We had now reached the final day of our four day journey. Day One was a blast, Day Two broke us in, and Day Three really put us to the test. It was now time to mount up for the last time and speed back out over the desert, back to the real world. But before we did we were going to have a little fun first.
The first stop was to an abandoned gold mining settlement just up the path from Base Camp Alpha. The settlement was founded in the early 1900’s and was active up until the mid 1950’s when it was suddenly abandoned. Remarkably, much of the town has been left completely untouched. Books still on the desks in the school house, glasses still on the bar in the saloon. It was like walking into a time-capsule.
We then continued out to The Pinnacles, massive rock formations jutting up from the featureless desert floor. There we got our first chance to ride on rock. Which is a lot like riding on pavement, just a lot more ruts and grooves to avoid. Sort of like driving in LA.
We stopped for lunch at a nearby general store. The sun-drenched desert outpost is apparently a hot spot for bikers and RVs, and has full bar and concert stage setup in the back.
From there we hit the pavement and headed up to the twisty canyon roads that snake their way through the mountains outside Bakersfield. For some of us this was the first time banking the bikes on a hard turn. There was something very freeing about getting the bikes up to speed and banging out some corners. And despite their size the 1200GS performed spectacularly.
From there we had to take the I-5 back to the ranch, which turned out to be the most terrifying part of the the trip. After spending 4 days hauling around the wilderness, we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by cars, mini-vans, and semis. And what are these markings on the road? Lines? It took us all a moment to readjust to the rules of motorway travel, but it still was quite a challenge keeping all 18 of us together.
As we turned our bikes up the long winding driveway that leads to the ranch, we finally realized the journey was at an end. We rode passed the figure-8 circles, ribbon course, and sand pits that had caused us so much grief just days ago. But we had come so far in terms of skill and confidence that those times seemed like long distant memories. We dismounted our bikes and packed up our gear. We said goodbye to the crew and exchanged contact information with our fellow riders. And as we drove our cars back down that long twisting driveway we were all thinking, “You know, I really wish I was on a motorcycle right now”.