The ride from San Fran to LA was fairly nice, apart from the rain but I was used to it now so mostly ignored it or hid under whatever shelter was available. I took the 101 down the coast to LA and had originally decided not to go all the way there. In the end it seemed easier to make the final push and I arrived at Venice Beach incident free just as the sun was going down. I even managed to check into a reasonably clean hostel. In the couple of days in LA I managed to pick up two parking tickets on the same day in the same parking spot (if you get a ticket in the morning DONT remove it). On the bright side I will not be paying the tickets as I doubt I will be back in LA any time soon and for sure not with the Alp.
In LA I finally started sulking about the bike, she needed a good pampering and I didn't have the resources, the facilities or the know-how. I reached out to www.advrider.com and asked for help. Almost instantly I got a response from DSM8. He sent me a PM and got in touch on the phone. Long story short, we arranged to meet the following day. In the meantime I started sourcing parts. Essentials that I needed basically came down to a new chain and sprockets. My old chain disintigrating on the way down the Oregon coast. I decided to make one last attempt at money saving and started calling round asking for sponsorship. Chad at Mid Cities Honda came back and said that if I could ride in they would see what they could do to help out. With no fuss at all I was told I could have a new chain and sprockets and an oil change all at cost price and no labour charges. Also a free, all american, hot dog. Although because it is a european bike I would need to wait till monday for them to be fitted.
It's not much in terms of total cost however the kindness of the people and the willingness to help out a traveller was a great reminder that you're never really out on your own.
I eventually met up with Dave at his house. He wasn't there at the time but had left the garage open for me with a firm warning that if I touched the KTMs and they didn't kill me he would. I soon learnt that this friendly ribbing from the gun touting american would be par for course over the next few days.
Dave had left his garage for me to start work and I soon had the faring off trying to fix the Odo and the fuel guage. Turns out a small plastic gear had worn out near the front wheel. This gear drives a cable which in turn drives the odometer. I eventually decided on bending some parts to bring the worn out gear back in contact with the wheel. Thankfully, rather than exploding, I now know how far and how fast I am travelling. From this I can also guess my fuel range. Also managed to confirm that the fuel gauge was (in technical terms) fucked. When Dave came home we fitted a new tire to the front (kindly donated by dave) and made plans for the weekend. I was duely informed that if I did not want to attend the ADV rally in Death Valley he would introduce me to the method of transporting recently killed dear and strap me to the hood of his truck. We both agreed travelling by bike would be better and so started packing for the trip.
The ride from LA to Death Valley was almost exactly 200 miles and there must have been about 4 corners the whole way. The ride was mostly uneventful apart from leaning about 10 degrees to the left the whole way to compensate for the absurd amount of wind. Dave had my luggage in his truck so it was fairly easy riding. We arrived at the Panamint Springs campsite in the early afternoon to a scene of pure havock as people attempted to erect their tents in 55mph gusts. My georgous 1 man tent went up in about 5 minutes with no fuss at all and we preceeded to wonder around the campsite ogling near enough 100 bikes.
The folk here were mostly hardcore offroaders with a tendancy to the insane. They thought I was mad and I thought they were mad. It was a match made in insanity. That first night beer and conversation flowed in equal amounts. There was even some green smoke in the air. I didn't manage to meet a single person I didn't like as everyone was friendly and basically out for a long weekend of pleasure. That night and the ones to follow all ended in the early hours.
On Friday morning I met up with two bikers, one on a seriously modified 89 TA and we planned to head to the old Manson house (Home of the notorious Charles Manson) however, and I made plenty of excuses for this, I did not feel comfortable riding through the sand. I blame a dead chain, a round sprocket and a pure road tire. None of these excuses made me feel better as I turned around and headed back to camp.
I spent the rest of the day planning a road route around the local DV sites and the next day I grouped up with Bronwyn and Rob for a ride to Deadwater. The lowest point in the US at -238ft. Named badwater for the fact that the water was very very bad. The salt flats spread out from this point covering the land far into the distance. All in it was a good days ride. Just cruising around at about 80mph and stopping regulaly for photos. That night Pablo, who had set up a refuelling point which no-one had visited, set up a different type of fueling point and gave me free access to it. ERROR! I barely left the keg alone all night and people began to comment on the Welsh never being far from the beer.
Sunday morning we said our goodbyes, loaded the bikes into the truck (my chain was truely dead by this point) and drove back to LA. With daves help and more than a few suggestions I managed to clean the carbs, flush the radiator, melt my bash plate and fit a drip fed chain oiler. Monday afternoon I rode to Mid Cities and had my new chain and sprockets fitted. Now, with all but the fuel gauge working I had confidence in the bike again. I was to spend one more night with Dave before heading back on the road. When he got back from work Dave decided it was time to unload some of his old gear so I have recently aquired a new bed roll and winter gloves. A small bit of America will now travel with me wherever I go whether I like it or not.
Since leaving LA I have once again met up with Bronwyn, a crazy Aussie chick with a welsh name who once lived in Dublin, Edingburgh and Seattle who is now on a trans-america trip. We met up in Joshua tree NP and camped the night there. The next morning we loaded the bikes in brilliant sunshine and, on the bare minimum of gear headed through Joshua Tree and on to....... You guessed it..... BUCKEYE!
Yes, the grand city of Buckeye is where we are currently residing in a stupidly overpriced motel with about a million truckers. It's as backwater as the name suggests but its a bed and a shower. God knows I needed one. Tomorrow we head to Tucson then Amado for the Overland Expo where I hope to find more sponsorship and pick up the last few bits and peices I need before heading into Mexico.
I was not prepared for the States but hopefully with the help of a few friends I am now ready to go on.
|On the way to LA trying to outrun the clouds. I failed!|
|Still going down Hwy 1, Finally some georgous weather|
|On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair.....|
|Camping with the folks from ADVrider|
|Water in the desert|
| Can he make it?|
|Rob, Oliver and Bronwyn at 283ft below sea level|
|Would sir like chips with his salt?|
|The Death Valley salt flats|
|Joshua Tree National Park|
|Skull Rock, so named because......|
|Just before the sunset at the campground.|
|The setting sun|
|A pretty serious Joshua Tree|
|My highly organised tent|
|Hiding from the sun|
|A final shot of the JT National Park|