Mammoth-Yosemite - Day 2
No Captain? We're off roadin'!
Total miles: 155
Estimated travel time: 3:36 hours
[Saturday - August
We both slept like rocks. I haven't slept like this in a long
time. The milk shake yesterday did help in the acceleration
of the acclimation process. I don't have the normal intestinal
altitude sickness that I get from a fast altitude climb. This is
good. I have to remember this trick for the next instance of
Once again, it's unfortunate that the Captain isn't here, but this also
give us the opportunity to try something new... off road riding.
Why didn't I do this back when I had the R12GS? Because I had mix
company when I had the GS. Plus, it's a pain to pick up a 500+
lbs bike in the dirt. The other factor is the confidence level I
have on the R12R. The ability to easily touch just does loads for
the self esteem and moral. I've read other forums on the net
where a fellow by the name of ChiTown did a
bunch of off road riding on his R12R. He's the reason why I have
Pirelli Scorpion Syncs on my bike. He's also the reason why I'm
trying my hand at off road riding on my R12R. More power to ChiTown for
leading the charge. As some have said on the r1150r.org forum, it's no longer just a
R12R, it's now a R12R/GS. Saweet!!!
I knew I forgot something. I forgot to check my oil levels before
I took off yesterday. As Nu checked his oil level, I also checked
mine. Oh drat! My oil level is at half, and I forgot to
bring along a quart of oil. Double drat! Nu offered to give
me some of his oil, but he is SG and I'm SH. Not only that, I'm
15W50 and he's 10W40. triple drat! I know I'm not burning
oil so I should be OK. However, I'm concerned that taking the
bike off road could change that outlook. Oh well, I'll just have
to put up with a medium oil level. I just hope it doesn't get to
the low side after the off road business. Hopefully ditching the
panniers will also help the matter because the bike is lighter and will
take less effort to move through the ocean of air.
The funniest thing happened to us as we pull out of the Motel 6, to
head across the street to the Schat's Bakery. A car was driving
down the main stretch of town when all of a sudden he paused and waved
us to cut in front of him. I'm doing a double take and wave him
to continue to pass us. Instead of accelerating to continue on
way, the car stopped before he reached the motel entrance/exit and
insisted on us crossing his path. In the end I said, "OK!
Whatever..." and cross his path taking the road heading in the opposite
direction. The "he" turned out to be a she and she was very
curious/determined to checking out us and our bikes. Then again
it probably just our bikes. She was absolutely fascinated and
glared at both
the R12R and the F650GS. Being happy with our spectacle, she
finally continued on her merry way. As for us, we pulled into the
Schat's Bakery parking lot.
Nu watches while his sandwich is being cobbled together.
The last step before wrapping it up. It's a fresh roast beef on
Have you ever seen a bakery this busy?
Two sandwiches, two cinnamon rolls, a bear claw, an eclair, and two
small mochas. That's enough food for lunch, snacks, and
breakfast. If you haven't notice the panorama above, Schat's
Bakery is always jammed packed during the mornings. If you say
there is probably not enough cashiers, I say nope! they have 4 cashiers
and they moving as fast as they humanly can. How long did we wait
before we got served? About 15-20 minutes. You can do the
math. Heck! It's worth the wait. They have award
winning pastry in my book (check out the little video below about the
cinnamon roll). Big is one thing, but these cinnamon rolls are
heavenly tasty. You have to try one if you even manage to get
yourself to Mammoth Lakes.
This place is so jammed packed full of people that we had to start out
eating our food at the bikes. Eventually the crowd dispersed and
we finally managed to get a table.
Time to joe it up before the ride.
Mammoth cinnamon roll.
Only one cookie for two orders? What a rip!
Finally, a table.
Picture by Joel.
Joel and Joane. The friendly folks from Pahrump.
While Nu was sitting there consuming his delights, I was snapping some
photos. That is until a fellow by the name of Joel offered to
take a picture of both of us. Sure thing. When asked where
they come from, Joel mentioned Pahrump. My god, I actually have
an idea where that is. Pahrump is about 40 miles north east of
Las Vegas. Of course the couple were sorry for us when they
heard we came from Los Angeles. In fact they have a son living
in Simi Valley so they know exactly what we have to deal with in terms
of city life. The two mentioned that Pahrump is a small town (if
you call 40K people a small town). It's suppose to be out in the
middle of nowhere and, in Joane's words, "It's ugly looking."
There are suppose to be billboards all over the place on main
street. "It's ugly!" Nonetheless, it sounds like an
interesting place that we might have to visit one of these days.
If anything, it will be an experience.
Java done, eclair and cinnamon roll eaten. Now we're off to see
the forest. We start the day by taking the Mammoth Scenic
route. I thought I didn't know this way until Nu reminded me of
the Inyo Crater mountain bike ride. "Oh yeah! I remember
that ride. The one where we got out at the wrong spot and ended
up doing an extra road climb just to get back to where we were suppose
to stop." What a pain. At least this time around, I don't
have to pedal if I take the wrong road.
