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CABDR 2019 - Big Bike Adventure

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Oracle and I headed out last Sunday for an exploration of the CABDR 

From SD to Yuma, camped at Picacho campground along the river then headed into the heart of the Mojave soaking in amazing desert double track, securing a primitive spot to buckle down for the night, 10+ hours of cold rains later,  we packed up and heading out to ride some more truly amazing conditions.

From Mojave to Furnace Creek / Death Valley was a big stretch with no place to camp inside the park. Headed east on 190 and found a place just outside the park to set up and enjoy a well needed refreshment capturing the last few minutes of warm sunlight..

Looking at the bright stars and reminiscing over the days adventure, we didn’t think much of the lighting strikes way off to the north, we turned in to get a good night’s sleep.


Within minutes, a quick glance out the tent we noticed the clouds have started to move in and move in really fast. The intention was to go without the soaked rainfly from the previous night and enjoy the evening stars 

With quick work we battened down the hatches and heading into our little tents to withstand 50mph winds for the next 10 hours, relentless is the only word I have for the wind, dust & rain that night.


As much as there is always a level of concern spending the night in conditions like that in extremely remote areas with no service – I found myself tucked deep inside my sleeping bag chuckling about our desire to tackle such adventures – and wouldn’t trade it for anything.


We made fast work of packing up a windy camp to hit the highway and head back to SD 

The winds battered us along the way riding on a 60-degree angle for 250 miles pretty much until J-tree,  where we had a bit of a tail wind maybe a bit too much of a tail wind :D

The flowers were amazing at the south entrance of J-tree park – worth the ride for sure



This was a big bike rally through the vast desert terrain, exactly what these bikes are built for...

Not at one point along this ride did I ever think I would rather be on a smaller bike 

Can’t speak for the technical sections at altitude north of Furnace Creek, though up until that point it’s a big bike ride if you have the option.

We parted ways in Santa Ysabel - I headed over Mt Laguna on the way home hoping to see a little snow, nothing.... it was a beautiful way to end a great adventure 


There was way more miles then pics – though here’s a few from along the way



Thanks again Oracle for the solid & safe partnership..

































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Nice, been thinking of checking this out.  I'm sure the big Yamaha could do it, it's the pilot who is the limiting factor.

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Wow, those are some nice photos...way better than anything I have on my phone.

It was a great trip. I had a blast in spit of the extreme weather conditions we encountered, which definitely detracted a bit from the overall fun. But hanging out with Rigger, a super positive dude, has a way of rubbing off on ya and I found myself become a "glass is half full" type of guy in no time.

I always enjoy these types of trips because it's such an adrenaline rush. I will say the Rigger and I pushed our bikes to the limits and came out on top. It's not always that way, and we know it, so we have a great amount of respect for these types of rides...and we are well prepared. Which really paid off.

Let me takes us back to Sunday. What was once a 4 person BDR team, ended up being Rigger and me. The other two riding buddies had to bail out for various reasons, which was a bummer for us. I was looking forward to everyone riding, hanging out, and having a good time over the next 4 to 5 days. But Rigger and I pushed on. Hell, we had the time off and we weren't going blow it.

We met up along the I-8 and 79 in eastern San Diego at noon. The weather was nice and our plan was to push into Yuma, grab a bite to eat, fuel up the beasts, grab some beer, and head into Picacho campground for the night. Picacho is about 15 miles into the 1st stage of CABDR and consists of a nicely graded dirt road with some very minor sand sections. As soon as we hit dirt, we air down because we had about 800 miles of dirt roads ahead of us. 

We got into Picacho around 4 and set up camp. It was a very nice evening there and we were able to chill out along the river, drink some beer, and as they say in Hawaii, talk story. I was going to post some pics, but hell, just look at Riggers pics above...mine don't do them any justice.

We got up with the sun and packed up. We headed out on the 1st section of the BDR, which includes a long sand wash for the first 20 miles or so. There has been some input from other BDR riders that this section was not big bike friendly. I can tell you now, that is not the case. Yes there is sand and thick gravel sections, but don't let the information that it's difficult scare you from riding it. We motored through it and averaged probably 25 mph through it. With that said, it's not going be fun for a new rider on a big bike with no offroad experience that hasn't air down his tires....but for anyone with some offroad experience don't be scared of it.


