Summer riding..... with hopes to ride long rides or multiple rides every summer through the pine trees, this summer was starting to slip away.... the 4-7 day openings would soon be no more...... and the quick fix to local deserts and badlands wouldn't match the need.
Heck, Rigger, TntMo, and Jaja, were off riding to whereever and whenever while I pushed some more papers around thinking to myself "Dang", those lucky dudes. As many as 10 times I hovered over the Colorado ride sign-up in Salida shared by Amgens... but the windows of opportunity were being "Just Missed!" A work crisis, and then fires and smoke, seemed to be rotating in an untimely manner. Heck, some of the veterans of SDAR were hoping and praying for monsoons, and even donating tires that had more tread than mine just to get some banter going . Heck, I still had 1 mm of center tread, and if I lean to the side or chose off camber routes, I still had some knobbies as high as 12 mm..... maybe...
Sure, I had a super ride back in June to Troy meadows with 5 buddies. Very nice single track, and a good adventure, but the plateau up there can seem a bit small when you need some "Big Country" to roam.
Luckily, one buddy mentioned to me earlier that if I planned to ride later in the summer, he would be interested..... so I called him last Tuesday to discuss the trip knowing that I had a few days off. He asked me when I wanted to leave and I told him on Tuesday that we would leave San Diego at 8 pm "ON TUESDAY" . He said he would start getting ready immediately. Nice!
I asked him if he wanted to go north towards mammoth or Reno, or over to Colorado, but I needed to be back by Sunday. It seemed that 1000+ one way miles for only a few days might be pushing it, so I called a friend in Mammoth who said the smoke and fires seemed to let up a bit, so Mammoth it was to be.
I have praised Crawdaddy a few times for his BluesPalooza routes, they are quite spectacular, so I thought I would guide my friend to a couple of them. Heck, I often hike, mtn. bike, scuba, and kayak same tracks, so riding a previously ridden track shouldn't be a problem, especially since I thought the were truly fantastic the first time, plus, I had yet to do the Long ride to Bodie.
So, I picked my buddy up at 8 pm and headed north. Pulled into Ridgecrest around 12:30 (just after midnight - 83 degrees) to look for a place to camp or pirate camp. And low and behold, there it was, a massive Walmart. I pulled into the parking lot, somewhat near some big rigs and a couple of Motorhomes, and hopped into the camper and slept till 5 am. Nice, although with no AC, a bit warm. (not sure if true, but thought I heard that Walmart allows free parking in their lots overnight for travelers).
Rolling through Riverside at 10 at night sure was nice in regard to traffic, and so was heading north on 395 at 6 am from Ridgecrest. The trip was going great so far.
Upon arrival to Mammoth midday Wednesday, we immediately found a campsite in Old Shady Rest. Set up camp, put on riding gear and headed out.
A quick lap around town, a zip through a few dirt spots, and then out to Sherwin to ride up to Laurel Lake. The ride was a bit rocky, but fun. The smoke seemed to be missing mammoth, as it seemed to be more in June Lake- as seen in the 2nd photo.
After a nice ride up and down the mountain, we dropped by a friends cabin, timed perfectly as they just finished dinner and had tons of leftovers for us to scarf while still in our riding gear. A quick chat and then back to camp for a campfire and some cold ones. Dang nice Day 1 of riding. Rode about 40 miles.
Day 2 in Mammoth had us headed over to see "Chalk Bluffs". Not sure we found it, but with so many cool geological sites, finding cool things while wandering around was a treat. The strange mounds in the pic background were far more dramatic that it shows.
The Valleys and views were great on the way to Crowley Lake:
To pass flowing water is always a treat (The Owens river seems to be a great fishing destination), but to have the mountains as the backdrop is always a plus!
Some fantastic dirt roads finally led us to a beautiful white sand beach. If I had a big umbrella and a blender, I would know what to do - haha. Actually, the umbrella could have also been used for the 15 minute rain about to roll through, as seen in the skies of the beach pic:
I made sure that we found the bridge that has been the source for me being teased by my mtn bike buds for years as I told them we should ride way down valley to see the bridge and cross the river. They were not impressed with the rustic bridge, nor were they impressed with the 8 mile uphill ride back to town on pedal bikes, so we did it on moto bikes this time. The ride back to town was easier
Dang nice day 2 of riding. A great 75 miles of roaming around was a treat. Back to Camp for a shower, campfire, dinner, and some cold ones. I know, the shower pic is too much info - haha, but having one of these is heaven in campsites with no showers.
