L.A.-BARSTOW to VEGAS 2018 thread

Discussion in 'West – California, the desert southwest and whatev' started by RAZR, Jun 15, 2018.

  1. fastpast

    fastpast Been here awhile

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    So Cal east
  2. bigtodd

    bigtodd Hi, wanna ride?

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    Pre LAB2V fitness training
    [​IMG]

    Nice pay off
    [​IMG]
    GalacticGS, CA Stu, 2UP RIDER and 9 others like this.
  3. 2UP RIDER

    2UP RIDER n00b

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    looking good
  4. gonridn

    gonridn Been here awhile

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    Dayton Nevada
    [​IMG][​IMG]


    what a blast, riding with my sweetie from santa fe. re-injured my knee inside the first 50 miles but sucked it up and continued on. it ended up being a long day, the last two hours in the dark. i had to sit out saturday but found a guide for michelle to follow at breakfast.
  5. DJLeBLanc77

    DJLeBLanc77 Adventurer

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    Great time, excited to hit it again next year!!!

    Attached Files:

    Slow poke Rodriguez likes this.
  6. 2UP RIDER

    2UP RIDER n00b

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    Yes my husband and friend
  7. dino702

    dino702 OFF2BFE

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    Ha Ha, I'm pretty sure he's talking about the show girls!
  8. fastpast

    fastpast Been here awhile

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    Bingo!!!!
  9. Alex641

    Alex641 n00b

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    Had a great time this year being my third. First time going North through Red Rock/Jawbone was cool on Day 1 which I enjoyed. Loved the desert out of Johannesburg too....the views were incredible! Took mostly Hard Ways both days....strategy was get to Sandy Valley in good time.....have a great swift lunch and socialize a bit and enjoy the last hard ways to Vegas. Things worked out perfectly....at the bottom of Red Rock technical climb at 1pm (I saw no one).....up and over and into Vegas at 2pm. Could not have been better from perfect weather,no mechanicals, no falls or tip overs and a lot of cool guys I met along the way. District 37 Dual Sport and volunteers you guys nailed it. Thanks!
    Alex Mansfield
    United MC
  10. stageracer

    stageracer To err is human, to forgive is not company policy

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    look a couple of posts above yours for GeoMoto. The guy with the LV Showgirls
  11. Yellowjacket

    Yellowjacket Long timer

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    Let's watch some videos!

    HadesOmega Part 1 up to lunch:



    Part 2 from lunch almost to Barstow. Lots of deep sand and whoops toward the latter part. Yikes!

  12. molochnik

    molochnik Anhedonic Enthusiast

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    HiDez SoCal
    Yeah I saw that photo. I'm curious to know how durable they are. Cool bike.
  13. GeoMoto

    GeoMoto Head Flying Monkey Supporter

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    The Himalayan did great! Super easy bike to ride. Not bad in the sand if you keep your speeds up. It has really surprised me with how well it performs. You aren't going to win any land speed records but you will get to the finish line. Very similar to a KLR650. Slow down through the whoops and be mindful of the low clearance and you can ride it just about any where.
    Elad and HBSURFDAD like this.
  14. molochnik

    molochnik Anhedonic Enthusiast

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    Gosh, I could use your summary word for word to describe my DR650 :-)
    GeoMoto likes this.
  15. Yellowjacket

    Yellowjacket Long timer

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    NSFW, HBSURFDAD and breakdirt916 like this.
  16. breakdirt916

    breakdirt916 CA PLATED 94 YZ250 2-STROKE

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    I stand corrected, she does ride a 2 stroke, noice!
  17. GeoMoto

    GeoMoto Head Flying Monkey Supporter

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    Feel free to message me with questions and I will tell you all about my experience with the Himalayan.
  18. Yellowjacket

    Yellowjacket Long timer

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    Here's Part 3 of HadesOmega and Cactus Puncher's ride, Day 1:

    ADVCWBY and ag40 like this.
  19. bigtodd

    bigtodd Hi, wanna ride?

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    ^^^ love his enthusiasm/attitude
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  20. molochnik

    molochnik Anhedonic Enthusiast

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    AED72BA3-B01D-4480-9C02-ED61603A2C75.jpeg AB605C57-D3A8-405B-8EB6-A1434844A31F.jpeg I humbly submit the following essay I've written for my memoirs and friends - friends including most everyone I interacted with on this endeavor.

