This is a place where I post thoughts and information about riding again after all these years and the KLR 650 that I have for that purpose.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Eastern Sierra Ride, Take Two

Well, I made it back after all for at least a little of this years ride. The ride was staged out of Twin Lakes, near Bridgeport and at least 20 KLR riders showed up this far. Some rode from as far away as Washington state, Las Vegas, southern California and elsewhere. Perfect weather once the sun came out, and plenty of wood and beer for evening activities.

I came up Friday morning, via Yosemite and made a stop in the Mono Basin to enjoy the early fall conditions and take a few pictures. I joined a couple of other riders and set up my bedroll on the ground in spite of the cold temperatures. The campfire burned well into the night when the last arrivals rolled in, chilled to the bone. There were more than a few tall tales told, and a few that would have been better off not being shared at all.

The next day, I stayed for breakfast at the nearby lodge and some group pictures. It was an impressive sight in deed to see at least 20 klrs and riders lined up in formation. From there I had to dash back over Sonora Pass to get home in time to pack for a flight down to southern California. Lucky for me there were several good write-ups and galleries of pictures posted to cover the rides I missed. I'm planning already to make the ride next year.

Mr Moose Pics
Larry from Oakdale Pics
Mike from Vegas Pics

If you need more details, here's leader Pat's complete posting. There were a number of others too with more details about crashes, small group rides and more.

Message: 5
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 2004 01:11:44 -0000
From: "Pat Schmid"
Subject: Eastern Sierra Rendezvous, it’s a wrap.

I got to the Rendezvous just short of 11 on Friday morning to find Jim
(Fresno), Pat (Washington), Mark – Pat's son from Monterey(?), Kelly
(Washington), Barry (SoCal), had already arrived. While setting up my
camp Larry, Paul and some guy on an XR (Oakdale) arrived. We got
suited up, fired up the bikes and headed out to officially start the
rendezvous by riding over Mount Patterson.

As promised, this ride was technically challenging for a solid
intermediate rider. We started out by taking 395 back to Bircham Flat
road, a two lane dirt highway that took us up to the Lobdell Lake
road, which narrowed done to an honest, well abused dirt road. We
circled around the west side of the lake on a road with a wonderful
set of rolling whoops that brought us to a two track road with
vegetation growing in the center which took us to the designated 4x4
route over Mt. Patterson.

The degree of difficulty was get on your footpegs and lean forward
steeps, rocks, embedded and loose, uphill in and out hairpins and of
course what goes up eventually goes back down. Kudos for everyone that
reached the summit, 11,600' and they all made it, even Mark, Pat's
son, on an older XL250. Coming up the last grade to the summit you
could hear every firing of the piston and by paddle footing Mark was
accelerating the bike up the hill. He was the hero of the moment,
though there was another unknown hero that we wouldn't discover till

At the summit we went to the peak, 11, 673' and signed in on the
summit book, officially recording the opening ride of the Rendezvous.
Up on top of Mt. Patterson it is like a moonscape with top of the
world views. The route went south along Patterson's southern ridgeline
with 100+ mile vistas out to the mountains around Austin and then the
road went down the mountain coming to the old 1880 mining camp of
Belmont were we stopped and rooted around a couple old log cabins and
an 4'x8' miner's shack before heading on down coming out on the
Bridgeport to Wellington highway. We headed about 12 miles north and
caught Risue Pass Road west back to US395.

In crossing Risue Pass I took a wrong turn that while it only went a
mile or so before becoming a single track it gave us the chance to
enjoy several water crossings, a couple of which had us riding a
couple of 100 feet down the creek bed before coming out. Doubling back
to Risue Pass we crossed over to the west side and picked up a 4x4
road that was really more of a draw just wide enough to run a rock
crawler up. It came out at an old mine and then dropped down into a 4
mile long sandwash that nearly claimed Jim's water pump, as well as
Kelly, the unknown hero of today's ride.

Back out East Valley Road we headed north and caught 395 just north of
Walker were we all enjoyed Walker Burgers – if you are every traveling
down 395 and pass through Walker with a yen for an honest burger and
fries Walker Burger is da kine. Order your food and then walk back
into their park like eating area and enjoy a slice of paradise.
Besides, the owner has a CRF450 and is teaching his daughters to be
dirt bikers so you know the place is biker friendly. Finishing dinner
we hopped on the highway and headed up the Walker River Canyon, Sonora
Junction, Devil's Gate and finally Bridgeport where we found a crowd
of KLRs at the gas station. Back at Honeymoon Flat there was a crowd
of KLRs.

