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post #1 of 2 Old 07-08-2009, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Redondo Beach
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Los Angeles to Bridgeport

Monday, June 29th, I left Redondo Beach and headed for Bridgeport. The ride up was really uneventful – pretty much hour after hour of slab.

My first stop was at Fossil Falls. This is a site where, about 400,000 years ago, the Owens River ran through a volcanic area. The river carved the rock into weird shapes as it tumbled down a waterfall. The river rerouted itself, leaving behind a “Fossil Falls”.


A view of the falls...

Curiously eroded rocks...

On the way out of Bridgeport and into Nevada I got a pretty good look at the Walker River and decided that I really needed to explore that and fish it as much as I could.

My destination for the day was Desert Creek campground, which is off of the 338 in Nevada. About 10 miles into Nevada you go left on Risue Canyon Road for about 7 miles until you get to Desert Creek. The campground is another couple of miles in. Risue Canyon Road is a pretty good dirt road, while Desert Creek is a rough two track.

To reach the campground you supposedly need to cross the creek three times. At the first crossing I saw that the creek was running fast and about a foot and a half deep, with a rocky bottom. Now, solo creek crossings creep me out. From prior experience I know that a KLR on its side weighs 750 pounds. A KLR on its side in a creek weighs 1000 pounds. It won’t start back up easy, either. There’s a story there, but don’t ask. I don‘t even want to think about it anymore…

Given that I could see the bottom and that it was rocky, I went on through and continued my way down the canyon. When I got to the second crossing, I saw that it was about the same depth, but sandy half way across. I was running the Kenda K761s…. nuh-uh. Thoughts of fishing the Walker came back to me and I decided to reverse course and find a campground with better access to the Walker.

A quick check of my map had me heading back over to the California side for the Buckeye campground above Bridgeport, where I arrived a bit after 9.


Enjoying a campfire and more than a bit of Jack...

A view of the site...

Early the next morning I was headed back into Nevada for a run up the Walker to see where I could get access. Backup the 338 for just a few miles there’s an unpaved road that says “Hawthorne – 38 miles”. The map showed fishing access on an old ranch, by a bridge, and about 8 miles back in at a place called “the elbow”. My first stop was at the ranch, where I found the access gate unlocked, so I went on in. I ran into a Government vehicle and asked about the fishing. It turns out that they Government has bought the ranch and is in the process of renovating and reclaiming the land and fishing is no longer allowed. He was a nice fella, though, and told me the fishing was good up by the bridge and out at the elbow.


Walker from the bridge...

"The Elbow" from a distance...

Where the elbow comes to the road...
There’s some sort of confusion in Nevada about what “catch and release” means. It’s pretty clear to me, and the posted regulations made it pretty clear, but both the Gubbmint fella and a couple of old timers sort of indicated that if I wanted to take some home I could, not like back when the ranch was open and it was strictly catch and release. Hmmm. I let ‘em go…


The first catch...

And one of the last...

Fishing was good at the bridge and at the elbow, but when I went back over to the California side, I got skunked. The access wasn’t as good as the Nevada side and I probably wasn’t running the right tackle – the California side looked better for fly fishing, and I brought only spinning gear. The access road that I took was pretty wild. It started out as a nice dirt road, then turned into a trail paved with baby heads, then some gravel with a couple of steep rises, then it became a wet, muddy two-track that was really overgrown (apparently no one uses that part) before turning back into a decent dirt road.

The following day was earmarked for a run to Bodie and to Mono Lake, so I was up at the crack of dawn to go back to sleep. Finally got out of the tent at about 9, had a leisurely breakfast and headed off toward Bodie. The road to Bodie begins just outside of Bridgeport at Aurora Canyon Road – Bodie is only about 16 miles away over some really nice country.

I hadn’t aired the K761s down for the trip back into Desert Creek, nor for the run out into Nevada, but I did bring them down for the road to Bodie. I probably didn’t need to, as the road isn’t all that rough. There are some mildly challenging sections (hey, I don’t have mad skillz) but overall, it is an easy road.


Beef critters. Drive by slowly and give them a wide berth. They give their all for you, treat 'em nice...

Bodie from the top of the grade...

She don't look like much now, but a bit of paint and some wallpaper...

Bodie was interesting and I probably spent a couple hours there. Getting ready to leave, I figured I better air up, as I was going out 270 back on to the 395 and down to Mono Lake. About this time, up walks a guy who introduces himself as a fellow “KLR guy”. Turned out to be ‘tubebender’ from the .net site. We had a great conversation about everything from doos to 685 kits to exhaust systems. A really nice guy to talk to and very knowledgeable.

There’s a turnout on the 395 where you can get a nice view of all of Mono Lake, and I took advantage of that. From there I headed on to the Mono Lake Visitor’s Center and tooled around the center getting an education on the natural history of the area. Pretty neat stuff; all I had known was that LA robbed Mono Lake of a lot of water when the aqueduct was built, threatening the future of the lake (same’s was done to Owens Lake, except it died).


Mono Lake...

Another good spot, Lee Vining Creek...

Buckeye campground had been pretty much deserted, with maybe 20% occupancy, but when I got back on Wednesday night there was a guy with a Jeep and a KLR two spots away. Neil was from the other side of the hill and was expecting two more buddies with KLRs. Dan and Mark showed up a bit later, with Mark being the one who rode in.

