Rattling around the garage with the last of my packing, I hear Jim’s R1150GS coming down the street. Ten minutes later we’re in a clog of holiday traffic, finding our early start and local shortcuts no match for the masses. Breaking free at last, we enjoy an hour of top-notch two-lane mountain riding before the slab rears its concrete head. Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, we navigate 10 miles of fossil-fueled frenzy through the I-5 Grapevine, followed by a monotonous drone across the steamy southern San Joaquin Valley. At last, we’re well on our way, the first of eight days on our Nevada dual-sport tour on BMW GS motorcycles.
Every vent we have is open, but we still sweat buckets in the Labor Day heat. Keeping jackets on at a gas stop creates our own personal saunas. Tanks full, we leave the flats behind, climb a hill, and cross a mountain to intersect a county road revered for tight turns and light traffic. Switchbacks deliver us to Lake Isabella, where we guzzle iced tea before moving on to Jim’s secret campsite near Kernville.
Tents up, gear stowed, we head for the brew pub to wait for the sweepers, Mark and Roger. Our whistles are barely wet when they walk in, ready for the first of many artery-clogging meals that will bloat our bellies in the coming week. We chatter about the day’s ride and week ahead as fatty acids coat our carotids, knowing the real adventure won’t start until we cross into Nevada. If we can get our butts moving in the morning, that will happen before noon tomorrow.
Continue reading: GS Nevada Dual-Sport Tour: Day 2