There are riders who occasionally dabble in car stuff, and there are car guys who occasionally dabble in bike stuff. And then there's Superfast Matt, who summarizes what it's like to bounce between falling in and out of love with motorcycling on the same exhausting and exhilarating ride.
2023 marked the 40th annual run of the LA Barstow to Vegas Dual Sport And Adventure Bike Ride. It's an event hosted by the AMA District 37 Dual Sport Committee, and it draws a massive crowd of mostly road-legal dirt bikes each year. A GPS route is provided, with choices of both easy and hard options to get to the checkpoints. The idea is to have fun, but there are also bail outs along the way for those that need them.
Matt and his buddy Chris, who suggested running this year's ride, decided to do things the hard way. Riding 400-plus miles across varying qualities of sandy desert is probably never going to be a walk in the park, but Chris made it extra hard on himself by choosing to ride his Triumph Scrambler 1200 on this event.
Matt, meanwhile, had a Honda CRF250L Rally with an upgraded suspension and more dirt-appropriate tires as his chosen steed. While the Scrambler 1200 had a tendency to wallow and bury itself in the sand repeatedly, the CRF250L mostly did OK as long as Matt kept his speed up.
In both cases, it was several kinds of fun (including the miserable kind, which Matt gets into in this video), but it was also incredibly exhausting. He noted that he hadn't done much in the way of rider preparation for the event (such as doing much off-roading in the months leading up to this ride), and that definitely made it more difficult. His buddy noted that he might try it again on the Scrambler with more appropriate tires, to try to improve his skills from the experience.
As for the CRF250L, it did reasonably well once Matt got used to how it wanted to be ridden. In a few cases, it felt a little underpowered going up hills, but it was mostly a better choice for the ride than he let on in his opening narration. Happily, it was also likely a lot less expensive than many of the other bikes on the ride, which works out well if you're a perennial project planner like Matt seems to be.
Have you ever done the LA Barstow to Vegas ride? Tell us your best stories about it in the comments below.