Have you heard about the moving rocks of Death Valley?
There is a place called the Racetrack Plaza, a dried lake bed, that has this curious phenomenon, rocks that move. These rocks, scattered over the plaza, very, very slowly, move hundreds of feet and leave trails in the sand as they do.
It is quite bizarre. Apparently it is something to do with condensation forming ice and pushing these rocks about. Or aliens.
Anyway, we went to see these things today. The Road out there was quite hazardous.
After me and MyMateChris rode out to the glacier in Alaska on the mining trail I have wanted to do more off roading. Chris and I have a plan to do a proper off road adventure in the next couple of years. I have been preparing for this by riding my little mountain goat, my kawasaki KLX 230 dirt bike.
My XR is not a dirt bike and although it has adventure bike styling, it isn’t really even an adventure bike. But it is certainly more off road capable than Kris’s R1200 or Mike’s Rt1200. We decided to brave the road and go out to the plaza.
The trail is 25 miles to the plaza and it is brutal. Just jarring bumps and washboard sections, deep sand and loose gravel as well as some big boulders and fallen branches. The searing heat was just a bonus.
I loved it. By the time I got back to the road, 50 miles later, I was tackling it with gusto, weighting the outside peg on the corners, moving my weight around on the bike to anticipate its movement, leaning back as I used the rear brake to slow my speed. I was using all the skills I had honed in on the little kawasaki. I was really feeling like I had this adventure bike malarkey down pat. I couldn’t wait to blog about how well I handled the trail and how much of a rufty tufts Ewan MacGregor biker I have become.
Quite ridiculously, when I got to about 200 meters from the main road, I got excited and opened up the throttle a little too soon. This coincided with failing to see a nice patch of deep gravel. The back wheel just came out sideways and, I just kind of binned it. With not much else to do, I unloaded the bags, picked it up and got her started (and kind of proud of myself for figuring out how to do both those things). I pulled out the old gaffer tape and fixed the broken indicator (can I have one bike that I don’t need to do this on?) and waited for the boys to catch up.
Both Kris and Mike were able to coax their fine steeds back without incident proving yet again that any bike can be an adventure bike if you take it on an adventure.
My adventure was not over yet. Now I was low on fuel. My on board computer read range 39.9 miles and it was 49 miles to the nearest gas station. I was fairly confident that there would be some margin for error, however, I knew I would be cutting it close. As I pulled into the gas station, my fuel range was zero!!
After lunch we checked out the Mesquite Sand Dunes and clowned around in the sand for a bit.
Then it was just an evening ride through the desert. The temperature dropped to a very pleasant 85F and as the sun slowly went down we rode our lovely Beamers through glowing rock formations with the dying sun picking out the myriad colours of reds, whites, yellows even blue in places. John Coltrane played a Love Supreme in my head set and I felt like I was in a movie.
Our destination was The Nugget Casino in a town called Pahrump which, predictably, had us saying, “Pahrump, Pahrump, I didn’t get a Pahrump out of that guy” any time the towns name was mentioned! We arrived late and ate microwave pizza which upset my tummy but the hot shower was very pleasant. We only left home yesterday but it feels like we have been on the road for a year!