California BDR, Arizona Peace Trail and Nevada BDR. April 2022.


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My friend and member of this adventure Edgar has been nice enough to do a write up on our recent moto adventures, hope you enjoy the story. ;)

California Backcountry Discovery Route, Arizona and a part of Nevada Backcountry Discovery Route. United States. April 2022

The trip had been planned for some time, Peter had an idea in the past, but because of Covid-19 it didn't come to fruition. 3000+ km of mainly dirt roads with minimal highway travel to connect the next trail or get gas. The journey is divided into two major stages, the first, to the South along the so-called Southern California Backcountry Discovery Route to Yuma, Arizona (near the Mexican border), and the second, to the North through the Arizona Peace Trail and Nevada Backcountry Discovery Route back to the starting point - Bishop, a small town in eastern central part of California.


The riders will spend the next 11 days on their bikes, carrying extra gas, water, food and camping gear, the only stops will be for fuel and random food joints on the way.

Our bikes or work horses:

2017 KTM 350 EXC-F - Peter, an avid rider with good riding experience, likes to challenge himself.

2017 KTM 500 EXC-F - Andrew, the most experienced rider of all, an Aussie, loves going flat out in "seventh" gear.
2021 BETA 390 - Russ, the wisest of all with a very good mechanical and life experience, probably there is no job he hasn't done in his life. :)

2015 KTM 690 Enduro R - Edgar, experienced “Sunday Rider” and adventurer.

All bikes are street legal with plates and minimal modifications, for example larger fuel tanks and extra bags.
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Day 1. 215km. Bishop - Alabama Hills

We are up early, however it takes some time to pack the bags and figure out what goes where for the first time on this trip. Ready to leave the camp shortly before noon. Today's section - 215 km, with steep ascents and rocky trails. Before we start riding, Andrew notices that his bike's fork seals are leaking (both), but Russ knows how to fix it with a simple method using a $20 bill and everyone is ready to go in no time. The bikes are packed with saddle bags, extra fuel, equipment, etc., one can feel the weight difference, especially on Edgar's KTM 690, because the tank is at the back. The beginning turns out to be quite hard, because in a short distance we ride up from 4000 ft (1200m) in altitude to 10 000 ft (3200m). I wouldn't recommend this stage to the big adventure bike riders, if only you're Chris Birch or Pol Tarres :). Stopping on the steep climb and trying to start again causes problems for the 690 (weight plus stock gearing) makes Edgar realize that he doesn't have enough torque in first gear on a steep ascent. The views of the opposite Sierra Nevada mountain range are stunning though.

In the highlands we encounter unmelted snow, which is either bypassed or ridden straight through with a full throttle (fun, but hard). Further the road goes down the mountain, small switchbacks, quite rocky in places. There are also some small sections of highway but it's pretty curvy and enjoyable. Towards the afternoon we are back in the valley and we encounter long straight sandy roads, where Andrew can try to find the "seventh'' gear and Peter gets to meet the rev limiter :) On the way we enter an abandoned underground mine, with a well-preserved tunnel system. Riding in it gives an interesting experience. The sounds of the motorcycle thunder through the tunnels and it feels like it will cause an earthquake. Of course we had to have some fun inside like doing some donuts as well. Further the road takes us to Alabama Hills which is a collection of rock piles in the desert that gives an unusually fabulous view. After riding around we found an awesome camp for the night, set up the tents and enjoyed the view. We were having jokes about all kinds of things.

The first day was a success.















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Day 2. 350km. Alabama Hills - Death Valley

We are up before seven, have a quick breakfast, pack up and leave. The plan for the day is to reach and explore Death Valley, one of the hottest spots on earth and below sea level. First thing is to stop in a town for fuel, but Edgar's KTM 690 runs out 5 km before, quick refill from 3.8L Rotopax and he's ready to go again. Today, about 240km are planned. Death Valley as the name implies - hot ... dry and well you guessed it, hot. I don't know what people do here in July and August, because in April the daytime temperature was around 36C plus the hot wind, it feels like riding into a hairdryer.