One thing is for sure, Mammoth Scenic Loop sure does seem a lot
shorter on a motorcycle. Next thing we know, we're at the
intersection of MSL and the 395. Since we're going to be heading
off road around the Sagehen area, we make a left turn and head towards
Mono Lake. My god Mammoth is beautiful this year. All this
green and flower blooms just make for such an enjoyable ride.
I remember the 120 east of the 395 being a pain to drive in a car, but
it's much more fun on a bike. It rolls, it twists, and it
turns. We see bikers in droves. Harleys here. Harleys
there. There are occasional sport bikes but they are far and few
between, relative to the Harleys that is.
At long last, we signal to turn right and take the bikes off
road. We stop several 100 yards beyond the road to adjust our
suspension for the possible bumpy road ahead. This baby has never
been off road before, but I think she'll do fine.
As for all things related with our off road experience, I'll let you
look at the pictures and videos. It's more telling than I could
ever write about. Plus it would just be a repeat of what you
would see on the videos.
A Stormtroopers with a camcorder?
Crooked meadows/Sagehen trail head.
A tribute to Captain Morgan.
Are my pants falling down? He was just scratching is beehind just
before this picture.
At Crooked Meadows.
Street bike on a dirt trail.
OK! Here I come!
The slow speed crash!
Oh the nerve!
You can see the difference between the pumice and dirt on the rear tire.
Full length videos of our off road
Suffice to say, I'm exhausted by the time we reached the end of the
trail. I akin my first true off road ride to learning how to ride
a motorcycle for the first time. It takes a lot of concentration
and a lot of terrain reading. I'm definitely a rookie so it gets
really mental for me. However, I liked it enough to seriously
consider getting another 650GS just for trail riding. Maybe by
late summer next year I will have an enduro bike to come back to
Mammoth with. If that's the case, forget the hotels and motels,
we're bike camping for real.
Getting out was a lot easier and faster than getting in. Perhaps
it's because we're going down hill (slightly), or perhaps it's because
I've figured out the techniques to prevent another crash. You
know, the "I'm down baby!" bit. The slow speed and the weight of
the R12R is ever so apparent while dirt riding. Also the bike
doesn't have the nimbleness of a 650GS. Still, the suspension did
great even with the tires fully inflated to 37/44 psi front and
rear. If you ask me why the tires are inflated so high, I would
tell you, "I didn't inflate the tires to those psi levels.
Instead the higher altitude is increasing the tire pressure from the
lack of atmospheric pressure." In
layman's terms, 35/42 at near sea level will change to 37/44 at 7800
feet. Still, everything worked out fine.
Once we make it all the way to the 120 Hwy, it's time once again to
readjust the pre-load to stiffen up the bike for street riding. A
couple of quick turns of the knob and Nu's done. As for me, I
have to unmount
the cooler, pull up the seat, make the adjustments, and then reverse
everything. It took a little while but it got done.
From here on out it's unknown territory. After 15+ years of going
to Mammoth, we're going to ride the 120 east of Sagehen for the first
time. We're regular Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone.
Not! The sky is blue, the road is smooth, and there are flower
blooms everywhere. What more can you ask for in nature's
spectacle. the further we go, the more awestruck and dumbfounded
how we could have missed this road so many years before. Awesome
and beautiful are two words that cannot describe what our eyes are
beholding. In addition to the panoramic views we're soaking in,
we're noticing trails everywhere. Here a trail. There a
trail. This land is criss crossed with dirt roads all over the
place. Man I have to get a GS and come back next year. I
want to explore these trails.
You get a rough idea how steep the grade is by looking at
this level picture.
Cars definitely have problems climbing this slope.
Even after riding at 65-70MPH, this pumice won't come off the rim.
Nu sees the same thing on his rim.
What's so interesting about this?
Since the scenery is so out of this world, we have to stop and take
some pictures. We did. When we're all done and it's time to
go, I happen to look down at the bike. What did I see? The
kickstand has sunken into the tarmac by at least an inch. That's
interesting. If I let it go for long enough, I think the bike
will eventually fall over. The road side feels solid enough for
us to walk on, but apparently it's too soft for the heavy bikes.
Nu kept on screaming at me to get on the bike and stand it up right
before it falls over.
Look at the kickstand.
By the time I got on, I think it was at least an inch or two
deeper. By the I rev the engine and eased off the clutch to get
moving, the tires have settled into a new rut on the side of the
road. The bike refused to move forward without more
coercion. Funky! A little more gas and I'm out of my
rut. Looking into the rear view mirror, I think Nu experienced
the same problem.
The road continues to be unspeakably beautiful. Until we have to
at the north side of Crowley Lake. While we're milling about, we
waved at vehicle passing by. We even waved at a bus. The
driver didn't know what to make of us but eventually waved back.
The passenger windows are tinted but we also spot some people waving
back. We even received two thumbs up from a passenger of a
passing sedan. They digged the bikes sitting on the side of the
We continue on the road until we passed the natural hot springs.
Some of the springs are spitting up steam all over the place. We
didn't stop because we're saving the hot spring visit for the next time
when the Captain can join us in Mammoth.
