What Are Tall Bikes? Flames? What Kind of Ride Is This?
I had absolutely no idea my afternoon ride would involve tall Bikes. I set out from our normal Slab City campsite just looking to get some miles in preparation for my trip to New Zealand in exactly one week.
Interactive Map for Slab City
- Click the brown Camper Vans for driving directions.
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I cruised down East Jesus Wash, amazed at the erosion since I’d last visited a month previous.
I turned left onto the pole-line road and fought a 30 mph headwind ripe with sand.
Once I had crossed the paved road I headed for the hot spring be low Salvation Mountain. I wanted to put my finger in and check if the temperature was still hot enough for bathing. But when I saw an old guy walking buck naked carrying a towel I changed course. I decided to head back toward the hills, where I saw several camping rigs.
After a few hundred yards I came across a pretty young lady coming out of a squat and pulling up her pants.
Rev Phil and Kamikaze Karl
The next person I saw was a guy riding a bike stacked on top of another bike. I came up alongside him until he noticed me and stopped.
“Rev Phil,” said I should check with the guy across the way, whose bike was much taller.
Kamikaze Karl’s tall bike was leaning up against the side of his Volkswagen bus … easily twice the height of Rev Phil’s.
I asked Karl if I could get a photo and video of him riding his tall bike, to which he hesitated just a second, then agreed.
Soon after Kamikaze passed under the 15 foot tall archway, tapping the underside as he passed.
After his riding Kamikaze told me he had not been on his tall bike for a year. When asked why he said he had a terrible fall. He had avoided landing on his daughter but had hit the edge of a curb which snapped off his tibia just below his hip socket. He then showed me a 6 inch scar and a piece of stainless steel they’d recently removed from his leg.
Getting Back on the Horse
“Where you scared getting back up there?” I asked.
Karl said, “A little.”
“When?” I inquired,
He responded with, “Just now.”
“You mean this was your first tall bike ride since your fall?”
“Yup. This was it!” He concluded.
Just then I saw a guy on a motorcycle ride over the arch.
“Did you see that?” Karl asked. “That was Ritchie Trimble. He holds the Guinness Record for the tallest bike.”
Kamikaze then shared an incredible YouTube video of Richie on his phone. Here it is.
Mountain Biking Around Slab City
Shortly after Karl jumped on his downhill mountain bike and we rode through the southern portion of Slab City, then returned to his car via a sand wash. While riding Karl told me about his family and friends, his home in Portland, Oregon and about some of his travels.
He then shared a photo of he and his daughter (Cailyn) riding in front of the buildings of Portland. Karl told me the photo was on a calendar produced by the city.
The sun had set and darkness was approaching like a freight train as we approached Karl’s van.
“Great! Now that it’s dark I can show you my flamethrower bike!” Karl said with excitement.
I looked his rig over carefully as he turned it around and began opening valves. He had built a three wheeled bike with a 7 foot torch mounted on the front and a barbecue on the back. Underneath he had a battery to power his electric bike hub in the center of his front wheel while 3 propane tanks were mounted in various places.
He lit a pilot light but I was still startled when a 6 foot flame erupted from the top.
After saying goodbye I left Karl and headed back to camp in the dark.
Tall bikes … Dust … and Flames! I didn’t get a get a whole lot of training on this ride but boy did I get an education!
The following link can give you all the stats for my Tall Bikes ride … just click on the box below.