California Dualsport Ride

I’m down in the Palm Springs area and had the awesome opportunity to go on a dual sport ride with the Mike and Dave from Get Dirty Dirt Bikes.  I’ve got to start out by saying these guys are spectacular.  If you are ever in the Palm Springs area, and want to rent a dirt bike or go on a tour you should definitely go through these guys.  They set me up with a KTM 450, which turns out to be built like a tank, given the number of times that I crashed, and it continued to work.

The plan for our trip was to start in Banning, make our way through the back county to Idyllwild for lunch, and then head back to the truck.  Mike was leading the pack of us, with Dave following the pack, helping people (ie mostly me) when they dropped their bikes.

The trip started off pretty easy – dirt road with some small ruts in it.  We made it about 2 miles in when decided to cut one of the corners and climb a small hill and drop back to the road.  This was the first time (of very many) that I dropped the bike – at least I wasn’t the first person (by about 30 sec).  Dave told me that I could stay on the road if I liked…

The road got more and more difficult with lots of ruts and washouts.  Managed to ride my way through it without crashing again.  The next leg of the trip was through a single track trail – this is where things started to unravel for me.  I made it about 100’ into the trail and dropped the bike.  I start picking up the bike, and my pants game unsnapped.  So I snapped them back up, through my leg over the bike, and they unsnapped again. Barely managed to get them snapped while on the bike (I’m in a hill), go about 5’ and drop the bike again.  And my pants came unsnapped again.  Snap pants, get on bike, pants unsnapped again.  Struggle to get pants snapped.  Head down the trail a bit pants unsnapped again.  This time I just leave them that way…All this time, Dave is patiently hanging out with me while everyone else has ridden ahead.   I go for about another 2 minutes, get hung up in a rut and dump the bike again.  At this point I tell Dave I need a break to get in a better mental state – he rides ahead to let people know that we are taking a break, while I cool down.  Dropping the bike and snapping my pants are driving me crazy.  After my little break, I snapped my pants (which were not a problem for the rest of the trip), and I finished out the trail without any issues.

Now we are back on the roads, there are still ruts all over the place that you have to be careful navigating through, but I start to get in a groove.  I’m going faster and faster…went through a turn a little fast and the bike got off the road – at which point, it gets hung up on a branch at stops instantly.  I however, was standing on the pegs and did not stop until my face hit the ground…did I mention there was about a 3 foot long section of mud that I landed in…the only mud in sight on the stretch of the road.  My protective gear was worth every penny I paid for it.  I did mess my thumb up pretty good – thought it was broken at first, but it wriggled so I called it good.  Other than that, I was just fine.

Along the way, there were several stream crossings that we had to do.  This one was probably the coolest one.  There was a bit of a waterfall
off to the left (not pictured).  I was surprised that we were in the trees, I expected to be in more desert like conditions for the entire ride. From this point to Idyllwild, it was like riding through the mountains.  When we madeour way to the top, there was a bunch of snow.

Eventually, we made it to the town and had some lunch.  On the way back, we cruised down the pavement a bit to make up some time.  Even riding the slab was a bit tough because there was crushed rock on it left over from the winter.  Made cornering a bit interesting.

We split up with a couple of the other guys taking the road all the way back to the rig, while the rest of us hit the dirt again.  We went down a few roads that were different than the ones on the way up, but it was still the same type of terrain – dirt roads w/ruts.  We went down one of Mike’s “secret” trails on the way back.  I dumped the bike a couple more times but made it home.  Overall the trip was about 75 miles, and I was dead tired when we were back.

Injury wise, I came away pretty good given the number of times I crashed.  My thumb is purple and I can’t grip things tightly, so it should be ok.  I’ve got a bit of road rash on my butt from having the bike slide out from under me once.  Outside of that I feel pretty good.


  1. What a ride! That looks like a Husky or maybe a Beta in the picture looking closer at what side the exhaust is. There is a campground near where you started. Maybe I can find some easy riding for Ma and I there or around Idyllwild. Theaer are a bunch of campgrounds there too.

  2. There were 4 guys on Betas and 2 KTMs. Most of the stuff we were riding on might have been a stretch for her. The KLRs probably could have made it down most of the roads – would not have wanted to take them on the single track stuff.

  3. Sounds like a total blast. Do you think it was difficult riding? I understand you fell but did you fall because it was nasty terrain or just dumb falls?

    How was that bike? Feel more powerful than the 250?

    1. Part of it was stupid stuff I did (ok, all of it was). It was fairly hard riding. Lots of split second decisions trying to navigate through the ruts/washouts. Harder than Mattawa for sure.

      The bike is bigger than the Honda. The honda probably has more go from the start – fuel injection vs a carb bike. You could lug the KTM a ton and still pull through. Dave basically told me to leave it in 2nd all the time, and after the trip told me that I could probably get away with 3rd when we go out again.

      1. I will take you to Tahuya (well, further than 50 yards of Tahuya) before your big trip. I want to see how it compares on the difficulty scale.

        Was it better than riding on sand?

  4. Yeah, it was better than sand…It was a very long day as well – we were pretty much riding non-stop all day, with just a break for lunch.

    We were supposed to hit the sand today, but my thumb was pretty nasty yesterday, so we delayed till Friday. Thumb is still pretty sore today, so we’ll see…

  5. Hi, minus the secret trail, I would be interested in learning what trails and roads your route followed. Fellow rider and I will be in the Palm Springs area in Feb…although not sure if the upper elevation stuff in Idywild will be rideable….

    1. Unfortunately, I was just a follower, and I didn’t have my GPS to record my track, so I’m not exactly sure which roads we went over. I poked around at the map for a bit, and I couldn’t even find our starting point :(. I know that we were mostly west of (or on) 243. You might try contacting the guys at Get Dirty Dirt Bikes and they may point you in the right direction.

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