    LA-B2V
    (ON A DR650)
    So a Jew and Catholic are lost in the desert…there’s gotta be a joke there somewhere but I haven’t figured it out yet.
    As I have been trading emails with a work acquaintance to pick his brain for his experience in adventure and enduro riding, he recommended a couple of places and rides to try out. One of them was an afterthought where he said, “or the LA Barstow Vegas run is next weekend if you’re a hard-ass.”
    I began doing some research on this famed tradition and it was soon that I was signed up. I saw that the organizers had both “easy” and “hard” routes for the ride, yet it was hard to find anything definitive on what the standard was for an “easy” route. The organizers warned entrants to not do the ride alone – that they should have a “riding buddy” for the run. I was dismissive about that since I typically ride alone for want of someone who is not only close to my skill level (which is not high), willing to go when I feel like going, but mostly due to the fact that I have sworn off everyone I considered a friend who I didn’t have to work with. None of my friends at work were willing to do the run even if they were a rider.
    The organizers recommended that lone entrants get on the District 37 message board to find a riding buddy or a group who was willing to have them. It’s difficult to put together even a small group of riders who all have a similar skill level, maintenance ethic, and morality such that nobody is frustrated waiting, left behind, or pissed off because someone’s bike keeps breaking. I had a similar experience with riding sport bikes in canyons – I only ever found but two people with whom I could have a satisfying day of riding. As for my touring endeavors, nobody I knew wanted to take multi-day trips on a bike.
    I signed up on the message board and thought to myself, is this what it’s like to sign up on grinder? How the hell do I try to sell myself to other guys when I don’t have any idea what to expect on this ride? What do I tell the enduro community about myself that doesn’t sound like a dating profile? I made no secret about how little I knew about the ride and how long I had been off the dirt. I was also hopeful that I implied how awkward I felt about searching for a “riding buddy”.
    I got no bites on my post.
    I began looking through the posts to see if anyone was looking and had not yet found anyone. I spotted a guy going by the handle “Yamajoe” and sent him a private message asking if he had found anyone to ride with yet. He got back to me and said he hadn’t so we began exchanging emails and such. He rode the event last year, considered himself an intermediate rider, and had a Yamaha WR250R, a bike that was smaller yet much lighter than my battle-tank DR650, but the WR250 had been an impressive bike since its release in terms of power and capability. I made it clear I’m a pavement guy; a road racer of B+/A- level and had done some supermoto racing and casual desert riding. That didn’t seem to bother him so we began chatting on the phone and it seemed we figured we could make the match work.
    I set about doing what seemed prudent in terms of getting my DR650 ready for the ride. I was somewhat cocksure that I could pull off the endeavor; after all, I managed to spend a lot of time riding in the desert on my 2002 YZ250 with road racing slicks on it and enjoyed doing so. I had a set of adventure tires on the DR – TKC80s with the big blocky knobs, tires meant for a proper adventure bike. I didn’t like the idea of having a 21” wheel on the front of the bike so after removing the 17” front wheel I had on the front for supermoto shenanigans, I had laced up a nice wide 19” wheel. I moved the 17x3.5” front rim to the rear and the big tires fit nicely. When I bought the big DR I wasn’t too concerned about its weight - it was only to be a street bike as far as I was concerned. I also chose it precisely because it is so old fashioned and reputed to be as reliable as a sledge-hammer. The DR knows what it is, Suzuki knows what it is, most people know what it is…I would find I didn’t know what I was getting myself and the DR into.
    Joe and I would chat about the ride in terms of what I could expect and our set ups. My dear wife Jenny agreed to be our support crew for the ride. She would drive our pickup to the gas stops with our fuel cans and snacks; this would save us the hassle of waiting in line at gas pumps or cash registers. She would also meet us in Vegas and provide a ride home for me and the bike. Joe had his own arrangements for getting home from Vegas.
    It rained a little bit the day before so we were hopeful that there would be plenty of traction and little dust. Friday morning was fairly chilly. I was glad I decided to put the insulation layers into my jacket and pants and the balaclava kept my head and neck warm on the ride down to Palmdale at 5:00 in the morning.
