Cruising Through Death Valley On A Rented Harley

A girl, a motorcycle, and a gypsy soul

Editor’s note: This is a blog I happened across while searching for something. I think our readers may like it so I’m sharing it here. 

Posted: 24 Jan 2020 05:00 PM PST

A few years ago, I went on a long weekend trip to Las Vegas with a few guys who like to gamble.  I like to spend roughly 12 minutes in a casino before ADD boredom takes over.  They, on the other hand, wake up early to get to the Sportsbook, where they park themselves for the majority of the day, betting on anything from sports to horses to dogs. I was not prepared for that, nor was I interested in doing that day in and day out. So after some google research, I managed to find GOLD!  (At the time) Enterprise off the Strip rented motorcycles. Yes, HD and other dealers rent them, but I wasn’t willing to spend $150 for 6 hours of riding. Enterprise was my winning luck!! I rented a Harley for just $65 for 8 hours!! YES!!!!  So I tell the guys about my winning find, and while I don’t think any of them really HEARD me, I hopped in an Uber and off the strip to Enterprise. I didn’t have a destination, just knew it was sunny, warm, and I was gonna be on TWO wheels all day! (Turned into 2 days)…

After a quick google search on “Best Motorcycle Rides Vegas”, I was headed out of town towards Death Valley – the largest, hottest, driest, and lowest National Park in the US. I swung by a store along the way – to top off the gas tank, pick up a gallon of water, sunscreen, and an umbrella.. just in case my air cooled bike didn’t appreciate, nor tolerate, Death Valley. I wanted to at least be stranded in the shade…of my umbrella lol.
Another 15 miles and I see the “Next Services 72 miles” sign. Good choice, me!

I decided to take the scenic route – 175 miles and roughly 3.75 hours with stops:
From Interstate 15 South , EXIT on NV Hwy 160 West 2 Drive 45 miles. 
TURN LEFT on Tecopa Road (Old Spanish Trail). 
 Drive 41 miles. TURN RIGHT on CA Hwy 127.
Drive 10 miles. TURN LEFT on CA Hwy 178 West (Badwater Road)

 Drive 75 miles. TURN LEFT on CA Hwy 190. 
Drive one mile to Furnace Creek Visitor Center.

The road to Death Valley seems endless… I could see for miles and miles.  Desert, tar snakes, and valleys, repeat.
 I made it to the entrance, took a couple of pictures, sent a couple of texts to let a few people know my plans in the event I didn’t make it out, and off I went!! I stopped to explore a few of the key areas of interest – which were few and far between!

Fun fact: On average, 192 days per year in Death Valley have temperatures that reach 90 °F or higher. Death Valley’s lowest point (also the country’s lowest point) is Badwater Basin, which lies at 282 feet below sea level.

Death Valley has over 1,000 miles of roads and I didn’t even skim the surface.  I read that they have over 40 species of birds in DV, the only sign of life I saw, aside from a few tourists, were roadrunners. And they were running everywhere.

If I hadn’t been on an unfamiliar (to me) rental bike, I would’ve for sure detoured to Artist Point – shown below (not my photo). Artist’s Drive coordinates: 36.32995, -116.82995 (36° 19′ 47.8″N 116° 49′ 47.8″W)

Death Valley  is only 76 miles from Mt. Whitney, which is one of the highest elevations in the US at 14,505 feet. I didn’t have enough time to make that jaunt, but I did have one more day with the rental, so I hit up Snow Mountain.  I went from 90 degrees to 40 degrees in under 100 miles. It was a never ending change in scenery!

While the boys had their fun in Vegas, I had an unexpected GREAT time exploring outside of Vegas. I’m pretty sure that I was the happier human on the plane ride back to MN – I had sunshine, exploration, an experience to last a lifetime.. and they had sour memories of losing money in Vegas.   Renting a Harley was enough gambling for this girl!! <– LOL

*Sadly, the next time I went to Vegas (in 2016), the Enterprise off the Strip did not offer motorcycle rentals. And the time after that, the Enterprise was gone all together. SAD!!!!

Progressive International Motorcycle Show Washington, D.C.

The day had finally arrived and I was ready to go. I had new batteries in my camera, a spare SD card, a spare phone battery and cord, a pocket full of business cards, a pocket notebook, several pens and a full tank of Ready To Hit The Road!

I was barely over 3 back to back bouts of that nasty head and chest cold that was circulating the east coast since before Christmas 2019. Each bout had developed into a level of pneumonia, but not enough to get me hospitalized and receive the powerful intravenous medications that would just wipe it out. So I was in a sort of medical limbo depending on my physicians and their prescriptions.

So yeah, I was ready to be done suffering and get out into my life and the world again! The 2020 Progressive International Motorcycle Show in Washington D.C. was just the thing to do it.

