Now for an adventure that is totally different. This 2-day trek was completed in October 2008.
We started this adventure at a friend’s house in Silver Lakes, CA and ride to Laughlin, NV on the Mojave Trail and then end back in Silver Lakes the next day after an overnight in Laughlin.
The instigator of this ride was Tom (WR TOM) from Arizona. He wanted us to ride over and meet his group in Laughlin then ride the Mojave Trail (M.T.) back to Barstow. I was in on this one as I had tried several times to ride the M.T. from Barstow but never got to finish due to poor timing. This was the chance to make up for the past missteps. Bill was going to do the ride by himself so I suggested we could ride to Laughlin, hook up with Tom’s group then ride back with them the next day. He agreed so the 2 of us were going to do a round trip. Later that week he called to say he had a friend from work, BAD LT (Tom), who would like to join us on this adventure. Sure the more the merrier.
OK so the trip is set. The ADV Rider Inmates on day 1 would be Bill on his Honda XR650R, BAD LT (TOM) on his Honda XR600R and me on my Honda XR650L. My bike was brand new and this would be the first time its tires had seen the dirt. Having only 200 miles on the Odometer also meant I would still need to baby it a little and the suspension would be a little harsh. The only after-market part I got to install before this ride was an Acerbis 5.8 gallon fuel tank, the bike still had the stock 50/50 Dunlop tires from the factory. So I checked the bike over to make sure everything was tight and would not rattle off and set the suspension adjustment clickers to my riding style.
Bill and I started to gather GPS tracks to make it from Silver Lakes to Laughlin with minimal pavement (tarmac). Between the 2 of us emailing tracks back and forth we came up with a good route there and an alternate route to follow back to mix things up. Getting from Bills to the start of the M.T. was the hardest part. We worked with BLM trail maps and Bills knowledge of the area around Silver Lakes to stay on legal routes through the desert. We ended up with about a 90% dirt and 10% paved ride.
The ride morning broke clear and crisp and we were ready to leave Silver Lakes at 7:30 AM. As we were warming up the bikes Bill noticed his XR was leaking gas from the overflow hose of the carburetor. Stuck float was everyone’s guess. Trying to get it unclogged we tried riding it around his block and tapping on the float bowl to dislodge the dirt, all to no avail. We did not have time to tear the carburetor apart and Bill was lucky enough to have another licensed bike available, a 250 Yamaha WRF, so he quickly put all his gear on the Blue bike and away we went. Now Bill would be at severe disadvantage at speed with all the larger bore machines in the group.
Following RR tracks and dirt roads we managed to get into Stoddard Valley Off Highway Vehicle area. We followed the northern power line road through the OHV area and into the Ord Mountain Route Network. This was not your usual straight flat power line road. It was a fun 2-track dirt road that would wind its way up, down and around numerous hills with a combination of sand and rocks thrown in for fun.
We exited the Ord Mountain Route Network at Dagget and started our first paved run north for breakfast at Peggy Sues Diner, which is located on old Route 66. Arriving at 9:30 AM meant we were all famished and ate everything before photos could be taken of the good food.
Leaving Peggy Sues Diner, Bill needed to fill up the stock gas tank on the Yamaha. We then proceed to follow a mixture of paved and dirt roads of the Southern Mojave Trail System and BLM trails to the Mojave Trail at Afton Canyon.
Now the adventure for the day starts. We get to the Mojave River crossing in Afton Canyon and notice it is quite wide for a desert river at the end of summer. I go at it first. Too much speed and I was under a wall of water and soaking wet when I exited the other side. BAD LT went next. He tried to go on the opposite side of the water crossing than I had although that left hand section ended up being a lot deeper; it swallowed his 21” front tire only a quarter of the way through the crossing. The bike instantly coughed and died.
He pushed it back to the starting shore, emptied the float bowl of water from the drain plug and it fired on about the 8th kick. While he was putting back on all his gear Bill went through on his Yamaha, NO PROBLEM, he went slow enough so he did not get soaking wet.
BAD LT tried again and got just a little further then the bike coughed and died again. Pushing it all the way through to our side he again drained the float bowl and it started right up.
As we were waiting we noticed the boot between the carburetor and air filter box had worked its way off on the bottom of the carburetor, no wonder it was sucking water in the carburetor and dying. Fixing the problem we continue on.
