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Last year we had to cancel a group ride to Death Valley due to rain. We are now scheduled to go again on Feb 14th or 15th, 2018. I'm currently compiling a list of people who want to go so hotel rooms can be booked. I believe the primary route will be from Sacramento to 99 Bakersfield then over the southern Sierra Nevadas and laying over one night at the Paradise Cove Hotel at Lake Isabella. The next morning we will enter the valley and go exploring and then book into a Beatty, Nv. hotel. We haven't decided to spend one day riding around or two, but on the ride back we may take 95 N to I/80 instead of the route we took getting there. That all depends again on the weather at the time. We decided to head down the California Central Valley to make it easier for a couple guys, one lives in Tracy and the other in Santa Cruz.

Let me know if any of you are interested in this popular venue by motorcycle, something I've been wanting to do for years now. Scott, are the both of you planning on heading to Death Valley again? One of the reasons why I wanted to go mid February was in order to be there during the new moon, meaning no moon and that represents very dark skies Death Valley is known for. That will enable a good opportunity to take some images of the Milky Way.
 
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Yes we are going in mid-March. We have four campsites booked. Very excited, one of our favorite places to explore.
 
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That would be a ton of fun on a bike... I did it in my old Subaru in the early 2000's and it was a lot of fun. Ghost towns, sand dunes, salt flats, driving down canyons so narrow that two cars couldn't pass each other... then driving from a hundred feet below sea level to 5-6000 feet above in a stupidly short period of time. Was cold at night in January but very nice during the day.
 
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silly question: pavement or dirt or both? (which type of bikes are people riding)
Because I'm planning a trip that way soon on my Husky 701 dual sport bike.
 

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Our group will be on dual sport bikes with mostly dirt riding. We are going in March if you want to join the fun.
 
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Discussion Starter #6
silly question: pavement or dirt or both? (which type of bikes are people riding)
Because I'm planning a trip that way soon on my Husky 701 dual sport bike.
Our group will be strictly street bikes, Harleys, Honda and BMWs so far. Scott, the plan is to leave on Feb 14, but according to the speculative weather forecast, that week might not be so good so I set up a second date of around the same time in March as you are going. If we go in March I want to be there around the new moon date which is March 17th. Bring your camera and a tripod and take photos of the Milky Way.
 

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Our group will be on dual sport bikes with mostly dirt riding. We are going in March if you want to join the fun.


Yes! Please ... is this the thread for that? Connect me to that conversation if you don't mind.
Thanks.
 

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Yes! Please ... is this the thread for that? Connect me to that conversation if you don't mind.
Thanks.
No thread but I will send you a PM with info.
 
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silly question: pavement or dirt or both? (which type of bikes are people riding)
Because I'm planning a trip that way soon on my Husky 701 dual sport bike.
If I had the option I'd go with a dual sport or ADV bike... but you could easily a couple days there on pavement only and still have a great time.

Highly recommended:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
leaving for Death Valley on Feb 14 or 15, depending on weather

We will be a group of four riders leaving for Death Valley from Sacramento on Feb 14th. I booked hotels also on the 15th just in case there is a weather problem the first day. I've been keeping a close eye on the forecasts for Sacramento, Bakersfield, Tehachapi, Death Valley and Beatty Nv., but as we all know the forecasts change so there is a lot of luck involved. We will layover the first night in Tehachapi, ride into Death Valley from there and work our way east and spend the second night in Beatty, Nv. The next day will be exploring again, but working our way west and winding up again in Tehachapi the last night. The following morning we will ride home.

I have the dates and where to stay sorted, but I'm still working on a ride route, the best one to see most of the sites. I'll make sure to get a steroid injection in my hips before then because I was supposed to have hip replacement surgery late last year, but I've been putting it off because I want to do this ride!

If anyone is interested in going on the epic ride, let me know ASAP.
 

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The wife and I are planning on being in Beatty 2-15 thru 2-19. Not sure whether we will be on the Multi or the Wing? Meeting up with a group of Wing riders from all over that do this Presidents day weekend ride every year. We plan on trailering from Daytona to her sisters in New River Az. and riding from there. Hope to see some of y'all on the road weather permitting LOL!
 

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Death Valley Ride

I would like to go on the Death Valley ride. I've retired & now every day is Saturday. I can do dirt or street. In fact, I'm going to the first National Desert race next weekend at Red Mountain. There are Dual Sport rides every weekend down there for the next 2 months. I was planning on going to all of them. If anyone wants to go, I have room for 5 bikes. I was also planning on driving to the Austin GP in April & will take both dirt & street bikes. I would like to stop along the way & check out Utah & any other fun place. If anyone wants to go, I have room. It seems counter productive to have a small group ride when there are planed rides going on in the same area. Street rides are a different matter. I will keep watching this post to see how this pans out.
 
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@TUNA ... Hey Tom we will be doing some Dual Sport riding in Death Valley in mid-March if you are interested. We will be staying at Stove Pipe Wells.
 