I think we rode about 240 miles, mostly dirt, on day two. The riding was basic California desert. Nothing spectacular but all new trails for me, so I was ok with it. At the end of the day, we found ourselves in the higher elevations of the Mojave desert. Scary big black clouds were starting to push in from the east, which was a bit unusual. We realized a weather condition was about to happen so we found a place to pirate camp for the night that was kinda of down in a wash (to get away from the wind), but high enough to keep us out of any potential flowing water (hopefully). It was a nice place for sure...again, see Riggers pics above. About that time, I got a text message from CID saying "there is weather coming your way", at which point I was pretty sure it was going be a long night. And it was.

At about 7:30pm it started sprinkling. At which point I retired to my tent to avoid getting wet. Over the next 12 hours, it rained and hailed off and on all night. We emerged from our tents around 7:30 in the morning to partly cloudy conditions. We loaded up our gear and set out for day three of the BDR, which would turn out to be my favorite.

About 20 miles in we crossed path with these two female riders and stopped to talk to them. They were from Oregon and travelling to South America on a 6 month adventure that most of us only dream of. I was really impressed with their courage to tackle this, especially since one of the riders, Sierra, when ask about her riding experience said she had ridden a dirt bike when she was a kid. I'm pretty sure she was the more reluctant one of the two. We wished them luck and went our separate ways....


We continued into death valley, after a stop in Primm, for fuel and food. Stage 4 out of Primm has two options, a short hard route, and a easier pole line road. Neither Rigger or I are likely to shy away from a hard route but we were close enough to see it had snowed the night before in that section and common sense prevailed, although we both likely regret it to some degree, and we chose the easier route. The first 20 miles of stage 4 was probably my least liked section. It's graded pole line road covered in broken granite rocks...not really challenging, but not fun to ride either. After making it through this section, we headed north on a very old beat up paved road for about 20 miles, at which point the route splits in two. We chose the harder double track in this section, which was nice, slightly challenging in some sections, but really not bad as long as you have the guts to stay on the gas through the sand and loose gravel on a big bike. If you go slow here on a big bike, you are going to hate it. Air down and gas it...believe the Oracle.


We continued on, with Furnace Creek being our destination for the day. After trying to keep up with Rigger at about 65 MPH for a 30 mile section of graded dirt/sand road along a dry lake bed, I came up to a water crossing (see pics above). Rigger was there with his camera at the ready. I took the opportunity to gas the big KTM through the stream crossing in hopes of getting a good photo or two. I judged my speed based on Riggers bike, which was stopped in the water, which appeared to be a couple inches deep. Yeah, well, the section I went through was at least 1-2 feet deep and I got totally soaked with crusty, salty, gross, death valley water. It was fun at the time but "Fury" didn't appreciated it...

At about 5pm, and after 250 miles of hard riding, we pulled into Furance Creek...yeah, time for a cold beer, good food, and a nice camp site....NOT. All the campgrounds were full, the motel / hotels were full, and there is no pirate camping allowed. Even if there was, there are NO good sites in that area to camp...it's a barren land with a dry salty lake bed in the middle and huge mountains surrounding it. No trees, no bushes...just rocks and a 50 mile dust storm....I was not pleased....I actually pulled over on the side of the main road and took a break in the shade....


Rigger knew I was at the end of my rope for the day and tried his best to bribe the girl at the front desk of a nearby hotel, but his good lucks and money couldn't pull it off. She did provide him a tip about a freeloader camping area about 15 miles outside the east entrance of the park, so we begrudgingly headed that way, even know it was the opposite direction of our intended stage 5 route. Oh well, we'll just grab some beer and hit the road and make the best of it. After all they don't call it adventure riding for nothing. But wait, there is no place in town to buy beer...no convenience store, no gas station that sells beer, what the heck. I was ready to give up but Rigger wasn't taking no for an answer (thankfully, because those were some of the best beers I've ever had, thanks buddy) and says follow me. We pull up to the vale parking area of the fanciest resort in the damn town and Rigger says wait here with the bikes. He goes into the bar and somehow convinces the server to sell him an unopened 6 pack of beer (which I'm pretty sure is against the rules) so we boogey out of there as fast as we can. 

An hour later we find this freeloader site, which turns out to be an old mining community. All the structures are gone but there are cement pads all over the place that the miners used to have their trailers on. There were about 10 rigs dispersed around the area, including some hippie vans and hippie school buses, and other straight up derelicts... guess that's why they call it a freeloader site. Anyway, neither of us would have ever camped there if it wasn't a necessity, so we convinced ourselves it was fine (which it was). 

We set up camp and sat down to enjoy our cold Medelos. They sure were good. It was beautiful out. Clear and calm...at least for now.

