Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Going to Johnson Valley

There was another desert race but it was in a different location than the last two. This location was east of the I15 and north of Big Bear Lake in the desert in a vast uninhabited area whose population is only OHV users and rocks of all sizes. Since my VW van is great for camping but not for Interstate mountain climbing I search out a motel to spend my Saturday night as these races take a couple of days to do. Ridgecrest have several motels but Lucerne Valley (the closest) to the Checkers Race has according to the Internet has a couple and many years ago I did stay here somewhere once but in reality (life not the TV show) the two choices turned into one with one room available. Having a choice of my Nissan backseat as a bed and the ACE Motel (not the Bates) I picked the ACE. After booking my room for the night I proceeded to drive on east another 13 miles to the exit on the dirt road and drive over a rocky road north over another 7 miles to reach the sign up area at Rock Pile. The different motorcycle clubs were parked all over the place but I decided to park in the Checkers area close to the sound check. The road in was rough and I wanted to leave my trailer and bike here for the night and save wear and tear on the rig. At these races the motorcycles must pass a sound test before racing. There is a book at the sound test table that has the manufacturers specifications for each brand and the required engine rpm for a DB sound test. The club members perform a thorough check with a tachometer and a sound measuring instrument and you must pass the test to race.

I unloaded my bike, completed my entry paperwork and had the sound test performed passing with flying colors. Then I found the start area and rode the bomb course then did some exploring. I had rode a race here many years ago but nothing looked the same and most of the rocks had grown. When it got dark I drove back to the Bates Motel to clean up for dinner. The 24 hour gas station food looked better than the pool hall beer bar's food but my third and final choice was "The China House" and the food was a surprise, really, really good. The owner waited on the tables and menu was not fast food or steam table but as good as any on Broadway in Chinatown. Actually better than the last time I ate in Chinatown. The motel did have cable TV (4 channels) , a phone booth under the street sign and I had been warned to turn on the heater early in the day. The next day I was up before my alarm went off to search out the gas station for a cup of coffee and make the trip back out and find my Yamaha and trailer as I left it. After warming it up I was off to the starting line to join the rest of my class on the line. This race was a check race with each class starting at a different time. We were in the 12 row and the dust wasn't bad and off we went towards the bomb and the course. The bomb was flat then the course turned and headed for the hills and the rocks. Dodging rocks isn't bad but somehow on a steep downhill section a hidden rock jumped in front of my front wheel and I ate soil. The third time I went down (the first hidden rock had relatives through out my path waiting for me) my forged 6061 aluminum alloy unbreakable pivot design with a 3-year guarantee decided to test its warranty and cracked between the perch and the lever. With a very careful hand as so not to break it off I gently bent it back so the clutch could be used and continued on my journey. There were some garly rock gardens or dry waterfalls that were so hard they were laughable. In one tight section there were a dozen bike crashed and a couple of stuck quads but I continue on and after two hours started began getting tired. Right after the second check and about 25 miles out I ate it on a long up hill and the remaining clutch lever became two pieces.

I rolled back down the hill to the check area in hopes of repairing the broken lever but all I was able to accomplish was to attached the lever to the handlebar using my gas tank rubber vent hose and the duck tape holding my tank card on. This allowed me to start the motor and put it in gear but slipping the clutch that was needed to get me back up the hill and still in the race wasn't possible. The transmission on a motorcycle can change gears without using the clutch but controlling the speed without a working lever climbing or at slow speeds it dam near impossible. So my reward for the day was a big DNF but I did make it back to the truck without walking or riding in back of the sweep truck. Of course while I was trying to perform a miracle on the broken lever my Druid prayers were misunderstood and it started raining on me. After loading up the gear and still have a few bucks in my jeans I headed to Lucerne Valley liquor store to buy a lucky lottery ticket and party with the local women standing next door. The odds of finding five topless women are countless.
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