    I met Joe, for the first time face to face, down near the starting line for the run and we began to get ready to sign in. Joe turned out to a hale, hearty, gregarious and affable guy. He sounded like he would have dark curly hair, but his head is clean shaven. His optimism and enthusiasm would prove a welcome balance to my flat pessimism.
    The line was long, the weather outside was chilly, and I sweated while inside of Palmdale Supercycles waiting for my turn to sign in and get my rider’s packet. There were over 500 riders signed up and we got there kind of late. I quickly loaded my roll chart in its holder for the first time in my life, stuffed the rest of my packet into my jacket and headed back down to the pickup where Jenny waited for us. We got everything squared away and headed off.
    The first section of the ride was a trip up Sierra Highway to Avenue C. I was surprised at how scrappy I was feeling and began to ride up the pavement like it was a race. I was frustrated by slower riders and Joe tried to admonish me that slow and steady is the way to go. I figured that since we were on a surface I was most comfortable with, why not get it behind us as quickly as possible? I forced myself to acquiesce and recognize that Joe was the veteran on this ride so I waved him ahead and tried to temper my enthusiasm. As much as I don’t like to compete, I have a hard time not doing so in a group of riders. I realized my odometer was not very accurate, so I was happy to let Joe lead for that reason too.
    We turned off of the pavement onto Avenue C and made a quick left onto a trail that took us up to Rosamond Boulevard. I was trying my best to keep up with advancing my chart and getting a feel for the endeavor. We crossed Rosamond Boulevard and headed up into the desert. From this point on, I wouldn’t have a clear idea where I was. The desert floor was soft and dusty yet it wasn’t too bad to stay in control. I wasn’t prepared for the number of riders and the amount of dust and it really changes the game in contrast to riding alone. We soon came up on our first gnarly hill climb. Nothing too steep, but it was rocky and there were bikes and riders all over the place. My strategy was to try and carry as much speed as I could with my big bike. In comparison to the dainty, lightweight modern enduro bikes, my DR was large and very old-fashioned. Speed was my friend as long as I had a clear view of what lay ahead. The big 650 is very tractable, but the overall size of the bike made it less than nimble for changing a line to avoid riders or latent obstacles. I bombed up the steep rocky hill behind Joe to find myself on soft rutted trails with stopped riders and more dust. Not long after this I fell over for the first time and found myself already nearing exhaustion. I suspect I held my breath too much due to the dust and I also had my insulated liner in my jacket and pants, plus I had a balaclava on under my helmet.
    A nice feature on the DR is the rubber mounting of the handlebar clamps. I believe Suzuki did it for comfort, but it was a huge help in keeping my bars from bending like they would in the solid mounts of my YZ. Instead of bending, the bars would simply twist inside the mounts – the rubber dampers allowing things to go askew with no bending. I had a handy little tool kit in my Camelback that I used to loosen up the clamps and it would just take a nudge to get everything lined up again. Tighten the handlebar clamps up, then loosen the upper triple tree to get the front wheel lined up and all was good again. I removed my jacket insulation and balaclava to see Joe come back looking for me as I got suited up again. I fired up the bike and we were off.
    It was still more of the soft dusty crap and I would often just charge ahead with nothing but hope that I wouldn’t be spat off the bike. It was tough to maintain enough speed with slower riders and the dust (still) and I’d find myself crashing trying to avoid hitting a bunch of riders in the middle of the course. The next time I fell it was on my right ankle and I could feel it click when I hit the dirt. I got up and got the bike lifted up, but the sand was too deep to get it out of the trail. The bike was also dead for some reason. It would be an infrequent problem and I suspect it was due to sand and dirt getting inside of my switches. I finally mustered the strength to drag the bike sideways off the trail so I could keep pecking at my kill switch and starter button in hopes the bike would start. It finally did and I set about getting past the throng of riders I could now see were shielding a rider who was lying flat on his back. I would find out later he had broken his pelvis and was airlifted out.