About 9pm, as I was sitting there in my tent looking up at the sky, all ---- broke loose. You could actually hear the wind gust coming. It sounded like a freight train...really. The wind hit so hard and so fast I couldn't believe it. We both jumped out of our tents to put the rain flys on because the clouds were coming in hard. There was lightening in the distance and I just knew it was about to get real. And it did. My rain fly eventually got ripped off the top of my tent, while it was raining, around 11pm. It was hanging on by 1 of the 4 ropes that hold it into place. As I got out of my tent, the wind was so strong my tent almost flew away without all my gear in it. Rigger heard my cursing and got out to help. With his help, we managed to secure the rain fly back on and we hunkered down in our tents again. It was one of the most miserable nights I've never spend in a tent. No sleep all night makes the Oracle and unhappy guy. 

When the sun came up, we got out and started packing. We decided to cut the trip a day short because of weather, the lack of pirate camping in Death Valley, and the fact that we already had to back track about 50 miles the night before. We decided it was time to head home. So we set out at about 830am for San Diego. After 8 plus hours, 400 miles, and two fill ups, we made it home safe. We stayed on two lane older roads the entire day...no freeways for us. Overall, it was an awesome experience. I would definitely go again, just with a better plan for when we get to death valley...motel rooms need to be booked in advance for sure.

On the way home through Joshua Tree, I was following Rigger through the park. We were doing about 60 in a 35 (artificially slow speed limit through the park for sure), when we came around a corner and passed a Park Ranger driving the other directions. I realized we were speeding but doubted he was running radar so wasn't concerned. About 5 minutes later, I see him in my mirror and realize he is going to pull us over, soon after the red and blues some on and he hits the sired at time or two. So we pull over for to take our lumps. The Ranger was very cool and professional and explained why he stopped us (Rigger for doing 61 and me for doing 60 with his forward facing moving radar). He asked if we had anything illegal on us or any weapons and I mentioned that I was a honorably retired police officer and was carrying a pistol. Magically, he sent us on our way...like I said, he was a nice guy...your welcome, Rigger!

Oh, I almost forgot...no mechanical issues and no downed riders, well, until Rigger took a digger in Sand Stone Canyon on the way home. I was trying to get my phone out to take a picture but he was squeeling like a little girl "my foot, my foot" and I noticed his foot pinned under the back of his bike and facing backwards. I felt sorry and jumped off my bike to pick the pig up off of him before documenting it for posterity.

A couple final pics. 




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Good Thing you have two cylinders on that rig; more better to haul all that chit.  But really, Nice Rally gentlemen!

Likin' that LED bar.  You two must of had time to discuss the merits of Short vs Tall wind screens. Any verdict?

Let me think about those images for a moment,,,, Mmmm, yes still thinkin'


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3 hours ago, Bagstr said:

Good Thing you have two cylinders on that rig; more better to haul all that chit.  But really, Nice Rally gentlemen!

Likin' that LED bar.  You two must of had time to discuss the merits of Short vs Tall wind screens. Any verdict?

Let me think about those images for a moment,,,, Mmmm, yes still thinkin'


Funny, because we actually did talk about the screens. I have both a cut down stock screen and the KTM touring screen. I've used both. I prefer the touring screen on long distance rides. It doesn't much bother me on the off road sections and it is a God send on the long highway sections. We did 400 miles coming home on Wednesday...I was very glad to have it. 

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Nicely done Rigger and LB! Great pictures and write-ups! Thanks for sharing your adventure! :good:

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Great story and pics.  It's great to have both of your perspectives on the ride report.  Thanks for sharing.

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Oracle and Rigger,

My friends, your story is undoubtably the best motorcycle literature I have read.  Oracle your story telling and Riggers photos make a grand opera. The images, photo and written leave the reader living the Adventure.

Any casual rider thinking they would have liked to tag along with you two, would be quite mistaken to think they could be as successful.

Thanks for the entertaining journey, Bagstr

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Way to tear it up you guys!  You clearly met the qualifications of being adventurer riders! Great info and story, thanks for writing it up!  I had planned to ride the CABDR solo starting when you did, but went to Mammoth to play in the snow instead. The weather you experienced, rain and hail and lightning on a moto, didn't sound like it would be fun, the freezing cold high winds blowing north to south through Owens Valley, closed roads in Death Valley, and the snow in the hills all around Bishop, seemed to push me towards skis instead of my 2 wheeler.  Even when riding the Chair lifts in Mammoth, I kept looking east and wondered if anyone was really riding through that snow on the BDR.  Doesn't look like you got that far north....  But heck, none of those challenges seemed to deter you both - impressive - Well Done!  

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Nice write up guys and the pics are excellaaaaant.  Riding with LB has its privileges, especially the get out of jail/ticket card! 

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