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Old 12-16-2016, 05:39 AM   #1
HadesOmega
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HadesOmega Rides LA Barstow to Vegas 2016 Ride Report

Introduction
This year I didn't enter any dual sport events at all, I planned to ride LA Barstow to Vegas this year to check it off my bucket list. If you don't know what LAB2V is, it's like one of the largest dual sport events in the world, riders from all over come flocking to the deserts of California and Nevada to ride this thing. It is no joke the staff is huge, the rider count is huge, and the course is HUGE! The event is held by AMA District 37 and this is the 33rd event. It's a LONG ride with over 400 miles of dirt, sand, sand washes, gravel, rocks, boulders, hill climbs, hill descents, pavement, EARTH! This is the hardest dual sport event I have ever entered. I've done Yosemite Dual Sport twice and Sheetiron 300. The sheer amount of miles is just nuts. Also if you are a desert riding noob this is not the event for you, it's like almost all desert and SAND. I have experience riding in Death Valley and Baja and it was still tough for me. When the rollchart says for Intermediate to Advanced riders its not joking! It's not one of those events where you can just willy nilly take your sweet time and smell the roses and you know me I love to take pictures. You need to keep moving if you want to clear the course before it gets dark. Since it's so late in the year there is less daylight as well. Since it's late in the year its FREAKIN cold, it gets cold in the desert like freezing cold. So you need to bring sniffle gear. I can't remember how many times I had to turn those heated grips on.

The bike
So I trailered the Cactus Puncher DR650 to LAB2V to the town of Palmdale, which is north of LA. I hadn't had ridden the DR650 in any kind of major event since BARF Baja 2016. For this event you would do best on as light a machine as you can bring and well you know me and the Cactus Puncher I try to bring all sorts of junk on it. I tried to make it as light as I could. There was no Mr. Snail shell duffel bag because they haul your luggage. I carried my backpack with me on the tailrack. I had a rotopax, tank panniers, and my mechanic bag pannier and I think that was too much. There are some tough hillclimbs and descents and having a heavy bike is not good for those. There were sections where I would see large adventure bikes like a R1200GSA riding the opposite direction from the route. I was wondering why well it's because there was an obstacle that would be very tough to clear on a big bike coming up. Never had I felt in a dual sport event that man I wish I had a lighter bike so much then at this event. So unless you want a really tough challenge you'd best bring a light, medium, or a heavy dual sport bike that you can pick up. Now there were all sorts of bikes at the event. Vintage Triumphs, CB750 scrambler, Ural sidecars, and some other crazy contraptions like a honda trike. I felt the DR was a little too heavy for LAB2V it would need to go on a diet to do better, it just saps your endurance. But here's the kicker. You need a bike that can pound out some pavement miles as well. I've never done a dual sport event where you had to ride down the freeway like 10 miles to get to the next dirt section. These were long straight stretches of road. At least other events when I hit slab it was fun twisty stuff. If you do a bailout also your gonna ride long stretches of pavement. So you need something that can ride at least 55mph for a good distance. So I feel the adventure bike dudes kinda get shafted at this event because if they can't clear the beginner errr intermediate all routes they have to go back and take a whole lotta slab to go around it. So that's another reason I don't recommend a large bike. But if your awesome go for it!

Logistics
LAB2V has like the worst logistics of all dual sports events I've gone to. You need to somehow make it to Palmdale and I chose to trailer the bike because I didn't want to destroy my knobbies riding there. So there's that but then when you get to Palmdale you ride to Barstow for Day 1 then Day 2 your ride to Las Vegas. Then THE END what now? My trailer is 400+ miles away, you need to find someway to get back. So a lotta people had chase trucks, get rides from other people, or in my case ride back.

Also it's not cheap it's the most expensive dual sport event I've entered and for good reason, its a HUGE event. The amount of staff, sweeps, check points, and events are just mind boggling. It's a huge event did I mention that already? They even had a fuel truck waiting for us to fill our bikes at one of the check points so you can make it through the next section because there's no where else to get fuel. So yeah it cost about $200 to enter AND you MUST be an AMA member. So I had to get an AMA membership so I'm an AMA member now. That adds to the cost. Then there's hotels and stuff if you so choose. So yeah it's a tough event to do solo. Plus they make you ride with other people if your alone, supposedly but I still rode alone and I just follow people as I went along.

