2015 DVNR – Saturday/Reward Mine

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Saturday. Today I’m going to lead a nice simple ride up to Reward Mine. Noobs welcome! Big Bike friendly!

We started out with 60 miles of slab. Given that I’m on a DR350 that wasn’t such a quick ride. I only feel comfortable up to about 60 with its current gearing, that runs me at 6000 rpm and gives me a little headroom in case I need to escape.

Group shot at the sign on 190.

On this run we had me on my DR350, Marty/Motopsychoman on his G650GS, Janeane/TheQuietOne on her NC700X, Rahul/Indio on his F700GS, Sarath/sarathmenon on his F800GS, Sachin/skvirdi on his R1200GSA, and Dave/garfey as my sweep on his KTM500EX. I was the slow little bike of the group for sure.

We had no issues on the road nor on the dirt Manzanar/Reward Road. As we started to climb I noticed Dave and Rahul hanging back. I asked the group to stand by and rode down to see what was up. It ended up being a simple nature call so I turned around to go back up. Of course I hit some sand and the front end washed out on me, down the DR went. I was a bit embarrassed to take a nap so soon but laughed it off. Little did I know I’d be picking up a lot of bikes today. We got up to the base of the mountain and started climbing the short trail to the mine. Hmmm… This is different then I remember…

What in November was a well-graded fire road accessible even to a two wheel drive S10 in March was a completely blown out, rocky, steep mess. Clearly there was at least one flash flood between my last trip and now. It was a hell of a lot of fun on my DR350. I made the run up to the mine and back three times with no issues. It wasn’t so much fun on the big bikes.

After the second rocky climb Marty and Rahul decided to bow out. Rahul was having a hard time on his F700 and didn’t want to slow the group down, Marty elected to go with him to make sure he got back safely. The rest of us continued on. After a few naps Sarath was very tempted to trade me his F800GS for my DR350, I should have taken him up on that offer and laughed all the way to the bank! By the end of the day all of the bikes had seen the ground and we were beat. I’m pretty sure the entire group was eying my 300 pound DR with envy on those rocks. We fought a section of the trail that was a little over a mile. The group never did make it up to or into the mine.

We may have been fighting but we had a nice backdrop of the Sierras with a meager amount of snow on them.

Janeane riding up the trial like a boss.

At to the second to last waterfall we decided to call it. The group was having a harder time due to their exhaustion. On my scouting rides I saw that the worst one was still ahead of us, we decided to quit while were were ahead and go get lunch.

Group shot of hot, tired riders who are about to head back.

We picked up the fallen F800, turned the other big bikes around (that was a lot of work!), and stopped to catch our breath. Then I told everybody to head out while I take sweep. We made it down with little trouble, only a couple of naps, and hit the road. I believe I heard the entire group sing a praise when we hit asphalt. It sure felt good to get some speed on and sit down!

We booked it to the Mount Whitney Restaurant in Lone Pine for cold water and what, in that scenario, ended up being amazing burgers. After a full meal and a lot of water we were all feeling significantly more human and ready to head back to PSR. Dave picked up lunch, much to our surprise, he’s really a stand up guy and now has to attend the 2016DVNR so I can return the favor! Sarath, Sachin, and I stopped at Father Crowley point to get a look at the Panamint Valley, they had never gone all the way to the dirt overlook. After that we went back to camp where the beer was cold and very well deserved!

Sarath and Sachin take in the view.

You know, sometimes partway through a ride you come up with a name for it. You tell the rest of the folks and they immediately agree, that’s how you know the name will stick. I chose “Out of the Comfort Zone” for this ride. We were expecting a nice simple fire road and I gave them this completely torn up mess. They did great and were smiling when they weren’t too busy panting.

I’d like to thank all of you for coming out on the trail and being great sports. You all did well and I hope learned something, even if it’s never to follow that jerk Sequoia. I’d especially like to thank Janeane for not coming back and cutting me with the machete she won in the evening’s raffle.

The ride wasn’t at all what I expected. What I thought would be an easy day turned out to be hot, grueling, and long. But I still had a great time and am glad we did it. No injuries or ride stopping/delaying mechanicals so I’d say it was a good day. I didn’t even have to use my AK.


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