Being thirsty all the time, we drink a lot of water, more than ever, if memory serves me well around 6L on this particular day. Plus we are in riding gear which makes it even hotter, T-shirt and short riding is not for us. Nature here is very plain dry with some shrubs and lots of sandy roads. One of the mountain passes is narrow and with big rocks, a bit more technical ride, which made it even longer because about 15 Jeeps were coming down at the speed close to the snail's sprint. Along the way we stop at a place called The Racetrack, where fairly big rocks get moved by the wind when the ground freezes - an interesting natural phenomenon.

Since there are no trees here, an old abandoned building or more precisely what’s left of it, serves as our hideout from the hot sun. We are having our meal - protein bars and water
. The day is long, it seems super long. The fuel is also running low, even with the reserve. After riding carefully we get to the village of Furnace Creek, mind you very appropriate name, as it awaits us with a temperature of 37 degrees and the most expensive fuel ever filled, about 8.50 USD per gallon. I would like to add that the 2015 KTM 690 tank is 12L and for the second time, I barely get to the gas station, it is always missing an extra litre, believe the new models have 13L tank.

Finding a nice camp spot is not easy, as gusty winds blow and there are no good hills to hide behind. Close to dusk we find a decent place, wait for the wind to calm down and set up tents, which we secure with stones so that they do not fly away.

Cooling systems of all 4 bikes worked well and none of the bikes "overheated", on a KTM 690, we noticed a small leak in the expansion tank pipe, but it did not interfere with riding.



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Day 3. 285km. Death Valley - Mojave
So far the hottest night of the trip. Wind picked up early and tried to blow away our tents, but unsuccessfully as they were caught with a volleyball worthy dive
. We packed up fast and were on our way. Slowly we were making our way away from the plains of Death Valley to the deserted highlands, where we got the first taste of riding through the soft sand of the desert - there is only one way to do it right without suffering - do not ride slowly and have low tire pressure. On the way we stopped in a lonely place called Shoshone for fuel, it was still very windy, local food joint wasn’t open, so we continued on our course. Road leads past several natural hot spring pools, which in hot weather really don't appeal to us.
The road continues through scenic valleys and past old abandoned mines of which there is abundance. Spring is, in our opinion, the perfect time to come here, because everything is green and enjoyable. Sometimes we feel like cowboys who are riding on their metal horses through the cow herds.
After a while we ran into a 10km section of a nightmare - the service road under the power lines was in such fantastic condition that even a donkey would not want to travel on it. A lot of big rocks, sandy, hilly this is the worst riding section so far, absolutely no pleasure, it is not possible to ride normally either slow or fast and riding fast could easily result in bent rim.
But as always, after a nightmare the pleasant things start to come - we stop at some big open pit mine, where people are still looking for luck and happiness - gold, silver and everything else that shines and costs good “buck”

By the midday we entered the town of Primm, it looks like a small version of Las Vegas. Primm is located right on the interstate between LA and Vegas. Indeed, a strange town out of nowhere with lots of interesting characters, and probably we have to add ourselves to the pack, judging by our dirty looks and appearance
It's time to refill and consume some Mexican cuisine.
With the tanks filled and bellies too, we head to the Mojave Desert. Yes, this is a place to visit and where we would love to return. The Mojave Desert is not your usual endless expanse of sand. It is more reminiscent of a Central American country, with Joshua trees instead of palm trees. Indescribable pleasure to ride and observe surroundings - the roads are sandy, but not too soft, almost without any stones and winding. A fabulous stage of adventure where one can open up the thorttle.
As the night approaches we find the place for camp, it’s located above the valley floor on a flat spot with a million dollar view. We just have to remember that we are at around 1500 m of elevation and nights are getting frigid. While Edgar and Russ set up tents, Peter and Andrew do a little exploration in the surrounding area, exploring the old mine up the steep off-road track, lots of those around here, one could spend eternity exploring all the little and not so little roads in Mojave.
Dusk settles over and after the usual freeze dried meal we are off for a cold, but good night’s sleep.



Fantastic photos! Thanks for sharing and hope they keep coming!