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Scott,
You can start on counting me in for these rides. I don't mean to, but I'm getting old and forgetful. I forget to check this forum & then I miss things I actually wanted to go on. You shouldn't have to babysit me, but my email is "[email protected]" or my phone is 916.715.0665. I want to go. I got a new KTM 300xcw 6 Days, & I've been riding it more. I see you have a KTM too. The National Desert race at Red Mountain this Sunday is a great race. You are welcome to go if you want. If anyone wants to go to Austin for the GP, I'm going for sure. I want to do some off road riding on the way.
 

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Don't do this on a HD....LOL
 

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This sounds like fun, I miss desert riding, I have a Sumo that would be perfect, I'm in!!
You are in on a street ride or a dirt bike ride?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Death Valley Ride Report

Oh man, I stopped checking in here as other matters came up and I was doing some last minute planning and sorry I missed anyone who wanted to join us. We left on the 14th in a three rider group, all riding Harleys from Sacramento and meeting the third rider in Tehachapi on the first layover night. A couple months prior to the ride I was obsessed with the weather forecasting because as anyone knows you have to go over a mountain range during winter to get to the nice desert conditions. We also know the mountain conditions can change quickly so I didn't put to much into what the weather people were saying that far out, but as we got closer I became a little more paranoid and that was due to the fact when I planned this last year we were rained out and had to cancel. But luck was with us this time and a couple weeks prior the weather patterns became increasingly better and more importantly, consistent. No rain, partly cloudy sometimes, but it turned out to be beautiful with clear skies in the valley in the low 70s both days we were riding. You couldn't ask for better riding conditions and strangely enough, the valley was void of a lot of people as I have seen travel videos and it was typical to see a lot of people and a fair share of cars parked alongside the valley roads. We had none of that and I can only speculate it was because we left on Valentine's Day so maybe people are in a different mood that day so if you are planning a Death Valley trip, go on Valentine's Day!

One of my biggest motivators for going was to ride out from Beatty, Nv and find a place to take some 15-second images of the Milky Way. As I said, not only did we have clear skies, but I planned this trip to fall on a new moon, no moon to ruin the glory and brightness of the Milky Way. However, we kind of got started late heading to Beatty from the Valley and our tour guide took a wrong turn and consequently we got stuck riding at night and that is when we experienced how fast the temperature drops in the desert. I could only put up with so much of this so I hammered the throttle to take over the lead in order to find a place to pull over and change to cold weather gear, but if any of you have tried to do this on those roads, there aren't many opportunities to pull over because of a sloping away gravel shoulder. After what seemed like forever we ran into a small development and put on all the cold weather stuff and continued on to Beatty.

By the time we got to the "Atomic Inn", I'll just say don't stay there, it's a dump, but cheap. We had dinner at the VFW and that was fantastic, so eat there. We were fortunate to have in the group one of my retired LEO friends who early in his career worked as a Police Officer in Bear Valley Springs, Tehachapi PD and then Kern County SO. He served well as our tour guide and I'm so glad he knew the area well and took us on some more scenic alternate routes. I had hammered into my head some proposed routes, but when you start riding around down there the scale of bigness can be confusing and I'm sure we would have taken more wrong turns, but that's part of the fun exploring new places, right?

We hit some of the iconic stops like Artist Trail, Bad Water, Dunes and other places, but looking back we were somewhat hampered from doing some trail walking by our riding gear and the fact we didn't want to leave our bikes unattended, especially me with my photo equipment on board. I did have some opportunities to take pictures, they were simply auto mode, nothing special because in a group motorcycle ride you are more in a rush state of mind dictated by the other riders so if I were to go there with the purpose of taking more interesting photos and to explore some trails, I would go in a car. You have to allow for constantly removing and putting on gear at more frequent rest stops, but all of that is manageable and nothing like riding around those valley roads on a bike, you have to do that at least once, maybe twice. What Scott and others are planning is another level of adventure and if I had a dual sports bike I wouldn't hesitate, I would go.

I think what I got the most out of Death Valley besides its fascinating history, but the geology is mind-blowing. For the soul, the solitude and vastness was a welcome respite from everyday living in chaos in terms of population, thrashy developments, noise, and traffic congestion. If anyone wanted to get away from all this Death Valley is the destination point for all of the above and certainly can be said to be a vehicle to connect you with the natural world. Some might just say it's just a desert without one tree for a hundred miles, but once there some new emotions overcome you by what you bring in through your senses. If none of this excites you, then you need to try again sometime in the far future.

