It’s that time of the year where our good friend Will Drummond sets off on one of his adventures, this time is the 2019 WCMC Bishop Dual Sport ride. Head out on his wild ride, as he takes us through day 1 on this year’s Dual Sport ride!
Bishop, CA ; 7:30am
Weather 28 degrees clear sky, frost on the ground
Waking up to the cool crisp morning of the Eastern Sierras at the Bishop, CA fairgrounds. In the first trip out for the Moto Adventure Bus. Dusting the ice off the seat of the old Honda XR650L big red pig. I put the choke one hold down the magic button for 3 cranks and she fires off. I let the bike warmed up while gearing up. I have to head over to registration and tech inspection. While waiting for our camp neighbor comes by and asks for jumper cables, I offer my cables and the batteries are easily accessible on the bus so we jump his bike. It took some finagling to get the big jumper cables to make a good contact to the positive and ground on the KTM we were jumping. I get the cables put away and I’m off to registration.
I have pre-registered for the ride about a month before hand, I’m lucky I live in the same town as the ride organizers and drop my registration in person at Camarillo Plumbing and Paint. I walk right in give my name to the lady’s doing the registration they find my name and ask if I’m an AMA member. AMA members get a $10 refund from the sign up fee. I didn’t have my card on me but the ladies were able to look it up. Then they hand me $10 cash along with my rider package. Next stop is tech inspection. I ride over to tech inspection were the Ventura County Motorcycle Club does a sound check and makes sure your bike is street legal. I push the XR650L over to sound check, they are performing multiple test so you can’t ride over while they are performing another test. The inspector looked up my bike to find the RPM to perform the test. The inspector makes a joke about how I have a Honda and it will fire right up for the test. The warthog must of heard this and didn’t want to fire up the first time, she fires up the second time. The old XR passes no problem with it brand new Pro Circuit Pipe and the carb tuned by Taylor Tech Dirt Customs. I get my riding number sticker for my bike and a wrist band. The rider number is for a couple things one is to keep track of you when you leave, so the Ventura County Motorcycle Club can track what trail you are riding on each day. I head back over to camp to grab the rest of my gear and get Craig my riding buddy. We put on our armor and our Klim Arsenal Vests. The vest holds our first aid kit, tools, water and radio comfortably. We head out to the check out point before leaving the fairgrounds.
The Ventura County Motorcycle Club Bishop Dual Sport Ride is unique. The way the ride is run once you are signed up the weekend before the ride they email you the GPS tracks for the ride. The ride this year has over 8 different trails with long and short options for some tracks, you can also mix and match some of the shorter tracks. Giving you endless possibilities. The VCMC added adventure bike/ big bike routes this year. With routes going all the way to Nevada. There are probably almost a 1000 miles of GPS tracks provided by the Ventura County Motorcycle Club.
Craig and I decided to ride the trail Benton long. This is a long route from Bishop to the town of Benton. The trail will send us 80 plus miles before we reach Benton. Checking out with the Club we head North East out of town on highway 6. After a few miles of highway taking in the sites of the winding creeks and Goliath slabs of rock and granite rising in the air. Enjoying the amazing fact we are riding dual sports bikes on a Friday morning getting out of cell phone range. We turn off onto a smaller asphalt road for a short stretch. Then the fun begins we hit the dirt. The dirt road is a wide well groomed road after about a mile we slow down to pass a ranch so we don’t disturb the residents or dust them out. You need to respect the people that live off the trails we ride. After the ranch we pick up speed making quick time to the next trail the GPS track sends us to. The trail stars out wide then it winds into the Mountain you come to a left hand turn on the trail and it looks like it disappears, but as you make the corner the trail goes into a narrow red rock slot canyon.
As you pass the canyon walls you hear the roaring echo of your motorcycle, the red rock looking like it is going to reach out and grab you. The amazing feeling running through the tight canyon while you get the butterflies in you stomach before you slow and come around a blind corner. The canyon opens up as we slowly gain elevation. Our environment starts changing the higher we climb the giant red rocks turning into pine trees. After a few miles on the down side of second mountain range, the GPS track sends us down a barely visible wide single track trail. It looks like we are the first riders this trail has seen for awhile. The track gets rocky with quick hill climbs, you shoot up a climb then weave around the pine trees in the forest then keeping your momentum shoot up the next climb. The Kenda Equilibrium tire with 15 psi climbs the his like a Billy goat. After the third climb the trail drops down into a shallow valley, the ground turns to silty sand and around a blind corner there is a downed tree across the trail I grab throttle and go for a high line on the off camber hillside.
