Riding Through the Sierra Nevadas!
The best thing about motorcycles is that you can get out and ride terrain that you otherwise wouldn’t see. This year’s 2017 Bishop Dual Sport ride is one of the best in the state of California. With the beautiful terrain of the lower Sierra Nevada’s to ride, it is one to put on your list every year. Take a ride with me, Will, as I take you along on my very first Bishop Dual Sport Ride.
- Location: Bishop, CA
- Start: Tri-County Fairgrounds 7:30 am.
- Bike: Honda XR650L (Big Red Pig)
- Rider: Will Drummond
Check-in: Preparing for The Ride
The Bishop Dual Sport Ride is put on by the Ventura County Motorcycle Club (VCMC) and has been going strong now for 11 seasons. This was my first year doing the ride and I was joined by 3 other riders. KTMCraig on his 2016 KTM 350 , Bryan on a 2014 KTM 360 EXC and YamahaCraig on a 2007 Yamaha WR 450.
The ride starts at the Tri-County Fairgrounds right in the small mountain community of Bishop, CA on the far eastern portion of California. This is where all the riders meet up for registration and tech inspection before the ride. .Warm up the Honda XR650L so it will be ready for tech inspection.
Once the big red pig warmed up, we head over to registration sign the waivers, grab our numbers and rider packed. Next is Tech Inspection where they check to make sure your bike meets the 97db sound requirement and that your bike is trail worthy.
Next we set our GPS with the intended trail. The way the VCMC runs the Bishop Dual Sport Ride is a self-guided tour. VCMC will supply the GPS tracks and then you can select which routes you and your group would like to take each day. Its a dual sport chose your own adventure!
Depending on your riding ability, you can choose the route difficulty from easy fire roads to rocky single track goat trails on the edge of the Sierra mountains. We chose the route to the town of Mammoth. It is an easy route with the mileage around 150 miles round trip. KTMCraig knew of this “secret” hot spring on the route for us to take a mid-ride dip.
The Adventure Starts:
As the ride starts and you head out of the fairgrounds, you check out with the VCMC volunteers at the gate leaving the fairgrounds. As they take your number and what route you are taking. For safety reason, VCMC keeps track of where you are going in case you don’t make the check in before 5 pm and have to go search for you.
After checking out we head North out of Bishop and hit a wide dirt mining road a few miles out of town. We ride on the mine road for just under 20 miles. Then head up an amazing sweeping red canyon lined wash roughly 10 feet wide.
When you come out there is this majestic view of Crowley Lake and Inyo forest. After the wash, we hit awesome 2 track winding between the beautiful pine trees. The 2 track has the occasional whoops, tree roots and rocks. This lead us to a graded fire road heading to highway 395 just North of Mammoth. As we crossed the 395 we connected to a single lane fire road covered under a pine tree canopy.
Halfway through the fire road, KTMCraig would get a front flat. Since we were only 5 miles out of Mammoth, we decided to make the call to ride it into Mammoth to find a good spot to change the tube. We take it slow before we hit the main road we find a spot at the fire station with picnic tables and shade the perfect sport to change a flat.
Teaming up we make quick work changing the flat. Using the Enduro Star bike stand, Bike Master tire spoons and good technique from learning the hard way. As we are packing up YamahaCraig got the scoop on lunch from a local firefighter that said for the best tacos head to the Latin Market. We get back on the road and head to the Latin Market to fill up on food. The tacos and tortas here are just as good as the food found in Baja. This is the perfect hidden lunch spot for a dual sport ride. (Don’t tell too many people about this place, it will be our little secret).
Part 2: Trail Hazard
After lunch, we top off with fuel and grab our favorite “adult beverage” of choice to enjoy later on. We then follow our GPS, as the route continues South through Old town Mammoth and out of town. We pick up a single lane, dirt road heading east that parallels highway 203. It’s a fun, fast road that has flowing banked turns all throughout.
As we get back on the trail, I am bringing up the rear, Bryan was in the lead followed by YamahaCraig then KTMCraig as we came upon a huge puddle. This wasn’t any ordinary puddle, as it got knee deep fast! The first three riders make it through and then it was my turn. The Big Red Pig dies on me in the deepest section and I’m knee deep in cold water! I was worried water got in the intake, so I push the bike to get to the shallower water.
After getting to shallow water try to start the old XR and she fired right up. There must have been a short or exposed wire where water can get. I’ll need to troubleshoot that before the next ride.
With water dripping out of my motorcycle boots we continue on route. The route leads us to a small lake with a road on the other side, although the GPS showed the route going straight through the lake! The team decides to go back a quarter mile take a side road to the 203.
Hot Springs and ‘Adult Beverages’
Heading east on the 203 we get back on route. We catch a small paved road heading to Crowley Lake. Then we take a secret dirt road to some hot springs. These are KTMCraig’s secret hot springs and I’m not at liberty to disclose their exact location. We take a dip and enjoy our adult refreshments responsibly. Soaking for about an hour allowing the effects of the ‘adult beverage’ to be out of our system we hit the trail.
Following the route we merge onto a 2 track trail with deep pothole whoops and elevation changes arriving at a beach along the Lake Crowley. The 2 track continues into a pine tree forest working its way along the Owens river coming to an end in Pleasant Valley. We motor through a graded 2 lane road back to the Highway returning to Bishop. We check back in with the VCMC staff as we go through the gates to the fairgrounds.
With the first day Adventures in the books, all riders are safe and smiling from ear to ear. With stories of the days ride being shared with other fellow riders, day two looked to be even better!
Be sure to check back for the second day of the VCMC Bishop Dual Sport Ride! – Will