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Nevada Boom Town Ride & Beyond to the Sierra

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My friend Alfred in Vegas organized the Lucky Explorer Rally for Ducati Elefant owners, as we do every year usually sometime in October. The last few years have been primarily in Nevada, exploring central and northern Nevada. This ride is geared for big bikes like the Elefant, but if some of the regulars don't have their Elefant running or don't own one anymore, they're welcome to bring the smaller bikes.

I left SD on the 950 about noon on a Thursday and rode 490 miles up to Tonopah, NV the first day. Got up to Tonopah Station about 10pm and found some of the crew in the bar at the casino. Hadn't done a long day in the saddle like that in awhile and a cold brewski sure sounded good.

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Here is Brad's blue Elefant and Ron's Airhead 100GS in the parking lot.

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My 950 early in the ride on Friday, as we started to head across the vast valleys in Nevada.....this is a fairly typical trail.

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While some of the guys like to just haul butt all day, Ron and I like to stop for photos and check out old buildings too.

This is an old abandoned ranch along the way......

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This out-building was built into the side of a hill, probably used for storing food and meat.

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Back on the trail.......

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Another old ranch......I love old buildings.

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View from the porch......not bad.

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Riding through a canyon and a deserted mine.

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After more miles of fun dirt roads, we came to this jewel of a ghost town. The guys waiting for us asked what took us so long....well, we were taking time out for photos along the way !

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Left to right, Alfred's brother Anker from Denmark, Brad, Ralph and his son, and Ron

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We came across a traffic jam......Brad just goes blazing a path through while I wait for the herd to thin out.....

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One of the others coming up behind me.....

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Anker and Brad

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At one point we came across these 2 guys in the middle of nowhere, so I stopped to talk with them....Orlin on the left from Garnerville, NV and Chuck from Eugene, OR. They were headed the same way we just came from, and were on the trail for awhile.

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Towards the end of the day, I saw GPS Kevin and Bagstr Dave go a different way (following the GPS) while the others went down a different dirt road......I decided to go the same way Kevin and Dave did, even though they were a ways ahead now. The trail was an overgrown 2 track that turned into a cow trail along a fence line.....then it diminished to nothing. We had to go through some barbed wire gates, but then some of them hadn't been opened in years and I could not get them open, so I had to follow the fence line for a few miles as the bike, panniers and my knees banged their way through the thick sagebrush....luckily, there were no big rocks hidden in the bush.....that would not have been purdy.

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Finally made my way through the fences, across a small canal and then saw dust clouds in the distance.....Brad and Anker were approaching. We met up and talked about how this section had not been prerun, so we all had a little adventure to make it to this point. We then rode together for the best part of the day.....up a mountain and across a mountain range with awesome views.

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Anker standing before an awesome view with storm clouds looming off in the distance...we were up around 11,000 feet here.

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I love the look of these dirt roads as they cross the peaks and ridges....

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Yours truly with my 950

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Yet another ridge to cross.

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After a good, long day of riding....we got to the historic little town of Austin, NV. Time for beers and dinner !

L to R, GPS Kevin, Bagstr Dave and Ron DualBMW

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Brad napping at the table, Alfred and his brother Anker

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We had a great time telling stories from the day's ride, then went to crash at the rooms in preparation for the next long day.

More to come..........

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Next day, we went back up the mountain out of Austin, dropped down into a valley and narrow canyon.....it got a bit dusty in the canyon, so was time to spread out a bit.

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After a couple of hours or riding with Brad, Anker and some of the others, I followed what I thought was the correct GPS track while Brad went a different way.....I decided to continue following my track and ended up going about 20 miles in the wrong direction.....the GPS tracks were not making sense. So I headed back the way I came and intercepted what I thought was the correct GPS track for the rest of the day. Nobody else was in site as I continued on and found the pavement on the way into what I thought would be lunch.......then when I saw the town sign, it said Eureka ahead a few miles......I thought, WTF ! I got to Eureka at 12:30 in the afternoon while missing most of the day's ride......I ended up following the after-lunch track....for some reason, all the day's tracks showed up on the GPS at once, therefore got confusing and I missed most of today's ride.

So, at Eureka I got my room, took a nap, then waited for the crew to start coming into town late in the afternoon. Figures the day I didn't bring any change of clothes with me...left my clothes in the chase truck....which wasn't coming in until late after 8pm. So, I was stuck wearing my riding undershorts, t-shirt and boots.

I knew I was going to get a bunch of crap in my outfit when the boyz pulled in.....