The XR650L doesn’t skip a beat floats around right around the tree. We take a quick break sip some water, then we are back on track. We climb another rocky hill climb this one is longer then the last 3. Summiting this mountain range the trail gets narrower as we descend. Slaloming through the trees as they conceal whats next on the trail, you just need to stand on your pegs and be ready for the next hidden surprise. A rocky rut, another small downed tree, silt corner, a bear , there wasn’t a bear but you had to be ready if there was one. This trail ends at a T to a wide dirt forest road in a meadow. GPS sends us north on the forest road, the road winds through the forest ending at a 2 lane highway.
Jumping West on the highway we cruise a couple miles to the next section of dirt. This is why you need a dual sport for this ride to connect the trails.
Following the GPS tracks telling us to turn down the power line road. The road sends you back into the mountains once you get across the valley floor and into the road picks up altitude. Ticking off a few miles the GPS sends us down a narrow two track dirt road the road turns Sandy with whoops the Warthogs (XR650L) natural habitat. All of a sudden after a quick rolling hills you we drop into a prairie, a coyote runs across the trail and the center of the 2 track looks like it has a groomed lawn in the center.
On the other side of the prairie the trail goes back to a sandy whooped up hill that goes on for about 5 miles with a couple technical spots. Once we reach the top our elevation is about 10,000 feet. The track sends us North East across the Mesa, at the end of the Mesa the trial winds up and down the ridge line. The ground is smooth we start passing through patches of Aspen tree forests. Coming around one corner you go through what seems like an Aspen tree tunnel, then it opens up to a small clearing with an ice water crossing, then back in to an Aspen tree tunnel this time then yellow leaves from the Aspen tree have fallen on the trail and it looks like the yellow brick road from the Wizard of Oz.
Following our High Sierra Yellow Brick road it ends at a wide dirt road taking guidance from the GPS we motor on. Powering through the miles we come to a highway crossing. Driving down the highway while I wait to cross I spot cars from the Rebel Rally , the all women navigation rally taking place the same weekend. If you don’t know what it is check it out rebellerally.com.
The track sends us across the highway in to a cow pasture that used to be an ancient lake bed. The track is sandy deep burned in 2 track the grass and brush is about 6 feet tall, this detail will come into play. The trail makes a sharp left hand turn the is a slight curve in the trail that obstructs your view. Dodging cow pies pits me on alert to look for cows, and sure enough there’s Betsy standing in the center of the trail. I stop and beep my horn she doesn’t want to move. I inch forward and she starts to makes her way down the trail. As I stand on the pegs I spot a few more cows around the edge of the trail. Betsy turns off the trail once we reach a clearing.
Continuing on course our track sends us up a rough rocky hill climb to a extremely rough and rocky power line road. The power line road T’s off to 2 track that follows a narrow valleys defending down the sharp rocky trail trying to pick the smoothest line. Keeping in mind trying not get a pinch flat or slice a tire. The rocks end dropping down to a dry Creek the terrain changes to what can only be described as moon dust. We have to ride up a 5 foot almost vertical rock ledge then your in off camber moon dust that is deep, keeping the wheels spinning we power through. The trail dives in and out of the dry Creek. The trail ends at the highway and we head 2 miles into Benton to get fuel and lunch.
We pull up to the Benton gas station to grab fuel. Planning on eating some granola bars and trail mix. We see there is a cafe in the tiny gas station. We decide to take a break and eat at the cafe. The cafe is small but roomy with counter service or several tables to sit at. We take a seat at a table they have USB plugs at the tables to charge your devices. The waitress comes by and takes our order the menu said they are known for their roast beef melts so Craig and myself order one each. A group that is part of the Ventura County Motorcycle Club Bishop Dual Sport Ride, comes in to the gas station one of the guys comes in saying his buddy got a flat. I let them know if they need some tools or help let me know. The guy with the flat comes in and it’s a friend of mine, he says they got the flat tire handled. Our sandwiches arrive and these thing hit the spot. If you are in Benton you need to stop and grab one of these roast beef melts sandwiches. We finish lunch get our gear back on and head out the short route back. Jumping on the highway we motor down the highway for a few miles, then spot a dirt road turn off. Heading west on the dirt road we are looking for a dirt road that connects the trail at the beginning of the trail we took on the way out. Stopping at a couple intersection checking our GPS we find the right road. The road is wide and smooth so Craig and I end up riding side by side at about 60mph and make fast work of the dirt road. Taking in the scenery as we click off miles.
The dirt road ends at 2 lane blacktop. We follow the asphalt back into Bishop. Once arriving at the fairgrounds we check in and head to our camp. Getting back just before 4pm. We get cleaned up and wonder over to where the Ventura County Motorcycle Club set up a taco dinner for all the entered riders. Eating a couple tacos we meet up with some other riders we met from previous years and bench race about our days ride. We head back to our camp and rest up for our next adventure tomorrow.