While out riding on Old Ore Road in Big Bend National Park last week my riding partner and I came across a fellow on a brand new BMW "R1200GS Adventure" by himself and in considerable distress. I knew he was in trouble because he had been in transit between the north and south end of the trail for about 3 hours and the first thing he said was "How far is it to the endÔÇØ?
The temperature was at or near 100 degrees and it was 1:45 when we arrived at the scene of yet another spill this poor soul had recovered from. My buddy and I had commented earlier on seeing what my wife Carrie calls "Sand Angles" where someone has fallen and thrashed about trying to get it back together and go on in the deep sand. The guy had just gotten his bike back on the road from an impromptu departure half way through a 200 foot stretch of the stuff. He was breathing hard, no sweat visible, down to about a quart of water and out of energy to pick the thing up even one more time. He SAID he'd dropped it three times...but the truth was written in the sand behind him. Fortunately for him, Fred and I came along.
This fellow had ridden to Big Bend arriving early in the morning from Alpine 85 miles away. He tossed his bags in the lobby of the lodge at the Basin and telling no one, took off to explore the wilds of the Trans Pecos starting with one of the roughest roads in the entire park. He had read about Old Ore Road in the National Geographic which had made particular mention of the condition as being "well maintained", which it is not and never has been.
His qualifications were simply that he had recently purchased the Adventure to be able to ride TO places like Big Bend, and then to be able to explore those places intimately from the saddle of what he believed to be the ultimate adventure motorcycle. He had watched the maintenance DVD for the bike once and had forgotten to buy a tire patch kitÔÇªdidnÔÇÖt even know where the tire pump was mounted and couldnÔÇÖt touch the ground seated on the bike without two inches of added height to his Doc MartinsÔÇª. He had a full tank of gas which I believe is around 8 gallons or so and about two good sips of water left.
I helped him pick the damned thing up twice more before finally getting him to a stable surface back the way heÔÇÖd come. His last fall in the sand had caused the bike to spin around pointing itself in the wrong direction. It was impossible for either of us to turn it around in the sand and get it pointed in the right direction. I gave him a quick lesson in sand management and rode up to the top of a hill where I knew I could get a cell tower to call for help. I watched through binoculars as he rested for a bit and gave it another try.
He was able to negotiate the last sand trap and the final 4 miles to pavement without further trouble with me following and Fred in the lead. He was very, very grateful for our assistance. He was one lucky SOBÔÇªLater, he admitted his mistake and I donÔÇÖt think he would be too upset if I mentioned his folly to others in the hope that someone may take to heart a few simple cautionary notes. NEVER TRAVEL ALONE IN THE DESERT. Hydrate constantly (if you arenÔÇÖt sweating you are NOT drinking enough and it may already be too late to recover). Bring shade with you in the form of a square of fabric to hang from a bush if thatÔÇÖs all you can findÔÇªyou need to be in the shade to work on a tire for instance or, worst case, to wait for helpÔÇªAlways let someone know where you are and when you plan on being back. The park service has had their budgets cut and it is easier for them to let the buzzards find a lost motorcyclist rather than wasting gas driving all over the place looking for one.
IÔÇÖm sorry to have to say this but the BMW ÔÇ£AdventureÔÇØ motorcycle is perhaps the absolute WORST bike to ride off road that has ever been manufactured. Dangerous in the wrong hands too. If you buy into the myth, you might just find yourself in the same predicament this fellow was in but without two old desert rats like me and Fred to get you out.