Exploring Imperial Dam On the V-Strom

Aside from a few hours yesterday morning, the wind has been howling like crazy ever since the night after I arrived at Imperial Dam. At least the morning temperatures are milder. Quartzsite is getting the same wind, so I’m still better off for having moved.

I’ve turned a few leads into actual jobs, so my time is freeing up now that I’m just working and not looking for work at the same time. I rewarded myself with a bike ride yesterday afternoon. After all, I can make my own schedule now, and give myself an hour or two off. While the dirt riding near Quartzsite is too sandy and rocky for my V-Strom, the dirt roads around the Imperial Dam area are mostly hard-packed and solid. I got this bike to ride roads like this as well as pavement, so I decided to try out some dirt, despite still running tires designed strictly for the street.

Right outside the LTVA, I visited the South Shore. Normally you can camp right by the water here, but right now the level is so low that you’d have to take quite a walk to get there. You can see from where I’m parked and where this grill is that the water is supposed to be up here, but instead it’s far away. I wouldn’t want to carry a kayak out there. Since I’m here in January, not March, the snow is still locked up in the Rocky Mountains. It hasn’t melted into the Colorado River yet, which will refill the reservoir — hopefully.

I made my way over to the North Shore, where I camped this past spring. I already know the roads pretty well, so it was a good place to see how the V-Strom handled them. I took it easy because of my non-dirt tires, and it actually did quite well. I visited my old campsite, which has more people there than I’ve ever seen. I did see a KLR parked up there, too, so clearly, others have the same idea as me. I did “have a moment” when the front wheel turned but the bike kept going straight through a soft section, but I rode it out and came out the other side just fine. A few seconds later, the adrenalin hit, which was a rush I didn’t actually need.

Then I looped around a few other roads through the far reaches of the LTVA that I remembered being in fairly good shape last year. They still were, and gave me some good practice handling the V-Strom on dirt. I’m going to add some handlebar risers to my list of upgrades. I have to hunch forward when I’m standing on looser surfaces to reach the handlebars, just like I did at first on my KLR. I replaced those bars because I bent the original ones in a crash, but on the V-Strom I’ll just use some risers, which will raise the stock bars and move them back toward me a little. That’ll keep me comfortable when both sitting and standing.

Eventually, I got back to pavement at Senator Wash Road and took a cruise down to Laguna Dam. The dam itself isn’t too impressive, but the steps leading from one water level to the next are neat to watch. It’s like a game of Plinko on The Price Is Right. I don’t know why it’s designed like that, but I like it.

I rounded out the ride with another visit to the boat ramp at Squaw Lake. I’d already been here recently for a cheap shower, but this time I sat by the water for a while. The water level here is exactly where it should be, so they must be sacrificing some water from the reservoir to maintain it. I’d have no trouble launching a kayak here. It was warm enough to stay a while, but the wind was still blowing pretty hard, so before long I went back to camp and hid in the van. Again.

The constant wind is really getting on my nerves, but at least I’m not cold. Besides, I have to remind myself that, unlike snow, you don’t have to shovel the wind. It clears itself out when the storm is over. Today is supposed to be the last day of this, and then it’s supposed to calm down at least through the weekend. I’m looking forward to actually being able to set up a camp instead of just living inside my van. Only at times like this does my small living space start to feel a bit cramped, but that’s just normal cabin fever.

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