Just a little over a year ago I had decided that I was going to do the LAB2V and then the CABDR. I posed that it was safer to ride solo on the LAB2V because it was staffed and there was plenty of riders who would be on the trail with me – while the CABDR wasn’t as safe as I would be all alone with perhaps days of having another rider pass by. So I started looking for a rider to do it with. I posted on ADV and then locally we’ve had a message board called BARF (Bay Area Riders Forum) for years. I was a little active back in my Pashnit years. Here’s that original post looking for an interested riding partner.
Mike T responded that he would be interested in the CABDR portion and so we started a conversation. We met for lunch and then he invited me to go on a overnight with a few friends of his from BARF. It was just 4 of us – Mike T, Mark, Carl and Myself. We did these great roads south east of Hollister, CA.
We got along great and they liked me enough to invite me to do the Father’s Day Lost Coast Ride with them. That was a lot of fun! Along the way there was mention of a Tour de Fresno. Mark lived in Fresno proper and I think had expressed interest in organizing a ride into the Sierras east of Fresno – Shaver Lake area. Mark had come up with three different loops about 150 miles each that had a combo of road and dirt mixed in.
The plan was to meet on Thursday at 4 PM at a particular set point. We weren’t sure how many people would come. As it turned out it was just five of us. Mark and his son Bob would meet Mike T., Seth and I coming from the East Bay.
Thursday October 26, 2023
Mike T. had mapped out some great roads to get to the meeting point. Hornitos, Mariposa, Ben Hur Rd – all incredible! We were having so much fun that we ended up being 30 minutes late to the spot. We met Mark and Bob and they then led us all down to the campsite that Mark had picked out. This wasn’t an organized camp site in an organized campground. Off the grid, no amenities, Dispersed Camping kind of camping.
The chosen spot was 9 miles off the main road (Hwy 168) down Dinkey Creek Rd. I know this now but then all I was doing was following everyone else. Somewhere there was a left turn, down around a turn and there was our campground. It was getting dark. We all picked out a tent site and unpacked. We had a good fire and Mark wanted to supply us dinner. Above everything else on his bike, he had packed a 2 burner coleman stove, a flat top griddle, a large milk crate, a carton of eggs and so much more.
That night, he made Gin and Tonics and since it was much more cooler than the last time, they tasted much much better. Here’s what the last one tasted like…
He then made rice and bean burritos for everyone. There was a little too much beans, rice and tortillas so I think I had 4. Seth kept pace with me – so that was one less thing the bears could eat in the middle of the night.
The night was kind of loud as we were close to the road and there was a considerable amount of work trucks head back into town – at least until late. I still managed to fall asleep eventually.
Friday October 27, 2023
In the morning there was another warm camp fire, pour over coffee and eggs and pancakes off the flat griddle! It was down into the twenty degree mark. After breakfast, we dusted off the frost, started the bikes and we headed out.
Mark led the route and I kind of think he didn’t much use a GPS.
This was the plan for the first day. I believe it was around 150 miles in length.
We all had a great time riding.
Talk about Scenic Views… Here’s Mike T and Mike M. trying to block the view
At the end of the day the plan was to eat dinner at a pizza place in the small town of Shaver Lake. We all rode down Dinkey Creek the 9+ miles and had a nice warm dinner of pizza and beer. Mark, Bob and Mike T. headed back to camp while Seth and I finished off our last beers. Mark had asked before they left if we knew how to get back to camp and Seth enthusiastically said yes.
As Seth and I are mounting our bikes to ride back he casually says to me, “I don’t really know where we camped – do you?” I hadn’t the slightest clue. As the kids say, “Hillarity ensued” (they really don’t say that at all) and in the end, we did find our way back.
Mike T did a short video of Day 1 and 2
Saturday, October 28th, 2023
It was another cold night. I think it was even colder but I was also figuring out the new sleeping bag better and so this night I actually pulled clothes off as I was too hot during the night. We woke up in the morning with the same frost on the bikes, maybe more!
There was no pancakes and eggs, but we did have a small fire. The plan was to get riding and stop along the way for a good breakfast somewhere. We stopped in North Fork at the Buckhorn Saloon (37.22688824972151, -119.50957063078532) and had a great breakfast with the locals in while sitting near an open fire.
Next we gassed up and headed up on the route further. The roads and trails were incredible yet again.
The views were again incredible.
We did a little more dirt and even had a spot where we couldn’t go any further. I had to attempt it, dropped the bike on the first attempt but managed to get it all. Dropping is always ok – crashing is not. Mike T has a little of that in his video below at https://youtu.be/sVIr5BkXHpk?si=bFiXwqyR83BUzrJz&t=296
Some of the roads were ‘soft’ closed, but we asked a local and they said they were open – you just needed to be careful. They were pretty much open but we did come around a few corners to find a downed tree partially blocking the roadway.