Not sure if you're posting the ride report after your return, but if you happen to still be out there, I'd highly recommend making a detour over to Amargosa Dune (aka Big Dune) near Beatty Nevada - dump the luggage and have a couple of hours playing around in one of the most amazing sandboxes you'll ever see. Challenge eachother to get to the top! I used to loath sand, well, still do when it's unexpected - but the day I played there will be remembered long past bath time at the old folks home. You can also run the old rail line from Beatty to Gold field - the Nevada BDR GPX section is titled - "NV2 Pahrump to Gold Point". While playing around on the dune we got buzzed by an F35 and and F18 - wish I could have caught that on film!

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Day 4. 275km. Mojave - Blythe (almost)
Cold night. Some of us got really frosty, especially in the morning. This was the time when a good sleeping bag paid off. Quick breakfast, which generally consists of oatmeal and instant coffee is "served", and then we pack up and continue to enjoy the Mojave Desert.
The morning started with a visit to several old mines, which there are plenty in this area. Probably 100 years ago there was no shortage of people who were seeking a better life around here, not sure how fun that was in summer time, but it's nice in spring.
We continue to admire this place - riding is just phenomenal. Joshua trees are soon replaced by only sand, as we move south. Today it looks like we will ride more than 300 km, because there are many straight desert sections. In the middle of the section is a gas station where we refuel and get some shady sandwiches of unknown origin. Funny enough the place is called Sahara Oasis. We also meet other riders who travel the same route, only faster, doing at least 2 sections a day, as they carry no camping gear and stay in motels/hotels. Every extra pound affects the handling of the bike, especially in the sand. At every opportunity we fill our water bladders, on average each of us has 2-3 l in the backpack and a 4-6 l water bag (MSR Dromedary).
After 50 km we finally reach the real desert roads - clean, soft sand, which often runs parallel to the train tracks. Driving on sand is simple - you have to drive fast enough, because at low speeds the sand "swallows" the bike. It takes some time for Edgar to get used to this, where Andrew is just loving every minute and going flat out at every possibility. We met two riders with a packed Yamaha Tenere's 700 - they were smiling and kind, but it was easy to see their tired faces and tire tracks they left behind in the sand were like the footprints of a wandering rattlesnake. It was tough going for them. But we enjoyed every minute of it.
Andrew found the "seventh" gear on his 500 EXC-F - the bike is a beast who even gives him some good air time while racing on these roads, as we say - experience and horsepower is a great combination. Peter also manages to get going at fast pace and set his desert riding speed record here. Russ has his own constant speed, just like Edgar - they both ride as they feel safe, maybe sometimes there is more effort, but safety is more important as the journey is still long. As they say “ slower you go the further you get” (of course not for everyone :)).
After a good hot afternoon in the desert, we get about 30 km of highway and then continue along the sandy roads until we reach a slightly different environment in the evening - it seems that we are on Mars - black sand roads, dark red mountains, gives a real feeling of how it's there. We start to look for a camp spot, because we prefer very “exotic” off grid places, we found one like that 3 km off our trail, on a dry riverbed - a field of fine pebbles with branched bushes, it is a good warm (hot?!) evening, around 25C, nice and quite, but some gusty winds, which have been following us for some time.
It's been a long day and around 9 PM we go to rest.



