Rob Stansfield

Philomorph with a sense of adventure and lots of curiosity

Another Long Ride 2021, Part 1

Rob’s post-COVID solo motorcycle exploration of the American West

Approximate itinerary
Approximate itinerary, although little is fixed…

Day 1 – Tucson, AZ – Barstow, CA ~500 miles.
Day 2 – Barstow, CA – Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay ~400 miles.

Running total ~900 miles

Finally, a tree! 8:30 am on Day 2 and I’m riding past a beautiful, tall, deciduous tree – evidence of water and higher altitudes – and then an entire row, a c colonnade of such trees! An hour ago I saw mountains for the first time, I mean real mountains, although they were still arid, denuded, bone dry and forbidding. Death Valley is only a hundred miles East, and these are its desiccated surrounding mountains. But I was at the Southern entrance to the Eastern Sierras.

Day 1 was brutal, all desert, all day. Even though it was 70° F / 21 C when I left home, the temperature climbed relentlessly. The mid 80’s / 30 C was comfortably warm, but at the half-way point on the California / Arizona border it reached the 100’s and soon 104° F / 40 C. I drank four liters of water and sweated out more. The motel in Barstow was cheap, and, well, cheap. No blanket on the bed, just a sheet, and no trash receptacle. The trash was mostly distributed across the courtyard outside. But there was the minimum necessary – a bed, air conditioning, and a shower.

The next day, when I got North of Bishop, CA was glorious. The sky turned deep blue at 6,000 then 7,000 then 8,000 ft altitude and the temperature was perfect. A few miles North of Bishop an icon appeared on my dash that I swear I have never seen before. It looked like Aladdin’s lamp, or a teapot. Was my BMW suggesting I stop for a cup of tea? Or was it thirsty itself, for oil. I guessed the latter and stopped in a few miles where I could find some shade. I do carry oil, at least I did up to this point. In a liter bottle, wrapped in shop cloths, inside a Ziplock bag, inside a second Ziplock bag, enclosed in a rag. Because oil is slippy. And the bottle was slippy, when I dropped it and lost half a liter into a California oil slick – I’m sure California has laws against this.

I rode through Carson Valley in Nevada – touted as “Rugged, Relaxed and Reachable” before re-entering California. It occurred to me that was diametrically opposed to England where I grew up – “Comfy, Tense with Brexit, and an Island”. It was nice to finally reach Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay State Park campground.

By Lake Tahoe
A cold swim in Lake Tahoe

1 thought on “Another Long Ride 2021, Part 1”

  1. Rob:

    As you know I have had a lot of fun and many memories of the area north of Bishop with the huge vertical gain to the peaks to the west. And our walk up White Mountain on the east side of Bishop.

    I wonder what route you took to get to Lake Tahoe. Lots of choices.

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