There are many ways to approach adventure riding, but if you’re new to the experience, going with a more experienced friend is probably your best bet. That’s presumably at least part of the reason why moto travelers and YouTubers Doodle on a Motorcycle and As the Magpie Flies teamed up to visit an abandoned California ghost town in the Inyo Mountains.
While Amanda (Magpie) is an experienced adventure rider, Caroline (Doodle) hasn’t really done much adventure riding before. In fact, before this experience, she’d done zero ADV without an instructor nearby—so both the planning and the execution of this trip were all-new experiences for her.
Sometimes, you’ve just got to go, though. Maybe it’s the ride that’s calling, or maybe it’s the destination—in this case, Cerro Gordo, an abandoned mining town. The pair of riding buddies planned to meet up with another YouTuber who’s been living there, who operates the channel Ghost Town Living. Brent (GTL) planned to show them around and give a little history of how the town came to be, and also why it’s been abandoned. (That kind of experience is total catnip for history nerds, as you can probably guess.)
When you’re planning an adventure trip, you can wing it only as far as you’re willing to deal with the consequences. Hopefully you won’t outride your skills—and if you do, hopefully you’ll be lucky enough to figure out what you need to do very quickly to regain control of the situation.
See, there are three key details to this trip that Caroline didn’t fully take into consideration before they set out. One: Cerro Gordo is located at an elevation of 8,500 feet. Two, they were riding to visit the town in March. Three, the last eight miles or so of road to reach Cerro Gordo was, in fact, an unpaved mountain road at elevation in March. Was there snow, mud, ice, and sketchy riding conditions (if you’re not prepared for them)? Yes. Yes, there was.
For her part, Amanda seemed totally cool with it—even though she was the first one to drop her bike on the way up. Shortly afterward, Caroline also dropped her bike—but both were able to pick their bikes back up (and also help each other), and both eventually made it all the way up the mountain to meet Brent for the official Cerro Gordo tour.
That, Amanda said later, is adventure! Could the ride have been planned better? Sure, but the point is, they went out, they had fun, no one got seriously hurt (that’s why good boots are so important, especially if you’re doing this type of riding), and they both came back down the mountain none the worse for wear after their ghost town tour. Eleanor Roosevelt once advised that people should “do one thing every day that scares you” if they want to live a fuller life. Was this what she had in mind? Maybe not, but if you’re picturing a First Lady on a big ADV bike riding up a snowy mountain road now, you’re welcome.