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Sure enough, Shane's girlfriend went across the street to the market and found me a little, cute purple Tiara to wear.....so I wore it all night and the next morning. :o

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QUEEN FOR THE DAY ! :wacko:

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We had a blast in the motel parking lot that night ! :drinks:

More to come............

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Day 3- Alfred didn't have an exact route planned nor did he have time to prerun, so he enlisted GPS Kevin's skills in putting together a route using Alfred's suggestions and Google Earth....Kevin had his laptop with him and spent some time early in the morning looking at routes with Google Earth....then he downloaded some tracks for us that would take most of the day to get to the lunch stop. Alfred arranged a tour of the largest Gold Mine (strip mine) in the U.S., but we would not make it there in time because the route was long......and extremely fun !

Early after leaving Eureka, we rode across another valley and another abandoned ranch....

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Soon, we'd be crossing this mountain range......and many more !

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Interesting to see bare mountain tops, with some Aspen Groves in the mix with changing fall colors.

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The trails through this section were really different, narrower, on off-camber jeep trails through lots of Aspens, with some water crossings, but never stopped to get a pic in those sections.

I was sitting at the top of a hill, ready to start down into the next valley, but when I saw Ralph coming, he motioned for me to wait......I guess he had a little problem :o

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During the flat repair, Brad looked at his Elefant and noticed his luggage rack bolts coming loose, so we had to tighten them too ! We all checked our bikes over real quick, for loose bolts, leaks, etc. All good to go. Then we started to cross more ridges and mountain tops for the afternoon....nice !

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Here you can see the dirt road in the valley below.....we had some steep uphills and downhills which made it more interesting.

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2 Blue Elefants, Brad and Dan.....wish I had my blue one on this ride.

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To be continued........

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Yet another old mine.....Nevada is full of them.

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Brad off in the distance......

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We rode some really cool jeep trails before dropping out of the mountains towards lunch.

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Kevin had laid out more dirt from lunch to the finish back at Tonopah, but there were black clouds looming in the sky and we knew we would get poured on, and it was already about 4pm, so we decided to take pavement back. We hit some torrential rain and lightning all around us on the way to Tonopah. Got there and we REALLY needed a cold, refreshing beverage ! :drinks:

Brad and I after riding through the heavy rains.....

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Alfred's Lucky Explorer Elefant and Shane's orange Elefant

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Shane had come cross country with his girlfriend from Florida.....they trucked out with 2 Elefants and her BMW GS650. Shane ended up selling his blue Elefant to Alfred's brother Anker, so he can keep it here in the states to ride when he comes to visit ! :good:

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The gang at dinner after an awesome 3 days of riding through the Nevada Boom Towns and deserted mines. We averaged 200 miles a day, with at least one day being about 275 miles....mainly off-road !

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We all thanked Alfred for all his hard work and effort in putting on another successful Lucky Explorer Elefant Rally, with lots of great riding and scenery in Nevada.

Most guys headed home the next day...Shane and his girlfriend were going riding to Death Valley and Vegas, before having to load up the bikes a few days later for the long drive back to Florida.

More to come....from my further Adventures over to the High Sierra.......

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Day 5 for me.

Had breakfast with everyone at the casino. Funny thing is, Ralph and his teenage son were there, they were supposed to be driving home the night before so he could attend school.....but they decided it was too much that night, so he was going to play hookie from school :lol:

After breakfast, saw everyone as they left and took my time getting ready to leave, it was raining outside again. By the time I left, it was about noon...and the rain backed off a bit.

I headed south from Tonopah and followed Alfred's suggestion of going thru Silver Peak and across the mountains to Dyer, NV.

Silver Peak is a unique little mining town.....

Old Post Office......

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Newer Post Office....

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Anybody home ??

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Stopped a guy in a pickup to ask him which way to Dyer....there were 3 routes over the mountains, so I chose the one I thought Alfred mentioned....heading out of town on a major dirt road, which got rougher up in the mountains.....

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The storm clouds were moving in again

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The clouds got so low they started to cover the mountains all around me and just above my head.....

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I knew it was going to dump on me, and then I just happened across these 2 caves in the side of the canyon walls, so decided it was a good place to put on my rainsuit....and then the lightning and thunder started......

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There was horizontal lightning shooting across the sky all around me, and lightning bolts hitting the surrounding area, and the thunder claps were ringing in my ears.....I decided it was time to sit this one out in the cave, while watching the show. After at least 2 hours, the lightning started to mellow out, then it hailed strongly....but I decided it was time to move out, otherwise I might be spending the night there, which I really didn't want to do.

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Hail on the bike....