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Day 5. 265km. Blythe (almost) - Yuma
We had a tough time sleeping early in the morning, had to hold the tent with one hand so it wouldn't collapse as there was a strong thermal wind coming from the mountains and through the valley. Packed up fast after a quick breakfast - seems like we are getting more efficient at it every day. Another morning ritual for us is to shake out boots and jackets, because it may happen that a scorpion decides to spend the night in one of our "aromatic" pieces of gear
We got some exciting news this morning, our buddy Mikulas (a crazy Czech enduro rider) has covered 2350 km from Vancouver with his 2014 KTM 1190 and will meet us in the town of Blythe, where he arrived the night before. Big respect for him, came all the way down to ride with us for a few days with his big KTM, which in his mind will be a good challenge for him, as a small bike would have been boring for him. He hasn't done much big bike riding before, so adjusting was certainly challange, but a good one.
To get to Blythe we had to cover some 52km, of which about 30km is highway. The road leads along the Colorado River, which has gathered all the locals around it. River is a local greenway - green trees, green fields and the river itself flows in a slow current, looking at it doesn't look like the same river which for thousands of years has carved the Grand Canyon. We arrived early in Blythe, town that remind me of a typical Mexican town, where we met up with Mikulas. Before we continued further, we had a meal in the local Mexican restaurant - the proportions of meat to veggies would make any decent meat lover happy and vegan crying. Mexican restaurants in the southern states are as popular as Sushi places in the Lower Mainland.
The roads out of town are well graded desert country roads, yes, there are also country roads in the desert
We had to stop from time to time, because KTM 1190 plastic side bags are designed for highway use and not for off-road conditions. As a result they like to live their own lives falling off the bike and rolling beside it. After some “gipsy style” fixing. We continued towards the Chocolate Mountains, which led us through old riverbeds, small canyons and spectacular landscapes while almost forgetting how damn hard it is to ride through these fine pebble river beds without applying generous amounts of throttle, especially for Edgar and Mikulas, where one is fighting lack of skill other is fighting the heavy bike. For Mikulas it's certainly a decent challenge to tame the big beast and get used to it at the same time as he bought the bike just before the trip.
Then the first accident - Peter managed to put the bike on a side, it was a low speed crash and at first everything seemed ok, but he did feel some shoulder pain as there was direct impact. Edgar helps to lift the bike and carefully we continued to ride as Peter has a good pain tolerance. After a bit of riding we were ready to take a break and of course - first flat tire on this trip, it's rear on Andrew's bike. We rode down to a very fabulous place by the Colorado River to replace the tube and take some rest. First time change took some time, but there was no need to hurry, the day was warm and some of us enjoyed a good refreshing swim in the Colorado River. We could have camped here overnight, but Peter 's shoulder still bothered him, and we made a decision to head to the city of Yuma, which is 60 km from the current location, so that a local doctor could take a look at it, if it doesn't feel right in the morning, plus Advil does miracles...
The area we were heading through is called almost like the hero of Japanese animated films - Picacho Wilderness, a picturesque, winding area that leads along the Colorado River, offering a lot of camping sites as well. This is a place to return for a good relaxation - it's so tranquil. On the way to the city, the front tire of Peter's bike started to leak air, pumping up helped, but not for long, so we turned to the iOverlander app and decided to stay at an RV park, where we even had showers, yes showers, that's a big extra and first time for most.
While Peter is on painkillers and with help of the Team, front tire is sorted out, meanwhile Mikulas uses the KTM 1190 half broken side bags to get some beer for the evening.
Peter's shoulder feels better and we decide that he will be OK, some Advil and the opinion of the "google" doctor is sufficient to allow him to continue the journey

Andrew and Russ started the trip with a bit used tire. Along the way Russ had already contacted a local motorcycle mechanic who works out of his garage and will put a fresh motocross tire on his Beta tomorrow morning so he can continue racing on the sand.
Weather wise we also lucked out, because in Yuma, the average daily temperature in April is around + 36-37C, but it happened that arrived here during the "cold spell" and it was only +26 C

The section of the day to the border town of Yuma is the final section of South California BDR, then the road will lead us a little to the East and then back North through Arizona and Nevada. Despite the hustles of the day, everyone is smiling and satisfied, beer is probably playing a role.



