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A Bike Trip to Death Valley
Friday, 9 June 2006
Wednesday 7 June.Furnace Creek to Stovepipe Wells.

Today was a short 24 mile ride to move on further north in Death Valley to Stovepipe Wells. A little later start than yesterday but we were checked out and on the road soon after 5.00am.

Overnight and early morning cloud kept temperatures high at 96F. The ride along the valley floor was assisted by a strong southerly tail wind.

We stopped enroute first at an area known as the Devils Cornfield, an area of tufted arrowweed grasses perched on mounds that make them look like Cornstocks. Next we stopped at the Sand Dunes an area of 15 square miles of sand dunes some as much as 100ft high.

We arrived at Stovepipe Well to checkin at 7.50 which is certainly a record on any tour I have been on. They had rooms ready to move into and we then went to the All you can eat Breakfast Buffet. The rest of the day was a real rest day spent lounging in the shade beside the pool with the occasional dip to cool off as temperatures climbed to 107F.

Miles for the day 24 with 544ft of climbing.

Edwin




remote Posted by Edwin at 5:51 AM BST
Tuesday 6 June. Furnace Creek Rest Day. Out and back ride to Dantes View.

This was nominally a rest day i.e. not a moving on day. However not many rest days are like this one which involved a 3.00am start for a 25 mile climb to a 5475ft viewpoint. We started at 190ft below sea level so we had 5665ft of climb.

At 3.00 am temperatures in the small Furnace Creek urban area were 96F coming down to 87 out of town. The lowest temperatures are just before sunrise. As we rode upward it was in utter quiet. The first vehicle we saw was one and a half hours later. We rode with the shining band of the Milky Way above us crystal clear in the desert air. Either side of us the dark silhouettes of rocky ridges and peaks rose above us.

Further up as the first glimmerings of dawn showed in the eastern sky Venus rose ahead of the Sun. We turned off the main road onto the dead-end Dantes View road. Part way up the sun cleared the ridges to the east. We continued with what seemed a never ending climb. The last 1/4 mile produced a sting in the tail as the road reared up with gradients of 15 to 18%.

The viewpoint made it all worthwhile with the most spectacular view I have seen. Below us was the whole of Death Valley 140 miles long and 50 miles wide in places. On the valley floor salt flats shone white in the rising Sun. The jagged mountains of the Paramint range lined the Valley to the east with alluvial fans spreading from their base. Canyons and multi-coloured rocks were visible below. Beyond the Paramint range some of the 100 mile distant snow covered Peaks of the Sierra Nevada were visible.

We had arrived at 7.00am and had the utterly remote view to ourselves for an hour until the first Tourists arrived. We descended back to the valley floor in 1 hour 15 mins. We went to the National Park Visitor Centre a mile up the road from our base and then returned for our usual lunch buffet.

I washed some clothes which dried in about 20 minutes in the by now 115F desert heat.

50 miles for the day with 5665ft of climb.

Edwin


remote Posted by Edwin at 5:48 AM BST
Tuesday 6 June. Peter riding towards Dantes View soon after Dawn


remote Posted by Edwin at 5:39 AM BST
Tuesday 6 June. Death Valley from Dantes View 1


remote Posted by Edwin at 5:35 AM BST
Tuesday 6 June. Death Valley from Dantes View 2


remote Posted by Edwin at 5:32 AM BST
Monday 5 June. Furnace Creek rest day. Ride to Badwater. Riding in the shadow of the Valley of Death.

Today we did an out and back ride to Badwater basin, the lowest point in the western hemisphere at 282ft below sea level. After some snacks in the room we were on the road by 5.00am temperatures at this time were a relatively cool 86F. Shirts came off at a record early time.

The road was up and down on the valley floor next to the Black Mountains bounding the eastern side of the valley. Salt flats were on the valley floor and on the opposite side of the valley the stark ridges of the Paramint Mountains caught the first rays of the rising Sun. We rode in the shadow of the Black Mountains.

After 18 miles and approaching Badwater we were still in welcome shadow with the sheer walls of Coffin Peak directly above us.

At Badwater Basin which is a viewing point not a town we were the only people around apart from a road crew. We were able to walk onto the Salt flats which shined a brilliant white like snow when the sun reached them. High above us on the cliff was a sign marking Sea Level

On the way back Peter headed back direct while Martin and I took the Artists Drive loop road which winds for 8 miles among multi coloured rocks. The only problem with the route was that it started with a very steep 1000ft climb which even Martin and I found very hard in temperatures which at 8.30 pm had already climbed to 96F.

