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Stories, Recollections, and Downright Lies!



Eighty to Beatty – May 2014 Edition

By Paul Lax

Since the mid-70s the first weekend of every November and the first weekend of every May, bikers in the San Fernando Valley have been gathering at 7 a.m. to head to Beatty, NV.  Originally known as the Whorehouse Run named for the stops along the way on highway 95 in Nevada, it is now more of a chance to ride and air the bike out a little.  Let’s face it.  In the 70s, when we were mostly in our 20s, we could probably have hit every brothel on 95 and only had to worry about running out of money.  A whorehouse run today with more than two stops might be a waste of a lot of time.  Eighty to Beatty doesn’t necessarily refer to the road speed; it’s more the average speed.  The route uses a lot of that disappearing type of highway known as 2-lane.  And most of that 2-lane is in fairly remote places.

Since pretty much everyone in the Valley knows that all they have to do is get to the donut shop at Burbank and Reseda by 7, you never know how many will be in the pack.  This time there were 10.  Micah and Karig were there, of course.  John Mongillo, me, Rick Glitzman, Barger, from the Harley shop of the same name, Tom Maloney and Bob-not-Tom and other guys whose names I knew at some point but seem to escape me at the moment.  By the way, if you arrive at the donut shop at 7:02, you won’t see any motorcycles.  We’re on the road at 7 sharp.

If you’ve been on this run, at least in the last 15 years or so, you know the drill.  Hit the 101 to the 405 north, then 14 to Mohave.  Breakfast.  Used to be at Mike’s Roadhouse.  But Mike’s closed so now it’s a place about 100 ft. down the street from Mike’s.  Pretty good chow.  Then gas up and get back on 14 headed north.  This is where the pace begins to pick up a little.  Up to Mohave, it was generally legal limit plus 15 or 20.  Out of Mohave it picks up to legal limit plus 20 or 25.  Hang a right off 14 onto the road to Randsberg.  There are no speed limit signs that I recall on this road.  If there were, they are routinely ignored.  Pretty much from this point until you get back on Hwy. 190 and go into Death Valley there isn’t much in the way of traffic, except the guys you came with.  Second stop is Randsberg. 

Bit of a disappointment in Randsberg this trip.  The White House saloon doesn’t open until 10.  There is the general store so if you were counting on a cold drink in Randsberg you could get that.  But I’ve always liked the White House stop.  Maybe next fall.  While we were there we took some pictures.  If I can get copies we’ll put up the pictures of Rick and Kenny, Tommy and Kenny and me and Kenny.  Since the White House wasn’t open, we got back on the road after about 20 minutes.

Out of Randsberg to Hwy. 395 and a short shot south through Johannesburg, then hang a left toward Trona.  Traditionally, this is the stretch where the pack brings into subgroups.  Those who need to blow the carbon out of their heads, and out of the bike, wick it up to triple digits and disappear over the hills.  Those of us, myself included, who would just as soon look around a little while we ride set a nice sedate pace around 80 to 85.  I mean, there’s really no hurry – we all know where we’re going.  And we keep going until you come to a T-intersection, then make a right.  A few miles and a few nice curves and you enter downtown Trona.  Years ago there used to be a stop in Trona.  I think the bar was called the Trona Yacht Club.  But it’s been gone for years so now Trona is just a gas stop.  Buying gas in Trona is important.  It’s not that far to the next stop, but the next stop is in Death Valley and someone thinks that their gas should cost about the same per quart as Wild Turkey 101.  Except it’s not 101.  The Stovepipe Wells gas is more like 87 octane.  Hell, you may as well drink it; it’s not much good as fuel.

So you fill up and head out again headed from Searles Valley into Panamint Valley.  Not much in the way of scenery.  There is the Trona airport but in all the times I’ve been down that road I don’t recall seeing an airplane.  Anyway, over the hill into Panamint Valley and about ¼ mile down the hill is a designated live fire area.  At least, we designate it as that twice a year.  Someday there will be a lead mining operation on the side of that hill and someone will get rich from recycling brass from the edge of the road.  Kind of interesting when we pulled in.  We had passed a car about 200 feet up the road from our target range.  A woman in that group waved at us as we went past.  They left pretty quickly after we opened up on the usual barrel down the hillside with about 10 automatics.  Anyway, having fired until our hearing was semi-permanently impaired, we mounted up and proceeded down the road. 

When we made the Beatty run last November we actually took a different route than normal.  Micah, being the good road captain, had checked and found that CalTrans had decided to tear up the road between Trona and Hwy. 190.  Of course, that was 6 months ago, so it must be done, right?  Not.  There was nice new pavement for a way, but it suddenly disappeared.  I know what you’re thinking; “so what, a little dirt road won’t hurt you – so the bike gets dusty, you can wash it off.”  But you had to be there to appreciate it.  It wasn’t just dirt.  It was many miles of washboard.  It was a little like riding on the paint shaking machine at the hardware store.  The shoulder looked better.  So of course, someone tried it.  Mongillo found out why you shouldn’t ride a 900 pound Electra-Glide on a real soft surface.  By the time I got there John and the motorcycle were upright, but evidence of the fall was apparent if you looked at the right side of the bike, or the right side of John.  But like the old Harley rider says, “if it’s moving forward everything’s alright.”  So we continued, the pavement came back and we rolled over the pass and into Death Valley.  There was a lot of motorcycle traffic at Stovepipe Wells.  Included in the crowd was a group from South Africa on BMWs.  They were wearing what appeared to be very uncomfortable riding gear, a full suit that didn’t look like it would let any air pass.  I’ve always wondered what effect a good beer fart has in one of those suits topped by a full bucket helmet. 

Last leg, over the next pass and into Beatty.  It’s a fun road from the Valley Floor to Daylight Pass.  I missed a corner on that road years ago on my shovelhead, but managed to get back on the pavement without incident.  It seems a lot easier now, or maybe my 2014 Limited handles a little better than my 1982 FLH.

Next event is dinner.  And it was a good one.  They BBQ outside and the steaks were excellent.  From salad to dessert it was all good.  Then back to the motel/casino.  I was planning to play some blackjack, but decided to lie down for a few minutes first.  I woke up at 3 a.m.  The weather was perfect that time of day, do I loaded up and headed home. 

All in all, another good Beatty run.  Not officially an UGLY ride.  Couldn’t be.  There were no U-Turns.  But most of the pack was made up of riders who are retired UGLYs or former UGLY prospects.  I’ll probably be living in Tucson by November, but at 7 a.m. on Saturday, November 1, I’ll be at the donut shop at Burbank and Reseda with a full tank of gas, a sidearm and some gambling money.