It was a good ride but
it eventually ended. If we come back to Mammoth next year, I have
to ride this road again.
What's next on the agenda? It's time to go dine at the restaurant
at the end of Paradise. It's been many years since we've dined
there so I'm really looking forward to it. I just hope they are
We arrive at Tom's Place and make the right turn onto Lower Rock Creek
road. We ride for a short distance and then... Woaw! What's
this? There are a bunch of emergency vehicles, highway patrol,
sheriff, fire fighters, and paramedics. The sheriff distracted me
from the view when he waved me to go, but told me to take it
do!" was my response. We make it pass the other end of the
emergency. Nu then radioed to me, "Wow! How did that
happen?" Not seeing what that was all about I said, "What?"
"Did you see that van?" "No, I didn't see a van." "It was
upside down with all four wheels up in the air." "Woaw! I didn't
see that." "That's one serious crash." "I guess these
people don't know how dangerous this road is." While we're
climbing up the side of the mountain, more emergency
vehicles are coming down. That last crash must have been pretty
serious for all these guys to come to the rescue. Either that or
they need something to do. Perhaps both cases are true.
Just about that time my Palm TX decided to give a moratorium to the
van. It crashes in salutation. The one song got stuck on a
track and keeps repeating itself. It repeats over and over and
over. What the heck? "Oh man, the stupid thing
crashed." This is the first time the Palm has crashed from
playing music for so long. I guess there's a first for
everything. I had to unplug the audio out to prevent myself from
At last, we reach the small town of Paradise and make the faithful last
right turn at the end of Paradise where the restaurant is
located. My initial
impression is, "Uh oh. It looks awfully devoid of cars. It
looks like they might be closed." We pull up in front of the
restaurant where the entrance is to see what the hours are. First
look, second look. It's even worse than I had thought.
It looks like the place is closed for good (e.g. shutdown, out of
business, kaput). Oh this sucks. Then again there are some
planks and a couple new windows inside the establishment. Perhaps
they're just remodeling. Yeah, that must be it. They're
remodeling. With that in mind we
walked around the place to see if there are any indications as to when
the place is going reopen. Nothing. All of a
sudden we see a construction truck come out of the trail to the left of
the place. The guy got out to chain up the trail entrance.
"Hey, maybe he knows when this place is going to open again," I
said. Nu walks over to talk to the guy. I followed in
tow. When asked whether they're remodeling and when it would be
opened again, the guy said, "Somebody bought the place and they're
going to turn it into a house." "A house?" "Yeah."
"When did they close?" "It was a couple of years back."
"That's too bad." "You guys were thinking about eating here
huh?" "Yeah, it's been a while since we've been here."
"Sorry." With that the nice man chained up the trail, got back
into his car, and left. How sad it is to see this restaurant
go. It was a good place with really good food. Nu and I
surmised that the bad economy probably was a major contributor to it's
demise. Not only that, but it is tucked away from any form of
traffic so business must have been hard to come by. If we ever
come back this way again, this restaurant will be no more. These
are the last pictures of this place before it turns into somebody's
house. A true case of paradise lost. Farewell Paradise
Lodge. This is the last time we'll see you in your familiar form.
Resetting the Palm TX after it crashed in the middle of a song.
Sadly, there will no longer be a restaurant at the end of Paradise.
With that we head back up Lower Rock Creek road to go back to Mammoth
Lakes. On our way back up the road, we spot a tow truck on the
side of the road servicing a couple. Upon closer inspection a
truck has managed to get itself off of the main road down a steep slope
onto the bike trail below. Wow! Today is a day for
crashes. Nu chimes in on the 2-way, "Man! Did you see
that?" "Yeah! These people need to understand their
mortality and slow down on these roads." "Yeah! He even
broke his rear axle." "Really?!" "Yeah!" Two major
car events in one day. I'm just glad that we were nowhere close
to these people when all this happened. It must have been fairly
recent because I don't remember seeing this when we first head down the
Once again we reach the first blockade. The highway patrol man
eventually let us through without too much hassle. This time
around we see a Ranger's SUV pulled up from the creek below.
That's new. We didn't see that the first time we went
through. There must have been something going on between the
Ranger and the van. It looks like they both crashed
together. Three crashes in one day? Possibly.
We reach the 395 and turn left to head to Mammoth Lakes. Once
again, this is the last time we'll see Tom's Place until next
year. "We better soak in this view because we're not going to see
this again for at least another year," I chirped. "Yeah!
We reach the motel, hauled all the stuff into the room, ordered
Domino's Pizza, and relaxed for the rest of the night. Tomorrow
is going to be interesting. I've never been on this side of the
Tioga Pass so I'm looking forward to it.
Mammoth-Yosemite - Trip planning
Mammoth-Yosemite - Day 1 (Balls and
Mammoth-Yosemite - Day 3 (Mammoth to
Fresno with one tank?)
Mammoth-Yosemite - Day 4 (For once the
I5 is not so bad.)
Written on: September 8,
Last modified: September 11, 2008