Death Valley Bike Tour in 2022

family in Red Rock Canyon

Here is my blog of the awesome, six-day bike tour with Lizard Head that I did in and near Death Valley in March. Among the adventurous group of 14 guests and 2 guides were my son Gordon, brother Jay, and nephew Brian Cornwell, as well as friends Barb Schreiber and Mike Smolin with whom Mary and I biked in 2007!

I biked EFI (every fricking inch) of the offered rides, and the following itinerary reflects that.

Day 1 (March 13): Red Rock Canyon -> Blue Diamond + Old Spanish Trail -> Shoshone (49 mi & 2,600 ft of climbing)
Day 2 (March 14): Shoshone -> Furnace Creek (77 mi & 3,900 ft)
Day 3 (March 15): Furnace Creek <-> Dante’s View + Furnace Creek <-> Beatty Junction (63 mi & 4,200 ft)
Day 4 (March 16): Mile 12 -> Ubehebe Crater -> Stovepipe Wells (74 mi & 4,300 ft)
Day 5 (March 17): Stovepipe Wells <-> Emigrant Pass (46 mi & 5,400 ft) + 4-mi hike in Mosaic Canyon
Day 6 (March 18): Stovepipe Wells -> Rhyolite (41 mi & 5,300 ft)

This was a very well-photographed tour by me and others, so my blog is longer than usual. Also, check out Annette’s poem at the end.

Enjoy!

  • start of tour
  • bikers in Red Rock Canyon
  • family in Red Rock Canyon
  • bikes on van
  • Wayne and Jay by Amargosa sign
  • puddle in some dry grass
  • Shoshone sign pop 31
  • group in courtyard
  • Barb in a phone booth
  • family in parking lot
  • Gordon Wayne Jay bikes in the air
  • Jay bikes up hill
  • Wayne Gordon Jay with Salsbury pass sign
  • Jay biking in skeleton jersey
  • family with sign
  • badwater pool
  • looking out between the rocks
  • ranch sign
  • Lee Wayne Gordon in front of van
  • 15 percent grade sign
  • tortoise sign
  • Gordon biking
  • Wayne and Gordon at the top of a climb
  • desolate view with mountains
  • flowers
  • historic wagon parts
  • borax works plaque
  • group photo
  • wooden wagons
  • bikes and van and trailer
  • long road
  • crater
  • family at ranger station
  • dust devil
  • Gordon biking with road sign
  • sand dunes
  • parking lot
  • dinner
  • desert road
  • van with bikes and ladder
  • thumbs up at the pass
  • Gordon and Wayne at the pass
  • trail sign
  • family hiking
  • Jay climbing
  • rock arrow
  • Brian and Gordon
  • group stargazing
  • Wayne alone by general store
  • Wayne high speed turn
  • van with bikes
  • Wayne biking up hill
  • desert landscape
  • Gordon and Wayne Daylight Pass
  • Rhyolite sign
  • ruins
  • sign
  • train depot
  • sign
  • group photo

Multi-talented Annette wrote the following poem to commemorate the tour.

A fond memory by Annette Orella

I’m here to tell you all a quick rhyme 
Of a trip by fourteen once upon a time 
To Death Valley they rode
Bicycling their mode
To partake of all possible sweat and grime
 
Of great import were the guests on the trip
Not just anyone can take on this ***blip****
It takes true guts
Or perhaps be a little nuts 
To ride through the desert at a clip

From Oregon came Mike with Barb by his side
Three cross country trips a source of Mike’s pride
But she’s got a new plan
E-biking to catch up to her man
So up the hills her legs won’t be fried 

From San Diego hailed Rebecca and sweet Lou
Up and down the dunes they both flew
Not a pool did they miss
And with push ups found bliss
Through the trip their broad smiles and good karmas grew

From Kansas and San Diego came the clan
Bikers all through and through to a man
Wayne a true EFI
Gordon sturdy and spry
Jay and Brian never opting for the van (at least that’s the way I’m choosing to remember it!)

Next from New York came Patti and Steve
Whose laughter was truly a reprieve
She cranked up each hill
Pulling others by pure will
And keeping all entertained by your leave

Partway through we were joined by Richard and Lee
Sadly only one biker would they be
But Lee carried the flame
Riding hard all the same
While Dear Richard patiently did a look-see

And last but not least Chuck – none too slow 
Whose love for cycling continues to grow
As Annette tries to catch him
His sights never dim
As he continues to go go go go (go go go go go)

Now this story could not be complete 
Without the people who enabled this feat
Our guides were the best
Keeping bellies full, minds at rest 
Peter and Wylie thanks so much – what a week!

You might ask about our intrepid guide Wylie
Of whose praises we sing very highly
On each road he would dash
With tattoos and a stash
Providing care and encouragement kindly

This poem’s not complete without mention of Peter
Jersey born, a man of skills hard to beat(er)
Soft hearted and kind
Helping us out of many a bind
Having him guide was really a treat(er)

Now before we all say goodbye 
And return home with a bit of a sigh
We’ll pack up one last time
Jump on bikes, turn on a dime
And drink in the desert landscape and sky.

Yellowstone Bike Tour in 2019

The last bike tour that Mary and I did together was with Lizard Head in and near Yellowstone National Park in August. We biked EFI (every fricking inch) for the first four days with the following itinerary.