Continuing on the Mojave Trail through Afton Canyon we headed toward Interstate 5 as we left the canyon. Passing over the Interstate we headed north toward and followed the power line road into Baker, CA for gas and lunch. This power line road gave us a chance to make up some time. Just before Baker the road for the power lines takes a sharp right turn south back toward the Interstate. Going down the marked sand wash we got a little lost and ended up in a rock stream bed of baseball to basketball sized loose rocks and sand. Rodeo riders had nothing on us. Don’t worry no rocks were hurt in our short excursion but it felt like I was back racing a District 37 Hare & Hound Off Road Race on a large heavy motorcycle.
Finally getting into Baker at 1 PM we fill up the bikes and got a few snacks from the Mini Mart. BAD LT makes a few quick work calls as we eat, this is a weekday and his work beckoned. We then continue back south on dirt roads to catch the M.T. once more.
Past Kelbaker Road we stop again to sign in at the mailbox. This is a box that has a register for you to sign that you have been on the trail and a place to place all kind of odds and ends for others to find. BAD LT being a member of the AMA District 37 Racing club the 100’s MC, he adds a club sticker to the pole and we continue on.
Now the fun section of the Mojave Trail starts. This is 7 to 10 miles of g-outs and whoops that await us. I was leading at this point and got going way too fast on the new bike for the conditions. Coming over one rise with the bike light in the air I noticed the trail made a fast right. With no time to stop, I end up scaring myself on this new unfamiliar bike. Didn’t fall but was it luck or skill. LUCK FOR SURE. Nothing was deposited in the riding pants so I continue on. The next miles of whoops just pound you on these big bikes. Go fast to float over the whoops or go slow and feel like you are on a bad amusement park ride. Well a little of both got me through in decent time and staying upright. Upon getting to a section of trail I could finally relax on I look behind and notice no one there. I know I am not going that fast. I stop and turn off the bike and hear them still coming, so I sit and wait. Both Bill and BAD LT pull up and BAD LT jumps off his bike to look at his left foot peg. BROKEN PIN. OK we shall now do a MacGyver to fix it so he can finish the ride to Laughlin. Good thing it is just the post into the frame and the rear set bolt is still holding it in place. We get 2 short hose clamps attached together and get the peg to stay in place with the help of a CO2 canister.
We call WR TOM, thank you for cell service way out here in the middle of nowhere, to see if he can get a replacement peg we can install that night in Laughlin, NV. BAD LT will just have to keep his weight off that foot as much as possible till we hopefully can get the replacement in Laughlin.
Luckily we had no further mishaps until we hit the paved road into Laughlin. The rest of the trail is a long straight 2 track that we are able to make up that lost time on.
But once we hit pavement BAD LT looks at his from tire and it is flat. All of us are carrying spare tubes and pumps, so that is not a problem. BAD LT decides to just gut it out for the last 8 miles of pavement riding on the flat front tire. We arrive at our destination, the Mojave River Bell Casino and Hotel, 216 miles from the start at 4:30 PM not bad for the down time spent gassing, eating and fixing the bikes. But bad news awaits, WR TOM could not find the foot peg mount so he purchased several larger hose clamps to hopefully support the peg a little better.
We are all hungry and decide we will fix the peg and flat after dinner. We lock up the bikes and retire to our rooms to clean up before meeting WR TOM and his group for dinner an hour later.
Dinner takes a long time to finish. Much bench racing of the day’s events goes on well past 9 PM before we ask BAD LT if he wants to go out and fix his peg and flat. Tired we all agree the best thing to do is get up early to replace the tube in the morning. Boy are we a bunch of light weights as we pass through the casino to get back to our rooms. We are asleep by 10PM.
2008 Mojave Trail Adventure Day 2
Day 2 started off early. I cannot say bright as we were in the parking lot changing the tire under the parking lot lights. Everyone showed up and it looked typical: 1 guy doing most of the work and 4 standing around talking. No problem with the fix of both the tire and flat so we off to get breakfast.
The restaurant did not open till 7:30 so we just waited awhile. The hostess asked if we were carded members of the casino and said there was a special price if we were. Save some money, YES, so we all went to become free Colorado River Bell members at the front desk. Back to be seated and what a wonderful buffet it was. Good fresh warm food and lots of it. And our glasses never seemed to get empty as our waitress treated us old men well. This filling breakfast is just what we all needed before a long days ride.