That is unless what we see of our National Parks and monuments today aren't stripped and gutted like no time in the history of our country by political forces driven by greed and power. 25 of these natural places are currently under unprecedented consideration for change despite the vast majority of citizens wanting them left untouched. Already our rabid congressman carpet bagger from my district is planting seeds about "modernizing" Yosemite Valley, code talk for commercialization and privatization. We must resist these forces anywhere we can. With all this going on I know our dear President Teddy Roosevelt is probably rolling over in his grave as many of the National Parks were instituted by him. Despite what a group of ulterior motive politicians say, the National Park System brings in a lot of revenue and by the recent unjustified raising entrance fees too high levels is merely a plan to reduce visitation, so down the road they will come back with the scam the parks are dying and they have no choice but to turn over operations to private entities who will engineer methods to increase revenue. The same storyline they are using to gut Social Security and Medicare, "the deficit is so big now we have no choice but to reduce entitlement spending, especially after funding the Wall and infrastructure (states are bearing the burden)".

I absolutely saw no need to do anything to Death Valley National Park. It is in the most natural state with nice roads to accommodate those who want to visit and share experiences with friends and family. Leave it the fuck alone.

I'll certainly return, but after the riding experience, next time I want to ride in atop a Honda Goldwing or something comparable and not a Harley Road King. It tolerated the ride OK, could be much better, but it is what it is, a day tripper and weekend casual ride with a nice sounding exhaust. One of my buddies was worst off on a Softail, he thought he was beaten to death by wind blast, vibration and lack of things to make the long portions more tolerable. In the beginning of the ride he said he was going to trade it in for a Road King, at the end of the ride and days afterward that notion has now changed to looking at GoldWings. I never thought I would ever consider one, but at one time I never thought I would consider a Harley, never say never. BTW, someone here mentioned he was on a Goldwing group ride and we did stop at Stovepipe Wells and there was a group of Goldwings and riders there parked next to the gas pump parking area. We admired the bikes and noted one pulling a bullet looking trailer. This overlooked an RV and camping spot, Scott, looks like where you guys will be staying next month? Stovepipe Wells resort is noted for being dark sky friendly, hosting some astronomy events and cooperating with dark sky friendly lighting. Despite the higher cost to stay there, I'm going to book a room for a night or two anyway in the future just to have a decent place to set-up for some dark sky imaging. When we were riding at night to Beatty,Nv I had the opportunity to look up in a few places and couldn't believe my eyes, the Milky Way was ablaze overhead, but by the time we got to our motel I was in no mood to go out alone and find a spot somewhere when the temps were getting down into the 30s. I figured even before the trip I would have to ride out north on 95 about twenty miles to escape the light pollution from Beatty, didn't think that would be a big deal, but it turned out it was. If I were in a car no problem.

Sorry for injecting politics into this ride report, but there are things looming that will affect our freedom to explore our public lands and National Parks, it must be stopped and not handed over to the power elite. I'll post some pictures I took later.
 

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Three strikes and you're out

Don't do this on a HD....LOL
Trailer it there and avoid the freeways enroute. Cruising around the valley on my Road King was a lot of fun, the before and after wasn't so much. Besides that, I almost didn't make it out of the valley when I developed a primary case leak. Can you imagine, right in the middle of nowhere being stranded with a limited tow policy? I watched and listened carefully for any worsening signs and continued to ride it, but stopped at a Harley repair shop in Ridgecrest on the way home. The owner was a super nice guy and knew exactly what the problem was and said based on the extent of the leak, I should get home to Sacramento without a problem. I just crossed my fingers and got back on the road. The owner wrote down the part number and any other relevant information and indicated there were two part numbers actually, one for the 5-speed tranny and one for the newer 6-speed post-2005 tranny. The one post-2005 had an "A" connected to the numerals and then Harley decided this part would work for both era bikes and changed the specs, the shop owner indicated there was a caveat to this. The post-primary gasket was tricky to install and he's had problems with them on the 5-speed tranny bikes. No problems with the original part number and that are what he is installing now when the gasket blows out.

I knew I had this particular gasket replaced before so when i got home I checked my files and sure enough it was leaking a few months after I bought the bike, but fortunately, it was taken care of under warranty (Harley remanufactured motor) and I thought all would be good. Not so, about 7k miles later the symptoms reappeared so I took it into a friend's shop and me not knowing what I know now about the gasket, my buddy replaced it under Harley recommendations as he was unaware of the "tricky" part of the install (not a Harley specialist). I didn't ride the bike that often thereafter, but each time I could detect the odor of the old primary oil and thought it was simply burn off since there was no discernible leaking underneath the bike. Fast forward to Death Valley and finding out the gasket has blown out for the third time, not a confidence builder for riding a Harley on a long trip to the middle of nowhere.

I mentioned to the Ridgecrest Harley shop owner that for the final time I don't want to use Harley parts in this case and mentioned the brand Cometic Gaskets and he said, "that is a good choice". I will be taking the bike in soon and insist on Cometic gaskets only, the local Lincoln Harley Shop here has always treated me right so it shouldn't be a problem. The only problem is the fact it costs about $400 each time the gasket goes out and that's barring any other gremlins that seem to appear when you do these things.
 
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