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Day 6. 200km Yuma (Winterheaven) - Kofa Wilderness
The first night without crazy wind and sandy tents. Stayed in an RV park, where we also used all the benefits, starting with hot showers and refilling drinking water. This wasn't one of those RV parks where everyone is pushed into a small space side by side with each other, it was a very tranquil place with lots of green grass and palms, if anyone is interested it's called "McCoy Mobile Home RV Park", cool spot to stay and relax, unless bunch of riders show up... :)
The first half of the day is used for resupplying in Yuma, getting food – freeze dried meals, protein bars and other snacks + a few tubes. In the meantime, Russ put a new rear tire at a local motorcycle shop, which he arranged the night before.
We are ready to start the next stage early in the afternoon. Today's stage brought us through Arizona's Kofa Wilderness, which is like a large nature park, this isn't part of Arizona Peace Trail as we are trying to find ways to connect it to our route, but still a very beautiful place full of dirt roads that we like. Our path to Kofa goes through a U.S. army proving grounds (there is an official road through - nothing illegal happening here), so from time to time we heard the presence of jet planes breaking sound barrier.
Cactus, the symbol of Arizona – lots of them here, in different shapes, with super sharp thorns which easily go through the motorcycle boot or tire. Nature is harsh here, everything that grows has thorns for protection and survival. The most amusing are the tall cacti, which resemble human bodies in different shapes. The sides of narrow roads are full of them and it takes some good riding skill not to touch them. The side bags work like armor and help to avoid them too, leaving only tiny pin holes in the bags. The road crosses a mountain pass, where it is a bit more rocky, then down again into an old river bed. The riverbed was Edgar's "favorite" ride and gave him a good sweat in the hot Arizona's sun. Mikulas maneuvered it very well with big KTM 1190, from time to time softly putting big gal down for a nap. Controlling almost 600lb (bike, gear, gas, etc.) isn't an easy task, but his experience allowed him to avoid big crashes.
Today we encountered issue with our trusty KTMs, sub-frame tabs on 350/500 seem to have cracked from the weight being too much on the tail and they certainly are on the way of breaking off, which in turn caused Andrew's bike to stall or run rough at times. Not fun, but we moved ground to another spot in hopes that it would resolve the issue and decided to deal with the sub-frame issues once we return home.
As it was getting late we had to look for a camp spot. We did find one near an abandoned cabin that once served as a Ranch in the 1930s, surrounded by mountains and a dried-up river bed. Since we had daylight for another few hours. Some of us decided to stretch our legs and climb one of the hills besides the camp spot. Some of us even had a crazy idea to attempt a hill climb, but left that idea for another time :). Edgar and Mikulas managed to climb two side hills, where Andrew joined on one of them - enjoying a spectacular sunset view and maneuvering down between the cactuses back to the camp.
There is also a wind pump driven well next to the cabin. First campfire of the trip gives a little warmth as the evening is chilly. Everyone slept in their tents, except for Mikulas, who decided to sleep in the old spooky Ranch cabin beside the campsite with the local ghosts, as he said - for the exotic experience.
Although today we rode just under 200 km, the winding roads and changing terrain left the impression that much greater distance was travelled.



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Day 7. 220km. Kofa Wilderness - Alamo Lake
Another bowl of porridge, the bellies full and we start a new day continuing to explore Kofa Wilderness. The morning ride is similar to the day before - curves, up and down hills, angry cactuses ready to jump at you at any moment, and from time to time dry riverbed sections. Everyone loved and enjoyed the variety of "trails". We rode keeping a good distance (at least some of us) between each other so that everyone could ride at their own pace and could enjoy watching nature or just ripping through the wilderness.
After riding less than 2 hours, Russ caught Edgar and informed that Andrew has a flat tire, we started to worry that we might run out of spares, also it was time to replace the rear tire on his bike as soon as possible as there wasn't much life left. While Russ and Andrew were working on fixing the flat tire, Peter had issues starting his KTM 350 - 0 power. Issue that Andrew found on his bikes subframe last night caught up to Peter. It sounds like KTM engineers did not think that anybody would ride that hard with bags, jumps probably made it worse – the sub-frame tabs have cracked or broken entirely of, it wouldn't be as bad in general, but the ground cable attaches to that spot, as soon as tabs break - bike dies. After a quick roadside fix - reallocating wire to a different spot, the bike starts again and is ready to fly.
While Peter and Russ help Andrew with the flat tire change, Edgar and Mikulas started a 30km ride to the next gas station (called New Hope), which is a truck stop in the middle of the nowhere. Bikes also need to "eat" some fresh 91 Octane and of course we didn't say no to a warm Gas Station meal – this time Pizza. In about an hour or so, the tire fixers arrived, ate some pizza, and fill the water bladders. While eating we always prefer to watch the people who visit these Truck Stops, some interesting characters pass through.
We are back on the nice soft desert trails. The riding conditions are similar to yesterdays, with only slightly steeper hills and descents, and, of course, the constant presence of cactuses. From time to time we also see some dune buggies which are driving the same roads (if on can call it that) with decent pace. It was another hot day in Arizona and the trails merged into a wide dry big riverbed, which caused Edgar's genuine "excitement", but somehow he slowly got used to riding on the fine pebble surface with the loaded KTM 690. The last river bed we encountered had washboard, everyone hated that part, except for Edgar, surprisingly. One can only assume that washboard has rattled some screws loose, not only on the bike.
It was late afternoon and we had to start to look for a tent site. 50 km away was the lake Alamo, so we decided to find a spot there. The path to the lake is an easy dirt road, but as we all know, we don't like regular campgrounds.
Our plan was to get around the lake on the other side riding on some “ baby powder” off-road trails. Late evening mini enduro, as the roads became rocky and steep. By the dusk we found a place that we liked, somewhere off the road and with a nice view to the lake.
However we were not alone in this area – turns out that wild donkeys rule this area
And with their characteristic “yawn calls” they reminded us of their presence all night, only they didn't know that we sleep with earplugs and their nightly mating dance didn't disturb us at all
A nice campfire was lit and the evening was spent with conversations about life and of course a freeze dried food, tonight's choice is "Pasta Alfredo".
Great, long day.



