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LA BARSTOW TO VEGAS 2018 DAY 2 | Will’s Wild Ride

The conclusion to Will’s Barstow to Vegas 2018 ride. If you want to see Day 1: CLICK HERE

LA Barstow to Vegas 2018 Day 2

Barstow, CA

Clear sky’s 55 degrees


Waking up after the late night of repairing the XR. I head over and pick up the Big Red Pig at the Boy Scout impound lot. Head down to the start and meet up with Dennis and Garrett. We are going to run mid sweep putting us about an hour and a half after the start of the ride. Going through the start gate we take Main Street cutting over to Old Barstow. Sweeping the hard route we hit the dirt, the road is a fast wide single lane road with sweeping curves and rolling washouts allowing the tires to leave the earth. The road drops into a soft gravel wash maintaining speed to stay on top of the gravel and avoiding surprised boulders. Finding the flow the wash goes by quick opening up to a dry lake bed. The lake bed ends at a paved road near Calico Ghost town.

Taking the directions from the GPS we follow the pavement a few miles to the next dirt section. Keeping pace the trail has big rolling whoops, as you think you have your rhythm a out of sync whoop takes you stomach away giving you rush. After the whoops we turn into a Red Rock Canyon the road is soft and we slow down so we don’t dust out the families camping on the Thanksgiving weekend.

The route gets rocky and we get to the infamous Calico steps a dried up rock waterfall. Everyone that started before us made it through already. I decide to go for it and make it through clean. At the top I park the XR head down to make sure Dennis and Garrett make it through. Dennis goes first making quick work of the steps on his Husky 501. Garret on his Beta does some bouncing around finding traction but makes it up.

Pressing on with the ride the trail winds up and over the red mountains, the view looks like you are on Mars. Dropping out of the mountains and through a wash the dirt ends at an overpass. The course takes us over the 15 on the overpass. Cruising down the pavement we catch a power line road. The power line road is like a dirt freeway fast and smooth.  Grumpys taking photos next to a sweet jump. Dennis, Garret and I ride 3 wide to get a sweet shot. The miles fly by and we are back on a quick stretch of pavement. Heading to a bigger power line road. The power line road is wide with blind rises, this is where rider get complacent you need to be on the lookout for cross ruts.

After a few miles we come across an unusual sight. It’s a XR650L and EX 400 quad put together. If I didn’t have pictures you would think I was delirious.


The desert trike had given up the ride was thinking it was an electrical gremlin. I call out on my radio to contact sweep trucks. Calling out my buddy James responds, he is in his Jeep about a mile ahead on course. James heads towards us cautiously backwards on course. I gave him a heads up on the radio of any riders heading his way. As I’m waiting for James I see 2 adventure bikes struggling just ahead.

I ride over to them check if they are ok. That are riding Africa twins a white one and a red one. The rider on the white ones is struggling in the sand, he says he had a few crashes earlier that day. I ask him what pressure his tire are at. The rider says he doesn’t know, I check them and they are 35 psi. I ask the rider if I can lower the pressure because it will help him in the sand. The rider agrees I lower the pressure to 15 in the front and 17 in the rear. He gets on and is doing much better but still lost his confidence back on the trail from his earlier crashes. As the Africa twins riders get going the rear sweep catches up to us. We tell them the situation with the trike getting picked up and to watch the 2 adventure bike riders ahead. The rear sweep continues on as James pulls up in the Jeep I ride over to meet him with the trike that needs to be towed.

Taking note where the trike is going to meet the his chase crew, Dennis, Garret and I continue on course. We catch up to the adventure bike riders and the other sweep crew. One of the sweep riders asked if the rider having trouble on the Africa Twin would like to trade bikes. This was necessary to get a good pass to get into Baker at a decent time. They make the trade and we are all back on trail at a good pace. We cruz through a few miles of fun powerline road.