We returned to base at 10.45 with temperatures 105F. The rest of the day was spent eating, writing postcards, sleeping and more eating. After dinner we spotted 4 Coyotes on the Furnace Creek Golf course, presumably part of a small colony.

42 miles for the day and 2555ft of climb.

Edwin


remote Posted by Edwin at 4:57 AM BST
Monday 5 June. Early morning riding towards Badwater


remote Posted by Edwin at 4:52 AM BST
Updated: Friday, 23 June 2006 10:58 AM BST
Monday 5 June. Salt Flats at Badwater


remote Posted by Edwin at 4:48 AM BST
Updated: Friday, 23 June 2006 11:00 AM BST
Monday 5 June. Riding the Artists Drive


remote Posted by Edwin at 4:44 AM BST
Updated: Friday, 23 June 2006 11:02 AM BST
Sunday 4 June. Pahrump to Furnace Creek. Descent into the furnace of the Valley of Death.

Today was the big day of the trip to date as we rode across from Pahrump to Death Valley.

5.00am 60F. After breakfast at the all night Casino across the road we rode in the dark with the first glimmers of dawn showing above the mountains to the east. It was relatively cool in the early morning helped by Pahrump being at 3000ft.

6.00am 62F. We took a minor road out of town, not shown on some maps called Bell Vista Avenue turning into the Ash Meadows Road. The mountains to the east delayed the sunrise till 6.00. We climbed 330ft up from Pahrump over the Devils Hole Hills.

6.30am 72F. We now started a very long gradual descent into the Amargosa Valley. It felt like we had a desert to ourselves as far as the eye could see.The road was empty with a car every 15 minutes. Scrubland dissapeared to the horizon bounded by eroded dry mountains including the Funeral Mountains.

8.00am 82F. After a long descent we arrived at Death Valley junction and took a short break outside the Amargosa Opera House. The town consists of a few houses and the Opera House. We then had a very long gradual climb of 600ft on a dead straight road to the Death Valley National Park boundary

9.00am 86F. The pass was at 3000ft and we then started the long descent into Death Valley with temperatures climbing rapidly as we descended towards the shimmering furnace at the bottom

10.00am 96F. We descended past spectacular multi coloured rock formations and stopped at Zabriskie Point with a spectacular view over eroded rocks towards the valley below.

10.30am 102F. We descended to a point marked as sea level and then kept going down to Furnace Creek at -190ft where we checked in at our accommodation at Furnace Creek Ranch.

1.00pm 118F. After lunch at an all you can eat buffet we walked back quickly to our airconditioned room noting from the temperature guage outside the office that it was as hot as it felt at 118F.

4.30pm 120F (50C) When we left our room to go to the bar prior to an early dinner a strong wind threw a blast of hot air at us. The only way to describe it would be to think of standing next to the open door of a blast furnace. Furnace Creek was truly living up to its name.

60 miles for the day, 1315ft of climbing and 3992ft of descending.

Edwin


remote Posted by Edwin at 4:30 AM BST
Sunday 4 June. Early morning, riding into the desert from Pahrump


remote Posted by Edwin at 4:20 AM BST
Updated: Friday, 23 June 2006 10:50 AM BST
Sunday 4 .June.Zabriski Point overlooking Death Valley


remote Posted by Edwin at 4:16 AM BST
Updated: Friday, 23 June 2006 11:06 AM BST
Sunday, 4 June 2006
Saturday 3 June. Las Vegas to Pahrump
Today up and bikes loaded by 3.45 and we then rode a mile to stop for breakfast. They did some very good apple filled pancakes! Then on the road again soon after 4.30. Sunrise is at 5.30 so we needed lights to start with. Our route took us down the Casino lined "Strip" with their spectacular lights.

After passing the Airport we headed west on route 160. There was a good wide hardshoulder but spoiled in places by rumble strips and shredded pieces of tyre.

On the edge of the urban area we saw a young Coyote which ran in line with us for a while about 100 yards away.

We had a long climb over a mountain ridge to Mountain Springs Pass at 5490ft reached at 9.00am Then a 30 mile descent to Pahrump. We rode in a wide open desert landscape filled only with cactus and brush to far distant mountain ridges either side.

We arrived in Pahrump at 11.30 and had an early lunch. They were still serving their breakfast menu as well as lunch!

60.3 miles for the day and 3343ft of climbing.

Edwin


remote Posted by Edwin at 2:12 AM BST
Sat 3 June. Casino lights early in the morning


remote Posted by Edwin at 2:05 AM BST
Sat 3 June. Climbing to Mountain Spring Pass


remote Posted by Edwin at 1:58 AM BST

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