Death Valley 2017 Edition, Part 1

I would guess everyone has a short list of places they like to visit multiple times.  The Death Valley is one of these places for me.  Geographically speaking it is large enough for me to experience new places every time I’m there.

On top of Mengel Pass with the WR250R, March 2017

That’s not the main reason to return to that park, however.  I don’t mind going back to the same roads and places every time, I don’t mind riding on the same roads.  Just being in such a challenging location is plenty good. Each time there is a chance to learn a bit more about human endeavors in general, how much humans are willing to risk in such inhospitable conditions for the expectation of making good money.

Skidoo mine area, March 2017

Or how people use the Death Valley area simply to hide from the rest of the world as was the case for Charles Manson who envisioned an apocalyptic race war which he called Helter Skelter (after the 1968 Beattles’ song from The White Album), and while committing a long list of other crimes, hid out at Barker Ranch just a few miles up from Ballarat off of Goller Wash.

Charles Manson truck, Ballarat, Califonia, March 2017

If that is not enough, it is guaranteed, roads and landscapes will look different from year to year depending on the time of the day you travel through them, the weather conditions you will experience at the moment you visit locations in the park will be different from year to year, or the roads you know well will be different according to how they have been impacted by winter storms.

Stripped Butte, something I completely missed last year when trying to outrun a rain storm right at this same place.

Last year we experienced rain storms and sand storms.  This year it was above the average hot for this time of the year, temperatures were hitting the mid to upper nineties during the day at the bottom of the valleys, and everyday followed the next with clear blue skies.

Arriving at West Side Road. Last year this view was not possible, as we were covered by a sand storm.

Of course, traveling back and forth from Oregon to the Death Valley is already part of the experience.

Getting close to Susanville on my way south, March 2017

I did some minor work on the bikes preparing for this trip.  The large ticket item being auxiliary lights on both bikes, which proved very good on this year’s ride.

The CB500X and the WR250R got auxiliary lights, February 2017

The biggest preparation however, which was part of the planning for this trip and hopefully will work for other motorcycle adventures, was the purchase of an enclosed cargo trailer and setting it up to be a motorcycle trailer and sleeping quarters for these trips.

Electricity, windows and e-tracks installed on the trailer. February, 2017

My biggest worry about this trip was whether my 1996 Ford F150 truck, with the 5.0 Liter V-8 (302 motor) would be able to pull this trailer which would be about 3,000lbs fully loaded.  But it made it, no problems.  There were some moments, such as climbing out of the valley of the Death Valley at 90 degrees temperature when the truck would not go past 2nd gear and 25 mph, but other than that, it did very well at normal highway speeds, when the wind did not blow too hard.

The old truck made it to the Death Valley and back, once again. March 2017

This time around I met with two of the riders from last year’s trip and three other riders joined the group, and then two other friends joined us on a very nice and new Ford Raptor.

The riders of the Death Valley 2017 edition

On the following posts I will be describing the preparations for this trip and the rides we’ve taken on the 2017 edition.  We had a great time, the riders were all very good.  If counting the crashes and bike drops, I would be rated the worst rider of the group, as the WR250R had its chance to show how strong it is, surviving very creative crashes.  The CB500X survived unscathed, meaning I did not drop it or crash it and it ran flawlessly.

Stay tuned!

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2 Responses to Death Valley 2017 Edition, Part 1

  1. Trobairitz says:

    I bet you had so much fun in the sunshine. Just to escape our rain for a week or so sounds heavenly, then to be on two wheels……..

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