Death Valley Noobs Rally 2016 – Thursday

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DVNR 2016, Thursday.  Reward Mine, Dirt to Darwin

Thursday was my intermediate-level ride into Reward Mine.  There is something childishly fun about riding your motorcycle underground and I’ve been wanting to do it for some time.

The morning started well.  I had a good group of riders that all knew their bikes well, I had a good feeling about the ride plus, unlike last year, everybody knew they would be getting into rocks.

From left to right we have Bob, Dave, Isaac, Mike, and Ben.  I’m behind the camera, of course.

The ride started with 60 miles of slab.  I used this time to run the bike up to 70MPH; despite falling off the trailer it still ran straight and true, I dodged that bullet.  The ride was uneventful except for areas where we fought a headwind, the little 350 did not much like pushing wind at 60, I had to drop speed a few times to keep the cylinder head temperature down below 375º.

Our first stop was the old Manzanar Airstrip.  This was used during World War II to serve the nearby Manzanar Internment camp and as a fallback point in case of invasion.  The camp is just over 395 and I urge you to stop by and visit it for a sobering look at a dark period of our history.

Manzanar Airstrip in 1943

Nowadays the airstrip is just some ruins in the desert and good for photo ops.

Mike conserving energy before the trail.

After a brief stop we were eager to hit dirt and high-tailed it to the trail.  A few miles of poor pavement and washboard and we were on the path to Reward.  I went about 1/3 of the way up and waved everybody to pass me by so I could watch them on two rock gardens at once.  When I was catching up to the group I saw that Dave had succumbed to gravity and before I could even get the stand down he had already picked the big 1190 up by himself, that guy’s an animal!

He quickly found that the RH footage was bent so did a trail repair using a local, organic, non-GMO rock as a tool.  Isaac supervised since he was wearing the CalTrans hi-vis.

The mighty little DR against the backdrop of the Eastern Sierra range.

We made short work of the rest of the short trail with no more incidents.  When we got to the mouth of the mine we were all eager to get going so saved photo ops for later.  We entered the mine and rode down to the main hall area where we stopped to let the dust settle for a photo op.

The group inside.  Photo credit goes to the talented Isaac.

Portrait of some jerk.  Photo credit again to the talented Isaac.

We spent some time exploring the mine both on foot and on moto before we decided to head out and grab some chow.  On the way back we took the time to grab some photos.

The group at the mouth.

On the tailing pile with the snow-capped Sierras behind us.

Me riding down the trail, yet another photo shamelessly stolen from Isaac.

Dave and Isaac prepare for flight on the airstrip.

Isaac getting some speed on.

Dave trying to cheat the wind.

Lonely old DR350.

Lunch at the Mount Whitney Restaurant.

After lunch Isaac said he knew a dirt route to Darwin so we could avoid a good amount of slab.  We swapped positions with him in lead and me now in sweep and followed him.  He turned off on a dirt road and we had 22 miles with a good amount of sand.  I, of course, proceeded to immediately drop the bike in the sand then Mike and I spent a good twenty minutes working on getting the old bike to start (damn kickers).  After that I had no more incidents despite the fact that sand and I are not friends.

Ben walking off one of his more painful crashes.

We’ve all been here.

We made it to Darwin and stopped at the old Post Office for a photo op.

Darwin does have its creepy side…

Before we left Russ joined us on his XR-650R, Russ and I would become buds by the end of the event over some R1200GS carnage on Friday.  We all opted to slab it home as it was getting late and we didn’t want to miss dinner.  After dinner I took my headlamp apart to try to aim it a bit better then turned in before midnight to rest up for Friday’s Lippincott and Hunter Mountain/Hidden Valley ride.


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