Day 3 was to be a long one, and one with a boo boo on my part. As is the case with most of my buddies, they default to my prep. And no matter how many times I tell them that having a GPS and a HAM radio adds significant pleasure to a LONG ride, along with tools and other "Thinking ahead items" they still say, "No worries, we trust you, just lead" and, "Why should we bring stuff when we know you already have it packed?". Well, having to be careful at so many intersections in hopes that my buddy doesn't take a wrong turn can get a bit taxing. But he stays quite close, just out of dust range, and when I turn, I spin the tires a bit more just to ensure that the dust trail guides the follower. Ancient strategies.... but so far so good. This day, we were headed to Bodie from Mammoth (it seemed to be about 93 miles away. I didn't know anything about Bodie, so I looked it up on google by searching for Bodie gas stations, and a shell station showed up, so I knew I should fill up about 3 MSR bottles to make sure we had enough gas. If I Brapp too much, I get about 77 miles per tank, but I can cruise a bit more and get 88, so a msr can for us both should be good (his wr450 has about the same gas range as mine) to get 93 - ish.
Thanks again Crawdaddy. Your route was absolutely fantastic..... like a mini BDR in a day. We rode through thick trees, then through thin trees, poderosas, scrub oak, rocky as heck routes, sand, open fast straights across valleys, pole line navigating, roads that looked like no jeep or rzr, or bike had seen them for years..... in fact, it was a first for me that with the middle of the 2 track having grown so high, it looked like single track, and it was bizarre that when the handguards hit the chest high grasses, the seeds exploded all about like fireworks. Saw wildlife, deer jumping out near by, a hawk scooped up a squirrel right in front of me, wild horses running through massive prairies just a couple hundred yards away..... in 93 miles, we saw only 4 people (2 geologists and 2 miners). It was everything I had wanted to do on my bike this summer.
From trees to wide open land:
Roads just waiting for me to run through my gears quickly to a nice 65 mph dirt standing cruising speed
Sheer drop offs before hitting the open prairies (and yes, headed over the mountains in the background):
A look over our shoulders of where we just rode (yes, the just ridden road is in the background):
All good so far... as we finally navigated the incredible high country meadows, we hit a fairly large road that seemed to be about 5 miles from Bodie and zipped to town.
Upon my arrival, just 50 yards away, I sputtered, so reached down and put it on reserve. Nice, but my partner didn't show yet. With a slight worry, I began to back track, and found him just emptying his MSR bottle into his tank. He was out of gas, and his petcock was funky, so he was truly out of gas. Oh well, the town of Bodie was right around the corner.
Oh my, it is ONLY a ghost town, and as fantastic as it was, there was no shell station there. It was in Bridgeport. Hmmm, so we very gingerly headed to hiway 395, quite a long way away, with me on reserve, and him with 22 ounces of gas, never turning the gas more than 1 tenth of a twist. I decided that I should put the 2nd can of 30 ounces in as we headed down the road. He ran out again, but he had poured much of the can into the right side of the tank, so we layed the bike on its side to get all the gas to the left side, and on we went. He ran out again. We had a chat, and decided that it wouldn't be fun to both be out of gas together, so I kept the remaining MSR can of gas and left him on the side of the road and headed to Bridgeport. It didn't sound like there was any gas in the tank when I arrived. I filled my tank, and all 3 of the MSR cans, and bought and filled a one gallon can, and headed back to find him hunkered under a bush. I figured we wouldn't have to backtrack to Bridgeport with the extra gas and could head south as soon as possible. All good, but a long day so far. We took a break at the mono lake overlook, and I had to show off the new accessory can
We had a good lunch, at dinner time - haha - in Lee Vining at the BBQ stop. I then asked my buddy if he wanted to ride street or dirt on the way back to Mammoth and he thought asphalt would be a better choice (oh well, I have more tracks to use for next time ). A great day 3 ride, 170 miles.
It is great that I have a riding buddy that has his priorities straight, as after a long ride, he doesn't spill his beer when sleeping - haha.
Day 4 had an hidden agenda. In 2016, there were a couple hills that seemed challenging for my buddy and me both, so we set out to find them to see if we had become better riders (or, even though we don't want to admit it, were on better bikes - smiles). Well we had a great ride, about 3 hours, and found the hills, and they were super easy. Wow, we were better riders - haha. We ended the ride by finding motorcycle single tracks through the trees, and it was just great!!
And a visit to some more lakes, gotta love the backdrop:
On saturday, we left mammoth around 4, and had the cargo trailer backed into my yard by 11:30 pm, after a fast food dinner, a couple of gas stops, and dropping of my buddy off with his gear and bike.
What a great trip, almost 300 miles of fantastic riding in 4 days, so now I am ready for Autumn given that I got my Summer fix of riding in .
Hope you all got some good rides in this Summer too. Cheers