By Tom Hart
This was my first (recalled) trip to
Death Valley. I may have traveled there as a child, when dinosaurs roamed the land, but I don’t remember. I will always recall this trip thanks to presence of a lot of colorful bikes and riders. Max Bubeck, assisted by John Eagles, put together quite an event for us, and the Weather Gods cooperated with them by supplying beautiful riding conditions.
I would guess that about eighty machines were on hand and most of them were actually running. Our own Kevin Spear and Larry Ramos remained in fierce competition throughout the three-day event for the “Pooped out” or “Won’t start” award. In fact, of all the pooped out bikes, only one was not from our own SoCal chapter. Way to go, guys. Even Mike Menezes got into the action by seeing how long his Triumph could stay together at 110 mph. Not long, my friend, I can tell you that. Mr. Pres., Tim Graber, made a play at a “sympathy breakdown” by letting his bike fall over in the parking lot at one of the stops on the way to Badwater, but his only reward was a bent handle bar and some bruised pride. I gave the breakdown bit a try myself, but the Chief wasn’t going for it. It just kept on running no matter what I did to show off my lack of driving skills. My sister, Diane DDD, drove one of the trouble trucks and enjoyed the company many new and old friends provided by the numerous broke down scoots. Thank goodness for king cab trucks. Actually, what she needed more than anything else was someone to help her stay on the right road. You see, at home she can drop bread crumbs to help her find her way from the kitchen to the front door and back, but in the desert the little critters eat up those crumbs and she gets lost. Us guys, on the other hand, simply say that we took the scenic route.
Furnace Creek was our base camp, and it provided a good starting point about midway between the rides to Scottie's Castle, Badwater, Stovepipe, The Devil’s Golf Course and all of the other areas we visited. Vic Sucher allowed me to pilot his sidecar one night to a nearby lookout point. I discovered that his Russian replica of a 53 BMW was spawned in hell for the sole purpose of killing decent folks like us. If ever there was an award for driving an un-drivable vehicle, Vic would have it hands down and Doc Sucher would win the bravest passenger award.
Max provided us with some great tours of the
Death Valleyarea that included, among other things, the lowest spot on earth below sea level, Badwater. After a short look around, we headed back to Furnace Creek with stops along the way at Painters Palette and a mountain top view of the entire Death Valleyarea. Dee(slipstream) Cameron won the downhill distance coasting run again. I was personally amazed at Dee’s accomplishment until I learned that he had pumped up his tire pressure to 185 pounds!
One of the many planned rides took us to Scottie’s Castle about 50 miles away. Some strong winds made it an interesting ride. We spent most of the morning riding to the castle and taking tours of the property. When Diane finally showed up at the castle with the trouble truck, I noticed that it was decorated with a fine looking sidecar rig in the trailer and Kevin Spear’s bike in the bed. Larry Ramos graciously waited for another day to break his transmission. On the way back from the castle, Craig Dillmann pounded the highways aboard his little Indian at speeds darn near 40 mph (downhill). Craig gave up the speed machine to Larry Ramos after a pit stop at the local watering hole in Stovepipe. Craig did this so Larry could realize and appreciate true perfection in the motorcycling experience. Craig told Larry that he had been running it full out, so he (Larry) should take it easy on the old Indian. Larry stalled it a couple of times before asking where 1st gear was and then he was on his way. The next thing I know we were cruising along at 65 mph. and my bike was shedding parts on the highway the way Diane drops breadcrumbs at home. It seems that all Craig needed to do was turn the throttle a bit.
We were treated to an all you can eat Bar-B-Q dinner on the last evening. Max handed out plaques to everyone for lots of things and stuff, which commemorated the event very nicely. The weather continued to stay mild for our outdoor dining event. The great weather prompted bench-racing groups to form in the various areas around our base camp each night. The resort was spread out enough to require the use of a motorcycle to get around, at least for those of us who were sick, lame, or lazy. I qualified in at least two of the three groups, all three if hangovers count. The night air was so refreshing that a few of us took a short ride each night to a local lookout point either before or during the bench racing events.
Once again I had a great time thanks to a fun group and an interesting riding area. Well done Max.
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