Los Angeles to Barstow to Las Vegas by ZenMoto
Man, what a trip! This was my first Los Angeles to Barstow to Las Vegas (LA-B-V) and it was at the very last minute. A friend of mine had registered then hurt his back and rather than waste the entry, I took his place on my Honda XR400R. We figured all of this out on Thanksgiving day (the ride started early Friday morning).
I discovered when it's 42-degrees out and my bike hasn't been started in a couple weeks, it's a pain in the ass to start!
I didn't stop to take many pictures on the first day, but the morning was spent trying to escape the Los Angeles area. We did this via Rowher Flats and the Angeles Forest. We accidentally missed a turn on the roll-chart. I was leading a group of three and had never used a roll-chart before. (Who knew you weren't supposed to reset it at every turn?) This mistake put us on the "hard-way" trail which was basically 10 miles of steep 4x4 fire roads. It was not particularly difficult really, but more out of the way. Since we got a later start than we wanted, we turned around and found the easy way. This turned out to be a very challenging steep, rocky and rutted downhill single-track trail.
Once down from this we spent the morning negotiating mostly gravelly fire-roads and the occasional wash until we made it to California City for lunch. After lunch we headed into the California City OHV area. Here we found out where the roll-chart was indeed nearly useless! Despite the best efforts of the AMA District 37 organizers, California City is a zoo of crisscrossed trails and ribbon marking nearly every bush, tree, shrub and stick in the desert. There must have been 30 dirt bikes wandering around in circles trying to find the "BR @ Y" or "Merge with 2 Track" among the maze of intersecting trails.
It was here, in California City, were we merged with a couple other groups and some solo riders. One of which, a really good-spirited guy named Craig, took a rock to his left side crank-case. We needed a solution to get him going again. With the large group we had amassed, one guy had some duct tape, and I had a fresh pack of Juicy Fruit chewing gum. Amazingly it was enough! Craig was able to stem the leaking oil and continue on for another 13 miles until we came up on a camp of folks that were out to enjoy the weekend on their dirt bikes and quads. They had some JB Weld and silicon, etc. We left Craig there and went to fetch Eric's truck for him. (Eric was the rider who graciously offered me his spot in the group.) Our group consisted of Eric's wife, Joanne, and our friend David. It was the first time any of us did a LA-B-V trip. We found Eric at the checkpoint and they prepared to go back and pick up Craig and his stricken DRZ.
I continued on to Barstow as it was now after 4:00 PM and I desperately needed new tires. Barstow Cycle Center was happy to sell me a new set of Maxxis IT's and get rid of my worn out OEM tires.
After getting my new tires, I arrived at the Barstow Ramada check-in by 6:00 PM and was ready to relax for a couple hours.
It ended up that Eric and Joanne couldn't find the camp again by truck and we never did see Craig again. However, I heard that he did find his way into Barstow. If you're out there Craig, sorry, they drove around for an hour in California City but just couldn't locate the camp.
We got an earlier start on day 2. We figured we would leave at 7:00 AM, leaving an hour for all the hardcore vets to get out there, as we were no doubt a slower group. This got us to the first water crossing at Afton Canyon around 9:00 AM. This was the first water crossing anyone in my group had done. All of us but one survived the water crossing. Luckily it wasn't me. The bike that didn't make it took in a lot of water and had to ride in the back of a truck to Baker.
You might be able to guess which bike took in water. It wasn't uncommon for people not to make it through so we had plenty to watch while getting the Suzuki DRZ cleaned out and running again. Here are a couple guys that shared in our wet misery.
The easy route, which we did, took us onto a portion of the old Mint 500 course past some mines and into wonderful single track trails that were filled with s-curves, sand washes, rocks and whoops. It was a blast, but very tiring on my out-of-shape legs! It made the tortoise conservation area's fire road and 30mph speed limit refreshing.
Eric was waiting at the end of this stretch with his camera, so here's a shot of the three of us heading East.
From here we headed into Sandy Valley for lunch, an affair set up and prepared by the local fire department. It was a refreshing break and a good chance to fuel up for free (how many times have you had your bike filled directly from a gas truck?) before heading out on the final leg of the adventure.
Once back on the trail I just had to stop for a few pictures, as the view was fantastic!
Finally the last section of the route was to take us over the mountains and into Red Rock Canyon. We carried on into the snow-covered mountains. I just had to stop for yet another picture. By all accounts, supposed to be the most beautiful part of the adventure. Imagine my disappointment when we were told by a stream of riders coming back down that it was impassible or nearly so. We decided that it was probably best not to push our luck in the snow this time and head back to the alternate route.
From here, we made our way into a deep valley that lead to Red Rock. The view was majestic!
By 4:00pm, I pulled into the parking lot in Las Vegas for my final check-in.
The three of us made it into Las Vegas with no injuries and with our bikes still running. The Honda XR400R performed flawlessly -- charging at, up and over anything I pointed it towards! I can't wait for next year!
Credits: Article written by ZenMoto, edited by 4Strokes.com.
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