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russell_bynum

DVD Story Tellin'

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russell_bynum

Here's my account...

Thursday afternoon:

I got a new set of MEZ4s installed and headed down to Denny's place (D Tool) in San Diego. After meeting his wife Chris and his overenthusiastic Boxer (dog, not BMW), I crashed on the couch.

83.8 miles

Friday:

Before I knew it, it was Friday morning and it was COLD! Luckily, Denny loaned me his extra Eclipse vest, so I was nice and toasty. We hooked up with Rick (a little late...sorry Rick) and bugged out towards Ramona. We had breakfast at San Ysabel, then hit the road. Down the Montezuma Grade (Yipppeee...I get to scuff in my new tires!) and across to the Salton Sea. Just east of Salton City, we crossed a stretch of road that was so riddled with small whoop-de-doos that it felt like we were bull riding in a rodeo. As Rick and I waved our left arms in the air behind us, Denny came over the FRS and said "You know, you only have to stay on for 8 seconds."

Through Mecca (don't blink...you'll miss it) and across Box Canyon Road. Box Canyon was fun, but had lots of corners with sand in them, so we had to be prudent about our speed. Riding through there, you really got the sense that if it was 1850, you'd have to worry about getting ambushed or something. Very beautiful country indeed.

We crossed over into Joshua Tree National Park and stopped at the visitor center to buy our annual park pass, then I led the way across the park. We crossed from the Colorado Desert to the Mojave Desert and suddenly, Joshua Trees started popping up. It's amazing how quickly the desert changes from one ecosystem to the next. We stopped at the gate on the way out of the park and showed our passes again, the motored into 29 Palms for fuel.

A quick gas stop, then we were back on our way towards Amboy. We admired the beautiful scenery blasting by our visors at 85-90mph...I'd never seen Amboy in the daytime, and the volcano is really quite awesome. It's not the same scale as the bigger volcanos, but is very impressive out in the middle of the valley floor. I believe the word Denny used to describe it was "Singular".

From there, we hit Kelbaker Road towards Kelso, then on to Baker (hence the name, Kelbaker). We made a brief speed run up to 125 (indicated on my speedo), crossed through Kelso. Kelso is a strange little town literally in the middle of the desert with nothing for miles around.

We crossed through Baker and continued up towards Shoshone, then Death valley Junction. A quick left at DV Junction, then down into the Valley. I'm always astounded by the sheer beauty of this place. The colors in the rock layers...the raw hostility of the terrain...and the wildlife that somehow finds a way to survive in these extremes.

450.8 miles

Saturday:

Saturday morning, Denny and I hooked up with Dick early for a ride up to Zabriskie Point for some pictures. As the sun comes up and the angle and intensity of the light changes, the color of the mountains change...flat tan turns into many shades of tan, brown, and gray. More details become apparent as well including some stuff that becomes so suddenly apparent that you can't believe you never saw it before. We talked very little...just walked around shooting pictures and listening to the wind caress the landscape, molding and changing it in it's eternal cycle. My pictures did not do it justice.

We headed back to Furnace Creek to shower and have breakfast. We didn't get ready in time to make the big group ride to Scotty's Castle, and we decided to set out on our own. Our rough agenda for the day was: Badwater, Shoshone, DV Junction, Dante's View, then back to Furnace Creek. We headed down to Badwater carving nice big arcs as we went. We spent quite a long time at Badwater, walking around the salt flats looking at the salt formations and getting a lesson from Dick that went from geology to philosophy and back several times. Eventually, we wandered back, saddled up and headed south with Dick in the lead and Denny riding sweep. Somewhere near the Lake Manly marker, we came across a small Coyote standing in the road. He flinched a bit as Dick went past. When I went past, he tried to eat my motorcycle! shocked.gif He charged Denny's front wheel, then decided that wasn't the best course of action, and flinched away.

We stopped in Shoshone to relax a bit and have some nourishment (if Slim Jim's count as nourishment) and a group of crotch rockets came rolling in about 15 minutes behind us. As the were taking their helmets off, they were all saying "Did you see that F***ing coyote!!!" Apparently, this particular beast had his heart set having a motorcycle for dinner that night. shocked.gif Luckily, Denny's "stealth" black RT wasn't noticed until it was too late, my "Most maneuverable" Graphite RT was able to dodge the beast, and Dick's "fastest" Opal Blue bike just flat outran him. laugh.gif

We zipped up to Death Valley Junction and across back towards the park. We took the turnoff to Dante's view and started up the hill with Dick, then Denny, then me. I was rubbernecking all of the awesome scenery and would loose distance here and there, but I'd just go WFO for a few seconds and reel them back in. I rolled out of a right turn and saw Dick and Denny WAY up ahead of me, so I wicked it up. As soon as my throttle hit the stop, the RPM's dropped to idle and my throttle went completely slack. It's really funny how the mind works...my first thought was "Crap! Throttle cable!." shortly followed by "I'll bet Fernando has a spare...he has a spare everything!" smile.gif I tested it out and I still had throttle control with the "choke" lever...and that was good for 3-4K rpms. It was mostly downhill to Furnace Creek, so I figured I could limp back in that way then get things sorted out. After a few minutes, Denny came back. He made a U-turn to come help me turn the bike around going downhill, but his front wheel dropped off of the pavement. The road was a hill, so the bike rolled to the right and the bars tried to twist away from him. I saw what was happening and ran over to help. Just as I got there and started to put my knee into it, he said "Hit the kill switch" and dropped the bike. I don't know if he killed it, or if I did, but somehow the kill switch was hit. I expected Denny to just sort of fall off, but instead he made a complete summersault as he rolled away from the bike. I was able to slow the fall enough that it just re-scratched some existing scuffs on the right sidecase and valve cover. After we got the bike righted, we laughed a bit about his most graceful dismount. smile.gif

