I was invited to a private "Gerlachfest" event held by the Long-Distance Motorcycle riding community, in Gerlach, Nevada, on October 1st and 2nd. I rode my BMW F800GS down from Spokane and took two days, each way, so as to have time for photos.
This is perhaps my favorite photo of the trip, taken along the North Fork of the John Day river, from US-395 between Ukiah and Dale, OR. Did you know that Ukiah is 'haiku' spelled backwards?
Another shot I took a few minutes earlier, a bit further north on US-395. I think this is Camas creek, but I'm not sure.
The whole section of US-395 from about Pilot Rock, OR to Burns, OR is a motorcyclist's delight. The road surface is great, with very little traffic, and the scenery can't be beat.
After spending the night in Burns, I headed towards Frenchglen hoping to ride the Steens Mt. loop road. But I departed a 5:30am, which was a mistake because the temperature dropped to 33°F and the sun didn't come up until almost 7am. By the time I got to Frenchglen I was still too cold to do the 49 mile gravel road which, if I recall, is the highest elevation road in Oregon. So I decided to do it on the way home on Sunday.
The hills above are right on the OR/NV border, near Denio Junction, NV. Friday, October 1st was a beautiful day!
Some of the "big dog" LD Riders call this road, Hwy-140, "God's Highway". Flat, straight, good sight lines, and no vehicles. Hayabusa!
After getting to Winnemucca, NV about 11am, refulling and grabbing a deli sandwich to go, I took the famous Jungo Road to Gerlach. A 100 mile gravel road that cuts the distance in less than half. Kinda risky riding it alone, but I took it easy and had a Spot2 GPS transmitter puting a GPS track on a Webpage for Wanda every 10 minutes, so she could see if I stopped and quit moving. The Spot2 also has a "911 Emergency" button.
Gerlach, NV, in front of Bruno's Country Club. Our home in the desert. My friends George and Nancy, on the only other dual-sport bike present. You can see my F800GS in the background. George's KTM is very nicely tricked out...
Saturday morning I rode out to Guru Lane, the site of the IBA memorial, to watch the sun come up over the Playa.
My friend Rick Martin, who rode out from Illinois for the event, joined me. It was silent, no wind, nice temperature, and a perfect moment to reflect on the riders who are no longer with us. Our friend Eric comes down from Oregon City to maintain this memorial, and he's outdone himself. It's the nicest thing on Guru Lane. Each rock in the big circle names a former IBA member who has passed on.
Saturday, Oct 2nd, mid-day on the Playa, getting ready for the weirdness. Hunter Thompson would have felt right at home. Were he not dead I'm sure he would have been invited.
"Hi! I'm Barbie, and I'll be one of your targets today". Ken, with the Kung Fu grip was about 6' to her left. These were the drive-by targets. Later we put out regular targets at 100yds for the serious shooting.
An art shot of yours truly. [Photo by Tobie Stevens]
My first pass started out okay, with my friend Rick Martin photographing, until... [Photo by Janiece Mondale]
...the startling realization that while riding with my left hand on the throttle at highway speeds is easy and comfortable, at 10-12mph (idle speed on the F800GS) it is decidedly not easy. Another photo a few seconds later would have revealed me wobbling through the cones at an alarming angle trying desperately not to drop the loaded revolver or the 460lb motorcycle, or both. Fortunately, I saved it. [Photo by Tobie Stevens]
Plan "B" was to take my Bushmaster A3 and enlist my friend George to pilot my bike, while I sat backwards on the passenger seat. George said afterwards that earplugs were not sufficient for such an exercise, which is why he is looking away as I'm firing. I like the art effect Tobie applied to this shot. [Photo by Tobie Stevens]
Magazine empty, fleeing the scene... [Photo by Tobie Stevens]
Me shooting Lisa's .357 at Barbie. I missed. Again. Lisa is Tobie's wife. Tobie bought my FJR1300 after the 2003 Ironbutt Rally and completed 2 Ironbutt Rallies himself on the same bike, which he rode to Gerlach. [Photo by Tobie Stevens]
My friend George firing my "assault rifle", which I carried disassembled on the back of my bike from Spokane. My friend Matt drove down from the tri-cities with a similar weapon, only a more SWAT-like version with laser sight, fold-down handgrip, and flash supressor. It was really loud!
Lisa shooting from the passenger seat of another FJR, being ridden one-handed while the rider drinks a cold beverage with the other hand. Motorcyles, guns and alcohol — what could possibly go wrong?
Tobie (aka "Mr. Lisa Stevens") firing my Bushmaster A3 under the tuteledge of a former Police Firing Range Director.
Ardys Kellerman (born in 1932 and still riding, a lot!) fired the potato gun brought by my friend Tom, while her fans shoot photos. The potato flew damn near out of sight. Ardys, by the way, recently rode 100,000 miles in a single year.
My own art shot...
Later that afternoon, back at the motel — friends Chuck and Mark were whipping up margaritas or fruit slushies using a Vitamix and two large boxes, one filled with fruit, and one filled with 1/2 gallon bottles of tequila and various other liquors.
By 5pm or so there was quite a crowd, and by 6pm several partiers had already been escorted to their rooms to begin sleeping it off. Dinner, a banquet prepared by Bruno himself, was at 6:30. A few of us were a wee bit tipsy.
An ex-Cop attendee, following dinner, offered to perform lateral nystagmus tests on anyone who was planning to ride out to the playa for the evening memorial bonfire. Most of us took advantage, and most of us failed. I got a ride in a Volvo. Oh, the irony...
The last shot is of a playa-colored Ladybug on my hand. Natural selection at work. [Photo by Cori Phelps]
Sunday I rode north through Ft. Bidwell where I saw a herd of about 120 antelope grazing by the road, and then to Adel and up to Plush, OR where I had lunch. It rained most of the time, sometimes quite heavily. I'd planned to cross Hart Mt. Antelope Refuge to Fields, OR, then refuel and ride the Steens Mt. Loop road. But the weather was so poor I couldn't see the hills, and the colors were all washed out, so I elected to skip it and head north.
Spent the night in John Day where it rained as hard as I've ever seen in Oregon. The next day I could see blue sky up west of Pendleton, so I took the freeway route home through the tri-cities and Ritzville. Got home about 4pm and enjoyed the last 3 hours of riding in the sun.
Copyright © 2010, by H. Marc Lewis. All rights reserved.