Navigation
Navigation is Roll chart so dust off that old roll chart holder. It was fairly easy to follow. But here's the awesome part they have GPS tracks available also. So you have 2 forms of navigation I guess 3 if you can count google maps. They say the rollchart is what you should use primarily but I did it the other way around. I used the GPS tracks first then double check with the roll chart second. It works out pretty well because you can double check that way and the rollchart has numbers to verify stuff. However there was one error that in the route notes says was wrong with the roll chart and had I not had a GPS I would be lost in the well.. desert. So make sure you have a GPS and know how to use it or at least have a buddy with one. Also many times I would blow past turns and have to turn around because I wouldn't look at the GPS or rollchart. For the most part you can follow people also, just look for that dust cloud haha. But I found on some occasions I was all alone so you gotta NAVIGATE! LANDNAV!


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Old 12-16-2016, 06:12 AM   #2
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... been hoping for your ride report on this event!

The AMA District 37 Dual-Sport chapter is awsome ...
they make the District 36 chapter look non-existent ...

... looking forward to trying to poach some
riding ideas ...
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Old 12-16-2016, 06:54 AM   #3
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Merlin, you're my hero....=:-)
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Old 12-16-2016, 09:25 AM   #4
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... been hoping for your ride report on this event!

Me too! Been wanting to do this ride for awhile, but the timing is awful. I don't think my family would forgive me for missing Thanksgiving. Living vicariously through your report.
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Old 12-16-2016, 10:36 AM   #5
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That first picture looks like easy for you with all your Baja time..
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Old 12-16-2016, 12:31 PM   #6
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way to go Merlin that is a very hard ride, I did the second day only a few years ago on my KLR and it was the hardest ride I ever did.
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Old 12-16-2016, 01:24 PM   #7
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Oh yeah you mentioned the Thanksgiving part Leo, on Thanksgiving I was driving to Las Vegas, I had a Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwich at an Arby's on the I5. =/
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Old 12-16-2016, 03:53 PM   #8
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So I'm gonna try something a little different with this ride report. I've been doing a lot of VLOGing so I'm going incorporate a lot of the ride report with VLOGs.

Day 0

So Day 0 is the day I set off for Palmdale. I had planned to leave San Jose earlier in the day but it was one delay after another. Rewind a bit here, to prep the DR650 I got the newish wheels I bought from craigslist and mounted the tires I used in Baja on them. After Baja I went on a wheel buying spree. The tires I used were a Shinko 805 for the rear and Michelin T63 for the front. I installed a brand new super duper fancy premium trackside rimlock on the rear since the old Motion Pro one looked kinda old and the rubber was separating a bit. The front wheel I opted to not install a rimlock I'm pretty conservative with the tire pressures. Both these tires did great in Baja the 805 particularly impressed me because it was a big block knobby for adventure bikes and wasn't as "knobby" as everyone elses tires but they did great. They only had 1000 miles on them so I figured they'd be fine and they were great during LAB2V. Never got a flat also. Brand new bearings were repacked and installed on both wheels and the cushdrive hub. Also I was using the BRAND NEW Sun Rim I had made after cracking a wheel in Baja.

This is a quick video of me installing the Shinko 805 using my new Tusk tire changing stand

youtu.be/2iUWjQcAWLY

I also changed the fork springs to some Progressive Suspension ones. I've done so much work on the forks on this bike and I think finally I got it right. In Baja I was running .70kg/mm Race Tech springs with Intiminators and the Intiminators made the ride VERY harsh with the .70 springs because they were designed to work with stock springs. I installed the stock springs and thought it was ok, some brake dive came back but I was pretty sure when I load the bike up it wouldn't be enough so I got the Progressive Springs so I get a good ride with resistance to bottoming out.

