Weekend Warrior: Executive Decision - Feature Review - Dirt Rider Magazine

Most of us at one time or another have been talked into camping in some overcrowded place during some over hyped holiday weekend by the same old lines: "It's not that bad," or "You just have to ride out a bit further." I admit, not only have I fallen for this trick a few times, but I have even said those exact lines to others in the hopes of getting friends and family to come along.Over one million people now recreate with off-road vehicles in the state of California alone. Most of them choose to do so in Southern California locations such as Glamis, Ocotillo Wells, Gordon's Wells, Buttercup and Superstition Mountains. These five places, known as the "Big Five," are spectacular riding areas, with undeniable beauty and variety of terrain. Unfortunately these areas are being stretched past practical capacity, and camping there is more like camping in a Wal-Mart parking lot, only not as friendly.However, some SoCal residents understand the math involving so many dirt bike riders in only five riding areas and choose to look to the north.This year, Halloween weekend brought record numbers to all the usual riding areas, and we were there to witness it. With this in mind, and Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, it was time to make an executive camp decision: _We would not be visiting any of the Big Five this Thanksgiving!_I spent the next two weeks staring at countless maps and websites, while asking as many people as possible about good places to go. I didn't get anywhere. The general lie fron everyone—I later figured out—was "I don't know."It was time to take a drive. Time to put my truck in four-wheel drive and hit the desert. I'd find a place come hell or high water. Little did I know how relevant the latter would be!After an extensive search that took my girlfriend and me through some great places, and some not-so-great places, while trying to stay as close to So Cal as possible, we found it! We found the perfect place! Well... almost.Our newfound campsite would be nestled on the edge of a medium-sized dry lake bed some ten miles off the main state route. The access road was unmarked and perfectly disguised for keeping out the masses. After a bit of discussion with my better half, we decided that this would be the place to spend our four-day Thanksgiving holiday, and a detailed map with directions would be necessary to ensure the rest of the group could find it.Thanksgiving morning, our group started to trickle in. Without exception, everyone was red in the face, and looking for rope! "What the hell is up with the eight miles of washboard?" and, "I just lost three years of life off my motor home" were the repeated themes all morning long. All I could do was shrug...At three o'clock, it was time for the best meal of the year, and as usual, it was unbelievable! With three turkeys and dozens of side dishes, over-eating wasn't an option but rather a fact of life! It was during this time of gorge that I first started to hear comments being made about how nice it was out there, and how unbelievably deserted it was for one of the biggest holiday camping weekends of the year. I smiled inside, while shoveling mashed potatoes into my overstuffed belly.Night comes early in the winter, and the remaining snow on the ground was a good indication of what the temperature would be. Fortunately, the absence of wind and the abundance of firewood made for the perfect evening.Friday morning was bright, cold and perfect for the unbelievable riding ahead. Our first ride would take us over three mountain ranges, across beautiful valleys, and subject us to sand dunes, sand washes, muddy lake beds and rocky hillclimbs with a pucker factor of ten! Four hours and only forty miles later, we were back at camp and ready for lunch.Everyone on the first ride —including me— was blown away by the vastness and beauty of it all. The rocky hills littered with single-track trails, the sand washes that wound through the desert floor for endless miles, and the sand dunes that reached for the sky were more then we ever imagined would be in a place like this. In a nutshell it was all of the Big Five rolled into one! Except something was missing: crowds! We passed one small group that was resting on a hilltop some twenty miles from camp, and that was it!Later that afternoon we headed north, toward a mountain covered with rocks, snow, and radio towers. Along the way, we found sandy hillclimbs littered with rocks, single-track trails up and over mountain ridges, and a muddy lake bed that was perfect for covering an unsuspecting buddy. Once we reached the mountain of towers, we found it nearly impossible to crest, and with fuel running low, it was time to head for camp.Later that evening as the full moon rose in the clear, still air, it was obvious to most, if not all, that the four-hour drive and eight miles of dirt washboard road really was worth the effort.The rest of the weekend went better than imagined, and even though I still like to ride and camp in the Big Five areas, never again will I spend a holiday weekend there.That following Tuesday morning, while surfing the web looking for anything new on Dirtrider.com, a guy at work came up to me and asked if I knew of a good place to ride that wasn't crowded. I simply shrugged and said, "I don't know."

Do you have a good Weekend Warrior story?
Tell us what you did over the weekend. Did you enter your first race? Make it to the top of the mountain for the first time? Tell us about your favorite riding spot, or least favorite. Be sure to include pictures for a chance to get published on Dirtrider.com. If your story is selected for our Weekend Warrior column, we'll send you a free Dirt Rider t-shirt .

Send emails to DRnews@primedia.com.

Remember, the better written your story is, the better your chances are!