By the start of Friday's campfire we had been joined by Matt
(Placerville), Moose (Santa Rosa) Allen (Santa Rosa), a friend of
Allen who was on a Harley but figures to have a KLR for next year,
Mark (SF), John (East Bay), Cindy and her husband Doug (Oakland), Dale
(Stockton), and Rick (Imperial Valley?). NakedWaterskier was the next
to arrive. About nine CA Stu and MarkB rolled in, and shortly after
Lurch (Redding) rolled in and finally, half frozen, Mike Torst and his
friend Michael J made it in from Vegas. Total headcount was
twenty-four and I have a feeling I have left someone out.

Lurch had left Redding in 93 degree weather wearing shorts and a
t-shirt. Only additional clothing was a pair a jeans. Lurch wins the
award for being the hardiest KLRista at the Rendezvous. On the way up
he'd forgotten his helmet was on the mirror until it went flying down
the freeway and he had to buy another earning the Hard Luck award. He
showed with a couple of thirty packs along with a case of sodas. He
provided Larry with a spare inner tube, Moose got the loan of a
kickstand for his trip home and NakedWaterSkier picked up a couple of
parts to replace the brake lever, footpeg, master cylinder he sheared
off. Hands down, he was everyone's favorite KLRista. Being Lurch is a
man that would truly give you the shirt of his back when its raining
it was no contest. While it was just a hand me down, in honor of this
award Lurch received my slightly battered, but fully serviceable HT
side racks that were lying around after Tim sent me a new set.
Hopefully this will give Lurch a start on setting up his bike for
weekend trips.

Back to the tale of events. Saturday we rallied at the gas station on
the corner of 395 and Twin Lakes Road. Larry and his friends took off
to explore on their own. Moose took a group out and I believe they hit
Chemung Mine, the Masonic to Bodie Stage Road, Bodie and a few other
adventures that included Moose demonstrating how not to pirouette a
KLR. Mark had an ever so typical fall and the misfortune of taking the
impact on his knee. Fortunately this was the weekend's only injury.
Bike damage was very minimal. Another group took off with CA Stu for
Aurora and Bodie. They found some wild horses, the Aurora Cemetery and
the rock that did in NakedWaterSkier's brake and footpeg. Doug, Cindy,
Barry, Kelly, Jim and Rick decided to follow me. We took a route from
395 back up the eastern slope of the Sierra's towards Virginia Lakes
were we got a chance to ride through a tunnel of aspen trees turned
golden – last weekend's cold snap caused the quickies to turn adding a
magnificent splash of fall color to everyone's riding.

From Virginia Lakes we came back down to catch the road into Bodie and
headed out the Masonic to Bodie Stage Road. A mile or so short of
Bodie we caught the road up to Chemung Mine where we took a break for
lunch. And enjoyed the view back across the Bridgeport Valley and the
crest of the Sierra's. We all took advantage of the buildings being
open for exploring. If you like wrenching motorcycles it just figures
to be interesting to get a chance to root around the mechanical
leavings of a mine. After lunch we went on down to Masonic and out to
the Wellington to Bridgeport highway and headed north for Risue Pass
as folks were insisting on anther round of Walker Burgers – I told you
they serve a great burger. It was here that we picked up Grham (South
Lake Tahoe), who was the absolute last arrival, upping the total
headcount by one more.

It was on this leg I discovered that Kelly was our unknown hero.
Coming out of Risue Canyon Kelly asked if we could switch bikes, he
thought something was wrong with his bike and wanted another opinion.
Within the first 100 feet I knew something was wrong as I felt the
front end gently oscillating. Enter a corner you could feel the front
end want to wobble forcing you to slow down and muscle the front into
the corner and then it felt as if a massive weight had been added to
the front end. We got back to camp to late to work on Kelly's bike,
but the next morning we discovered the steering head bearing had been
over tightened. After properly adjusting the bearing Kelly took a
quick test ride and found he had a different bike, one that acted
normal. It was bad enough that I was just about ready to arrange for
Kelly to leave his bike at Walker Burger and then we would come back
with my truck to get his bike. And with the bike acting like this he
had conquered Mt. Patterson and the sand wash as well as all of
Saturday's ride.

