Pictures from 5 days of riding in Death Valley are posted. It was amazing! Made some GREAT new friends and had a blast. Our thoughts go out to two riders who had bad luck this weekend. Dani who crashed her BMW and broke her back. And Charles (RAZR on the forums) who had to be taken to Vegas for emergency abdominal surgery (he has the same rare, incurable disease that I do).

Pics are here:

http://www.pbase.com/ischoenleber/death_valley_daze_2011

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My riding buddy Carl and I are off to Death Valley tomorrow morning. It looks like we are going to have 4 days of awesome riding conditions on the big adventure bikes. The twin cylinder BMW should shine in the wide open desert with the many long, flat dirt roads. How it fares in the rocks and sand… well I’ve got the dents in my front rim already, so what’s the difference… 😉

Tons of our riding friends will be there, should be a lot of bench racing going on. Sounds great to me!

Tracking here:

http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=05RPqvS3H3r9yrJNAa8GpnDEyVtV7Cu29

To sum up: cold, sandy, long, but AWESOME.

I only did the second day’s ride from Barstow to Vegas. It was about 200 miles, mostly off road, and mostly in sand. All in all there were nearly 500 riders on this ride, and less than 10 on the big BMW’s like me. That either makes me special, or an idiot. I think the latter. 😉

Met up with Charles and Rich in Barstow, had some nice Italian dinner and some scenery in the restaurant. Left 6 AM Sat morning… OK maybe 6:30. But it was below freezing, and my camelbak actually froze, so I couldn’t drink. I was running my heated vest, but the ride immediately went into a sand wash, and I had to learn how to ride my pig bike in sand. That made me hot, and I had to stop to change some liners out.

The ride was sand washes and powerline roads, rarely was there a hardpack road (those haven’t been invented in the desert, yet, I guess!). Later in the day I ran into Stu Mumford, who I saw at dinner the previous night. We’ve been friends for a few years. He had a crash (over the bars), and his bike was leaking coolant and overheating. It didn’t seem to bother him that much, so we finished the ride together.

The ride back from Vegas on Sunday… well, it wasn’t the high point of the weekend. Why is there always a headwind and never a tailwind? 😉

My bike is still filthy. I guess I need to clean it. Anyone want to do it for me? Until next time… happy trails!

I am tired of eating turkey so here is where I am going…

http://www.labarstowvegas.com/

Riding to Barstow now and will do the ride tomorrow. Was planning on doing today’s ride, but it was too cold this morning. 16 degrees at the start in Palmdale. Forget that!

Follow me here:

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Took a great trail ride with friends in Anza Borrego on Halloween. I dressed up as a guy riding too heavy a bike, who got stung by a cactus. Oh wait, that wasn’t a costume, that was reality!

Click the link below for some pictures.

http://www.pbase.com/ischoenleber/bsprings103110

It’s nice to involve family in my favorite hobby. Makes it that much more special. My Mom has always loved to ride on bikes. She’s never really been that happy as a passenger on any of my bikes. She always has always wanted me to get a Goldwing. Well, if I bought a Goldwing, I’d have to ride around with a paper bag over my face all the time (even though the 1800 is actually a great bike). So, I bought a BMW instead. It’s great for the passenger – very comfortable. Plus, I like the cruise control, huge fairing, radio, and integrated luggage. It’s by far the best touring bike I’ve ever ridden or owned. For making the miles go by in comfort – this is the machine.

No, I didn’t sell my 800. No plans to sell that anytime soon. In fact, if I could add a third bike, I like the looks of the Yamaha WR250R. But I also like the looks of the Triumph Street Triple. Oh wait. That would be four bikes. I don’t think my garage is big enough. Damn.

Last time I wrote about the bike was, ummm, some miles ago. Here are my current feelings.

Since I bought it in April I’ve logged about 10,000 miles. I don’t feel like I’ve ridden that much… maybe that’s the moral of the story here. The bike is easy to ride, easy to cover miles. The engine is smooth, and seating position comfortable, and the fuel range is good. It can go anywhwere and it’s fun on any surface, from high speed paved sweepers, to rough jeep trails high in Colorado.

It really is, in my opinion, the best bike to buy if you can only have *one*. Others might say the KTM 950/990 ADV, but I disagree. Had one. Too hard to work on, poor gas mileage, not reliable, heavier and larger feel than the BMW… it’s just not grown up yet. The BMW can be crazy when you want it to, but it can also settle down for the ride home. The KTM never settles down. It’s always the crazy one, casing trouble (having fun, too, sure), and acting like a teengaer.

Fuel mileage? I average around 55-60 mpg. I’ve gotten as high as 70 (no typo) and as low as 47. With a 4.3g tank, range is around 220-260 miles, depending on riding conditions.

Handling? Yes, good! Depends on tires. I like the Heidenau K60. Good in all conditions. TKC80’s blow, in my opinion. Tried a combo of Anakee rear, TKC80 front – big mistake. Don’t do it!

The bike has a low CG and handles well on and off road. Comfort – good. Riding position is nice, windflow (lots of it) – but smooth, no buffeting.

Ease of ownership – very good. Well, my rear wheel bearings did fail at 5k miles, a known problem. BMW fixed it, and it’s OK since. I did the 12k miles service including valve check myself – not hard to do, and valves did not need adjusting. Bike is easy to service and parts go together logically.

Things aren’t all peachy, though. Front springs are too soft, they bottom out on hard hits off road, which bends the soft factory front rim. Yep, did that last weekend!

Things I’ve added since my last reports:

Scotts steering dampener ($550). Best gadget ever! Takes all drama out of steering problems – wobbles, shakes, etc. Riding in sand, rocks, ruts? No problem! Just turn up the dampening. I will never have another off road bike without one of these dampers. Ever. Absolutely no downside to this thing. http://www.renazcoracing.com/index.cfm?carttoken=1655272092710075940&action=ViewDetails&ItemID=538844&category=2017&viewby=ordervalue&sortorder=ASC

Bill Mayer custom seat. $360 (on sale from $460). I rode to Ojai and had them make this for me today. I have been using a Sargent enduro, which is better than stock, but still really sucks. Considering that at $450 it costs more than a custom seat, I give a BIG thumgs down to Sargent. In fact, I will never give a penny to Sargent or Corbin again. The custom saddle is about 10 times better, and costs the same or less money!

Soon I’ll be installing the Bitubo springs in the front which should help prevent more damage to the front wheel, and givce a better ride for off road conditions.

Overall, you can’t go wrong with the F800GS, in my opinion. It’s not a dirt bike, so if you ride it like that, expect damage. It can be strengthened at some cost. But for most conditions it performs well and is a very versatile machine.

Had a great weekend at the Big Bear BMW Rally. Thanks very much to the owners clubs of San Diego and Orange County for jointly putting this great party on. And to all the vendors and companies who donated food, raffle prizes, etc. And to my great friends for providing some entertainment. !!

We mostly hung around and were social, but we did go for a ride Saturday. 2 bikes dropped, one water crossing, and some nasty winds coming through the desert. Awesome!

No one ever told me mountain biking was dangerous. But it seems that sometimes you endo and go flying over the bars. It’s awesome. And hey, I think bandages are a tax write-off. 🙂

It’s been a lot of work but my pictures from my trip are all posted. My favorite galleries are Colorado and New Mexico. I just can’t believe the skies in New Mexico – you have to check out those shots. It really is the land of enchantment!

http://www.pbase.com/ischoenleber/9state2010

Happy trails,

Ian