youtu.be/59386DoftSI

So I got some bling bling for the DR650 also, they're those items that you don't really need but it's nice to have if SHTF. I ordered a B&B Offroad Engineering Case Saver and Oil Cooler guard. The Case saver protects the engine case if you were to ever throw or bust a chain. The oil cooler grille is there so that strategically placed branch doesn't puncture your oil cooler and leave you stranded. I had heard of B&B off road through Crosstraining Enduro Skills youtube channel, it's a Australian based products that make some pretty dope stuff.

youtu.be/hgZZaLxDM7E

Finally I figured I'd get more bling and order some IMS pro series footpegs. I actually wanted to get some Pro Moto Billet ones since they were also about the same price as the IMS ones but but I couldn't find anyone to ship them to me in time for LAB2V so I went with the IMS ones and 2 day delivery. They're a little wider than the stock pegs but not huge like those uber expensive ones. I actually don't prefer the wider foot pegs also, so this was nice. They look a bit crooked I guess since the footpegs were ghetto fabulous modified.




youtu.be/BQVThu3HFho

So the Day 0 I mentioned I had a lotta delays getting started. Well my trailer was using the horizontal rail configuration I used in Moab. It worked with the KLX because it was smaller but with the DR on there the wheel blocked the ramp. I didn't really need the rail so I took it off and went back to the original wheel chock for now.





youtu.be/ZzMS76rYV30

Then as I made it to Morgan Hill I asked myself hmm where's the key for the DR650? I start rifling through my stuff while driving and I can't find it. So I pull over somewhere and I still can't find it. So of course I left it at home somehow after going in and out of the house so much. So I had to turn around and get it.

Sunset at San Luis Reservoir. There's a reason I have the trailer sides on the trailer also, I was heading to San Diego after LAB2V to help my sister move stuff back to San Jose. Of course I have the Cactus Puncher with me why not explore some roads while I was there




Tough to get a Panoramic at this time


The Battle Van was doing great hauling the DR650, with the low elevations on the route the van had much more power than it did when it was in Utah. Plus it was carrying only the DR650. Along the way I stopped at a Love's truck stop for gas and had my Thanksgiving turkey or Black Friday turkey at Arbys. I got a turkey sandwich. I didn't do anything other than prep for LAB2V on Thanksgiving O_o'


So I made it to Palmdale probably around 2300 and it's freakin cold in Palmdale it's high altitude desert like around 4k. I park near Palmdale Supercycles I see there are a couple RVs and vehicles parked also. There was hotels down the street and you can see everyones trucks and bikes parked there. I tried to get as much sleep as I could, I slept in my van. I got the trailer ready to drop the bike first thing in the morning also. I was planning to wake up like a little bit before 0600 because that's when the event starts. Little did I know that wasn't early enough...

Last edited by HadesOmega; 12-16-2016 at 03:58 PM..
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Old 12-16-2016, 08:40 PM   #9
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DAY 1
Alright so Day 1 begins! So I'll tell you now I didn't get too good a sleep. One it was very cold, I had to use my sleeping bag it was so cold. Then around as early at 0400 I hear bikes and trucks driving by. The original plan was to wake up at 0600 because that's when the event starts well everyone wants to get there early and for a good reason, so they can get out of her asap because they got a lotta ground to cover.

So it's time to get up I gotta go pee anyway, I get out and my van is covered with frost and so is my bike!



Hey look it's a sidecar


Yep I'm definitely in the right place



First I move my van to the dirt lot behind Palmdale Supercycles and park it there for the weekend. Then I unload the Cactus Puncher from the trailer and start gearing up. Brrr I pretty much put on every layer I had. Disaster though, the wind/rain liner is missing!? I forgot it at home. I later learn that that wind liner plays a big part in blocking the cold air without it doesn't matter how many sweaters you wear the air will get through. There's still ice on the DR too! It's probably in the low 30s right now!



Lots bikes like 400 of them!




So next step is to tech my bike. Pretty much everyone went through tech already. It went by real quick. Then I needed to head to registration and this is what I had to get through.




The toys for the toys for tots drive.



Here is the tracks for the first day.


Start at Palmdale Supercycles


After registration I'm one of the last ones out. I got my GPS loaded and loaded up my rollchart. Dump my luggage off at the luggage dropoff. Double check I got everything and it's time to hit the road! All those 400+ bikes have taken off already most of them! I'm seriously behind. It's almost 0900! Supposedly the sweeps left at 0800.