    I hooked back up with Joe who was waiting for me down the trail where it opened up onto a small dry lakebed. I stopped and apologized that I needed to straighten out my front end again. I felt like a jabroni having so much trouble. With the wheel and handlebars going in different directions on the sandy surface it was tough to “just deal” with the front end out of whack. I think it was in this section I would crash again just from going through a turn too hot and I fell over on my left side slamming the side of my helmet into the ground HARD. It was surprising that I was able to get back up and going again so quickly; I was surprised at how hard I hit my head. I believe we made it to the first gas stop shortly after that and I removed my insulation from my pants.
    It was clear we were somewhat behind, but Joe was surprisingly patient while I tried to get myself sorted and gassed up. We headed off down the road and turned right into the desert once again. More of the soft crap but I think I managed to keep things upright for a while until we began reeling in slower riders. At one point, Joe offered me the lead at the beginning of a hard-pack trail. I took off like a scalded cat (so it seemed to me) and somehow managed to survive a good number of washes that would come up with little warning. The sun was pretty high by now, so it was hard to get an indication of the terrain from shadows. I’m still astonished I didn’t bend a wheel, go over the bars, or suffer some other catastrophic consequence of my lunge into the unknown. There was a guy on a large twin cylinder KTM – a bike with a lot of motor – who would do his damndest to pass me (and then camp out between Joe and me) when the going was easy and then completely fall apart when it would get soft. This was vexing because it would kill my speed and then I’d have to struggle with the sand too. Once things hardened up again, I’d have to drag race, the would-be “Lucky Pierre”, to the next sandy section. It was troubling.
    We soon found ourselves back on pavement again headed for Johannesburg where we would have lunch and gas up. We made it in and out of there in decent time and back in the dirt we’d find ourselves on a nice hard-pack trail where we maintained a pretty good pace. At one point I crested a small hill and whacked a rock sticking out of the trail. I heard a funny noise and looked down at my front end to see if there anything obviously wrong but nothing looked off. We continued on and things seemed to be going pretty well. There was a large intersection of trails and some weekend campers where a good number of riders were taking a break. I pulled up next to Joe, hopped off my bike and remarked at how nice the last section was. I looked at my front tire and it seemed awfully wide. I went over and pushed on it – it gave way completely. Joe said, “Aw crap!” I said, “I’m gonna go take a leak on a bush over there and contemplate whether I’m gonna fix the flat. The tire works great at 0 psi.”
    I decided it would be prudent to change the tube.
    A BRIEF INTERLUDE IN DEFENSE OF YOUR PROTAGONIST
    It is important to me to make clear that I am admittedly ignorant of many facets of the ADV/enduro/dual sport world. As I probably mention, ad nauseam, that I’m a pavement racer, I am often recalcitrant to try a recommended set-up if what I had done in the past has worked for me – even under different circumstances. So I am not claiming to have any idea what I’m doing. In cases where I may indicate feelings of self-satisfaction, remain aware that nobody is more surprised at my successes than I am. Lastly, if/when I express frustration with other riders it shouldn’t be taken as arrogance on my part or denigration toward them. I am well aware that I may have been one of the biggest chuckleheads out there; I’m just expressing what I was trying to accomplish while everyone else was doing the same. I’m not attempting to lay blame or make excuses – just identifying reasons for what went on. I mean no ill-will toward anyone…truly…just trying express my humility.
    BACK TO THE RIDING
    I had no idea what lay ahead on the ride, and I was clearly out of my element, so I didn’t want to have to worry about or deal with a tire getting destroyed or causing any mishaps due to a foolhardy decision to ignore it. In the days leading up to the ride, I fabbed a plate for the right hand side of the bike that would serve as a rear master cylinder guard, a brake pedal guard, and a mounting point for a two piece stand I could bolt on in case I needed to get the bike’s rear end off the ground to change a rear tube. I got the bike off the trail and proceeded to start getting at my tools and begin assembling my stand in hopes that it would work for the front end as well. Joe said, “Hey let me get you a rock.” And of all the rocks in the desert, he brought me a big heart shaped rock onto which I hefted the big DR. It was just enough to get the front wheel off the ground and saved a lot of fiddling around with things that may or may not have worked. He made it clear that although the rock was heart-shaped, it didn’t mean we were going to spoon that night. I was fine with that; I prefer to have a relationship going before intimacy of that sort. So we talked about politics while we fought to get the bead broken and changed the tube. The tire bead wasn’t cooperating so Joe suggested we use the kickstand on his bike to break the bead on my wheel. In sum, it took about 30 minutes to get the job done and it was the first tube I’d changed out in the field. It would have been infinitely harder without Joe and his bike there for the kickstand trick and helping to keep things light.