It’s about a 2 1/2 hour door to door trip each way for me to the show, give or take depending mainly on the traffic. It’s in my car then the train with a transfer to the show and then the same thing going back. On the way over I was getting even more excited because I knew I’d soon be immersed in all things motorcycles. And truly I was.

There was a new Suzuki Katana crouched by the entrance to the hall, inviting all who passed to stop and ogle the new yet familiar style, and of course I did. It was visually delicious and not just because I hadn’t really been anywhere since Christmas evening. The new Katana has all the familiar muscular clues yet has somehow developed into an even more seductive version of itself.

And this was just the entrance to the hall. My brain was swimming in the juices of possibilities awaiting me and I walked right past the stairs to the balcony and looked out over the entire layout. I felt – for just a fleeting moment – like that 8 year old kid on a bicycle at the windows of the motorcycle shops. The sights and sounds and smells of the show were stirring that thing inside me…that thing which can only be satisfied by two wheeled motorized conveyances.

I turned and hurried down the stairs.

What I experienced is best conveyed in pictures and here they are. Click on any picture to go to the gallery page.

2020 J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show D.C. Winners

2020 Progressive International Motorcycle Show Washington, D.C.

Press Release:

The Progressive® International Motorcycle Shows® (IMS) Announces the Washington D.C. J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show 2019/2020 Tour Winners


Santa Monica, Calif. (January 14, 2020)  The Progressive® International Motorcycle Shows® (IMS), an industry leader on connecting powersports brands with highly qualified enthusiasts and buyers, today announced the fourth round of winners of the 2019/2020 Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show (UBCBS) sponsored by J&P Cycles, which took place at IMS Washington D.C. over the past weekend. The winners will move on to compete in the championship round in Chicago, Illinois.


Celebrating its tenth consecutive year shining a spotlight on the most beautiful, one-of-a-kind custom motorcycles across the nation, UBCBS is the largest and one of the most sought-after touring custom bike competitions in the nation. The elite-level custom motorcycle builder competition features more than 300 motorcycles across the eight-city IMS tour, awarding more than $70,000 in cash and prizes. This year’s categories include Custom Classic, Custom Street, Freestyle, and People’s Choice.

Judged by a panel of industry experts, winners in each city along the IMS tour will be invited to compete in the championship round taking place February 9, 2020 in Chicago for a chance to be crowned “King of the Builders.” To learn more, please visit:

“Custom building is one of the most creative outlets our industry has to offer, and the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows offer the ideal platform for builders to showcase their work on a national stage,” said Bob Kay, director of UBCBS. “Not only are the motorcycles strikingly ornate but it’s an incredible opportunity for the motorcycle enthusiast community to learn about and appreciate the unique story behind the creation of each build.”

The winners of the UBCBS at IMS Washington D.C. 2020 are as follows:

Custom Classic

  • Winner: Dell Battle with Dangerous Designz and painter Brad H. Design won first place with a 1991 Harley-Davidson Sportster. The motorcycle is known as the 72 Style Sporty and is valued at $5K.
  • Runner-up: Richard Thompson along with builder partner Wayne Combs and painter Kirk Salmons was selected as runner-up with a 1973 Harley-Davidson Sportster. The motorcycle has been in Battle’s family since 1974 and has been appraised for $26K.


Custom Street

  • Winner: Ross Latimer with Rats Custom won first place with a Harley-Davidson Sportster valued at $12K. The motorcycle has a top-secret turbo combination, a 4′ stretch, a rocker front wheel and dyna rear wheel, buell front end, custom MSD Ignition, Wilwood brakes, and zippers transmission components.
  • Runner-up: Roy Chamberlain with C&C Cycle was selected as runner-up with a 2004 Harley-Davidson FLHTCUI valued at $40K. The motorcycle has diamond cut heads, Zippers 103 kit, 12pt stainless steel bolts, custom front and rear fender, saddlebags, and side covers. The motorcycle was painted by Circle W Restorations.



  • Winner: Ryan Maloney took home first place with a 2019 Kawasaki 650R valued at $27K. The motorcycle was painted by Berts Graphix and features a J&M center shock frame, a custom carbon tail section, one off CNC foot controls, kick stand and side plates, a carbon fiber number plate with LED headlight, 19″ PM wheels, and wild paint.
  • Runner-up: Dell Battle with Dangerous Designz and painter Letters & Lines was selected as runner-up with a 2002 Harley-Davidson Sportster. The motorcycle is known as the 99 Flat Sporty and is valued at $50K.


People’s Choice

  • As voted by IMS attendees, Matthew Luis took home the People’s Choice award with a 2015 Harley-Davidson Street Glide. The custom motorcycle features a beautiful customer airbrush and is valued at $70K.


I found this excellent article on the J&P cycles website.

Credits to J&P Cycles and Bryan Harley; Managing editor of the J&P Cycles blog on the website; for an excellent write up!