Story and Photos By: Ryan Sanders
2010 would mark the third year that I have had the opportunity to complete the Annual LA Barstow to Vegas Dual Sport Ride, and this one just like both years before would leave me with years worth of stories and memories. Sure there was the usual, Tube change due to nail before making the 80 mile mark, but it was so much more in that each and every inch of trail was exactly what I wanted out of a Thanksgiving weekend ride.
Having the right group of guys to ride with is a key part in your successful experience, and for 2010 I had the chance to ride with four members of my club, the 100’s MC, each of which is classified as an Expert in the District 37 off road circuit. This is key in that confidence in those around you helps to keep the ride enjoyable, even at the most difficult of trails.
Granted special permission to use existing corridors and OHV areas, the District 37 Dual Sport committee has worked hand in hand for years with both the BLM and US Forestry Service in an effort to make the event a continued success. Despite the setbacks that have been dealt by way of the BLM in Southern California over the last three months, the event went off without a hitch and each rider got the chance to experience trails that many never knew even existed.
Friday morning, as the clock struck 6 AM, the sign up line was opened and riders began their trek across the desert. John Connolly and I were the first two in the tech inspection line, and after about 10 minutes of prep, our roll charts were loaded and the bikes were warmed up. The ride this year headed a bit south and then east towards Victorville in the hills above Palmdale. Driving up the 14 freeway, I have always wondered what it would be like to attempt the last hill climb that is on the east side of the road just before the Pearblossom Highway. Well we didn’t get to try it, but we did end up atop that hill about 15 miles into the ride.
About 60 miles into the ride we came into the first gas stop, Lake Los Angeles. To me, this was the idea behind the ride, take us into places where I wouldn’t normally find myself on a bike. The gas station and convenience store was just enough to get us filled up before we left en route for the 4 corners gas stop. 70 miles later, and we were enjoying gas and a lunch via the Roadhouse Cafe at the famed Four Corners, the intersection of US 395 and the CA 58 hwys.
It would be another 90 miles before we were into Barstow for the evening, but along the way ride boss Gil Busick would pull out all of the stops with a single track section that even some of the best desert racers couldn’t clean. I made it all, but only after having to take a second attempt at one of the hills which was blocked by a whole slew of downed riders. Proving that Dual Sport wasn’t just about wide open fire roads, Gil choose a loop which featured some of the best trails in and around Fremont peak, just west of the US395. With a final stop by the famed Husky monument, we were back into Barstow just before the sunset.
It was COLD on this ride, and every second that went by, the temperatures just continued to drop. Pulling into Barstow, about 40 miles out, my bike started to give me troubles. I knew that something was wrong with the carb as it would only run under ¼ throttle. Steve Argubright and I were hoping that it was just a dirty air filter coupled with the cool desert air, but upon further inspection I found that the air filter just didn’t do the trick. If you have ever worked on an XR400, you know that the carb is a pain in the butt. I learned this the hard way being forced to remove the carb and clean the jets with non of the right tools, and in a dimly lit parking lot in Barstow. Knowing that I wasn’t going to miss the Sunday festivities for just a stupid carb issue, I plugged on until I was able to get the bike to run as it had Friday morning.
When it finally ran, John, Chad Peters, and myself went to bed for the night with only 7 hours until we could leave for the second leg of the ride.
Saturday morning came early, and the final 256-mile stretch into Vegas seemed to be a very difficult task. Cool temps, and the lack of cold weather gear meant that I was going to struggle to keep the pace that would allow us to complete all of the hard ways. A quick trip along the West side of the 15 freeway, allowed us to skim the boarder to the US army base Fort Irwin before ultimately crossing under the freeway into Yermo. 80 miles through the desert and we found ourselves along the Mojave Trail entering the Razor Road OHV Area. With dunes that could rival those of the famed Dakar Rally balance and skill played a part in maneuvering the bikes, sometimes in excess of 400 pounds through the sand. Thirty minutes out of Razor Road and the we were making their first gas stop of the day in Baker.
After a quick check in, the loop turned North to the ever impressive Dumont Dunes OHV area and riders traveled approx 10 miles around the Eastern side of the park. Following alongside the old railroad tracks that at one time were pivotal to the California Economy and we could get a feel of the history of this desert in Southern California.
The annual lunch stop at the Sandy Valley School was a final Stop as riders made their way into the forest and ultimately Red Rock Canyon, before seeing the sights of the Las Vegas Strip. With just 60 miles to go before Vegas, riders entered US Forest lands and eventually the Nevada state Hwy 160 which led up into the famed Red Rock Canyon area. Although there was a lack of rain in 2010 throughout the whole desert section, snow was on the ground throughout the forest and riders had a chance to really slide around corners.
With led then 40 miles to go, we embarked on the last “hard section” which was dubbed a “Hero Route.” Well, it wasn’t too difficult for any of us, it just allowed for an extra stretch of dirt road as compared to the speed controlled section of paved national forest lands. Following closely in the just of John, I crested a hill heading right, only to find that the hill went down and left! Trying everything I could to save the bike, I did a perfect Olympic style front flip over the bars, but failed to land on my feet. Thinking to myself, save the camera…. Save the camera… I was successful in that attempt but not so much in saving the arms of my jacket.
I was luckily unhurt, however, and it just goes to show you that even after over 400 miles of trail, anything can happen if you’re not careful. Knowing that Red Rock was ahead, I was really just more excited to get up to the summit and show Chad what I had been bragging about for the entire ride.
At about 3 PM we made it to the summit, and posed for the usual photos that have become a staple of my LA B to V experience for the last three years. Chad responded just about exactly as I expected when we final got to the top, and all I could think about the whole was down was, “I cant believe that this thing is over again!” After an event like this, riders are left with both a feeling of accomplishment and disappointment. For it will be another year before they get the chance to tackle the LA B to V again.
Thankfully, I have been able to travel all over the country riding my dirtbike in many of the Western United States, but each and every time that I set out on the LA B to V it is a whole new adventure. I know where I’m going, and probably could make it to the gas stops without the roll chart, but the adventure of dealing with the adverse situation is what makes it so exciting. I look forward to next year, and can’t wait to see what kind of obstacles will stand in our way in the future, as we attempt to make it back to the Las Vegas strip.
For more information on the ride, and other district 37 Dual Sport events, visit