FURTHER TOGETHER: WLF ENDURO
Early into my journey to create a social media platform, from which I would share photographs and stories of my adventures via two wheels, I came across another group. This pack of wolves, a group of hardcore Enduro riders based out of southern California, went by the handle [WLF] Enduro. This group was pushing the typical dual-sport ride to the edge, images of their bikes in boulder fields, soaring through the air, and blasting through single track, had me dreaming of someday riding in the Sun Shine State.
Little did I know, the leader of that pack, Luke Takahashi, and I would soon be sitting across the table from one another at his home in Brea, CA feasting on a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, swapping stories from past rides, and fruitfully rejoicing in the days to come. Rewind back to the tail end of August 2016 when I received that unexpected message from Luke asking, “Cowboy, we are trying to put together a group of hard core riders for the LAB2V 2016. You in”?
With ZERO hesitation, I replied, “absolutely!” Then, I quickly jumped online to Google LAB2V because I had absolutely no idea what this LAB2V was, or what I just agreed to do.
So, there I was 6’2, 175 pounds of awesome standing in the passenger pick up area of the orange county airport waiting for some dude I met through Instagram to pick me up. “Am I crazy, are they crazy, what have I got myself into, what if they do not like me” my mind was going crazy! It took all of 30 seconds for me to realize that I was in good company, and with a sigh of relief an amazing journey started.
An infamous DUALSPORT ride, which starts in LA and ends in Vegas, with a one-night layover in Barstow California. District 37 of the AMA is the organizer of this LAB2V event, which is recognized as the longest two-day DUALSPORT ride in the world at over 500 miles of epic desert riding.
Racing alongside the likes of Brandon Patton and Nick Vazquez, we passed every bike in sight, only slowing When it came time to fuel up or to change one of two flats in the first 250 miles. As the sun began to drop low in the west, a golden light lit the dust trail that snaked its way through the valleys, which we piloted our machines. I was in love. The desert had shown me both its ugly side and its undeniable beauty.
Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks “This is not just any DUALSPORT ride, this was a rite of passage”. At the end of the first day, before we could even wipe the dirt from our faces, each rider grabbed a cold beer and listened to one another’s take on the day “That was a lot of sand” I said aloud.
The group just laughed, and then one by one congratulated me on keeping up with the pace. For a for a moment, I was a wolf, a hardened heart, a rider separated from others through a covenant shared by a core group of friends branded [WLF]
The following morning, we struggled to our feet. Barstow was a cool 36 degrees, and the thought of riding was less than motivating. With Vegas on our minds, we changed our air filters, we adjusted the pressure in our tires, and with a fist full of throttle, we rode off into a cold dark desert. With each mile that passed I was gaining a deep respect for the men and women in their dauntless pursuit to complete the LAB2V. The distance was the killer, 10 miles of sand-wash linked to 10 miles loose rocky creek bed, followed by a steep climb that lead to whoops the size of a Buick (REPEAT 500 + miles).
Day two brought our group issue after issue, with one rider Garrett Nanos unable to complete the ride due to an electrical issue. Just as the sun started to set, Luke gets a pinch flat, exhausted and frustrated he lies on his back cursing as I pull the front wheel from his Husqvarna 501, I am limping from an earlier accident when Brandon Patton and Nick Vazquez come barreling up the hill that leads to Red Rock Canyon. While Luke and Nick pull the bad tube, I can over here Brandon on the satellite phone in a conversation with the rider’s command center, “DAMN IT, They said we cannot enter the canyon” Brandon was pissed! His passion for riding and completing the hardest obstacles is stronger than most, and having to opt for an easy route had him boiling over.
The city lights of Vegas were a welcoming sight, and my wife Mary Kate waiting at the finish line was all the better.
The LAB2V is an Iconic route designed to challenge riders of all skill levels, while taking them on an adventure across two states through some of the most enchanting landscapes in North America. This ride should be on your Bucket List!