Mark’s Offroad Excursion
I talked more about this in my last post, Being Better Prepared so I can just gloss over the details. We were heading back home, and as usual I was riding sweep. I believe it was Mark, Mike T. Seth and then myself. Bob had left in the morning to go back to work.
It was a left hand turn, a slight down hill and as I came around the corner I saw Mike already off his bike and heading down the grassy slope. Mark had missed the turn, ran out of road, the bike had slid out from under him.
Mark in his red Aerostich suit was laying motionless in the grass. Seth was heading down the hill towards them while Mike motioned for me to call 911. I took off my helmet and used the Emergency Call Function on my cell.
I can tell you the first call was almost 6 minutes in length. They were trying to nail down a definitive location on me. The call was dropped and you can see I spent another 3 plus minutes verifying that help was indeed on the way. Read my post on that whole scenario but I can tell you that the FASTEST way to help them get your correct location is What 3 Words. On call number #1 I was trying to find my gps coordinates and then switched to What 3 Words. I read her the three words, she repeated them back, I verified and that was it.
Compare that to the GPS Coordinate version. That is what happened when I called back for call #2. I had found the GPS Coordinates and as soon as I was connected to her I read them to her – three excruciating slow digits at a time. When I was done, she did the same back to me to verify. How long does it take to say and verify (37.22688824972151, -119.50957063078532)
Now think about how long to verify “Fingernail, Loves, Fries“?
Really! You’ve already done that in your head. That’s exactly why they created it.
SIDENOTE: My wife manages the Local Firefighter Union (local 1230) and asked the dispatchers here if they had heard of What 3 Words – they said yes, it is in their toolbox! Download it now, put it on your home screen and remember it’s there just in case you need to use it someday.
Finally off the phone I scrambled down to Mark. I would say I was a good 30 yards away. He was probably only 20 feet off the road and we left ample space for the ambulance to park.
Mike T and Seth had removed his visor and had flipped up his helmet chin portion (modular helmet). It was a grassy slope but there were hidden big chunks of granite block in the grass. My guess is that his helmet hit one of those chunks pretty hard.
When I got there he was starting to come to. Not really, but he was making sounds and starting to move. When he tried to open his eyes, only one eye was really opening and I saw right away that it was fully dilated and unresponsive.
CHP showed up first, casually walked down and now that Mark was somewhat speaking, the officer got Marks full name and DOB then headed back to his cruiser. The local firefighter rig showed up next and had a medical bag with them. The one in charge was an Engineer and the other two were unmarked. I noticed none of them had any medical insignias on any of their kits. It turns out they are all volunteers. Next the ambulance showed up with an EMT and a Paramedic. She (the Paramedic) had words to the side with the Engineer because apparently he had run Mark’s vitals and because they looked somewhat normal, he cancelled the Helicopter that was on it’s way. She had cancelled his cancellation as soon as she heard it happen so there was little disruption as far as that goes.
They put him in the ambulance and they drove to a safe landing pad where they transferred Mark onto the Helo and in 20 minutes he was down in the heart of Fresno on the roof of Community Regional Medical Center.
AAA was summoned by the CHP officer and we helped the guy pull the bike up the embankment and onto the flat bed. He dropped the bike off in Mark’s driveway.
We were still an hour out from our campsite and decided to go back to town, have dinner in the other restaurant (Pub & Grub), have a few beers and then pack everything up the next morning and see if we couldn’t get all of Mark’s gear onto our three bikes in the morning.
Mike T did a short video on Day 3 and 4
Sunday October 29th 2023
We woke up like usual. We had heard that Mark had suffered a concussion but generally was going to be ok. We warmed ourselves by the fire, packed up our stuff and then Mike T and Seth pretty much packed all of Mark’s gear and managed to fit most of it on their bikes. I lashed one of Mark’s large duffel bags onto the back of my Reckless where the passenger might sit.
Fully packed, we stopped in Shaver Lake and had a little coffee and breakfast and then headed down HWY 168 to Mark’s house. His wife was there, we chatted for a bit, dropped off all his gear and moved his motorcycle to the side yard.
To get back home I suggested that we take some of the back roads we had done with Mark and Carl on my first trip with them. So we took all farm roads to Panoche Rd. and that led us up and into Hollister. From there we stopped for gas, then buzzed up Hwy 101 to San Jose to Hwy 680 and then ultimately to home.
At home, I took a shower and poured myself a nice looking Martini and then called Tomm – who coincidentally had done just the same. Mine was better because I had cream cheese stuffed peppers and he didn’t. I mean, LOOK AT THAT MARTINI!
Started the trip at 18,503 and finished at 19,401 for a total mileage count of 898!
I put together a short video too. Mostly images, but better music.