In preparation for our upcoming trip to Alaska in June, we scheduled three short “shakedown” trips to test out camping equipment, riding gear, and to also hone our off-road skills on these large adventure bikes. The first shakedown trip was a short overnight 2-day ride to Joshua Tree National Park. On the second day we woke up in our tents to rain which got progressively worse and lasted the entire ride back. While heavy rainfall in the southern California desert is a rare event and may sound unfortunate for us, it turned out to be a fantastic learning experience with many lessons learned about our camping equipment and riding gear. Shakedown trip #1 was a great success!
Our second shakedown run was a 4-day trip to Death Valley National Park. We set up camp and spent all three nights at one of our favorite locations – Panamint Springs Resort. While hardly worthy of the moniker “Resort”, PSR is a small 50s era western style resort with a few motel rooms, a campground, and a great restaurant and bar with expansive views of the Panamint Valley and mountains. Generally about 10 – 12 degrees cooler than the valley floor, PSR put us within striking range of many great riding areas.
On the first day of off-road riding we rode out to an old-time gold prospector, Pete Aguereberry, cabin and his Eureka gold mine that he worked from 1905 to his death in 1945. The riding was relatively easy and we enjoyed visiting this popular location in Death Valley. After leaving the Eureka mine we rode up the road to Aguereberry Point at 6544 feet. Aguereberry Point offers the phenomenal views of the Panamint Range, Mount Charleston to the east, Furnace Creek and the salt flats of the Badwater Basin, which is the lowest elevation in the US at 282 feet below sea level. The ride up to the point had some challenging spots, but the ride was worth the reward when we saw the views!
On our second day of off-road riding, we decided to try out Death Valley’s most popular backcountry road – Titus Canyon. We first stopped by Mel’s Diner in Beatty, NV just outside of Death Valley, for a great breakfast. The ride started with a sandy and rocky flat area as we approached and eventually climbed the Grapevine Mountains range. Descending the mountain, we rode through the deep and narrow gorges of Titus Canyon before finally exiting back in to Death Valley. About 26 miles in total, this proved to be a pretty challenging trail for us and would have been better suited for much smaller 250cc – 400cc trail bikes. Even so, we gained some valuable off-road experience and learned that our new Heidenau tires were an excellent choice, as they performed great both on and off the asphalt.
DEATH VALLEY MARCH 2015, our second shake-sown run in preparation for Alaska 2015. Here is a short video of TITUS CANYON
This second shakedown trip was also a great success! However, it was a difficult one for Bob who was suffering from a viral upper respiratory infection and a constant fever. It would have been easy to stay at home, but he showed his commitment to the Alaska trip by flying out from New Hampshire, working on his bike, and then riding several days in trying conditions. Bravo, Bob.
The final shakedown trip in preparation for the Alaska ride is being discussed and will be our last opportunity to test our skills and equipment.