There are so many ways I could start today’s post …
- A “Can-Do” attitude combined with a healthy dose of testosterone and machismo will only get you just so far (approx. 300 yards in this case)
- Find another route when the GPS tells you to go up a dirt road
- Pay attention to signs that say “This road is not maintained, drive at your own risk” and avoid these roads
- A big touring bike such as the BMW K1600GTL is not made for off road use, trust me on this one
As you can probably tell, I had a difficult start to today’s ride. As I left the hotel with the destination entered into the GPS, I came to a dirt road about a mile from the motel. At first look, it appeared to be short dirt road maybe a 1/2 mile long that connected to Rt. 6. I went back and forth half a dozen times looking at the road and then back at the GPS to verify that it really wanted me to go this way and decided, “What the heck, I can handle a short dirt road”. As it turns out, this was a really bad choice.
For the first hundred yards, it wasn’t too bad. However, it soon started getting a lot worse. The hill got steeper so I started looking for a place to turn around. I didn’t want to lose any momentum up the hill because of all of the loose dirt and rocks so I kept going nice and slowly. Then, it got really bad, The road turned into a trail that I can only describe is meant to be used by people with 4×4’s. I’m screwed now and I’m all but certain that I’m going to drop the bike.
After successfully negotiating a few huge ruts (thing 12″ deep ruts) I came to a spot where a second trail branched off of this road so I stopped and started backing up to turn around. As I slowly back up, I loose my footing in the loose dirt and rocks and the bike slowly goes over on its right side and hits the ground with a dull thud as the plastic side bags flex to absorb the energy of the fall.
So, I dismount the fallen bike, take my helmet, jacket, and gloves off and assess the situation. I dropped the BMW in my garage once and was able to lift it back up but this is different. Now I’m on loose dirt with the handlebars sitting a bit below the wheels so I’ve to to lift it more than 90 degrees. I flipped the kickstand down so that it wouldn’t go over the other way when I lift it up.
My first feeble attempt to lift the bike hardly budged it and merely rocked it back and forth across the large rocks and dirt that the bike was resting on. I regrouped and gave it another try and got the bike up to about a 45 degree angle before my feet started spilling in the loose dirt so I gently let the bike back down listening to the plastic bodywork again grind into the large stones. My next two attempts ended up about the same. There was simply no way that I was going to be able to get the bike upright by myself so I sat down to rest a bit before heading down the hill to look for help.
When I got to the bottom of the hill, I stopped in a highway maintenance shop to see if anyone was around. No one was there so I walked to the next building which happened to be the Ely Town Hall. I went in and the first door was the County Treasurer’s office. I explained my situation to the woman that was working there and she went to find someone to help. One of the court Baliffs came downstairs and I told him where I was and what had happened. He smiled and said that I wasn’t the first person who had made this same error in judgment – it apparently happens frequently.
We got in his truck and headed up the hill. As we approached the bike, he had to stop and put the truck in 4 wheel drive to get through the large ruts and up past the bike. We got out and started lifting the bike. Even with the two of us, it was quite a challenge to get the bike upright but with some grunting and straining, we got it back on to the kickstand. The way the bike was positioned, it would not rest on the kickstand without falling over so my new best friend held the bike while I went to the other side and got on the bike.
After quite a bit of engine cranking, the bike finally fired up. We threw my gear into the back of the truck and I carefully negotiated my way back down the hill. At this point, I’m totally exhausted and all but certain that I’m probably going to drop the bike again but somehow, I made back down the hill to the pavement. As I stopped, I realized that I had been so focused on getting the bike back down the hill, that I had not taken any pictures. Oh well, I still have a good story.
Upon inspecting the bike, the only thing that broke was the right-side highway peg that is attached to the engine guard. The mirror swings away when it hits the ground so it just popped back into place. Of course there are also some good sided scratches/gouges in the plastic, but all-in-all, it’s not as much damage as I had anticipated.
I thanked my Baliff friend (I never did ask his name) and we discussed alternate routes to get to Rt. 6 that were comprised of paved roads. I got back on the road at about 9:00, only about an hour after today’s adventure began.
The rest of the day went pretty well. I headed West on Rt 6 to Tonopah with a full tank of gas because, it’s a long way between gas stops. In this case, the next services on Rt 6 were 167 miles meaning that there would be no gas stations for quite a while.
I reached Tonopah at about 11:30, stopped for gas, and headed towards Sonora Pass. I had wanted to got across Sonora Pass a few years ago but decided to to to Yosemite instead. Sonora Pass has some spectacular scenery. The road on the eastern side has very steep grades and hairpin turns. Much of the ascent up the mountain was 1st and 2nd gear making it a rather challenging ride.
Somewhere at around the midway point of the ride through Sonora Pass, it started to rain. Not a lot of rain but enough to make the roads wet and to put my raincoat on. The second half of the ride across Sonora Pass was nice easy winding roads which I found relaxing.
By the time I got to Sonora CA, I decided to call it a day. It was only about 4:30 but I was exhausted from this mornings “Adventure” and a few hundred miles of riding so I found a hotel and stopped for the night.
States: NV, CA