the course of 11 Days. During that time I spent roughly 82 hours riding the bike. I lost 2 bolts and had another one come loose. No flats. I dropped the bike zero times the first two days and then countless times after that. I never crashed the bike. We camped twice, motel/hotel’d the rest. I ran out of gas twice and had to use some of the extra fuel I was carrying. I cussed a bunch and smiled a whole lot more. I thought about giving up just once.
Dollars: What did it cost? Well, I tried to use one card for everything. If I look at billing I can split it out as:
- Gas: $251.58
- Lodging: The first part of the trip was hotel based (LAB2V) and there was nothing I could do about that. The second half was optional and while we could have camped more, we were trying to camp every other day or so but weather also influenced what we did. Total spent on Lodging was $828. This doesn’t include Mike’s half when he joined me in Yuma. Lodging was the biggest expense.
- Food: There were so many restaurants for this trip. It’s just too hard to break it down. Vegas was naturally expensive. Breakfast Buffet was $40 each!
WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY:
“What if” is such a tough one. There’s so many variables that go along with a trip like this. There’s the perfect trip where nothing goes wrong and then there’s a realistic trip where you deal with adversities and changes and adapt as you need to.
That said… Mike did not have helmet communication. That meant if we were following a GPS track it was usually him in the lead. That’s a burden of sorts. It’s much better to take turns leading. The leader has to think and watch directions. The follower can just relax and concentrate on the ride. There were a few times I would take lead only to pass up the turn. There was one time where I was going down a powerline road that turned into these glorious sand dunes. I had gone 5 miles before I found out I missed a turn. Helmet to helmet communication would have fixed this. Mike could have easily said, “turn left here”, or “stop and turn around, you just missed a turn”. Instead, he’d honk and wave and flash his lights and hope I saw. I didn’t. Next time I’d make sure we had Sena’s.
Navigation: I had all the tracks on my ipad for navigation. At any point I could turn it on and find out where we were. It was fine when I was all alone exploring the Sierras last year. It wasn’t fine when you are riding with someone. I tried to leave it on for Day 1 of LAB2V but the battery just couldn’t get through the complete day. I need a dedicated GPS for this. One that sits in it’s cradle and is always on, always charged. I think that might be a TrailTech Voyager Pro. More homework to do still on that.
WHAT I DID RIGHT:
I like this topic a lot more than what I could have done better. I prepped the bike well. I did that right.
I picked the right people to ride with. Both of them were very capable of the task at hand. If something went wrong, these people were the right ones to help deal with the situation.
Thank you Kyle and Mike T – you rock!
I picked a great bag! I loved my sleeping bag. I bought the new bag (Nemo Disco 15 Tall) right before the trip and it was warm and comfy. I could twist and turn all I wanted to and the bag was still there. Good choice!
I picked the right event! LAB2V and the people who put it on were amazing! Kudos to all involved. This was supposed to be a one time thing, but it’s looking like I may be back!
Finally, I picked a pretty good family! I’m not sure how or why, but they support me, love me and continue to surprise me. I love you guys!
So what’s next?
First of all I have a few things to fix or repair on the bike. I seem to have an oil leak coming from the counter shaft – no problem. Taco Moto shipped my remaining missing graphics piece so I have to add that as well. I need to see if I can’t buy a MotoMinded headlight and get a little customization done. The high beam hits the fender bag.
Well… So I was thinking… Las Vegas is just 127 miles away from Oatman, NV.
That happens to be the start of the Nevada BDR. The Nevada BDR goes right through Primm, Pahrump, Beatty, and Tonopah – before it heads North East. I’d like to do it all but…
What if I did LB2V 2023, then dropped down to start the NVBDR. Do that all the way up to Death Valley-ish, maybe Beatty. Then spend the rest of the remaining time in DV? All the stuff I didn’t get to do this time? Maybe finish up the final sections of the CABDR to Benton? I watched the Nevada BDR video and even they suggested doing half in one season, half in the other as it’s both too hot and too cold.
Maybe convince Mike to join us on the LAB2V and Kyle to join us on the BDR?