    I had lowered my DR significantly after buying it. I only ever intended to ride it on the street and laced a 17 to the front and shod it with Bridgestone S20s. The bike was LOW. I put longer dog bones on the swingarm, used the “lower” mounting position for the shock, and put a ¼” spacer inside the shock when I had it opened up to revalve it. The forks had a ½” spacer under the damper rods. For this ride I swapped the dog bones back to stock, took out the spacers from under the damper rods, and fabbed up a set of 1” spacers to go on top of the springs. I left the shock as it was and with the 19” wheel on the front I could still comfortably flatfoot it. This was a huge – YUGE – help in terms of confidence for this sort of thing and I had forgotten how much so. Downhills were terrifying on my YZ at full height and it wasn’t until after I had lowered it for flat track and later supermoto that I would learn to ride steep downhills. By the time I gave up riding it in 2010 it had been full height for a little over a year and I was very comfortable with it by then.
    The angle of the sun was not promising and everyone else had cleared out until we were underway. Now I can’t remember if the big downhill was before or after this, but it bears mentioning as it was actually my shining moment on the ride. The course was very subtle about getting us on top of such a high butte. At the top I rolled up next to Joe who told me I could take the lead for the next section. There were riders and bikes all over the top of the hill. I putted forward to see the downhill route. I don’t know for sure how long it was but it was the steepest and longest downhill I’d ever ridden to date. The second section seemed twice as long as the first section and steeper too. I sat there for a moment before deciding that I once knew how to negotiate things like this, and this was pretty much what had to be done.
    I rolled over the edge of the hill in 1st gear, clutch in, and used both brakes and my left foot to begin the descent. Once I had a clear view of the line I would take to the first landing and the other riders on the hill were out of the way, I hopped up on the pegs, let the clutch out, and rolled it the remaining ¾ of the way to the first landing…without incident. I got to the side of the trail and waited for Joe. While Joe displayed very competent riding skills, to that point and after, he ended up walking his bike down the hill. This hill was so steep that even walking a bike was an exercise in determination to keep the bike upright. I don’t blame him a bit and if I hadn’t lowered my bike, I might have done the same. When he got down to where I was, I set about doing the same thing for the next portion. That damn hill was so steep that gravity was pulling the bike down faster than the compression braking of the rear end would allow. I was being very judicious with the rear brake as the back end of the bike was beginning to come around. In fact I think I just stayed off of the rear brake all together and feathered the front. I was hoping it looked cool to come down the hill slightly askew, and I wasn’t really bothered too much about the attitude of the bike to my surprise. Once I could see a clear path down the trail and up the runoff where a bunch of other riders were sitting, I gave it some gas to straighten it out and turned around at the bottom of the hill to wait for Joe and light up a Camel; he opted to walk his bike down again like a goodly number of other riders. I was feeling awfully smug; not because I had done anything remarkable in terms of dirt bike riding writ large, however, I actually pulled off something that had been one of the hardest things for me to come to terms with on a dirt bike.
    It was while I waited at the bottom of the hill that the amount of human decency in this realm of motorcycling was laid bare. I could see many riders were having trouble with the hill, but what seemed to give this misanthrope some glimmer of hope for humanity were the guys who were walking back up the hill to help fellow riders. At the bottom of the hill I spotted a pre-unit Triumph - this means it couldn’t have been newer than a 1962 model. High on adrenaline, I asked, “Hey who’s on the pre-unit?” A rider pointed to a guy walking back up the hill to give Joe a hand - “He’s helping out the guy with the Yamaha.”. I replied,”Now I feel like a dick!”…to plenty of laughter.
