BIG BEAR TO VEGAS IN A TERYX

RETRACE PARTS OF THE B2V DESERT CLASSIC COURSE

            Enthusiasts outside of the desert southwest may not be familiar with the Barstow to Vegas Desert Classic, which was a huge motorcycle and ATV Hare & Hound that drew 1000s of entries yearly in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The infamous race became a battleground between races, led by former Dirt Bike Magazine Editor Rick Sieman and Louis McKey, the Phantom Duck of the Desert, and environMENTALists, using the Endangered Species Act and the desert tortoise as an ESA pawn.  I was lucky enough to raced B2V three times – the first time on a Banshee in 1986, when I finished third overall and first amateur, and then twice on dirt bikes. The second time, I crashed and broke several ribs but limped to the finish, and the third time I seized the two-stroke WR250 and DNF at 53 miles. Sadly, the eco-freaks won, and I never got to race it again.

The Mojave Desert is America’s most inhospitable region, and the BB2B2V ride took us close to Death Valley. The dez is most inhospitable to tires, so bring flat-fix kits and spares. Wally (bottom left) explored and mapped the entire Mojave Desert in his Rhino.

Our side has been trying to get the courts to reverse the ban ever since, while the traditional Thanksgiving Weekend event has become first a protest ride and now an official AMA Dual-sport ride, only now it’s a two-day event that begins in Big Bear and goes to Barstow, home of the original Del Taco, then on to Vegas. What most people don’t know is that it’s possible to ride or drive off-road from Big Bear, California, to Barstow and into Nevada entirely off-road! You don’t need a license plate for your ATV or UTV (but you do need a green sticker or temporary OHV sticker in CA) to ride much of the original B2V course and the revamped BB2V dual-sport route. The Big Bear to Barstow day was added to make the ride more enjoyable to the heavy dual-sport bike riders and to showcase one of SoCal’s nicest resort towns. B2V was brutal on a race bike, and the soft sand, silt, jagged rocks and prickly vegetation isn’t that much fun on a street-legal bike.

Our adventure started at Cactus Flats OHV staging area outside of Big Bear, California.

THANK GOD FOR SIDE X SIDES!

It’s really too bad that sport UTVs weren’t invented in the time of B2V, because the machines are the perfect ying to the desert’s inhospitable yang. That’s why, when Jon Rall of Kawasaki’s press department invited me to drive a Teryx from Big Bear to Barstow and then to Las Vegas, I jumped at the chance like Travis Pastrana jumps at the chance to flip Suzukis, monster trucks and Subarus! We’d be guided by Wally of Wallyworld Designs, a famous trophy truck paint and fab shop, and Adventure Rhino (UTV Action, May 2008), now Side By Side Outfitterz. Wally has been scouting the desert southwest in his tricked-out Teryx and logging routes with his GPS, so he was a natural to guide the Kawasaki crew along and beside the BB2V route. With Wally guiding and Jon and John riding sweep, six lucky editors got to experience a thrill of a lifetime. We later did an Arctic Cat press ride from Mesquite, Nevada, to the Bar 10 Ranch on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, but Wally is no longer with us.

From Cactus Flats we took San Bernadino National Forest trails to Rattlesnake Canyon (Epic!) to Johnson Valley OHV Area.

SIDEWAYS IN SAN BERNARDINO!

When we got to the staging area for the 2010 Kawasaki Teryx 750 Big Bear to Barstow to Vegas press ride, there were eight Teryx 750s to choose from. It being mid-November, I raced to one with a half windshield and roof, while the other editors fought over the six Sport models with better shocks.

Starting at the Cactus Flats trailhead a few miles out of Big Bear on Highway 18, eight Teryxs hit trail 3N03 in the San Bernardino National Forest and began the drop towards the Mojave Desert. The crisp fall morning air was perfect for the EFI Teryx 750s, and the forest service roads were a great mixture of switchbacks, bermed sand turns and rocky sections. We hit 2N02 and a sweet black diamond 2N70Y before descending to Rainbow Canyon and Rattlesnake Canyon, an awesome flat sandwash with sheers cliffs as backdrops. Soon out of the SBNF, we hit BLM and San Bernardino County land. Crossing Hwy 247, we drove to Johnson Valley OHV area, the site of the King of the Hammers UTV and 4×4 race. After playing on a small patch of dunes, Wally led us into “Cougar Butte” for some fun rock crawling and then on to “The Rock Pile” for a great BBQ lunch served up by Reid Nordin of Kawasaki Team Green and Baja 1000 fame.

Back when Reid Nordin (in back and black with black shades) was with Kawasaki, he met us for lunch on the Hammers course. Now Reid is with Walker Evans and Rugged Radios, both UTV adventure icons. I met Rick “Wally” Wallace (foreground, tan hoodie) at the 40th Baja 1000 press conference, where he was displaying his adventure Rhino.

After lunch, the Teryx adventurers cut across Johnson Valley OHV and crossed Hwy 247 again, this time at the Slash X Ranch, and famous OHV watering hole and grill. We cut across the Mojave to the Stoddard Wells OHV area and drove north to Barstow’s Outlet Center Drive. We literally drove right into the Hampton Inn parking lot and locked the Teryx train in front of the hotel’s lobby.

Dunes have long been a favorite destination for UTVs, and Hammertown has a few places to get sandy.
South of Barstow, the Outlet Center Drive exit has a few hotels that are easily accessible to OHVs. We stayed in the Hampton.

ONWARD THROUGH THE DEZ

Joshua trees grow mainly between 3000 and 4000 feet in the Mojave, and there are forests along the B2V corridor.

After a fine dinner and night’s sleep, the adventurers backtracked across Stoddard OHV to the Kingman Powerline, and the easement road was like a rally course for the Teryx 750s. I felt like Ken Block chasing Pastrana on the rolling and twisting road until we crossed under Interstate 40 and found the next powerline service road. Turning north, we cut across the desert and followed the historic Mojave Trail (I-40 for covered wagons) over to I-15.

Another trail lunch refueled the Teryx pilots, while the chase crew topped off the fuel cells. Crossing under in the Mojave River sandwash, we then crossed a dry East Cronese Lake and hooked into the Barstow powerline. Wally would steer us into awesome tight sections of sandwash and ridge trails along past B2V routes and back onto powerline roads, all the way to the outskirts of Vegas. Doing the last section in the dark gave us a great view of the lights of Lost Wages, and the semi met us at Blue Diamond Road.

We’ve seen flooding and even May snow in the Mojave, but some joker is prepared for anything along the Barstow powerline.

All too soon, the adventure part was done, and we loaded up for South Pointe Casino and Resort, where the Indian Nation Rodeo Finals were being held. After 330 miles and two days driving, we had only suffered two flats. Amazing! Better still, the BB2B2V drive hadn’t wiped me out physically like the B2V desert race did. I was sore for days after each Desert Classic (about 160 miles), but twice that distance in the Teryx was a piece of cake. I didn’t even have to fish out any cactus needles! From now on, the only way I’ll attempt B2V or anything in the Mojave Desert is by UTV. With a GPS or a U.S. Geologic Survey Topo map, you can plan and experience your own Mojave adventure or BB2B2V ride.

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