Posted by: Brendan | April 15, 2008

Mojave lights, camera, action!

A light show in the middle of nowhere, bike racing, loud live music, beef jerky, a prehistoric volcano… lizards.

This weekend had it all. And we have pictures of most of it, too.

We set off Friday for Bootleg Canyon after a good day’s work on the mountain. In a couple hours’ time we’d descended into car-land and fought our way up to the start of our new favorite drive, the Amboy Route. The sun set behind us as we traversed the northern edge of Joshua Tree National Park, and darkness fell just as we entered the Mojave Preserve.

Driving through the desert that night was like riding a train through a dark tunnel, with the noise muted. Our headlights plowed a path through the dark and I wondered what we must look like from above. So- almost an hour into the Mojave Preserve, with a blanket of stars above and an otherwise black horizon, a small but very bright, colorful structure appeared.

Naturally, we stopped. Helena, the artist who puts this together every weekend, came out and talked with us for a while. She syncs three projectors together to show her videos on a semi-abandoned structure; a bunkhouse once used by chloride miners in the area.

We left the light show and proceeded past Amboy… and past our turnoff to go north- way past it. A beautiful misadventure ensued and we took the scenic route through the eastern end of the Mojave, pulling into “Terrible’s Casino & Gas Mart” with nothing but vapors in the tank.

Several hours later, we arrived at Bootleg Canyon- either really late or a few hours early for the race, depending on your outlook. We didn’t bother to set up camp and instead slept in the car.

Early Saturday morning the race was underway, with a small field and a rootsy atmosphere. We didn’t have much of an expo, so instead I wandered off. They’re building some really huge zip lines right by the parking area. Curiously, they’re built with my favorite metal, aluminum.

By noon the racers were in their groove, sweating it out under the hot sun & dust. The course was brutal, but I’ll leave that story for Mary & Sarah to tell.

Later, the band arrived…

Two guys pulled up with this here sound wagon- they were known in the pits as “Boombadda.” The trailer was a veritable jungle gym of noisemaking devices, with huge drum kits, long lengths of truck driveshafts, and a number of other interesting pieces. They also brought a bucketful of drumsticks, for any bystander with an ounce of rhythm to use. I tried my hand on the saw-blade cymbals while the guys laid a steady beat… way fun!

Dave partied hard all day with this younger gal, Rainbow.

And the race went on. I took the Bag O’ Hammers out for a lap, and had a blast with it on the rocks & g-outs. I was beaten up pretty well after one lap- serious props go out to racers who were out there suffering all day. Mary’s Song was down for maintenance this weekend & I’m sure she could’ve used it!

As the day went on the temps dropped a bit, and people emerged from their sun shelters to convene on the barbeque & beer coolers. Coincidentally (or not) the music got better right around that time, with the addition of a Bass player and a harmonica.

The raced ended just after dark & good vibes were flowing. Congrats to Sarah, Mary, and Christina in the women’s solo field!

We dozed off to the sound of boobadda…

We stopped through Amboy again on the way back home. This time we were lured in by a roadside jerky stand (really good) and the Amboy Crater.

Take a look at this blog written by a Route 66 buff about the area.

We came back to the mountain well sunned & satisfied. Can we do this every weekend?



  1. Wow, somebody actually likes that Amboy route. 🙂

    Cool lizard!

  2. Who couldn’t? 😉 Every time we drive through there we discover something new. First it was the shoe-tree, on our way home from Interbike last year…

    On top of that, our drive to Vegas is almost an hour shorter, and there’s hardly any traffic to speak of. Long live the Amboy Route!

  3. I always love to hear your perspective on our weekends!

  4. Looks like an awesome time! The show had to be very cool. And Amboy? Reminds me of my first double century…

  5. Thanks for the link, and that’s a cool lizard photo.

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