    Now I’m an out of shape smoker – not an excuse, just a fact – and I knew I only had so much effort I could possibly put forth for the day and I imagine that energy and effort were precious resources for a good many of us out there. I felt it would have been an empty gesture to walk back up that hill to offer help; I’ve walked a bike down a hill more times than I can, or care to, possibly remember. But seeing people walking back up that hill to help others out, along with all of the good will I had seen otherwise was heartwarming, at the risk of sounding sappy. I’ve taken a very dark view of life and people due to experiences and reasons that seem reasonable to me. Road racers are typically a pretty cagey bunch, flat trackers are generally friendlier. My experiences at MX tracks/riding areas have been less than good. I really only found myself at those places to ride flat track. Throughout the day I was impressed with the good manners and lack of peacocking I’d seen. It seemed like life might not be *that* bad.
    But things would take a turn for me.
    We began to wind our way down through a valley. There were deep ruts in the trail with loose sections sprinkled in. The sun was getting low and the trail got sandier and sandier, dustier and dustier. Unfortunately I left my clear-lens goggles in the pickup after our first stop and the tinted lens, full of dust, with lots of dust floating around, made it harder and harder to see what was going on. We got caught behind some riders, one in particular that was having as hard a time as I was in the unrelenting, deep, sugary sand. I began to crash regularly and always on my right side. My ankle that was a little sore began to take a beating as the bike always seemed to pin me down by that same ankle. I also (stupidly, in retrospect) carried my Leatherman tool in the front pocket of my riding pants and have ended up with a stubborn bruise and bleeding wound from falling on it repeatedly. I was no longer paying attention to my roll chart – I was just trying to keep it on the bike. One particular crash left me so exhausted, exasperated, and defeated I wasn’t sure if I could continue even if I wanted to. The sun was setting and all that was left was the atmosphere lit up red by the last remnants of sunlight. Joe had the patience of Job waiting for me to catch my breath – my bike still laying on its side. I finally mustered up the energy to heft the heavy DR upright and get it started. My front end was twisted again, but I needed to press forth. At one point I was following a rider who went by “Noah” – the particular guy who was having as tough a time as me. For all of the dust I suddenly found myself flying headlong off of my bike with no idea why. My helmet hit the sand and my chin guard was rolled into my chest. I thought I may have really hurt myself this time…a broken neck is going to be awfully hard to ride with in this stuff. After I got back on my feet, I saw there was what I can only describe as “a step” on the right side of the trail where I was riding. No surprise I was thrown over the bars and the bike’s front end was twisted up, again.
    Joe kept telling me we only had so many 10ths of a mile to go every time I was getting back up from falling in that crap. My neck hurt terribly and it was getting dark. I fell too many times to remember, and after a while with all of the pain between my neck and my ankle, I began to find myself in a different state of consciousness. I’m not trying get all weird and metaphysical here, but picking up the bike, straightening the front end, and pushing forth however many feet – sometimes measured in hundreds, sometime only tens – just became a mechanical action. As Joe claimed when he said, “2/10ths of a mile and we’ll be on hardpack.”, we did indeed find ourselves on friendlier terrain. What Joe saw and I didn’t, was a guy in a pickup truck pulling down ribbons from the bushes as the sun set. This meant we would have no indication at all as to whether we were even on the course.
    We began trying to find our way – I just followed Joe – in the darkness while I just tried to stay upright and take my pain. We would eventually find a sweep crew who were also attempting to find their way. They had some mechanical issues to deal with also. There was some disagreement on which way to go. I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t have any ideas where to go nor any idea where we were. We tried a couple of different trails and they’d either begin winding their way to the wrong direction or we’d find ourselves having gone in a circle. We rode here and there and it wasn’t long before I began to see some light issuing upward between two buttes. It gave me some hope that we might be close enough to Barstow to see what direction we needed to go. There were still disagreements about using GPS, maps, and/or various phone apps to try and identify our location.