Day 1 (August 18): West Yellowstone -> Canyon Village (40 miles & 2,500 ft of climbing); this was my best birthday ever: riding a bike with my best friend through spectacular scenery in perfect weather with a tailwind!
Day 2 (August 19): Canyon Village <-> Yellowstone Lake with side trips to the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (47 miles & 2,300 ft)
Day 3 (August 20): Canyon Village -> Grant Village (66 miles & 3,700 ft)
Day 4 (August 21): Grant Village -> Cody (103 miles & 3,400 ft)

Mary did these challenging rides with a cold that worsened each day. By the time she got to Cody, she was exhausted and decided that she could not bike the even tougher days ahead. Thus she rested on Day 5 and flew home on Day 6 😦

I continued on, however, with the following itinerary.

Day 5 (August 22): Out-and-back from Cody along South Fork Road (52 miles & 2,000 ft)
Day 6 (August 23): Cody -> Cooke City (77 miles & 8,000 ft)
Day 7 (August 24): Cooke City -> Red Lodge (66 miles & 5,300 ft)

Here is my blog for the tour.

West Texas Bike Tour in 2017

Mary and I did a seven-day bike tour with Lizard Head in West Texas during April, covering 382 miles on our bikes. We rode three days in the Davis Mountains and four days in the Big Bend parks on good roads with very little traffic. We did more shuttles than on previous trips but shared them with very interesting guests. Here is a brief summary.

On Day 1 (Sunday, April 9) we shuttled from El Paso to just south of Kent. We then biked 38 miles into a strong headwind on the west side of the Davis Mountains and did another shuttle to our overnight stay in Marfa. This town was made famous by the movie Giant, which was filmed west of town.

On Day 2 (Monday, April 10) we shuttled to Fort Leaton just east of Presidio and then biked 59 miles to the ghost town of Terlingua. It has a population of 58, not including ghosts. This ride was up and down along the Rio Grande, mostly in Big Bend State Park. The air temperature was in the 90s, but our bike thermometers read in the 100s. We spent the first of three nights in Terlingua, which is just outside Big Bend National Park.

On Day 3 (Tuesday, April 11) we biked 48 miles from Terlingua to the Santa Elena Canyon of the Rio Grande, where we hiked and waded in the river before shuttling back to our ghost town. We biked a U-shaped route, mostly in the national park, with an uphill headwind on the first leg and a downhill tailwind on the last leg.

On Day 4 (Wednesday, April 12) we biked up to the Chisos Basin, went on a hike, and biked back to Terlingua. We did 58 miles on our bikes, covering some of the same route as the day before. Mary’s GPS said that she set a new 40-km speed record on the way back, as we went downhill with a tailwind most of the way. We saw some scraggly lupine flowers, which are evidently called bluebonnets in Texas.

On Day 5 (Thursday, April 13) we shuttled to Panther Junction and then biked 68 miles out of the national park to Marathon. The scenery was pretty bleak, but there were lots of small wildflowers and interesting roadkill: a deer, badger, peccary, and vulture.

On Day 6 (Friday, April 14) we shuttled to Fort Davis and the then biked the Davis Mountains loop, part of which reversed our first day’s ride. This is reportedly the best ride in Texas, and the last part of our 75-mile clockwise loop was very nice. Mary and I also added three bonus miles climbing to the top of Mt Locke where the 2.7- and 2.1-m telescopes of the McDonald Observatory are located.

On Day 7 (Saturday, April 15) we did a blazing downhill ride for 33 miles from Fort Davis to San Solomon Springs at Balmorhea State Park. There we swam with fish in the huge, freshwater pool. Afterward we shuttled back to El Paso.

Some pictures with more information follow.

Arizona Bike Tour in 2016

Day 0 (Saturday, March 26): Mary and I drive to Tucson for the start of the six-day Trail of the Apaches bike tour with Lizard Head. To break up the drive, we do a 27-mile warmup ride in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the largest state park in California.

Day 1 (Sunday, March 27): Mary and I are joined by my brother Jay for the start of the tour near Tucson. We bike a 25-mile loop in Saguaro National Park and do a 7-mile round-trip hike up Wasson Peak.

Day 2 (Monday, March 28): We bike up Kitt Peak and finish with another ride through Saguaro National Park for 49 miles total. We again spend the night near Tucson.

Day 3 (Tuesday, March 29): We shuttle to the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge and bike 46 miles through Arivaca to Arivaca Junction. After another shuttle over a busy stretch of road, Mary and I, along with guide Emily, get on our bikes again for the last 18 miles and finish in Patagonia with 64 miles overall.

Day 4 (Wednesday, March 30): We bike 62 miles from Patagonia to Parker Canyon Lake and then back to a winery near Sonoita. After that we shuttle to Bisbee, an old mining town. During the bike ride, Jay sees a herd of pronghorns, and Mary sees a javelina. Along the way the cable breaks for the rear derailleur on Mary’s bike. Mitch, our second guide and mechanic, is unable to repair the cable, but sets the derailleur so that Mary has three reasonable gears in front to continue riding.

Day 5 (Thursday, March 31): We bike 77 miles from Bisbee in Arizona to Rodeo, just across the state line in New Mexico. The weather is cool but sunny at the start. As the day wears on, the skies become more ominous, and we are treated to rain and sleet just before we finish our ride. After the clouds depart that night, we view the Milky Way in all its glory.

Day 6 (Friday, April 1): We abandon our original plan to bike up Mount Graham because its summit of over 10,000 ft is predicted to have a high temperature in the 30s with a chance of snow. Instead, all of the guests do a short 16-mile bike ride into beautiful Cave Creek Canyon, and some of us follow that with a strenuous 9-mile round-trip hike up 8,000-ft Silver Peak.

Some pictures follow, and the captions include the names of a few of the many mountain ranges in Arizona.