Mojave Desert and Death Valley Ride – Day 3

Mojave Desert motorcycle ride

Mojave Desert motorcycle ride

After two days of off road training, I was excited to be heading into the Mojave Desert. We were told it would be cold camping at Base Camp Alpha, and we needed to pack two sleeping bags. Since we could only carry one duffle bag, this meant leaving behind clothes and other gear I’d planned to take for the week. I’d be recycling a few more t-shirts.

It was lightly raining as we left the Raw Hyde compound. Early morning, and it was still a little brisk out. Although I’d spent the weekend training on my BMW R1200GS, I was a little nervous. The rain cleared up quickly. We had a short ride on Highway 5 north to Highway 138. There was a lot of snow on the surrounding mountains. That seemed a little strange for southern California. It wasn’t long before we were off pavement on onto sandy roads.



These sandy roads seemed to exist in the middle of nowhere. According to Jim Hyde, at one time there were plans to move the Los Angeles Airport to this area. Speculators bought the surrounding land, and started planning a community. The airport never moved. Plans for the community died, leaving behind a strange series of sandy roads starting nowhere, and going nowhere. Even stranger, while riding through the area, my GPS system showed all of these streets. They all had names. It looked as if I was riding through downtown LA, except nothing but desert.

At our orientation meeting, Jim Hyde changed the route plan to bypass some roads he though would be impassable due to the previous rain. It didn’t take long before even the new route caused problems. We came to a patch of road that looked like sand covered in oil. It was probably just water, but it looked really greasy. The first few bikes took a tumble. Our leader, Kevan, stopped the group and headed off exploring. In a few minutes he was back, and we all headed off road to bypass the mess.

The morning ride was probably the most fun I’ve ever had on a motorcycle. I would never have believed I would be flying along at 50 mph across sand. I could feel the bike slithering around underneath me. It was a little scary at first. I just kept repeating my mantra, “momentum is my friend.” I had a couple of sketchy moments, but it was usually because I backed off the throttle to slow down for something ahead on the road. I could feel the front wheel start to wash out. A quick twist of the throttle, and the GS straightened out and kept moving.

We stopped for lunch in an area of the desert that Jim Hyde was considering purchasing to set up a Base Camp Charlie. He thought the sandy area, with the small mountain in the middle, would provide a nice area for some additional training classes. The support vehicle was already there when we arrived, and lunch was prepared. After a quick lunch, we were back onto the sandy roads heading for our next adventure.

Next stop was a ghost town called Randsburg. It was an old mining town that had since been abandoned. However, it wasn’t a typical ghost town. It had been turned into a living museum. The General Store was open for business, and we stopped for drinks, milkshakes, and malts.

After a short break, we were back riding. This time we were heading for Base Camp Alpha. We arrived at Base Camp Alpha around 5:00 pm. The support vehicle was already there. I collected my camping gear and duffle bag, and headed for a flat piece of ground to pitch my tent. Jim and crew were already getting a fire started, and dinner was already being prepared.

After a great dinner, and fun time around the camp fire, I was ready to call it a night. Jim was right about needing a second sleeping bag. It was cold. So cold, I just crawled straight into the sleeping bags still wearing my jeans, sweat shirt, and socks. Whatever works. Tomorrow would be another fun day of riding, and I wanted a good night sleep.


Related Posts

Days 1 and 2: BMW Off Road Academy Training at Raw Hyde Adventures

Day 4: More Mojave Desert riding, and a trip to Darwin, California


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