    The light I saw turned out to be a beautiful rising full moon. I won’t discount the risk associated with being lost in the desert after dark…in fact the risk is what drew me, besides the travel aspect of the ride. I’m not claiming to be brave to any extent, but considering I have a DNR (a Do Not Resuscitate order) and I had multiple stickers on my helmet telling any medics so, I wasn’t really feeling much of anything. Some places would seem a little cold and another place, where two guys were catching their breath after colliding, seemed very comfortable. I almost wondered if I was indeed dying as I felt more distant from all of my pain. It was definitely there, to be sure, but it was as if I just no longer gave a shit if we got out, or not, or I was going to die where I stood on the dusty flood plain. Not trying to be gratuitously dark, but this was my experience…perhaps it was endorphins kicking in. I was definitely on board with following the group and doing what needed to be done but I was simply performing tasks at that point. The only thing that did interest me was the moon. It was extraordinary to feel like I did and be fascinated by the moon while trying to remain focused on whatever was going on at the moment.
    The sweep crew would eventually disappear except for one rider named Jerry on a Husky 450. I found his quiet confidence to be a comfort. Our group went from nine to four – Jerry, Joe, Noah (who would disappear and reappear almost magically), and me. It wasn’t long after we became four that we came across two guys on KTMs, one towing the other. I chatted a little with the guy getting towed – seemed like a nice dude and had a most interesting accent. It turns out he’s from South Africa but I never got his name. For the remainder of the tale I will refer to him as TSA (The South African) for lack of a better moniker. The guy doing the towing I’ll refer to as KTM1; sorry guys, if you gave me your names I certainly can’t recall them. TSA’s bike had a dead engine; that’s all I really knew. I was impressed that they had been under tow through most of the crap we just rode through – very admirable. Jerry and Joe worked on a plan to get us out of the wilderness and I just followed along, still having no better ideas. We came up on a rescue jeep and Jerry talked to them a little bit and then we all paused as we went by so they could take note of our numbers…I think; I just paused because everyone else did and it seemed like the thing to do. Sometime around here Noah did one of his disappearing acts – it’s kinda funny now because we all ended up together again although Joe would chase after him yelling for him to come back. I dunno, it just strikes me as funny all things considered.
    Since sunset I resigned myself to just riding without my goggles as they had a tinted lens. Like I said, I left my clear ones with Jenny at the first fuel stop; I figured I wouldn’t need them again - why would I if we were going to get to Barstow before sunset? I had a clear shield as part of my enduro helmet but it would often fog and get dusty pretty fast. I had a microfiber cloth handy to keep wiping it but it was just as effective to ride with it up. When I found Noah at another intersection some distance later, I saw he was just wearing some round eyeglasses with what appeared to be a Biltwell Gringo helmet – the one with the late 70s/early 80s stripey color spectrum designs - it reminded me of some of the snowmobile gear I had from the same time. Jerry showed up and I shot the shit with Noah and Jerry, smoked a Camel, and realized I ought to try to text Jenny. Who knows how long she’s been waiting? I pulled out my phone and it immediately displayed a low battery warning; I simply typed a text message “I am ok”, hit send and shoved it back in my jacket. Joe, TSA, and KTM1 showed up. This was also the point that I ran out of water, however, we were sitting at an intersection with a fairly well-groomed wide dirt road; I figured we were on our way to civilization at this point. Joe and the KTMs headed out onto the road turning right, Jerry after them, and I followed Noah. I was happy to not have to fight that damn sand anymore. The dirt road gave way to pavement and we’d eventually find our way down to I-15…but it was probably a good 15-20 miles from where we last stopped to get to the highway.
    From here on I’m going to float a hypothetical series of events that involve some civil disobedience. I’m not saying this is how it went, but if I were to choose a way for it to go, this would be pretty cool. Also, I’m not poking fun at any accents, just trying to paint a picture.
