Here I was heading back to Death Valley for more Dual Sport riding for the second time this year! We had a three day weekend at work and Bill had Tuesday off. Since I'm currently working part-time, I decided that it was worth the drive to spend a few days riding and exploring. I drove out during the night, watching the mountain sil I love the drive out at night. The stars are intense, the scenery vastly different than during the day and the awakening of the morning is magical. I arrived at Bill's RV at 8 a.m. Just in time for breakfast and some coffee. We decided to ride to Saline Valley and visit Dante's Viewpoint on the way. The road in Saline Valley climbed the alluvial fans which meant that it was a heavy sand base. I was probably tired and I was having trouble keeping the front end from diving in. I lost it in the sand and dropped the bike. I could barely pick it up, but did and managed to get it started before Bill came back looking for me. This isn't fun!
I wanted to stop and rest. So we decided to eat lunch at an old rock house near a few abandoned mine shafts. I was getting tense over the route and the fact that I was out of control on the bike. Bill agreed that we should head back by a different route.
No sooner had we started back down the road, I managed a spectacular front somersault over the bike and into the bushes! I managed to roll on my shoulder and thus prevent serious injury but I was annoyed and wasn't enjoying this ride. I was obviously doing something wrong, the problem was I didn't know what!
Back at the RV, we looked at the book of off road skills and decided to practice the drills. They seemed so simple when you read the description. We set up the dirt track on a large expanse of dirt that was used for storing gravel and road building material. The first drill was to ride a half circle and stop at a predetermined spot putting the left foot down. "Piece of cake", or so we thought. Just like riding my bicycle, I have a preference for putting my *right* foor down when I stop. Retraining my brain was a bit of a trick.
The next day we rode adventure to Death Valley was quite fun. I have finally learned the secret to kick starting the DR and life is wonderful. No more parking only on slopes. No more concerns over stopping the bike to take a picture. I'm free. :) The owner of my local DS shop said that he finally received a "fix" from Suzuki about the difficult starting of the older DRs. (Something about drilling some channels in the carb...) Anyway, when my bike is cold it is still difficult to start. So I am going to have them work on it. Hopefully, it will make the cold starts easier and I won't regret not having an electric start. In Death Valley, Bill and I rode through Saline Valley and visited an old rock house and some abandon mine shafts. The weather was perfect, though there were tons of people visiting the park this time. I did see lots of DS bikes and spent some time talking the the Air Heads (BMW) club that makes an annual trip to DV. Lots of nice motorcycles to look at. Once you got off tarmac, you had the roads to your self. One thing the trip brought home is that I need to improve my riding skills. I have a bit of information on the MSF "Off-road Vehicle Course" and was thinking about signing up for the advanced class. Have any of you taken this course? The cost I was quoted was $100/day. If it would improve my skills, then I certainly think it is worth it but it's always useful to get first-hand information. Comments? Suggestions? Are there other such courses available? Is there a video that you would recommend? A book that might be useful? Any help would be appreciated.