A lot of good campfire talks about KLRs, mods, farkles, and motorcycles in general. These three were heading off to Yerington, NV the next day. I really got the impression that I’d be hard pressed to hang with them for more than a mile or two…

Thursday morning had me up at about 5:30 so that I could get an early start towards home. As many times as I’ve been up to the Sierras, I’ve always gone up and back on 395. This time I wanted to take 120 over to the 6, and the 6 down into Bishop before getting on the (nearly) unavoidable 395 for the trip south.

Geez! What a ride the 120 is. On the map it looks pretty much straight as a string with a handful of direction changes, but that does it no justice. First, there are sweepers and twisties here and there and the road can be dangerous. It’s dangerous because your eyes want to take in the scenery when they should be glued to the road. The road, for the first and most part, runs through piney woods with the aforementioned sweepers and twisties. However, there was absolutely no effort made to flatten the road at all, so it is completely terrain following. During the piney woods that gives it a wonderful roller-coaster feel. Later on, after you’ve run out of piney woods and the road gets really straight and threatens to be boring, you get into a paved set of honest-to-God whoop-de-doos. If you run these at about 70 you’ll completely unload the suspension as you come off the top and then get into about a one and a half gee compression at the bottom. Go much over 70 and you might catch some air on a couple of them. After that section you get to run up some steep hills with blind and sudden crests before finally beginning a descent into Benton.

My last stop for other than butt-ache relief and gas was at the Manzanar Relocation Center. I have stopped here many times before. Other than the stone guard huts and the assembly center that was converted to a museum, there’s not a lot to see. The museum/interpretive center is very good, though. There are some foundations here and there and they’ve recovered some of the old barracks that were used and are restoring them. Still, the place has come a long ways in the past few years and stands as a reminder that, no matter how far we’ve come, we’ve still a ways to go and let’s not ever do anything like Executive Order 9066 again.





What worked? The bike ran flawlessly, with gas mileage in the high 40s. A last minute change was to return to stock exhaust and needle/jet, as the IDS2 was just too frickin’ loud. The Kenda K761s surprised me with how well they worked in the loose stuff. Even at full pressure they felt solid. Aired down they were even better. Mind you, they’re not as good as a set of full knobbies, but they work well for a street-oriented tire.

What didn’t work? The seat-butt interface left a lot to be desired by the latter part of the fourth day. I was hard pressed to stay on the bike for two hours at a time. One thing that may help and that I will try straight way is a better set of choners. I think the tighty-whiteys create a lot of discomfort with the seams being where they are and with the fact that they are cotton and get damp and stay damp. I’m going to try removing the padded insert from an old pair of cycling shorts and see if having something that clings to the body yet slides in the suit works better. On top of that, I’m going to try the Kawasaki gel seat option and see if that helps some.

My packing system needs work, too. I need to be able to pack stuff over the rack to give myself more room on the seat, so I’ll be working on a new packing system.

What was funny? Sheesh. A lot of Harleys being towed around on trailers or in truck beds, but then that’s “hardley” unusual. No, the funniest moment was at the Bridgeport Shell station. I stopped there every night for gas, Coke, and cell phone coverage. On Tuesday evening there were three sport bike riders that I chatted up a bit. They said they were “riding the canyons”. As we were talking we heard Harley noises approaching, slowing down. Turning around, all we could see was a motor home slowing down from 395 to make the turn onto Twin Lakes Road. As the motor home rounded the corner, we could see that it was towing a Harley with the front wheel in a trailer hitch bracket and the rear wheel on the ground. It seems they had gone over a bump and popped the Harley into gear and were dragging it around with the engine turning over. How fast do you figure that poor v-45 was spinning, stuck in first gear and being dragged around at 65 mph? The second funniest thing was when one of the sport bikers said “hey, here’s our support vehicle”. I turned around and saw a huge pick-up towing a toy hauler. Apparently these guys don’t ride to where they ride…

What was sobering? As I approached Red Rock Canyon it was apparent that there had been an accident. It must have happened only a minute before I arrived, as there were citizens directing traffic. There was a big red Coke semi at the front, an SUV, and then me. The Coke truck couldn’t get around the wreckage and the traffic soon back up as far as I could see in both directions. What I saw was apparently a head-on collision between a minivan and a small SUV, with incidental careening damage to a couple of other vehicles. The minivan was being ignored while several people were gathered around the SUV. I fear the worst for the driver of the minivan. CHP arrived en masse and they guided the Coke truck, the SUV, and me (I think the officer knew I was baking) through the wreck and then seemed to hold up the rest of the traffic. Nobody passed me from behind all the way to Mojave.

It was a good trip, 1034 miles in all, but was at least three days too short. I guess that just leaves more for next time…

Tom

Last edited by Tom Schmitz; 07-08-2009 at 08:54 PM.
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post #2 of 2 Old 07-08-2009, 07:03 PM
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Tom, great ride report !!! looks and sounds like you had a great ride. Did something similar many moons ago when I lived in SoCal. Roughly followed your route but continued on to Lake Tahoe, camped for a few days at Zephyr Cove on the Nevada side. Cut across state to S.F. and took the coast back to the I.E. One of the most memorable rides ever. This was on a Honda CL 450 and if you think your butt was wore out.......... Seriously, get an Alaska Leathers butt pad, you can double your distance.

Cheers..........but I prefer Jim to Jack.
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