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Day 8. 195km. Alamo Lake - Kingman
The donkeys respected us at night and didn't bother us too much with their shouts, but in the morning they didn't care about us anymore and we had to wake up. Packed up and on the road again. We didn't get too far when Andrew got his first flat tire, the boys are already working like a Formula 1 pit stop crew. While Andrew and Russ were dealing with it, Edgar took time to explore the sharp vegetation of the desert and to enjoy the morning sun. After some wonderful 20 km of morning riding in cactus-filled desert roads which were surrounded by beautiful morning views - again Andrew's bike has flat
Turns out the patch didn't hold, nothing to do as it is still early and we have time. Russ takes his time to fix it while chilling under a nice Joshua tree. After the fix luckily we got to the gas station in a small village called Wikieup. Had some ice cream and relaxed watching the Gas Station live performances (read-people) and, of course, a quick look at Andrews bike - the tire is losing air... Laugh or cry but it has to be fixed again, this time we decided to try Slime, fill the tire with it and see how it goes. At this point we have only one spare tube left between 3 bikes. It wouldn't be fun to have more punctures out in the middle of nowhere, as we were heading out on trail again. After a short test drive, the tire was holding the air and we could continue to enjoy the Arizona Peace Trail.
Everybody knows Murphy's law and Andrew's rear tire is flat, again. This time we took the chances and put in the last 21" tube and hoped it would be good till the city of Kingman, before we took off, Russ had a tough time to start his BETA 390, dead battery - someone might have forgotten the headlight (ignition) on. Had to give him a good push, but that's much easier than fixing flats all day. After 3 flats in one day, Andrew is ordered to ride at Edgars pace.

The scenery in the next 120 something km changed from everything we saw before, we approached the Arizona Highlands with spectacular views and winding narrow roads. Some parts were quite interesting and challenging especially for Mikulas KTM 1190 side bags, which had to be tightly secured to the bike so that they didn't fly away every 100 meters while touching bigger rocks. The scenery reminded Edgar of Central America or Columbia with low trees and thick bushes.
We crossed the first mountain pass, followed by a steep, winding road down to the valley. Arriving in the valley, we passed some local cattle ranches with well-fed herds of cows, then the trail continued up to the next pass, now a higher one, which went up from 2800 feet to up to 7300 feet. We felt the difference in the more refreshing temperature and the trail became a fantastic ridge ride with curvy sections with breathtaking views and the presence of pine trees, which is unusual in these latitudes, because the last few days we either saw bush or cactus fields. There was also an unofficial race between the KTM 1190 and the KTM 500 - here one could see the real "skill" on display between experienced enduro riders – sliding corners, speeding up the hills and just having great fun riding on a twisty mountain road side by side.
By the time the sun was getting close to the horizon we managed to get to the campsite on the outskirts of Kingman. The Arizona Peace Trail will be remembered by all and quite possibly a trail to return to and ride in full length next year?!
Fantastic end of a long day with crazy events.