(Start at the beginning: GS Nevada Dual-Sport Tour: Day 1)
A waitress too young to call us honey serves an enormous breakfast as we discuss our options, Day 5 of our BMW GS Nevada dual-sport tour before us. Mark lobbies for the Ruby Mountains, Jim traces a reasonably direct route on the map; heads nod in unison. The perfume of fresh cut hay fills the air and the only traffic is the occasional pickup truck as we ride through the valley north of town. The road zig-zags around stockyards and barns in 90-degree bends before gluing itself to the base of the Diamond Range. At a Pony Express Trail marker we read up on the brave boys (orphans preferred) who lived and died delivering the mail, then turn right to re-trace their hoof prints. The route is steep and narrow, a two-track where one side is a rut and the “good” side is overgrown with stiff shrubs. It’s challenging riding and we stop where we find level ground to appreciate the beauty here, and to imagine young men on horseback hustling through the rough country, watching for trouble at every turn.
Expansive views to east and west greet us at the top of Overland Pass. Looking down, we wonder just where the road goes after the first couple of switchback turns. Roger takes the point and I follow. One, two, three switchbacks, before the track heads straight down a small ridge road. Loose rocks and a steep incline make speed control difficult. More than once I’m on Roger’s tailpipe, tires slipping when I brake, speed building when I don’t. We park at the first level spot to watch the other two as a band of wild horses watches us. The stallion’s ears prick up, his eyes fix on the intruders and before long he has his mares trotting off to the next ridge. Meanwhile, Jim is most of the way down, but Mark stalls at the first switchback. New to this kind of riding, he needs an assist. Jim is already on the way.
We split again at the bottom of the Diamonds, Roger and Jim taking a exploratory loop while Mark and I bulldog our bikes through bowls of bull dust before holing up at our rendezvous on the Pony Express Trail. This time it works; the others show up soon and we’re off to Ruby Lake. Large, shallow and spring fed, Ruby is an oasis for migrating birds. We tour the marsh on gravel-covered levees and get dusted by a dump truck for our trouble. A stop at the visitor center provides restrooms and a map before we head for Harrison Pass. The wide, graded road doesn’t live up to our expectations of a rustic byway. It’s more like a mountain highway that’s been sanded for snow. Only there’s no snow, just a slick surface that keeps us honest in the corners. Roger wants adventure, so he and Jim detour up a jeep trail while Mark and I ease down the mountain. The road turns to fresh pavement within a mile or two and the curves are delightful if you don’t mind dodging cows.
We meet up at the only landmark in Jiggs, the Jiggs Bar. The committee considers Jim’s motion to camp nearby and drink with the locals, but it’s voted down; we ride. Dusk catches us on the rutty road through Lee, our headlights casting more shadows than light on the squirrely surface. A Spring Creek mini-mart supplies libations and appetizers before we race off to score a campsite in Lamoille Canyon. After dinner, Roger breaks out an 18-year-old single malt.
Continue reading: GS Nevada Dual-Sport Tour: Day 6