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and hail on the ground

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Back on the bike, I continued out of the mountains and canyons heading westward towards Dyer. The dirt road had rivers running across it with some washouts......this was really interesting and fun, but I had to take it easy so I wouldn't wipe out in a washout. Got to Dyer late in the afternoon after more torrential rain. Stopped for gas, and called a local bed & breakfast because I didn't feel like riding in more rain into the night, but nobody answered the phone at the B&B, so I suited back up and rode north to the cutoff to Benton Crossing, into California then south towards Bishop. That was quite an adventurous little day.

Got a room at the Vagabond Inn.....draped all my wet stuff all over the room, then called 2 friends in Bishop. I would meet up with Chris to go riding tomorrow........

Stay tuned for more........

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Great report, I have seen many of these areas while hunting. Spent some time in Tonopah with friends over the years, keep me in mind next time!!

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DAY 6

I called my friends Chris and Dale who live in Bishop, and they both showed up at my motel. Dale was just stopping by to say hi, while Chris and I would later head up to the Buttermilk Loop and Coyote Flats above Bishop.

Chris on the left and Dale on the right.

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Chris was riding a Honda XR650L, and this pic is Dale's Buell Lightning "Dualsport"....completely customized to Dale's own specifications :coolio:

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Dale came down to meet Chris, another local living in Bishop. They talked while I got ready to ride, then Chris and I headed out. Here's Chris on his XR650L....

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We knew it was going to be a fun ride due to fresh snow in the mountains from the storms the last 2 days.....

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Water crossing....YEEHAW !

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OH YEAH......we were treated to some great, spectacular scenery

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We went high up into snow country......awesome !

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The beast and I....

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Nothing like fresh snow on the Sierra and storm clouds on the horizon.....

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Notice Chris's smile from ear to ear....he said he hadn't been riding much lately....

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AGAIN.......more storm clouds and thunder, so we figured we better get off the ridge we were on.....

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The skies were more clear and blue south, so we headed down the mountain and south towards the Coyote Flats area....

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And yet, more is coming...........

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You Rock Randy....Looks like an amazing adventure....I look forward to exploring up at Goldpoint next May.....and perhaps before, I never realized how cool Nevada could be....thanks for the great write up so far....

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Heading up towards Coyote Flats.....

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The snow was getting thicker and lots of slush on the trail....

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Which led to this........

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WOOPS :heh:

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We let this guy go by.....he was doing much better with 4 wheeled traction....

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Chris and I decided it was going to get worse the higher we went, and he was still recovering from a double hip replacement from awhile back and didn't want to push himself too hard, so we turned around and headed back down the mountain.

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Chris and I parted ways, then I headed back to my motel. Dale said he wanted to go riding the next day, so I planned on that and knew I was in for an Adventure......it's always been one whenever I go riding with Dale !

To be continued.........

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DAY 7

I packed up everything onto the bike and headed to Dale's house a mile away. Dale asked why the bike was fully loaded and had all my camping gear with me, so I told him I wasn't sure if I was going to head home after the day's ride, so I was prepared in case that's what I decided. Dale had a good, long ride planned for us into Nevada...to see some neat old mining camps and mines, so I was really looking forward to riding today.

We departed his house and rode pavement to Westgard Pass heading east out of Big Pine. This road gets real twisty and it was a treat to be hauling through the twisties. Dale is no slouch for being 76 years young !

We continued on for the turnoff on Death Valley Road, which heads into the northern part of Death Valley National Park, not actually Death Valley itself. Dale had his coffee mug with him in his cupholder, along with his custom windbreak on the bike to stay nice and warm.

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We ran across some washouts from the previous day's storms....

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Here we were riding around the washout in the dirt road

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Dale was taking me places he hadn't been in 10 years, so one of the trails was tough to find.....we found one he thought was the correct way and we headed up a canyon and wash......no other tracks were visible, looks like nobody had been there for quite awhile.

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The wash got narrower and narrower, with more rocks and sand around every corner....which made maneuvering the mighty, fully loaded 950 challenging in spots....

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We rode up a steep sidewall out of the wash into the forest where we saw a faint trail....continued on through thick brush and pines until we realized this was not the trail we wanted.

Dale got up on a ridge and decided we might be 2 canyons over from where we needed to be....so we headed back down the wash.

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More ominous rain clouds approaching.....AGAIN !

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Awhile later we found the right canyon and headed up it, which ended up being a bit washed out....but not impassable.

Dale does a WOOPS :o , but he did great on a Buell with no knobbies !

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He was still smilin' :good:

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This was a tricky section..... :thumbsup_anim:

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Awesome view.....

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We reached our first destination after a little adventure to get there....the Old Sylvania Mine.

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More is yet to come.........

