And so the road trip continues.........It's 11am and we are ready to vacate the Europa Hotel (run by a very charming Indian couple) in Ridgecrest. Not much reason to stay in Ridgecrest except for a clean bed, food, shower for the night. It's in the midst of desert land in the Indian Wells Valley in northeastern Kern County and lies adjacent to Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. Yes, time to move on and catch the scent of the ocean.
Bags packed, luggage loaded, keys in ignition. Marta starts, but the black Himalayan decides to go on strike. Not a good start to the day and in fact no start at all. We may be spending another night in Ridgecrest after all. The bike has to be unloaded, and AJ makes a few simple checks. It seems we have a battery problem. The bike will bump start, but it only gives one chance to get get going. If that chance is squandered, it has to be bumped again. If the bump doesn't work, then it's going to have to be a jump start.
Our charming Indian host has only been running the hotel for 2 months and has no tools, no jump leads but suggests the neighbours across the road may be able to help. Andrew wanders over. Apparently there are lots of discouraging notices to keep unwanted visitors at bay at this house but the key to our problem is they have a Honda CB750-4 parked outside. Can they help, will they help? Next thing is the Honda is fired up and the whole neighbourhood is vibrating from the noise from the pipes. Over they come and link the leads to both bikes. the noise really is deafening.
Anyway, the Enfield fires into action once again, and I am left with the neighbour while Andrew spins the Enfield round the block to get the engine chugging again. On his return we thank the nice man from across the way and he donates his jump leads to us. Again, amazingly helpful people here. Astounding. Once again re-loaded with luggage, we begin our departure from Ridgecrest to Bakersfield.
It's a relatively short day's riding and Andrew has chosen a nice route which willl take us around Lake Isabella and through the Kern Valley. We ride around 12 miles of Interstate 395 up to Inyokern and then take Route 178 to Bakersfield which will total around 112 miles. We ride through Chevron's oil mines, of which there are miles and miles and miles of. There are nodding donkeys everywhere. Needless to say Chevron is the most popular brand of gas in the state of California and we are riding through the source of it.
It's a pretty uneventful days riding, it's hot still, which we like, and we're quite possibly still decompressing from the previous day's ride through Death Valley.
We approach Lake Isabella which is a pretty uninspiring Lake. The water levels are low and the surface looks a bit scrubby. We were hoping it may be a place we could have stopped and taken a dip into, but it looks not very enticing, so we continue through to Kernville, stop, have a breather and a drink of water, eat some fruit and back in the saddle again to Bakersfield.
We almost circumnavigate the whole of the Lake and leaving it behind we ride beside the Kern River which feeds the lake. The river is popular for rafting but we find a road which leads to a quiet river bank and decide to plunge our hot and sticky buns into the cool water. How refreshing. A group of two raft loads of people on a rafting tour pass by and stop to deliberately splash us, which was absolutely fine. After the desert, the water was totally welcome - splash as much as you like.
That was a highlight to what could have been an underwhelming journey. Then we straddle the bikes once more to complete the journey and another surprise is just around the corner, and another corner, and another and another and another...........We ride through the Walker Pass in the Kern Valley which is one dreamy bend after another and the bends are flowing sweetly and smoothly. Such a pleasurable route along highway 178. Scenic, hilly and bendy.
We reach Bakersfield and check into Bill's Airbnb which is in a rather run down area of the city but apparently no crime or violence. Just a few derelicts with shopping carts and good manners. Bill is a very hospitable host with a very chatty manner and he leaves us for the night with his adopted pit bull cross (who has a nasty open cyst on his front left wrist) who is the sweetest and softest dog you could care to meet. We find a place to eat, bed down for the night and have a peaceful night's rest in our vintage studio for one night in Bakersfield before we move towards the Pacific coast.
Andrew "AJ" Jackson of Eurorider Training.
AJ's Check List
*Motorcycles x 2
*All weather clothing/boots - windproof, rainproof as well as cool and warm layers.
*Panniers for carrying extra loads.
* Friction straps and bungees - multiple & spares.
* Chain oil and lube
* Acquired jump leads
* Puncture repair - fix a flat in a can
* Lots of monies
* A ball of string
* Rucksack for daytime carrying capacity
* Flexible attitude to life and journey
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