The Breakfast Club: 2011 Spring Ride to Death Valley
A Dozen for Death Valley
A dozen SMBC members and guests made it to Death Valley this spring. It was a very short trip for Rob who left early Saturday morning for Riverside to visit his son. Not all rode. Jill came in a quadracycle with a guest due to recent knee surgery. Rich and Ginny came by truck to do some four-wheeling. 11 of the 12 stayed in Beatty. I camped near Furnace Creek.
I left my house about 5:40. I wanted to get to the camp site while there was still plenty of light to set up camp. The bike was packed and ready to go, heading into Hollister for breakfast at the Cozy cup. The heated grips and liner were used as the temperatures were in the upper 40s as I left San Mateo and got cooler as I headed south.
I was finishing my final cup of morning coffee before leaving as Rob and Jerry H. arrived. They left the donut shop about 6 AM. We said hello and good-bye before I headed on down the road. They were going to ride together as far as Coalinga before Jerry split off to go to Taft. He had a 90th birthday party to attend and would miss Death Valley this spring.
I headed down 25, taking it easy, enjoying the ride. About a mile past the Bitterwater turn off to King City things got exciting for a few seconds as a deer decided she wanted to cross the road and didn’t wait for me to get out of her way. Blink… deer!… Thud…
That was the entire event. The bike wobble a bit but otherwise seemed OK. I kept on going to the 25/198 juntion when during a short stop I discovered that some damage had been done in the form of a missing reflector from my left front fork and bent up crash bars. Guess they did their job. Don’t know what happened to the deer.
After stopping in Coalinga for gas and another cup of coffee I headed down a deserted SR 33 to SR 46. I find 33 to be a more pleasant ride than I5. It might be a touch slower or a touch longer. Don’t care. It warmed up enough that I no longer needed the heated gear. Next stop after the mostly straight SR 33 and SR 46 was at the SR 46/US 99 junction before heading off toward Lake Isabella via Wofford heights. From there I kept going east, taking Famoso Road to Granite Road into SR 155 near Glennville. SR 155 climbs to about 6100 feet. The road was clear save for some crud likely left over from cold weather sanding. There were a few patches of dirty snow on the shoulder near the summit. No traffic. Once cresting the summit it’s a short steep ride down toward Lake Isabella. I stopped for gas at the usual spot in Mt Mesa. Only 150 miles or so to go.
I stopped one more time in Trona to stretch my legs before heading into Death Valley via Wildrose Road. The road was in no worse condition than it has been in years. I think I recognized Bockmeir’s Bend as I passed, heading toward SR 190.
I didn’t bother stopping at Stovepipe Wells, but continued on to Furnace Creek were I was greeted with a “Campground Full” sign. Even the walk-in sites. I asked. However, the Texas Spring Campgound had space. It’s on the other side of SR 190, about 1 mile from the campsites to Furnace Creek visitor center. That would be home for the next two nights.