RTW Adventure Rider

Headed to Ushuaia/Tierra del Fuego

Death Valley, Here I Come!

My escape from San Bernardino and the maniac Porsche driver found me going north on Hwy 395. There is really not too much to this road, but for me it was great being back in the desert after such a long time away.

I eventually came to road construction and had to wait about 20 minutes. I was only a few spots from the front, and when they let us go I made short work of those guys and had the road all to myself. I fly by the SR-190 turn off to Death Valley and I start thinking that, yeah, it's going to be hot, but Death Valley is one of my most favorite places. Screw it, I'm turning around and going for it.
As I head east on SR-190, the clouds are getting thicker, the temperature is getting cooler, and the wind is really starting to pick up. Awesome, let's have some adventure in the weather!

Wow, 67 F in Death Valley in June!

The wind is ferocious! At one time I had the wind to my back and I modified my speed until I was in still air. 60MPH! The trusty F800GS didn't care though. It is the most impervious-to-crosswinds and gusts motorcycle I've ever ridden.

I got to Scotty's Castle at about 6:00 PM and they were already closed. No biggie as I've taken the tour before. It's a great tour and if you're ever near here, it's worth the trip.

The wind was howling and the rain was starting to come down. While I had the bike parked in front of the sign, I was really worried about it being blown over. Time to hit the road for Nevada!


Prologue: Choose and get the bike.

What kind of motorcycle fits the bill for a South America ride with a possibility for going around the world (RTW)? At any given time, there are hundreds of people traveling the world, on everything from Expedition vehicles to bicycles to on-foot. In the motorcycle category, there are plenty of bikes that can do it. The most popular are the big BMW GS's and Kawasaki KLRs. But probably every kind of bike has been represented at one time or another.

My bias leans towards BMW, but I couldn't see myself on the huge R1200GS. They are mighty and reliable, but I'm not sure how many times I would be able to pick one up when I drop it.

Thanks to a little help from my friends, I found a used F800GS in Los Angeles! Nate was able to score me a cheap ticket and I was off to Burbank!

Peter, the seller met me at the airport with the bike in the back of the truck. We went to a parking lot and made the deal and I was off!

The original idea was to head west from Burbank and ride the coastal roads all the way up to Portland, and so west I headed. But while I'm riding I'm wondering "where did I put those spare keys? Didn't I leave them in the grass at the parking lot?" After about an hour of traveling I pulled into a gas station for gas and started looking for those keys. They were not to be found. These are the expensive radio keys and the loss was not to be taken lightly! So you know how it goes - should I keep going and suck it up, or should I go all the way back to the airport and look for them in the grass? Well... I rode all the way back and searched all around, but no keys were to be found. I'm a little annoyed now and I'm thinking I do not want to go back west anymore, but rather I'll go east now. I'm glad I did.

First stop was to visit my old Army buddy, Taco.

It was at Taco's house where I dumped all of my gear and emptied all of my pockets. Lo and behold, I found the spare keys in the pocket where I keep my special wallet - the wallet that held the cash for the bike - the pocket that never gets unzipped. Well, the thought I checked there but apparently not good enough. Man, do I ever feel better now!
Next stop is to visit Art, the owner of Doug Douglas Motorcycles, San Bernadino's biggest Triumph dealer. I haven't seen Art in years and it was a great visit.
Art is one of the fastest guys on a track I've ever ridden with, and I trust his driving. So when he said "Hey, lets go up the mountain in the car for lunch!" I didn't give it a second thought.
What I wrote at the time:

"Geez, he scared the crap out of me. How do you tactfully say slow the @#*^& down you idiot! He had me clutching the grab handle and stabbing at the imaginary passenger brake pedal, all the while carrying on a cool, calm conversation like nothing exciting is going on. Obviously I survived since I'm typing this, but I've visibly aged and my mustache is white now."

And this is how he saw it:
I made the sly move to suggest taking the car instead of riding bikes up...that way he was trapped in the Porsche. I had my life threatened a couple times and had to slow it down though. Damn, he doesn't make a good passenger!

Arno: "Those signs that say 35mph at corners really mean go 35". He said it in reference to the Ural but I know he really meant my driving.

Art: "Let me show you the intricate peculiarities of how a Porsche needs to be driven completely different. These corners are actually MORE dangerous when you're not on the gas like this"

Arno: "*%#*& prick, I said slow the ^%$#@ down"

Art: "You hear the front tires squealing? That's because I'm going to slow. But ok, I'll slow it down even more for you" "Oh, passing lane...I HAVE to get past that truck waaaay up there just now exiting the passing lane. I HAVE to downshift 2 gears and get past!"

Arno: "FUUUUUUUUU^%*(*%%!!!!"

It really was my fault. I was trying to see at what point I could get him to stop talking and just squeal like a girl....or a 911 front tire when the car is driven like a hearse.

After he made several references in "casual" conversation about being in great shape, having martial arts skills and just generally being a bad-ass, I got the idea it was a not so obscure threat to kick my ass if I did that in the morning as we headed back to the shop. I had planned to get up so early that he wasn't able to put up a fight but he managed to wake up and get a nicotine hit in early enough to be ready to go when I was at 6am.

Next stop: Death Valley!