nevadaOff the Road in Laughlin, Nevada

by Andy Nelson

The Wild West 300 Dual Sport

It was January, and I was tired of all the snow outside. I started thinking about my annual four day winter getaway. I am not a snowmobiler or skier. Maybe Daytona Bike Week? Naw, I had done that several times before. Las Vegas would be cheap, if I didn’t gamble–Hmmm. Then, I saw an ad in Cycle News for a Laughlin, Nevada dual sport ride on February 8 and 9 and decided to get tickets for while they were still available.

I ran up a whopper of a phone bill trying to find a bike to rent there, or a bike to buy and store there, or some way to get my vintage enduro shipped there. No Luck! I would have to fend for myself.

On February 6 I arrived at Bullhead City across the river from Laughlin on the Arizona side. One July the temperature reached 130 degrees in Bullhead, but it was nice when I got there–jacket weather. It was forty degrees at night and 55 and sunny during the day. I went to the Gold River Casino and Hotel where I had reservations.

After settling in, I checked with the motorcycle dealerships in the Bullhead City and Laughlin areas. None of them would rent bikes because of the liability. Again, no luck.

I traveled the fifteen miles to the AVI Casino where the Wild West 300 Dual Sport was held and started asking around about a bike. One guy from Michigan had two Suzuki DRs, so I asked if he would rent me one. He said the extra was his parts bike, but he came by later and said I could rent it.

Finally, luck. I had a bike. On Friday evening I paid the entry fee and went through tech inspection.

Saturday I was up at 6:30 to drive to AVI and to find the rider from Michigan (and his extra bike). After swearing not to run over any desert tortoises, I hit the road and was riding by 8:00 am.

Saturday’s riding took its toll, and I overslept Sunday morning. I managed to get on my way around 7:30 and rode fifteen miles on asphalt to Oatman, Arizona before going off road.

I found my way into a creek and rode it for two muddy miles, then a half hour later I landed in deep sand, overshot a corner and crashed. I avoided hurting the bike…or me.

At this point, I decided to follow three women from California who were experienced dual sporters and rode at about the right pace for me. A twenty minute lunch break at the Chloride Fire Department gave us a chance to clean up the bikes’ air cleaners before riding off to the snow topped mountains.

We came across the occasional rider who had stopped for a bathroom break not thinking that some of the riders were women. OOPS.

Back in Laughlin, we rode through downtown to AVI where I helped load bikes. I said good-byes to my new friends from Idaho, New Jersey, California and Michigan and started making plans to ride this rally again next winter. Great fun!


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