Last edited by HadesOmega; 12-16-2016 at 08:49 PM..
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Old 12-17-2016, 01:56 AM   #10
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HadesOmega Rides LAB2V Episode 1 - It Begins!
https://youtu.be/P3aipAvcxNs
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Old 12-18-2016, 09:06 AM   #11
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Reading along and wishing this ride wasn't a Thanksgiving event. Though it's saving me a ton of money by not making me buy another bike.
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Old 12-18-2016, 09:47 AM   #12
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Reading along and wishing this ride wasn't a Thanksgiving event. Though it's saving me a ton of money by not making me buy another bike.
Haha yeah if you do make sure it's a light one
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Old 12-18-2016, 09:58 AM   #13
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Here's the first section all slab for a while, its a section that will make you wish you brought more sniffle gear or a windscreen.


Managing to catch up to some riders at the stoplights.





Dual sports rolling through town, the speed limits are like 50 mph here.


Here we go first dirt section, it more of a warm up and the ONLY place on the ride that had mud, yeah go the bike good and dirty in a hurry.



Here we go!


So first dirt section is kind of like a graded dirt road with some occasional dips and ruts. There was mud also, I don't know why it was the only section that had mud on it. It was very dusty to be expected. Brown out conditions in some sections.



Some more gravel type road whew less dust here.


R1200GSA on its side, already people having a hard time.


Weeee


First Reset point



F800gsa


The next section
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Old 12-18-2016, 12:19 PM   #14
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You have me hooked on another ride report. I've always wanted to do this ride but the Thanksgiving day timing and logistics have stopped me. I'm hoping to be able to make it some day. I've watch episode 1, and can't wait for more!
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Old 12-18-2016, 01:16 PM   #15
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Tracks after the reset


OH WE IN THE DESERT NOW!


FIRST HILLCLIMB, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!


Alright first reset now we're entering something more off roadish. Desert road with deeper sand sections. Whats worse than sand? Sand that's been chopped up by dirtbikers. Also take a loot at the little bush on the right there is a pink and blue streamers. These are course markers. I didn't start really noticing them till later but these are VERY handy. If your at a turn and you see one of these you know your in the right place. So check the GPS check, check roll chart check, look around for the streamers check, your are good to go!


Yikes! That's was a good size berm to clear!


Gotta be careful around dips like this


So by this point it's being pretty clear to me that the DR650 rear shock is behaving like shit. It is not wanting to track well, rear end pogos, and bottoming out easily. So the DR is not in great shape right now. But the good thing is other than the shit rear shock the DR is going great!


A hillclimb looms in the distance up ahead


Yeehaw now that is a good sized hill! So by now its being apparent that some people are having a lotta trouble on stuff that is not really a big deal. I honestly though that hill wasn't that tough. They sure made it look tough. I believe there was a go around for it though but I'm like c'mon that's not tough. But another problem with this is that they're making a traffic jam. So I couldn't go until they were out of the way, so I lost a good amount of time here but hey I got some good pictures and video I suppose. I probably didn't see the fast dudes go up it because I'm all the way back with the slower riders haha. It's also a good time for me to switch to goggles.



Yup it's a party over hear. So one thing I've learned when it comes to obstacles like this is to NOT stop. You make it harder for yourself when you stop because you've lost your momentum and stability. Well look at all those jokers on the hill.



The kings of the hill


KTMs having trouble


So I decide its my turn and then as I'm riding up someone decides to take off the very second I'm coming by and well there goes my momentum.


So I'm stuck in the pile of jokers at the bottom of the hill now waiting for my turn. I flub the start and have to restart, then it's my turn to attack the hill. Oh my it is fairly steep at the top section and it's got a ton of sand!


I make it up but not gracefully, lots of clutch work and tire spinning. But the awesome tractor power of the DR650 gets it up there.


So you mean to tell that after I climbed that hill I'm just going to go right down it!? Yeah it surprised me after I crested the hill it just goes straight down.


A picture from the other side of the hill from the bottom

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