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This old mine still had a lot of stuff left there...people had already taken a lot of good, old stuff, but I was surprised at how much was still left, mainly old junk. Many of these old mines and mining camps look as if the people just picked up there valuables and left in a hurry.

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I found all this old equipment very interesting.....

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Mine shaft down in the canyon....

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Then we rode a few miles further to the actual ghost town of Sylvania.....

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The old dog who lived here had his own castle.....

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Not a bad view from the front porch......

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Notice the petroglyph on the rock at the bottom right corner of the house foundation....

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These petroglyphs were on a rock directly behind the house remains....

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After spending some time checking out the old buildings, we hopped back on the bikes and headed towards our next destination, and along the way there were more great views......

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A Lone Joshua Tree in the middle of nowhere......

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On the way to Goldpoint, NV.

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Please stay tuned in for more.......

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We arrived in the living ghost town, Goldpoint, NV late in the afternoon after some adventurous riding.

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Almost every single building here is original, with the exception of the Saloon, which they added on to. Some of the old cabins have been modernized so you can pay to stay in them......really cool old town.

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Sheriff Herb behind the bar (he owns over 50% of the town) and Dale.....we enjoyed a cold beverage with the Sheriff. Dale and I threw in some money to the donation jar to help keep the town alive.

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Ain't that the truth !

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Downtown Goldpoint

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The Gallows......

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Dale caused a ruckus in town and had to pay the price :lol:

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People actually live in some of the old buildings in town.

Some workers were fixing the roof on this old building.....the roof is the main thing they have to keep in good shape so the buildings don't turn to ruins....they use money from donations and from cabin rentals, etc. to keep the buildings alive....

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Dale cruisin' the streets....

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I liked this old town so much that San Diego Adventure Riders will be having a club ride there next May :coolio:

Dale bought a little bit of gas from Sheriff Herb, and I had a couple of MSR bottles with gas to throw in the tank, then we headed off towards Westgard Pass.

On the way down the pass, I knew I was running low on gas, so I put the bike in neutral on the long downhills and coasted......this is great fun, just using the brakes to slow down, but not too much so you can keep your momentum going to cruise through the next turn.

We got into Bishop after dodging rain clouds all day, we never hit more than a few sprinkles. Dale invited me to stay at his house for the next few days, so I knew I was staying through the weekend. I went out that night and met a few people at Whiskey Creek....one couple, Alan and Jennifer from England, sport-touring on a Honda ST1300. They had hit the same bad weather I had, but were still having a blast ! I invited them to come down to San Diego and stay with me, but that was far out of their way. Another couple was also from England, but were not riding. We all talked a bunch and downed a few cold ones.

Me, Jennifer and Alan

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Rob and Tracy

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After having a great time with them, and hangin' at my usual spot in Bishop, I headed back to Dale's house for the night.

4 more days to go........

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DAY 8

After putting on over 200 miles the day before, I noticed that my clutch was losing pressure. Looked at the hydraulic clutch cable I had damaged 2 years ago on the Trans-America-Trail ride and saw it was starting to leak. I had fixed it with JB Weld right where it connects to the clutch master cylinder, but after 2 years it was now starting to leak. I had a spare hydraulic cable made in Oregon on the T-A-T and I had the spare with me, so today I would work on my bike at Dale's house, knowing he would have any tool I needed. I pulled out the spare hydraulic cable from my panniers and swapped it out. Tried bleeding the system for 2 hours but with no luck, it would not build pressure. The cable was at least 2 or 3 times the diameter of the original cable, and I believe the clutch master cylinder could not build enough pressure for the oversize cable. So I removed it and decided to JB Weld the old cable again. After letting it sit a few hours I installed it on the bike again, and it held pressure with no leaks ! I was able to bleed the system. Also, had my Touratech Pannier welded where it was cracking, at a local shop that Dale took me to.

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The guys were really helpful....Chad the owner was going to take a clutch cable off for me from a 950 he had sitting there, but we saw it was a different year and different cable which would not work. If you're ever in Bishop and need bike work done, look these guys up, they'll take care of you if they can !

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Chad on the right and his associate on the left....

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One of the guys that shares the building also does balloon rides.

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Well, that's all to report for the day. I took Dale and his wife to dinner at their favorite place in Big Pine that night.

Tomorrow, I would go checkout the District 37 AMA Dualsport Ride out of Bishop, and hope to see some friends there.

To Be Continued........

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DAY 9

Took off from Dale's house and rode to the Fairgrounds to see what was going on at the VCMC (Ventura County Motorcycle Club) District 37 AMA Sanctioned Dualsport Ride out of Bishop.