He took off to catch Dick, then they both came back down. We limped down the hill at 50-55mph, rolled through the stop sign at the bottom, then on down into Furnace creek. Denny found Fernando, who did indeed have his old throttle cable as a spare. Denny and I started pulling tupperware (neither of us had replaced a throttle cable before) and working on getting the old cable out. The tank had to be removed...naturally it was almost all the way full. crazy.gif We improvised a bolt/hose clamp on one hose, and a pair of needle-nose vice-grips for the other one. We had to disconnect the cable from the left throttle body...there goes my perfect sync...but we were able to get the splitter box out. The cable was pretty frayed and had broken about an inch above the lower end, inside of the splitter box. We got the new cable in, synced the cables using Denny's "finger" method. I went for a ride (sans tupperware) and it really seemed to be pretty close. Very little surging and only a hint of vibration. Rick came by and helped us put the tupperware back on, he even helped out by melting some of his ski gloves onto my right header pipe...."Hey...what's that burning smell?" The Three Stooges do RT maintenance.... woo woo woo...oh, a wise guy! smile.gif

~160 miles

We got everything buttoned up and wandered back to the restaurant for some food. We spent too much time talking with the group outside of the place, and they closed it. Without hesitating, Fernando pulls a couple of slices of Chicken Quesadia from his pocket (wrapped in foil) and offers them to us. I swear...this guy's prepared for everything. We wandered back into the Saloon and had some greasy pizza and drinks, then headed off to bed.

Sunday

Our Sunday morning group consisted of our Fearless leader (Cary), Rick, Denny, Me, and Daryll. We bombed down towards Badwater and the south end of the Valley. We had some pretty gnarly wind...big gusts coming from all different directions as the wind would swirl around the mountains. We stopped briefly in Shoshone where we were passed by Fernando and Brian. We met up with them again in Baker. They hit the slab out of Baker, and we continued on down through Kelso and Amboy, then into 29 palms. We had some pretty decent Mexican food in 29 Palms, then shot down 62. As soon as we were out in the open at the bottom of the hill on 62, we really got blasted with the wind. This area has constant high winds, and they put it to work with acres of various types of wind turbines generating power. Our RT's rocked and rolled under us as we fought to stay on the road. It's pretty strange looking behind you and seeing the nice triangle of light created by Rick's Motolites leaned over 30 degrees on a straight section of road.

The rest of the ride was pretty routine...split from the group at 60, then 60 to 91 to 241, blah blah blah. I got about 45 seconds of rain on 241, then rode out from under it. I rolled into my garage at 4:30 and it started pouring about 4:45.

387.8 miles.

Total for the trip: 1082.4

Only a lunatic would ride a motorcycle somewhere named DEATH Valley...Sub-freezing temps, constant howling wind, and some terrain that's just plain nasty. When someone at work asked why I wanted to go to DV, I just said "Because it's there." It's cliché, but 100% true. We braved 23-degree mornings, 50mph winds, broken throttle cables, motorcycle-eating coyotes, and off-camber turns with sand in them...why? Because we can. We are motorcyclists. It didn’t matter if you showed up on a K1200LT or an R90S..we were all here for the same reason. I had a blast riding, sitting in the bar eating what had to be at least 2 lbs of peanuts, chewing the fat with the group, getting a geology/philosophy lesson from Dick in the middle of the Badwater salt flat, and even replacing my throttle cable in the dark and cold. The whole thing was a tremendously positive experience. Would I do it again? Just give me some time to go buy a spare throttle cable and coyote-proof tires and I'm all over it.

 

------------------

Russell

'00 R1100RT Graphite

'93 K75 Blue

BMWMOA Vegas Tech Daze Graduate

"We will not waver, we will not tire, we will not falter and we will not fail."

-George W. Bush

[This message has been edited by russell_bynum (edited 01-28-2002).]

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ChrisNYC

Loved reading all the posts. Keep them coming. I've never ridden in the desert before.

------------------

Chris (aka Tender Vittles),

Little KZ400 in the Big Apple

Black Boxer RT for Everywhere Else

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rdfrantz

Now, as I see it, Russell tells an interesting, and pretty accurate tale. But as far as Geology and Philosophy lessons go, you gotta remember he's a young kid from Orange County... CALIFORNIA. All I said was, "Gee, here's two rocks that look the same. I wonder if they came from the same mountain?"

Kids. Buy 'em an RT and and whaddatheydo? Chew the throttle cables. laugh.gif

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