Taste of Dakar 2017
The long road of asphalt ahead of me stretches into infinity and the snow capped peaks of the Eastern Sierras, like the spine of California is perched off my left shoulder for what seems like hours. Long road trips seem to stretch the space-time continuum. You can drive for hours and it would appear that little distance was covered unless you have varying landmarks to mark your path. At 75 mph, I charted my movement by the obligatory 25 mph in each small town to supplement the police force with speeding tickets.
Previous blogs and episodes for Taste of Dakar have shown riders basking in the luxury of the winery and RV resort in Pahrump. Not this time. The small towns started to fade a way into my rearview mirror just about the time I was to turn right towards Nevada. More hours of endless chaparral moved us closer to our destination.
Jeremy was taking us to the ghost town of Gold Point, Nevada.
According to County of Esmeralda, Gold Point, as the townsite is known today, developed from a mining camp formed in 1868 known as Lime Point that was west and just around the corner of the current site. Originally the townsite was called Hornsilver after the discovery of a type of silver ore known as hornsilver. Silver was mined from 1915 to 1927 until a large gold discovery was located. From that point on more gold than silver was being mined and the townsite was renamed as Gold Point. Gold Point is located 30 miles southwest of Goldfield, eight miles off SR 266, at an elevation of approximately 5,400 feet. After gold mining declined, Gold Point became a ghost town but was never officially abandoned because someone has always lived there.
Ghost town, huh? Should I bring my Specter Detector? Has Jeremy created a new product that deflects ectoplasm from the engine of adventure bikes? How would the ghost manifest… perhaps, Silver Strike Sam making creaking noises from deep in the bowels of an open mine. Want to know more about ghosts? Ask the bartender/deputy sheriff at the saloon. I was suspect.
We rolled into town. As if on cue, a tumbleweed passed by the post office, in front of the truck and stopped abruptly by the hangman’s tower above the jail. At first glance, the town looked empty except for a few outbuildings and mining equipment. Away from the main street, a deafening rumble could be heard. Was it some rider gang from hell? Or was it Mr. Macgruder, the janitor, scaring the people away from a new gold strike? Scooby and I would uncover the mystery. But I digress…
It became clear that the noise and dust was the amassing of over a hundred anxious adventure riders prepared for whatever adventure Jeremy had marked out for them. The town grew from seven to over a hundred in a matter of hours. It was like a scene from Marlon Brando’s film, ‘The Wild One’, where a gang roars in and takes over the town.
While Goldpoint was new to the adventurers that travelled from around the world to attend the event, the traditional format of the ‘Taste of Dakar’ took shape. Our first night was going include good food, free beer and keynote speaker, Kellon Walch.
Kellon Walch is a Dakar race champion and an American co-driver. During his cycling career, in 2005 he won the final stage in Dakar. In 2010, he switched to the cars, becoming BJ Baldwin's co-driver. In 2014, after he joined forces with Robby Gordon, they had two stage wins. Kellon grew up in a town nearby and was eager to share the terrain that inspired and influenced his desire to be a world-class racer.
After a night of camaraderie and swapping riding stories, the beer did little to soften the rocky ground upon which I laid my head. It seemed like I had just closed my eyes only to be abruptly by the roar of 1200 cc engine starting up. The riders shoveled down food and coffee with great anticipation.
I quickly geared up and rode over to position myself with riders taking the intermediate level. Jeremy rode up alongside me and with more than his usual show of emotion. He was very concerned that I did not pack an avalanche shovel and the tread on my rear tire was … well, how you say, not there.
The ride was beautiful mix of hard pack, mining trails, single track and SNOW. Oh yeah, Jeremy had added a new dimension to the riding challenge. Of course, the limits are always tested at these events. This year the only injury happened to be a face injury that required stitches. Fortunately, for whiskey and a sewing needle in a dark saloon, surgery was success. Chris ‘Stitches’ Mcinroy that bought his bike because of The Ride Of My Life and thought that Altrider’s Taste of Dakar was a good place to ride. Chris, my friend, there are easier ways to make the final cut that doesn’t leave a lasting memory.
While in town, Dennis Godwin, a GS Trophy Challenge challenger and unique builder of motorcycle obstacle courses created a track that would be worthy of the motorcycle version of American Ninja Warrior created a ghost town version. There was a deep sand section, a trial riding maze, a see-saw, tire and log obstacles, a very steep hill section then the grabbing and placement of a tire on a hook at the end of the track. Dennis shows the maturity of a seasoned rider and the heart of a big kid.
What about the ghosts? I had to find out.
Walt Cremen, bartender/deputy sheriff of Gold Point, assured me that they were around while filling my glass with whiskey. There were stories of miners hanging themselves that would manifest as glowing orbs, cold spots and unexplained depressions in the furniture. However, the clear proof that there were ghosts was seen in the saloon. Upon closer observation in the very cluttered saloon was at least half a dozen memorials on the walls that included personal effects and a shot glass that he filled with whiskey. Then lo and behold, the whiskey would disappear over a few days. This may not be proof of ghost, but definitely spirits.
Check out the carnage yourself