The ADV Rider Inmates for the return trip were BAD LT (Tom), Bill and myself from the first day and AZ TOM (Tom) on his Honda XR650L and Scott on his Suzuki DRZ400. Well we finally left about 8:30AM so again for the second day we are a little behind schedule but such is life; we’ll make up the time (HA HA). We all need to stop for gas. Bill was real worried about his stock gas tank on the Yamaha WRF and was already on reserve before he pulled in the night before. At the station he put 2.1 gallons in the little tank, I think the bike had a 2.1-gallon tank so he just made it.
We did the fast asphalt trip back to the Mojave Trail cutoff and off-road we went. I did not realize how sandy it was yesterday on our way in, or is it I might just be tired and not warmed up yet? Yes that’s it. We all had a great time riding west and stopped at Fort Piute for a little rest. Scott had never ridden the M.T. before so we stop at the sites for him to see them.
After a short rest it is off again. Not 10 miles further BAD LT’s footpeg comes loose again. MacGyver’s we are not. After a 40-minute repair we are back on the road again.
Stopping at Kelso-Cima Road we read the monument plaque about the Nevada Southern RailRoad take a drink of water have a snack and continue west.
After more dirt 2-track and the whooped trail the next stop is the mailbox again to sign all our names on the return trip.
We eat another snack, drink some water, take some photos and are off again. This day is pleasant and no real adventures yet, just fun riding.
We get to Kelbaker Road and decide we are running too late so we just hit the pavement for the northern run into Baker for lunch and gas. Arriving at 2PM we opt for a quick fast food meal. BAD LT is going to jump on Interstate 5 and head straight back to Silver Lake. The repair job is getting worse, the peg won’t stay in place, and he needs to pick up his son early. We all give him grief that he just doesn’t want to deal with the river crossing again. Fun to have such nice friends, right?
We all jump on the freeway for about a 10-mile ride to the last jump off point back to the M.T. so we can go through Afton Canyon. This interstate ride is real interesting as Bill’s WRF is geared for the dirt so he is screaming the motor to get 55-60 mph out of it. We all bunch up around him so it will hard to miss our group. He pulls up close and drafts a big rig and gets to ease off the throttle a bit.
We exit the Interstate, bid farewell to BAD LT and the 4 remaining inmates head south to connect with the M.T. again.
Back through Afton Canyon and on to the wet part of the trip. Reaching the river and Bill goes first making it through again with flying colors. I am next and head straight for the shallow side of the trail following Bills line. I get about a ¼ across and a dreaded river snake (probably a hidden rock) grabs my bike and throws it to the deep side. I yell and into the bike-sucking hole I go. The bike gets through the deep part but bogs and dies coming out the other side with water up to between my shins and knee cap, OH BOY wet feet again. It is still too deep to restart the bike so I push this big monster until the water is lower than my engine and push the starter button. Vroooom, starts right up. I jump on the bike, put it in gear and start riding it out. WHAT IS THAT RACKET? Oh no and only 700 miles on the new bike. When I reached dry land, I jumped off and looked at the rear end. It was the stock plastic rear disc guard, YEP I hit something. It broke the front support and was now acting like the playing cards we use to put in our bicycle spokes to sound like a motorcycle. I removed the guard and everything was fine. At least I now had proof something grabbed me in the water.
Tom and Scott also had no problems getting through the water. No real drama this time.
On we went after I emptied a large cup of water from each of my boots and quick gulp of water. The sun is getting lower in the sky and we must keep heading west. Bills wife Allie is preparing a meal for us when we return. Again some more quick dirt roads and we hit the paved service road on the south side Interstate 5. Needing to make up time so we decide to stay on the paved road instead of continuing on the M.T. Besides we were all getting tired.
In Dagget since the sun is setting we jumped on Interstate 40 to get into Barstow and follow Route 66 back to Silver Lakes again ignoring the call of the dirt. Bill takes us on a little side adventure back in to see Exotic World a museum for ladies of the night. Run by LADIES from Vegas it has moved to another location but the gates are still there. Pretty funny.
Allie had quite a BBQ spread waiting for us and we fill ourselves up on steak, potatoes and vegtables. She also has a decadent chocolate desert but I am so full and still have a 2 ½ hour drive home so I must pass it up, insert very SAD face here.
Getting home at 9:30PM I pull the truck into the garage, loosen the tie down straps for the motorcycle, jump in the shower and fall into bed. I’ll just unload first thing in the morning then start work. Boy this mattress feels good and I am out cold as my head hits the pillow.