This is an article written By Kent A Booth describing his experience on the First Man Trip. Thank you Kent for the humorious and accurate description of the adventure.
I'd like to start off by quoting Ronnie MacBride, "Oh my Achin' Ass", literally. Here are some highlites of the Wellington to Mammoth inaugural ride. The ride was titled "Man Trip 2008" by the organizers. The mileage on leg 1 was exactly 170.6 miles from Wellington to Mammoth. Holy crap, longest ride of my life. There were 31 riders and 4 trail bosses for a total of 35 participants, not counting the support crew who ferried fuel, food, water, parts, overnight bags, broken JAP bikes, etc. The riders were divided into 4 different color groups and assigned a trail boss. I must say that for an inaugural event, it was incredibly well organized/thought out and for the most part, went according to plan.
Ed Cox and I were assigned to ride in the "blue Group". For those that don't know Ed, he and I have the same riding skills and we make a good trail team. Blue group left Wellington at exactly 8:10 a.m. Saturday morning (3rd group out). Ten miles into the ride, a rider in our group, lost his muffler. Pit stop #1. Muffler reattached, we continue our ride and come upon the 2nd group out, color group ?, they have a bike that has a flat tire ( flat tire #1). Originally in our riders meeting at Wellington, we were told that all color groups were to remain in the order in which they left camp and that no color group was allowed to overtake another color group. The goal was to keep a time gap between each group. Well, 30 minutes into the ride, that rule was thrown out and blue group overtook the 2nd group out, (we're now in 2nd place). Also discussed in the riders meeting was the courtesy of what was to become known as the Stop and Go checkpoint. This is where every rider stops at every junction and makes eye contact with the upcoming rider to confirm that the approaching rider knows the correct trail to continue on and that the upcoming rider will relay this information to the 'Next" upcoming rider. At this point, the trails were mostly graded dirt roads, similar to the road out to Johnson Lane. We proceed to get into rolling hills with alot of rock and Aspen/Birch trees?? and a creek flowing at the bottom (very beautiful scenery). We made numerous creek crossings in which my boots got wet and I smiled because I knew that my toe fungus would react with my sweat and the creek water and would produce a foul smell that Ed could enjoy in the hotel room that we would share tonight.
At this point, life is good.
We continue under similar conditions to approximately the 40 mile mark for out first fuel stop. As blue group is pulling in, the preceeding group is pulling out, organization at its best. The support crew, which consisted of the sons of our trail bosses was totally on their game. They had our fuel cans out, water handed to us, asked if we need anything else, etc.
After fueling, refilling our hydropacks, maintenance checks, etc, we pull out after approximately 20 minutes and continue the ride. (Most women would love it if we could last 20 minutes into the ride). At this juncture, we ride on a paved hiway ( I don't know what hiway?) for about a mile and then turn right into a Valley where we start to encounter our first taste of desert sand and whoops.
At this point, life is OK.
As most of you know, I'm a shitty sand rider, but I survive this leg of our trip that is approximately 60 miles, that will take us into the ghosttown of Bodie. On this leg we pass right through in the middle of Hilton Ranch. This is where Steve Fosset took off almost exactly a year ago and disappeared. To our left is the Hilton Estate and to the right is the airstrip that ferry the Hilton clan to and fro. Our trail boss, Dave Aros, said that there is usually a corporate type jet parked on the tarmac. Today we saw a KingAir type propellor aircraft and a Jet with a "V "tail. Very cool. We trudge on with our journey of another 20 miles to our lunch destination. Very happy to have survived approximately 100+ miles to our 2nd checkpoint and have lunch waiting for us in Bodie. At Bodie, we eat the best hamburgers that God has ever built. Awesome lunch with refreshments and trail stories to fill a scrap book. Helmets off to our support crew. After refueling, etc. we start the 3rd leg of our trip, which is the last leg to Mammoth. This leg is where Satan takes over. We're already into the ride approximately 5 to 6 hours and we know we are behind schedule. We also discover that the total mileage of the ride is not 150 miles as stated in the inagurual Man Trip 2008 Flyer, but is closer to 170 miles. As we leave Bodie, we climb into the hills that has a fantastic view of Mono Lake. I know this because a rider in the Blue Group failed to apply the stop/go courtesy as Ed, myself and a third Blue Grouper named Eric took a wrong trail to a summit that had an awesome view of the Lake. Somewhere up the chain of command, a Blue Grouper failed us. Well, we backtracked a mile or so and hooked up with other Blue Groupers that knew we were missing. Thank God for them, as we were in the middle of