I had offered to volunteer to help out, but they had enough people. I didn't get their GPS tracks or rollcharts since I'm familiar with the area and was going to do my own ride to Mammoth.

Riders at registration

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I heard someone call my name and then saw Ted (Zoot) from San Diego Adventure Riders, and his friend John. They invited me to ride along with them, so I couldn't pass that up.

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John on his XR650L on the way out of Bishop

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Looking east towards the freshly snow-capped White Mountains.

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Zoot on his KTM as we waited for John, who was enjoying a slightly more "mellow" pace.....

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Everyone stopped at the infamous Petroglyphs

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Red Rock Canyon on the way to Mammoth

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A couple of D37 riders in the canyon.....

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Ted and John.....posers !

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We stopped at Convict Lake for some photo opps.....

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We rode a bunch of neat dirt roads into Mammoth and had lunch. Ran into some more D37 riders at the restaurant.

After lunch, we rode on the east side of 395 for awhile and caught up to some other riders. There were some fun, twisty jeep trails near the lake and we were haulin' through them, and I had fun chasing the lead guy on a BMW 450. We all stopped, and we shared some beverages with the other riders and talked about the blast we just had chasing each other on the trails.

Later we ended up on a long stretch of powerline trail. Ted, John and the other riders took off haulin' ass and I tried staying at their pace, but the trail was too rough and I was severely abusing the 950 at speed, so I had to back off a bit. One thing about the big bikes....when it gets rough, you HAVE TO slow down to avoid denting a rim, pinching a tube, whatever....while the lighter bikes can just fly over the rough stuff at speed.

I lost site of them after crossing the dam. I decided to try to find a different way into Bishop....found some neat trails but they all dead-ended at marshland and the river.....so I found my way around a hill and the trail ended up being a loose, narrow cow path along a fenceline, followed by some loose, deep sand. Luckily when I got towards the pavement, there was a barbed wire cattle gate that I opened, then hit pavement the rest of the way into Bishop.

Cowpath along the fenceline.....

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Back at the Fairgrounds, I paid for dinner and some raffle tickets and enjoyed socializing with all the people at the dinner/raffle. They had some great prizes and food.

Ran into the other San Diego Adventure Riders folks who came up for the ride, we all chatted a bit, then it was time to go to Dale's to relax for the night. Of course Dale, and his wife wanted to hear about the day's ride.

2 more days left to go.....

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DAY 10

Ted and John were going to ride the Black Canyon difficult loop today on the D37 Dualsport Ride, and this route was not suggested for a 950 since there was some gnarly, narrow single track. So I decided to head up to Coyote Flats again on my own. This was the 4th or 5th time I was heading up there, one of my favorite places I've ever been on a motorcycle. I knew the snow and slush wouldn't be so bad after Chris and I tried getting up there 4 days ago......

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I love this section where the trail winds it's way through a valley of Aspens.....

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Coyote Flats....

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I had my GPS on, watching the elevation....and I wanted to see if I could get up over 11,000 feet. I knew the only way to do that might a switchback trail up a mountain that dead-ended at an old mine......I did it a few years ago on my KTM640, but knew it would be tougher on the 950.....but I was definitely up for the challenge !

The trail started above this lake and had a steep ascent up the mountain.....

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First section....

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Second section after a switchback....

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Did I mention it was a rocky trail ??

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Next switchback.......climbing higher

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Finally at the top......

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950 next to remnants of the old mineshaft....

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Great view from here.......Coyote Flats and other mountains below.....

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Nothing better than a cold Sierra Nevada in the Sierra Nevada mountains !

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I was "high on life" !

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Looking straight down the mountainside....

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And straight up the mountainside to where the actual mineshaft was.....

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and there's still more..........

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It was time to head back down........

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On one switchback, I overshot the turn a bit since it was so tight.....here is a video of how to back up a 950 to get it pointed in the proper downhill direction.....watch the whole video, at the end it shows the dropoffs and rocky trail better than the photos do....

http://ducrad.smugmug.com/gallery/15151410_QeDxP#1133104964_xFkgq-A-LB

After that workout, I headed to another scenic area.....but there was still a lot of slippery snow in spots....

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I tried getting up this section on the beast, but it just wasn't going to happen without some help.....

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These other guys on the ride were exploring some of these dead-ends also....I told them if they can make it up, they really needed to go to the end of this trail to see the spectacular views, I was up there a few years ago.

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This guy had just a little trouble and had to bulldog it....

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After turning the 950 around on that snow covered trail, I found this old 2 track trail.....

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Which led to this grassy valley.......I was tempted to keep going, but cross-country riding is not a good thing :o

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Turned around and explored some more areas.....

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still working on it....stay tuned....

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