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Crossing the Mojave Desert and Death Valley

Posted by on May 25, 2010

I just made a run from LA to Vegas going out through the Mojave and Death Valley.

I planned to leave before sunrise. I was hoping to be gone at 4am, but didn’t get out until around 6:30. The extra couple hours would prove to be useful.

I mapped out a 440 mile route, almost all off road except the first 30 miles. On paper I estimated it to be around a 16 hour ride.

I hit the dirt as the sun came up.

This was going to be fun!

A few miles off pavement and the views were great!

I was doing my best to keep my speed up so I could complete the route in a day. However there were some long rocky sections that made it difficult to maintain pace.

There were also a large number of trails and tracks shooting off in every direction. It was very difficult to navigate and I ended up missing turns frequently and backtracking. There were no markings and everything looks more or less the same.

There were some signs of life scattered around! I’m sure a few of you can recognize these landmarks.

Trying to keep time. Petal to the proverbial metal.

This is what I wanted the whole trip – fast and smooth…..

This hill/mound was real cool looking, like an enormous ant hill. It isn’t very impressive on film.

Apparently I routed myself through some single track. WHEEE!

Time was now passing very fast, but the miles were not. I still had a LONG way to go.

It doesn’t get much better than this!

The terrain was pretty loose in most spots. It was fairly slow going and I had to muscle the bike through some tricky climbs.

I eventually came to an ominous hill and had to stop and think. The second section of the hill (top left of the photo) was extremely steep and looked real loose. I also didn’t know what the other side of the hill looked like. I doubted I could make it and wasn’t sure if I should attempt it. No one knows where I am, its extremely hot out, and I’m riding solo.

After a little thinking I decided. F**k it!

I gave it one good run – and didn’t make it.

Had to work real hard not to loop it.

My tires weren’t doing me any favors either…..

I dropped the bike a couple more times getting it turned around and back down the hill. I was completely out of breath so had to take a break for a few minutes. Did I mention the heat?! I couldn’t believe how hot it was.

After cooling down a bit I backtracked to find an alternate route around the hill. If I was out there with someone I would have given it another couple runs.

The day was disappearing quickly and I really wasn’t covering much ground. I found my way through a maze of trails out to a paved rode….

…. and slabbed it a little while to make up a few miles.

After an hour or so I dropped back into the dirt on new route. The dirt was much faster.

I stopped for fewer pictures as I plowed through.

At one point I hit a gully at a high rate of speed. I thought surely I was going down. I managed to hold it steady but the forks and shock both bottomed out very hard. The rear tire cut through the straps holding my luggage on and I had to stop and come up with a creative way to re attach it.

I covered many more fast dirt miles, then eventually cut back out to the road as the sun was going down so I could make it to Vegas at a reasonable hour.

I didn’t see everything as I had planned – but that’s what return trips are for.

Time to hit the tables!

….more to come….

3 Responses

  1. chris

    Great posts! Keep them coming!

  2. Becky L

    A trip such as this, alone in the middle of nowhere is a huge safety no no. My brother in law biked in a similar setting… his bike went down when he hit a large rock… and his knee hit another huge rock and shattered his knee cap. He lay in the desert heat and out of cell phone towers ranges, for hours until someone happened upon him. He was lucky. Just thought I’d share as once that bike goes or you are injured… it’s a long way to help and in very intense heat. Good Luck!

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