White Stag 2003

By John Parker

All, I just pulled into the driveway after returning from this year's White Stag Rally. Like last year it was in Beatty, NV. Unlike last year it was a NON-competition event...basically a TKO (To Keep open) event. The Rally Bastard, Tom Almassy was "too busy" to put on a full rally this year, so he returned things to the way they were (sort off) in 1990 when the White Stag was born. We were back in "Ride to Eat ...Eat to Ride mode". There were about 70 participants this year, and I believe about 30 of them actually went riding Saturday. There was one other ST1100 besides mine, but there were three ST1300s. LiST provider Warren Harhay was there on his new 1300 with 900 miles on the ODO. Barth Bybee former (ST11 deer striker survivor), showed up on his new 1300 with 1800 miles on the clock. This year was also decidedly different weather-wise. LaST year I recorded 4 deg F at the first checkpoint Near Goldfield, NV at 7:00 A.M. (the year before last it snowed!). This year we started our ride in mid 50's and rode most of the day in the mid to high 60's, with a bit of low 80's in Stove Pipe Wells, Death Valley. Barth and I rode north out of Beatty on US 95, through the "antique" town of Goldfield, NV, and on through Tonopah, NV. We then followed US 6 West for a few miles of lonnnnng straights. Barth made good use of the light traffic to stretch the legs on his new 1300 a bit. We then cut off at SR 773 to ride Fish Lake Valley. SR 264 through Fish Lake Valley is one desolate, but exceedingly scenic route. The highway makes a beeline down the center of a narrow valley, bordered by majestic snow capped peaks. We actually did look at the sights between romps of "ST-Nominal". Barth gassed up the 1300 at Dyer, NV with 5.1 gallons. There is no such thing as 91 octane fuel in these out of the way places, so he added a bottle of Octane Booster to the 87 octane that was available. I still had 1/2 a tank in my 94 (11 gallons on-board with the Ron Major fuel cell), so I skipped fuel on this stop. After Dyer, the valley quickly closed off, and we turned West at Oasis, CA then headed over Westguard Pass. The road over the pass is an excellent, albeit sandy and icy in places, motorcycle road. After dropping over the West side of the 7000' + summit, the road snakes down continuous switchbacks and hairpins for about a dozen miles through a very narrow, deep, dark canyon, finally dumping out in the little Owens Valley town of Big Pine, CA. We had a great lunch at a small cafe and were back on US 395 in short order. We flew "stealthy" for the 45 miles to Lone Pine, CA. 395 is a well known hunting ground for the CHP and their forward and rear looking Stalker Ka band "instant-on" radar. After I topped up with 7.2 gallons, we turned East on SR 136 to SR 190. The 190 is another excellent motorcycle road, and the STs lend themselves well to the high speed sweepers that wind down the volcanic ridges into the Panamint Valley. Snaking our way down past Panamint Springs (a group was supposed to meet there around 11 A.M., but they were long gone by now at 2:00 P.M.) we made the short scoot across the width of the valley and climbed up the other side over Emigrant Pass. There are some great twisties on the climb up and the descent down the other side into Death Valley National Monument. Off to the right, about 1/2 way down, Wildrose Canyon RD joins the 190. I took Wildrose on my trip in on Friday. It is not for the squeamish or feint-of-heart , as it is a "little better than dirt" road that follows the narrow creek bed (sometimes in it!) for about 40 miles. Lots of "tail catching" switchbacks with a good dose of sand and gravel thrown in for FUN! OH BOY! Barth and I bypassed Wildrose on this day ride and continued out across the elegantly desolate Death Valley floor. It was 3:00 P.M. and we were only 35 miles from the hotel in Beatty. After a brief consultation with Barth, we decided to take one of the "long ways home". This time we would go up the North Rd, past Scotty's Castle, to make the ride about 3X longer. But first Barth needed to top up his tank. Of course, the only gas station on our route was in Stovepipe Wells, and, again, only 87 octane was available. So, after another 5 gallons of $1.96 low test and $6 worth of Octane Booster, we were on our way for the final leg of our casual day trip. The North Rd is about 40 miles of "snap-line" straight road with little to no traffic and even less (none this day) LEO presence. We let both STs have their heads as we wicked along happily. Shortly the road turns up into Grapevine Canyon and past Scotty's Castle. We had both BTDT tourist trap, so we continued up the canyon dodging the occasional BDC (Brain Dead Coyote), as we slid the big Hondas through the sandy curves for a dozen miles. Wheeeee... What FUN!!!!? Once up on top on the Bonnie Claire Flat, we had 20 miles of deserted dry lake to wring out the STs one last time before heading down the "patrolled" US95 to the hotel. Ol' Blue seemed to hold her own against the young silver steed (or maybe Barth was just being nice this day) at ST nominal ++ Once back on US 95 heading south we blended in with the traffic cruising at 95 mph ( Hey, is that the route we are on..or the speed limit sign?" We pulled into the Stagecoach Inn at about 4 P.M. after a very leisurely and rewarding 450 miles and 5 hours actual riding time. The rest of the evening, until the banquet, was spent kicking tires and cooling down in the parking lot. The banquet was a gala affair of about 70 riders dressed in their finest (typically shorts, riding boots, and rally shirts). The Iron Butt Rally, Utah 1088, Thin Aire TT, and past White Stag Rally colors composed the greatest bandishment. The food, as usual, was incredible. I could barely finish all of my 32 oz. prime rib, fried chicken, fillet of sole, 1 lb baked potato, and salad, so that I could start on my lemon meringue pie ;-} Despite the food fight between the Harley group and the BMW/EX-Harley group, the evening went well. Gary (Duck-a-titty) Egan even received a late upgrade on his last year's 2nd place finish, to a 1st place win. Tom tried to explain the intricacies of the one-two swap, but his Rally Bastard techno-speak went over just about everyone's head. I kept my 3rd place finish from last year, so I had nothing to complain about. Besides, just about everyone has to admit that for Gary to ride that butt/back/neck/leg/hipwrist/hand buster Duck the way he rides deserves anything he can get. If you know Gary, you know he makes the Soap Box Derby dads look lackadaisical when it comes to nitpicking the rules <G> Gary won the IBR in 1995 on a K1100LT. This is his third win in a row at the White Stag. An incredible Iron Man for sure. Ride safe...John