Above: The view from Radio Danger Mountain
Yesterday was our 3 year 3 month and 3 day anniversary of living in The Rampage, which we have totally been planning to celebrate on purpose, so we went on a dirtbike adventure date! We packed the GPS, towels, 6 liters of water, snacks, swimsuits, and rode out of Moe’s Valley, across the desert to end up at the Gunlock Reservoir. The idea was that we would sneak up on the reservoir from the back side, and not have to pay the state park fee. Sadly, the only picture I took the entire day was the one at the top of this post, so you will have to suffer my use of Imagery (and possibly stolen photos) from here on out.
On the way out of Moe’s there is a little dirt mound (AKA a dirtbike jump) that we like to hit, so we stopped and did that. I’m just gonna be honest for a second instead of pretending all my days are perfect, and tell you that Eli and I got into a mini-fight about this. At the beginning of every ride, I have to warm up, and remember that I know how to ride. Actually, it works the same way with dynos. I never flash a dyno, I have to throw myself at it carefully, and sort of fake-try it a few times before committing. So I half-assed the jump in 1st gear, and Eli stopped me and told me how to jump it, as if he hadn’t just watched me do it the day before. That made me irritated, so I threw it in 2nd and went for it, hitting it right and landing evenly on both tires. It was sick. So I rode up to him and said, “I know how to jump,” because I was mad. To which he said some bullshit about how I should have been in 3rd gear. Well fuck you, man!
We rode 10 more miles on a shitty gravel road before talking about it, and then stopped on a two-track trail alone in the desert and discussed. He just wanted me to be having fun, and thought it would be more fun for me if I did the jump better, but all I heard was, “You’re doing it wrong.” I need to make my own mistakes and figure it out for myself. He said I should tell him sooner when he’s being a dick, as he doesn’t know, because that’s never what he’s trying to do. That way we can have fun for more of the ride instead of wasting 10 miles of it being angry. Fair enough. I pointed out a dorky ass lizard waddling around across the wash, and everything was ok.
As with any dualsport ride worth its old fogy status, we rode a few miles on the highway, and a shitload of miles on smooth dirt and gravel roads, including one called Hellhole Pass. Before we made it to Hellhole Pass, we had found our way onto a gravel road that seemed to go uphill forever, so we climbed that beanstalk. It started out so innocently, and I even thought to myself, “This is a car road! For cars to drive on! Silly putty! Higglety Pigglety!” When all of a sudden the hill became steep and loose, the turns morphed into 180° switchbacks with mountain cliff drop-offs, and my focus narrowed to a shaky laser point held by an adrenaline-filled middle-schooler trying to impress his stupid friends by harrassing the principal at an assembly. Not saying the principal wasn’t a total toolbag, but that kid isn’t who I wanted holding the laser pointer of my destiny.
Eli stopped to wait for me after a particularly gnarly section, and not wanting to stop in the middle of a steep hill, I kept going, then stopped in a pull-out to let him pass. I don’t like turning, or turning right, and I was about to have to do both, so I held the front brake and walked my bike backwards a bit so I could start again in a straight line. Except, the road surface had become so loose that my bike was just sliding straight towards the edge. I got it stopped, almost dropping it while coming to a complete standstill. Frozen with my bike, unable to get on it, or move (mostly due to fear and not the actual reality of friction), Eli ran down and held my bike for me while I got on, and I started up the “road” again. It continued to be steep, loose, switchbacky, and now it had also become intensely chunky. I had to pick my lines well, which is terrifying on a narrow, cliff-edged strip of nightmares, but we both made it to the top safely, to find a radio tower!
Generally on dirtbike rides, we see a radio tower on a distant peak and, like a dog whose stick got thrown into a swamp, get lost, dirty, and exhausted trying to get to it. This time it was backwards, we set out on a nice, boring gravel road, and accidentally found our way up 7680ft. of elevation, overlooking Utah, Nevada, and Arizona, AND in the photo you can actually see the reservoir we were aiming for. Going back down was less terrifying than I expected it to be, and I realized that going up wasn’t all that bad, I just let the mountain cliffs get in my head. As the pros would say, I was riding tight. Eventually we made it back to the safety of Hellhole Pass, which lead out of the forested mountainside to Indian Springs Trail, both of which were smooth dirt roads cutting across more changing desert scenery. This intersection of nothing with nothing was marked with a weird above ground pool called Indian Springs Tank.
Indian Springs Trail led to Joshua tree lined paths, and eventually to red dirt roads cutting through red sandstone boulder fields. At this point we attempted to have some more fun and turned onto a dirt trail. It was flowy, the red dirt was perfect, and we bounced down a rad rock garden. Eli went up a gnarly rocky hill. I stopped at the bottom, realizing that it might not let up, and he confirmed that no, it does not let up and he didn’t feel like going that way either. We turn around, but now have to go back up the rock garden that seemed like no big deal on the way down. I stop at the bottom to scope my line before committing to that shit, and Eli walked down to point out where I should go. I went for it, and once AGAIN finally remembered that I know how to ride, and comfortably navigated the chunky slope. He walked back up and congratulated me on wheelie-ing over a big rock, and how cool it looked because it was almost 12 0’clock, and I just stood up and rode it out like I meant to do it. And I did mean to do it! Usually, things I do on my dirtbike feel huge but look pathetic. For once, it felt small but looked awesome!
Not long after that, I ran out of gas and switched it to Reserve. We could see the highway, and instead of maybe getting stranded nowhere near the highway, we just took it and went in the normal sucker entrance to Gunlock Reservoir, paying $7 for the day pass. The guy at the gate had ridden his Honda CR250L to work that day, so we talked about dualsportin’. At some point he asked Eli, “So how’d you get her to ride??” Neither of us understood the question at first, and he explained that his wife won’t ride because it’s dirty and sweaty and yucky! Or something. I shrugged and told him he should have married someone who liked motorcycles.
We went across the dam to a sandy beach, took off our sweaty clothes, and let them dry. Eli jumped in but I don’t do that because I’m a lady, so I just froze my feet in the water, then broke them off of my legs to save weight for the ride home. While we’re walking back across the dam, Eli laughs and says, “How did I get you to ride? I don’t know! I stop every few miles to tell you you’re doing it wrong, I try to lose you by taking ‘shortcuts,’ I should have asked him how I can get you to STOP riding, since he seems to know how!” And we laughed and laughed because all women are exactly the same boring (crazy!) person, and you just have to find one that will put up with you. I mean, what more could you ask?
After we put gas in my bike, we got back on the dirt to get home. We did some cool jumps, we both only half-committed to a table-top and got matching shit stains in our pants, and Eli did a surprise jump up a sandy hill climb that looked professional. Just thought you should know, it was pretty cool. At home we sat in our matching camp chairs on our front carpet porch with beers and watched the motherfucking sunset because SOMEONE FORGOT TO DOWNLOAD MORE TV SHOWS TO WATCH
Sounds like an awesome time, just the right kind of ride. Only problems are not not enough U turns, and actually having a destination.