nowhere. OK, we were just outside Bodie, but you get the point. So we connect with the rest of Blue Group. This is where the ride gets interesting. We descend down the mountains from Bodie and get into a rock/marble trail that leads to the shores of Mono Lake. This trail is miserable and difficult to ride, but is do-able. At the bottom of the trail we start into the desert sand. After 10 minutes into the desert sand, I realize that the above aforementioned rock/marble trail is a cake walk. The sand sucks!!! period. Our trail comes along a barbed wire/T-Bar fence line that is more like a KTM magnet. Some call it Target Fixation, I call it, "End of the Ride". Ed and I both hated this leg of the ride. We've ridden over 100 miles, 70 miles left, and they give us this shit? Isn't there a highway nearby?, Heliport?, anything would be better than this. Ed and I decided that our trail boss, Dave Aros, hates our guts. We persevere. What I think really saved us both is that we both got really pissed at ourselves for being shitty riders and we used that anger to get us to march forward. We did. We learned to pin it. This was extremely difficult to do. What I learned was that the sand for a dirt bike is much like the water for a boat. If you pin it in 4th or 5th gear and set between the seat and the fender, the bike will move forward. The bike will still drift 1 to 2 feet either way but you are technically hydroplaning on the sand. Rear wheel providing propulsion and the front wheel barely touching the sand and providing steerage. When I learned this technique, my balls swelled up to the size of hayseeds. I learned to pin-it and pray at the same time. The closer we got to Mammoth, the deeper the sand got. At one point, Ed and I stopped to let our breath catch up with us. While setting on the trail, I looked down at both my front and rear wheels and noticed that the sand swelled up and covered not only the tire but also the rim and hex part of the spokes.
At this point, life sucks.
Again, we persevere. We have no choice, they have all the beer at Mammoth. Now we're really pissed. We pin-it again. Finally, we cross 395 and the last few miles to Mammoth. This part of the ride is almost euphoric, because we knew that we made it and survived.
At this point, life is good again.
We know there is cold beer waiting for us, showers, dinner, and cocktails.
Ed tells me that his bike computer show 170.6 miles for the days total. Knowing that we rode that far in 1 day made me smile, but I'm tired. We went to a prepaid dinner and had to buy our own alcohol. This was OK because after the days ride, I had 2 beers with dinner and was ready to crash. Ed and I went to our room after dinner and he went to sleep at 8:30 and I crashed at 9:00. I slept like the dead until 5:30 a.m. Ed and I awoke full of piss and vinegar and ready to kick the hell out of the desert sand. So we dicided to have breakfast instead. After the riders meeting, our bikes being serviced the night before (by us), we were ready to conquer our weaknesses. We were refreshed, fueled up, new air filters and ready to go. We got onto the trail back to Wellington only to find that the air was still and the dust hung in the air like my Body Odor. We had to wait a few minutes between riders so that we could see the trail. Our good nights sleep and breakfast proved to be to our benefit. Ed and I both slept on what we had learned the day before about desert sand riding. We got on the trail and pinned it. IT WORKED! We cleared the Satan Section in half the time and only had a few near death experiences. This was a great moment. The rest was downhill. We still had a 100 miles to go, but that was a cakewalk compared to the deep sand. OK, I'll fastforward to the end and the numbers pertaining to it.
We made it back to Wellington on Sunday at approximately 3:30 p.m.
I didn't crash once. I had many, many close calls, but no 3-point landings.
170.6 miles on Saturday, 150 + miles on Sunday (Shortcuts) for a total of about 320 miles in 2 days.
8 to 10 flat tires total . All repaired on the trail.
Mechanical pitstops unknown. Around 15 to 20
5 bikes DNF'D. Had to be hauled out or towed. Yes, Marty Johnson, all bikes that self destructed were JAP BIKES. Only 30 bikes finished the 320 miles. The majority were KTM's. NO KTM'S FAILED!!!!!!!
Will I do this next year?.... Ask me is 6 months.
Ed and I were asked to ride sweeps for Blue Group and this we did ( we were going to be in the back anyway). We spent 90 minutes total in two days helping to kick start bikes, repair radiators, adjust chains, push start bikes, etc. so that everyone in Blue Group made it from start to finish.
One rider in Blue Group, a youngin' named Jason (late 20' early 30's), went out Saturday night with the intent to hook-up with a Mammoth Snaggletooth. I understand he did!!. I also heard that he was running the steets of Mammoth at 6:00 a.m. Sunday , because he didn't remember where the hotel was! He was the one with the bike that didn't want to start, so we either kicked and kicked or pushed started it. He had a good finish late Saturday night, but a DNS on Sunday morning. Good For him.
See ya at the next ride! KTM Rules!!!