Saturday night folks mostly went into town for dinner and later we
gathered around the campfire and shared tales of their adventures.
Come Sunday morning most folks had to leave for home, leaving Mike,
Matt, Kelly and myself to take Sunday's ride while John decided to
make a run up Mt Patterson before calling it a weekend. Mark wanted to
ride one more day but his knee thought otherwise. We went up into the
Sonora Pass area riding on the dirt roads behind the Marine Base were
we discovered the Corp's private ski resort where they learn
cross-country skiing. All day Saturday Mike's bike had been acting up,
overflowing gas from the carb if he got into anything rough. So we
found a wide spot on the road with a wondrous view of the world from
the top of Sonora Pass and took a break while Mike got the float bowl
off his carb. We might have found some dirt on the needle jet, we
might have found a burr on flanges holding the float hinge pin and we
might have found the needle jet spring jammed up. Whatever it might
have been, after buttoning the carb back up it worked fine. We
continued our ride up to Leavitt Lake, a 9,400' alpine lake in an old
volcanic cone. And then turned around and headed back to town where we
hade a great dinner at the Sportmans.

Sunday's campfire was just the four of us. This morning we had the
final campfire of the Rendezvous as we made coffee. We had a magic
moment to close the event. Kelly, Mike and I were sitting at the table
talking while Matt was packing. A doe and two fawns started browsing
towards us. The doe looked at us and even took a few steps towards us.
Remembering an old trick I grabbed a cigarette, snapped off filter and
ten crushed out the tobacco into my palm, slowly walked towards the
doe, stopping about thirty feet away, settled down on my heels, held
my palm out and froze. She slowly walked up to my hand, lowered her
head and pressed her nose into the tobacco rewarding me with feel of a
cold, wet nose. The truth as witnessed by Mike and Kelly. We went into
town and one last breakfast that couldn't be beat, shook hands and
made a pledge to do it all over again next year.

This has been just a brief telling of what the weekend was about. The
full story is going to be folks like Pat telling how it gave him the
chance to take a ride with the son that had missed Moab. It's going to
be told when Moose describes his surprise fancy riding exhibition and
as Mike describes how he cased his bike on a rock in a water crossing.
Jim and John have already filled in their parts and hopefully the
others will decide to share what they took away from the weekend. For
myself, I'll remember the ear-to-ear grins I saw on everyone's face
all weekend long. Folks that suggest coinage be stuffed in my tank bag
to cover my efforts miss the point of the Rendezvous. The payment I'm
looking for is those grins. Besides, I don't have a tank bag anyway.
Last year I came away with seven new friends and this year I've
hopefully added another twenty.

G'ville, Nv

Monday, September 06, 2004

Mono Basin Camping Trip

I've just returned from my solo three day camping trip into the Mono Basin. I strapped on a small duffle bag, sleeping bag, and a think ensolite pad on the rack. I also carried my most valuable gear and tools in a backpack. This didn't work as well as I would have liked because the pack rested up against my gear on the rack. With a few adjustments, this worked out OK.

I headed out over Sonora Pass (9600+') in the middle of a strong wind. It was cold up there and gave me a clue of what I was going to find in the basin. The wind kept up most of the night and the temperatures dropped into the 30s. I had prepared more for the late summer weather normal for this date. I had a warm sleeping bad and a large tarp and wrapping that around me in a sheltered camp site and the Lundy Lake County Campground got me through the night.

The next day was much warmer and I decided to stay in the area rather than head farther south on 395 as I had planned. There was plenty to do there, too much traffic on the road including lots of motorcycles mainly in small groups. I soaked up the sun and stayed a second nite at the same site.

Sunday I packed up mid-afternoon and headed back to beat the traffic. I went back over Sonora Pass and enjoyed the warmer temperatures found up there. It's about 165 miles each way over this pass and took me a little under 4 hours counting a couple of water stops, getting gas, and peeling off layers before dropping back into the valley where 100 degree temperatures waited for me. Once again, my 2001 KLR delivered me and my gear without a hitch. I averaged about 55 mpg running at speeds of up to 80 on those long straight stretches.

This was a good tune-up for the second KLRista ride if I'm able to make it. First I need the time to do at least an oil change and replace the back tire. Even then I can only make the first half of the ride. I'm sure glad I got this one in now.

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