    If memory serves, Jerry led, followed by Joe, and I followed the KTMs. We rode along the shoulder of the highway with rigs flying right by us if they couldn’t move over; it wouldn’t have been prudent to ride at freeway speeds with one bike under tow, and other bikes with gearing or tire configurations that are sub-optimal for such speeds. Since some D-bag in Sacramento thinks it’s safer to have a mandated 15 mph speed differential between cars and rigs, I doubt the trucks could have given us any room if they wanted to. I kept my left hand blinker on like Joe did as we buzzed down the shoulder; sometimes we’d have to just moto over retreads and one time both TSA and myself hit a piece of metal. My best guess is that it would have been a piece of trim from a car. For whatever reason, if any of this happened at all, we overshot our exit and stopped a little ways past it. While still on the shoulder of the busy highway TSA said, “I’m shit-ting a brick, this seems very unsafe, I’m shit-ting a brick.” I was sitting closest to the white line and didn’t really care if I got hit or not; I could understand his concern though. I remained quiet and somewhat sanguine that we actually knew where we were at the very least. Somebody suggested, hypothetically, that we cross the highway, the median, and the other side of the highway and go back to the exit. Now if I was feeling better, and this actually happened, I would have pumped my fist in the air and cheered, because, frankly, this suggestion didn’t seem any more risky than anything else we had done that day.
    One guy crossed into the median during a break in traffic. TSA pushed his bike across next followed by KTM1. I went last and once the KTMs were hooked up, we bolted to the other shoulder and down to the light at the bottom of the exit. The five of us took off when the light went green and didn’t stop until we found the finish line at the Ramada Inn in Barstow. Along the way it’s possible that someone may have yelled at me not to stop for a yellow light turning red. I may or may not have listened.
    The following definitely happened…
    We got to the parking lot around 9:15pm where we found my dear wife waiting nervously in the truck. Thankfully, the local Boy scout troop volunteered to watch our bikes overnight and after I gave the Scoutmaster $20 for Joe’s and my bike(s) we headed to the check-in for the second day of the ride. On the way, I told Joe that even if I didn’t break anything I was positive I wouldn’t be able to ride day 2. Inside the Ramada’s lobby after checking in, we got confirmation that day 2 would be harder and sandier than day 1. I hated to leave Joe hanging; he really wanted to do Red Rock as he had gotten there too late last year. Joe opted to sit out day 2 as well. We went back to the truck and Jenny took us to IHOP; everything else was closing down by that time of the evening. I wolfed down a burger and I’m not quite sure what Joe had…but this is a motorcycle story and not a foodie trip.
    We dropped off Joe at his motel and Jenny and I headed to ours. Things still seemed very surreal as I got in the shower and let the warm water pelt my neck. I wasn’t sure how to sleep that night, but I certainly slept. My neck still hurt, but it was becoming clear that it wasn’t broken. My ankle, while not broken either, was verrrry tender.
    Joe’s girlfriend met him in the morning and they trucked his bike into Vegas for the banquet and Jenny and I picked up my lonely DR – the last one in the lot – and headed out to Vegas as well.
    As we came up on Zzyzyx Road, I suggested to Jenny that we ought to stop; I needed to take a leak and wanted to smoke. We headed down to the Zzyzyx Springs compound so I could show Jenny what a surreal place *that* was. We took a bunch of pictures and talked to a young scholar who was some kind of security dude. To anyone reading this interested in the Old Mojave Trail, the hippies have closed off the trail where it crosses the Zzyzyx Springs property. They also get their ponytails in a twist if they catch you on the dry lake. I’m just sayin’ although I don’t care either way…F-ing hippies. There are times I feel I can’t believe my eyes or that my perception and/or memory is errant for any number of reasons - known or unknown. I was chagrined to find that the compound was *not* as I remembered it from just a few weeks before. It didn’t appear better or worse, it just wasn’t how I remembered it.
    To wrap things up, we had a good time at the banquet; a better time than I thought I’d have, but I was also medicating myself with copious amounts of whiskey. I’m not really a people person, but I did meet a number of extraordinarily nice people. We saw Jerry, and Joe bought him a drink. I wasn’t in the kind of shape to go glad handing, yet I did make it down to the casino floor to smoke a few times.
    The sponsors of the event, as well as District 37, were extremely generous with the raffles and give-aways. Again, I was surprised and, even if it seems maudlin, somewhat uplifted by the collegial and friendly nature of the experience writ large. These are certainly folks I’d be happy to ride with on future endeavors, if they’ll have me.
    I have some tempered pride to have finished half of the event, a challenge I was not expecting or completely prepared for - I got to Barstow on two wheels and under power, which is not nothing.
    Like I’ve said before, if you don’t get lost it’s not much of an adventure.
    EDIT: Having looked at some kml files, we were actually on 58 FWIW. I also found a shot of my lonely DR Saturday morning and Joe, Santa and me with the showgirls. I can’t believe I’m fatter than Santa