Death Valley Noobs Rally 2016 – Friday, Part 2

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DVNR2106 Friday – Recovering Ron

Just as we were about to come out of Hidden Valley, about 1 – 1.5 miles away from Teakettle Junction I rounded a corner to find Ron’s bike upright and everybody stopped.

From the distance when I arrived I thought that he was just rifling through his tail box to get tools to fix a flat tire or mechanical issue.  As I was dismounting I realized this was something else and quickened my pace walking up.  That’s when Sachin said to me “the bike’s done” and pointed out the front wheel.

I walked over to Ron as he was hitting the Help button on his Spot.  I told him I was the guy with the Jeep and off-road trailer, he heaved a huge sigh of relief to hear that.  I advised him to shut the Help message down then send out an OK to let people know that the situation was handled just in case that brief Help made it out.

Throughout the day Ron had been keeping up with the faster small bike group.  He’d been handling that big GS great.  Here near the exit of Hidden Valley he hit the one large rock he didn’t see at a high rate of speed.  This caused his front wheel to explode and him and the GS to go flying, Ron landing on his shoulder.

The force of the hit pushed the wheel rim to the left a good two inches.  This sent the LH caliper and disc through a bunch of the left hand spokes and ripped the nipples off a number of right hand spokes.  Ron ended up with what appeared to be a broken collarbone but was doing okay otherwise.

I asked Russ to ride ahead to the main group to report the situation then continue on to Lippincott as I felt we had the situation under control.  Then after evaluating Ron we got to work getting the GS to the side of the trail.  The first thing I did was to get both calipers off the bike and ziptied to the crash guard in hopes that we could get the front wheel to move.  This freed the wheel to rotate but we quickly realized the wheel was so far gone that it would just flop around on the hub.  We moved it to the side of the trail as best we could and secured the tail bag contents.

Throughout the entire process I made it a point to carry on a conversation with Ron.  I partially did this so he knew what I was doing and could offer input but it was mostly so I could monitor his responses and make sure he was making sense.  I came to the conclusion that he was doing alright head-wise and we didn’t have a major emergency on our hands.  The four of us discussed the situation and decided it would be a bad idea for Ron to ride on the back of a bike through 20 miles of the worst washboard in the park so after making sure they had adequate supplies Ron, Sarath, and Vikram stayed behind while Sachin and I high tailed it back to PSR.

We were determined but Teakettle is way the hell out there and Racetrack Road is a terrible place to ride between the relentless washboard and spots of deep gravel.  Once we hit the pavement I pushed that poor little DR as hard as I could.  I’d never heard the poor bike ping until then so I downshifted and pushed it harder.  Coming up Towne Pass my TrailTech Voyager gauge told me the cylinder head was at 401º as I tried to maintain 55 so I dropped down to 50 and kept pushing knowing that once I cleared the next hill it would be smooth sailing.  Despite that it still took us two and a half hours to make PSR.  We pulled into camp, removed the MX boots, and geared up for the rescue.  By about 4:00 Sachin and I were back in the Jeep and pulling out for the long trip to Teakettle.

On our way down Racetrack road we had to slow down to 25MPH behind a 4Runner, that is the worst speed for washboard.  Somewhere in that brief stretch my spare tire left the trailer.  We stopped to look for it but no luck, all we found was the strap.  It’s funny, in twenty years of driving I’ve never lost a single load and here I lose two in one weekend.

Also along the way we saw a Park Ranger talking to a family with a broken down pickup truck.  He had the situation handled so we waved and continued on our way to the rescue arriving just around sunset.

I pulled past the scene of the crash so I could get the Jeep and trailer turned around, being that we were in a canyon I had to find a wide spot and make a multi-point turn, luckily that little trailer is nimble.  I pulled up in front of the bike and we all started to see if we could simply push it onto the trailer.

No friggen way.  Out comes the winch.

I yet again turned the Jeep around, tucked the lunette eye of the trailer under the Jeep’s front bumper, and Ron ran the winch controller while Sachin, Sarath, Vikram, and I stabilized the bike and guided it up the ramp and onto the trailer.  We then loaded Ron into the Jeep, turned the Jeep around, recoupled the trailer, and started making our way gingerly back with Sarath and Vikram running point on their F800GS and V-Strom 650, respectively.

On our way out we came across the black pickup again, this time with no ranger.  As I pulled past I noticed there were still people inside so I stopped to talk to them.  There was a man, woman, and a very young baby (I’d say 3 – 6 months).  She assured me that a tow was on the way and they had everything they needed to stay the night, if necessary, so I continued on the way making several stops so an exhausted Sarath could drink water.

On one of those stops I jumped out to take a leak and noticed that the GS had shifted and fallen onto the LH fender, luckily those fenders are seriously beefy and handled the weight of the GS.  Sachin and I lifted the bike back upright and I held it there while Sachin got the strap connected, he got it sorted just as my arms were running out of steam.  We then re-secured the trailer and kept a closer eye on it until we hit pavement.

Once we got on pavement I took point and drove down North Highway until we found cell reception.  Ron then called his wife (stretching the truth to his injuries a bit) and his brother to arrange pickup with a car and trailer the next morning.  As he was making calls I spotted a tow truck a distance out, us jeep drivers can see tow trucks twenty miles away.  He stopped to make sure we were okay and I verified he was going after that family.  I told him where they were and after a few curses at having to drive down that washboard he headed out to get them, I felt a lot better knowing for certain that rescue was on the way.  Then we had the highway to ourselves as we made our way to Stovepipe for some much needed fuel for the thirsty Jeep.

We pulled into camp at 12:30 – 12:45 where we found Russ had stayed up waiting for us to make sure we got back clean.  We told him the story and I had a beer with him then crawled into my tent exhausted.

We came for an adventure and it sure found us.  The bike has some serious damage but looks fixable (looks like a fun project but then we all know I like resurrecting machines).  I’m no doctor but Ron’s collarbone sure appeared to be broken but he was in good spirits and carrying the pain well, it helps that there were some painkillers involved.


3 comments on “Death Valley Noobs Rally 2016 – Friday, Part 2

  1. Thanks for sharing the complete story. I am sure a lost of people appreciate having you around even though they don’t know how to say : Thank you!

    By the way, I really appreciated this Sunday morning ride.


    • Thanks for helping out on Sunday! I trust the long ride home was uneventful?

  2. GSequoia, this is Vikram. Hope all is well. I was going though your super tenere 1200 auxiliary wiring write up and found this write up. Thank you for what you do to the community.

    Stay safe.

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