Desflurane's Romaniacs Blog

Chronicle of My Participation in the World's Toughest Enduro Rally – Again…

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The big topaz lake ride

Posted by desflurane on August 2, 2010

As expected, the topaz lake ride was spectacular. It came off without a hitch except that I left the mount for my helmet cam sitting on the floor of my Durango and thus, got zero minutes of video shot. Bummer! It is really too bad because the scenery and riding was really great and difficult to describe.

The day started early. I met up with another guy (steve) and we took his truck for the hour and forty-five minute drive down to topaz lake. It was here that I forgot to grab the camera mount and blew my plans to record the events of the day. But no matter, the ride still held enormous promise.

We were first to arrive at the staging area, but were soon met by the six other riders who came along. Jim, his son Reese and a friend Matt came together. Greg, the guy behind ironman sprockets showed up next. He is a very cool guy who seemed to have ridden every square inch of the area we visited, and acted as guide for most of the day. Paul brought up the rear along with another guy named brad who races desert trucks as well as dirt bikes. He is a tall, slender, athletic guy. The kind that seem to be made of steel when it comes to hard work, like blasting up desert washes at ridiculous speed.

Once everybody showed up Greg and Paul formulated our basic route for the day. Estimated mileage was to be about sixty-five to seventy-five. A few of us (myself included) were running stock tanks and would probably be running on vapors before the end of the trail, so a few gas cans were cached at Walker Burger where our afternoon meal would be enjoyed. It turns out that the owner of the burger joint is a dirt bike rider and was perfectly happy to stash the gas cans for us.

These mundane items taken care of, we started off. We began with a few miles down the unpaved county road that carried us to a sandy wash that we followed for several miles more. Living in Nevada I ride in sandy washes frequently – since there really is no alternative. This wash, however, was particularly nasty – very dry, loose sand with plentiful bowling-ball sized rocks and tufts of sagebrush. Apparently my desert riding skills aren’t what they should be – about five miles in I took a soil sample when I tried to freight-train my way through a creosote bush that refused to get out of my way. Fortunately no damage other than aggravating my already sore right shoulder a bit.

The wash connected us with another drainage that contained actual water! Stream crossings were welcome, and plentiful. We blew past a number of camp sites and the road wound down to some sweet single track threaded through tight stands of aspen and across grassy meadows adorned with deep mud holes that responded nicely to a handful of throttle.

This section of trail provided me with my second (and final, thankfully) crash of the day. I misjudged a corner a bit and ended up bushwhacking just to the right side of the trail. Once again the hardy desert vegetation proved my undoing, as I high-sided over a sagebrush. Determined not to get hurt, I tucked and rolled, performing a complete somersault that would have gotten me into Barnum and Bailey’s for sure. It seemed to work and I got back on the bike unscathed.

The trail ascended steadily, and we exchanged the trees and bushes for barren, shale-covered mountain peaks that have been nick-named “Mars.” The name is spot-on too. In addition to being treacherously steep, much of the shale was a nice red color that easily brought to mind little six-wheeled rovers.

I was amazed at how rideable the rough, broken rock covering the mountain tops was. The shards of stone actually held together well enough to provide decent traction, so that with generous application of throttle, some impressive hillclimbs were accomplished, even by me!

Paul led us to a single room stone cabin that somebody built near the summit. It was in the usual depressingly delapidated condition this sort of building seems to fall into. It is hard to imagine why anyone would go to the trouble of building any sort of permanent structure up there, but obviously somebody felt the need. We didn’t see any mines or other obvious signs of industry up there, no vegetation grows for animals to graze on, the cabin’s location did not afford a good view of the surrounding area. Thus, its purpose remains a mystery. We left it just as we found it.

Descending from the mountain was, for me, the best part of the ride. The trail petered out after perhaps a mile and we found ourselves picking our way down a steep, shrubbery-covered hillside. Everybody followed the path they felt was best, until we reached the drainage at the bottom where a small stream flowed next to the trail, which seemed to appear literally from nowhere. We followed this trail down to Lobdale reservoir and then caught another section of tight singletrack that led us nearly full circle to the top of the sandy wash that started the morning.

Instead of reaching the wash, we turned off into the desert hills and Greg located another obscure bit of singletrack that slithered down a steep gully and eventually emptied us out behind the Indian Reservation (whose name I do not know). From there we hit pavement until the much-anticipated sign of the Walker Burger swung into view.

We waited an extraordinarily long time to get our burgers, which only made them taste the better! There was much discussion in the shady backyard area of the restaurant where picnic tables are set out for patrons to enjoy. But after an hour or so, it was time to move on.

None of us had any desire to strike off into the hills again, so a few more miles of pavement led us back to the staging area where the trucks were parked. Goodbyes were said and everyone left – hot, sweaty, and rather pleased with the day’s ride.

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