Coming through a set of windy hills the experienced adventure rider gets a flat. Dennis, Garret and I stay with the rider with the flat and help him change it. Using my bike master tire spoons and Baja No Pinch tire tool we are back on the trail in about 45 min. Since the other sweep riders and adventure rider continue on we pick up the speed just before we connect to the highway. There is a guy on a Yamaha stopped I stop to make sure he is ok the rider was fine.  The bike on the other hand, not so much,the his spokes completely separated from his hub on the rear wheel. His sweep crew is in route and he has plenty of water. I hit the trail then come across a group off the trail about 4 or 5 guys, they are finishing fixing a flat. Letting them know to hurry to get to Baker. Heading on I meet up with the other sweep teams and we head into Baker on the highway. Getting into Baker we ride to the world’s tallest thermometer, I meet up with my amazing family who have been waiting for me. Getting some water and a snack.


We meet up with Andy the sweep leader. He asked who wants to ride into Sandy on the dirt and who wants to load up on the truck. I say I want to ride dirt Dennis and Garrett agree. Then to other guys from other sweep teams want to ride with us. We get geared back up and grab some fuel. I have done the section from Baker to Sandy quit a few times it’s pretty fast. As we finish getting fuel I see the guys that were finishing up with there flat before Baker. I tell the they need to take the pavement as we are the final sweep. One of there riders asks if he can go with us. I tell him he needs to get ahead of us and we will be going fast through this section. He says he can do it and we are off. Turning from the highway to the Sandy powerline road we stop re group and reset our odometers to stay on track with the roll chart. We agree to stop at the next reset and we’re off. Setting a fast pace the miles fly by. The powerline road winds through a shallow canyon with rolling elevation changes.


Coming to the next reset I stop so we can all reset again. Everyone is good keeping about the same pace. I continue leading letting the big Red pig stretch it’s legs. Coming through some fun rollers I let off after creating the last one in the set grab some throttle after the bike lands and I hear the worst sound my bike ever made. It sounded like a fork stuck in a garbage disposal, the pig dies. Pulling over to the side of the trail I’m expecting the rest of my group to be pulling up. I hear and see no one.

I wait a few more minutes and get worried I try to reach out on my radio nothing. A half hour goes by still nothing I have no cell signal. I’m in kind of a low spot so I make a arrow with some rocks next to my bike pointing to the direction on the powerline road I am walking towards a hill. Walk up the road and up the hill still no cell signal and no answer on the radio. I get more worried for the rest of the riders in my group, my mind starts going to the worst case scenario that could have happened to them. Becoming mad at myself because I can’t help them if something did happen. All I can do is wait a few hours go by. The out of nowhere someone comes on the radio it’s Nate one of the other sweep riders that joined our group in Baker. I make contact letting him know where I’m at and that I’m ok the bike blew up. He is with the rest of our group. They get to me and we are all happy to see each other.

Turns out Nate got a flat right after the last rest which was about 11 miles from where I blew up my bike. While they were fixing the flat Dennis rode ahead about 8 miles looking for me when he couldn’t find me and got back to the group they thought I crashed off the side of the road, so they were riding slowly looking in all the ditches and culverts looking for me. I explained I thought that something bad happened to them. Nate and Dennis ride ahead to get cell service to get in touch with Andy to let him know the situation. They get ahold of Andy and he sends a sweep truck my way and the rest of the group heads into Sandy Valley. I have plenty of water some food and a space blanket, so I was fine waiting in the desert. Sweep truck shows up we load the dead pig in the back and head into Sandy Valley.

That was the end of my ride. I can’t complain this is the first mechanical problem I have had with the XR650L that I couldn’t ride to the finish. the bike has done 6 LA Barstow to Vegas rides, 4 Calpoly Penguin rides and 2 Bishop Dual sport rides along with a ton of other adventures and PCH and Mulholland canyon runs. I will get the motor back together and we will be back riding soon.

Will Drummond
Dual Sport and Adventure rides is what I do. Riding with friends and exploring the backcountry on his XR650 is life.