One of the many highlights of my recent trip to the USA was riding in the desert. It was a last minute treat organized by a buddy based out of Las Vegas. He said “if your passing through I’ll get my friend Jimmy to sort a bike for you and we’ll get off-road.” Sounds like and excellent offer, I thought!
I assumed ‘Jimmy,’ Al Riaz’s buddy, would just happen to live in Parump, which lies between Vegas and Death Valley, and have a couple of dirt bikes in his garage. You know, mate of a mate, with a spare bike and some time to kill, lets go for a spin type touch.
We ride over the mountain pass to Parump, catch up with Jimmy and his two buddies who are going to ride with us, gear up and get on the bikes. I start out on a KTM400. It’s only as the morning progresses that ‘Jimmy’ is no back yard boy with a dirt bike liking…Having followed him at one point as he pulls an effortless 2 mile wheelie on his KTM350, it’s becoming obvious this guys CAN REALLY RIDE.
But he’s laid-back, easy to chat with, more interested in what his buddies and his new riding partners have been upto. It’s only at the end of the day (after he’s scaled a canyon wall on the KTM that would make a mountain goat gulp) and a couple of beers that I find out – slow on the uptake at usual – that this is Jimmy Lewis, multiple Dakar finisher, Baja Winner and Six Day Gold Medalist, list of awards and achievements as long as your arm. And top bloke.
Jimmy Lewis of the Jimmy Lewis Off-Road Riding School (http://jimmylewisoffroad.com)
And he put on a great days riding. Fellow rider and former Cambodia Expeditions guide, Mike Rowley managed to fly the Welsh flag, putting up a good show. All that desert riding experience coming to the fore as he is now leading tours in Dubai.
Leaving me to waddle around at the back looking like a total amateur. I like sand – we’ve got plenty of it to ride in Northern Cambodia in the dry season – but this stuff just nailed me. At first I didn’t like the bike, so spat the dummy and got Mike to have a go on it. It’s trying to spit me off Mike! You’re just not riding it hard enough yer numbty he mumbled, giving up the Husaberg 520 he was on to give it a go.
After a quick spin he comes back – Nothing wrong with it he says…and keeps hold of it just to prove me wrong. Doh. Blame the bike, look like a newbie. Check. Turn up in sunnies, no goggles, newbie. Check. Adventure jacket and helmet cam. Doh. And then ride like a wuss…All the classic newbie errors..Oh the shame.
What am I going to do next – hit a cactus???
Despite the desert’s best efforts no emergency cactus needle removals were needed. Phew. Fast open sandy trails, salt flats, sand dunes, creek beds and huge vistas were the order of the day.