My last ride in the dirt on my XR400 was back in October of 2007 [X], as I broke my neck [X] during the November'07 LA-Barstow-Vegas Ride [X] while riding my KTM 950ADV [X]. 2009 - New Years Day - A NEW DAY!!! Finally after just over a year, I'm getting back on the dirt bike and back in the desert! Anthony and I go out to a location S.W. of the Barstow Loop and camp out off Stoddard Wells Rd. and put in two days of GREAT RIDING!!! Note the LEATT BRACE! But first a little prep: Time to get the Honda XR400 Prepped for the Desert. The DirtDawg was last ridden during my Moab trip and the Dunlop 606 tire took a beating and I still have a used Dunlop 756, so I will put that on for now as this bike is not quite ready for the street yet. But its going to see a lot of desert real soon! Got the tires loaded up to go make the swap and Kona is ready to ride too! Got the LEATT BRACE - Adventure model. THANK YOU MIKE KELLER! I like this one as it does not have the fabric wrapped foam - perfect for the desert funk. "Dant! DANT!! DAAAA!!!" - Sound effects please!!!! Motorsports is dangerous - PERIOD! This is something that most people never consider, but when you are strapping on a helmet.... you are signing your own personal wavier. The Dawgs are loaded and headed to the desert! The bikes are loaded in the truck and we are going for a little two day excursion to the desert for some good ol'dirt bike riding!!! Look at those mountains in the background! That's Mt. Baldy. Other side of those mountains... THE DESERT! We are headed to the Stoddard Valley Off Highway Vehcile Recreation Area aka: BARSTOW LOOP where much of the off-road idustry [Trophy Truck Testing Grounds] takes place. Plus, the outter area's have lots of riding, riding of which we have yet explored, so we are excited to see some new territory. Mountains sitting on the freeway overpass. Testing out this new Ogio 70oz [Liquid Capacity] Hydration Pack. Thank you Alex Baylon! The overall pack is small for my ADV-style carrying capacity, but I figured I would give it a try and Anthony is carrying the tools today. Hey, it's my first ride back in the dirt, so I figured we would be doing some small desert loops... yea, RIGHT! Overall impression: Awesome little bag! Lots of little storage areas, enough for me to carry the tow-strap, roll of tape, chap-stick, some wire, zip-ties, toilet-paper, maps, registration, wallet, keys, camera and if you really wanted to, the area where the water badder is, you could add some more items. On a recent MTB-ADV ride I stuffed a banana and a couple of sandwiches this area. OK, mini-sandwich as in Hawaiian roll with turkey folded and you and put two of these in a zip-lock and you are good to go! Depending on the ride and depending on just how much you like to carry, this could be the bag for you! I will be using this bag for my MTB action now too! I will still be looking to move into a larger bag like I had before... see what holds for the future. OK, own with the rest of my mess! Needed a helmet to replace the old "crashed' helmet. Had my eye on this Klim helmet and buddy Mike Keller made my HOLIDAY!! My hat/helmet size is 1-1/4 and this size Large Klim ran tight. Tight enough to make my cheeks pucker and a little sore after two days riding. I will need the next size up as I also normally wear a balaclava, but was unable to this time. Hey, I like to wear a balaclava, it's a motorsports thing... plus I have a shaved head... and it gets cold, and it makes for a great dust filter... All in all, I like the design of the helmet, and the goggles fit in nicely and worked will with the new Leat Brace too! SCOTT goggles [NoSweatXi] - LOVE'EM!!! Thanks Alex! The "EXCUSE DEVISE" The Leatt Brace is something I will be wearing from NOW ON!!! Thank you Mike Keller! I put the Leatt Brace on and put my helmet on and did all the head movements, I was actually showing my wife all the functions and what it's suppose to do. This makes her feel better and actually makes me feel better as well. If I feel better, I will ride better... maybe not faster, hopefully smarter and either way - just a way better "piece of mind!" Riding Impression: One of the first things I noticed while riding with it is you can't just look straight up the steepest hill. I thought it would be tougher to ride with, bothersome.. but not really. You get use to it fast, and then you don't notice it, and if you do take it off, you feel naked without it. It also did not get in the way of my backpack and or hydration pack. I'm stoked with it! A++!!! My new jewelery - the LEATT BRACE!!! So it's January 1st, 2009 and I just made a little hop across the valley! YES, I AM STOKED TO BE BACK ON THE BIKE!!!!!!!!!! One of the many awesome views in Stoddard Valley!* We make way for a lunch stop to the cafe in the middle of the desert: Slash X Cafe located on CA247 and accessable via dirt. While on the way back to camp, flat front tire... Got the bike up on the stand and just saw the DirtDawg its dust and glory... with a little flash on it for added visual effect.*But I have to work quick as I need to get the tube changed/fixed and our camp set up while the sun is going down along with the temprature! One more glory shot for good measure: OK, added to my to-do-list. Had a rear tube in the tube pouch [front fender]. Front tube in the "other" backpack at home. Luckly, friends had tube patch kit. Fixed it, put 5-lbs. in it to hold the patch and we will see if it holds over night. Today was plenty of riding at 55+ miles. It's getting dark and cold so it's time to get everything sorted for the evening. Toe warmer. Fireworks just seem to be second nature for the desert crowd. I'm sure those fireworks are made in China. It's Disney Land in the Desert! With fireworks still going off across the valley, it's good night to the bikes and hope that front tire holds so I can get some riding in tomorrow! Good night bikes! Morning from the tent - bike on one side... Open desert on the other side. It was rather chilly at night, but the 15-degree sleeping bag was way warm! Morning light in the desert. Desert floor sample - Dunlop 756 territory. The morning ritual - dress rehearsal. Yes, the front tire is holding air and I will bump the air pressure from 18lbs to 21lbs... it's a rough and rocky desert! So we head back toward the Outlet Center as we have family and friends camping over there too. Way down there is Barstow - Outlet Mall off the 15FWY A little zoomed in more view of the Outlet Mall area in Bartsow, CA. Looking back, and you can see the snow covered mountains of Big Bear, California. Awesome desert views in all directions from this high point from what may be Stoddard Mountain? Not sure.. Anthony looking down on the valley below. Camera kept blowing over due to the wind as it was perched on a rock. OK, now the camera sitting on a rock for a tripod and has another rock holding the camera up to prevent tip-over due to the high wind. Anthony (left) Rodney aka GCRad1 (right) We passed through these hills four times this day and rounded out the day with 76-miles of riding for day two! Not bad, not bad at all! All good and ready to go back!!! Will be working the next three weekends... EERRRRR!!! Sunday: Clean Up Gave the XR a good clean-up after the ride and made a little to-do list. This is my traditional way of drying my Camelback bladder. I've had this bladder hanger for some 15+ years... basically ever since Camelback came out with their first ever hydration system, someone developed this hanger. OGIO needs to come out with a drying system. So this is how I dried my new OGIO hydration bladder, I just slid it over a cup so it could get some air inside. Funky musty bladders with green floaters in the tubes are no fun! Did I have fun? YES! Without question I am STOKED to be back out on the bike and in the dirt!!!