ADMO TOUR INFORMATION
A bike! AdMo provides Suzuki DRZ400s, with some minor modifications to add to their overall durability. Shod with aggressive dual-sport tires and a larger capacity 3.2 gallon (12 litre) fuel tank (there aren’t many gas stations in the desert!), they make ideal companions for a desert adventure. I was amazed at what I could tackle with this bike, and it ate up all the terrain variations that we encountered.
Gearboxes are ultra slick and allowed for quick last minute changes in gearing when that unexpected hump appears – requiring a lightening of the front-end and a shot of adrenalin. Dropping into a two foot wash is a doddle, it’s getting out of it a second later that makes the heart miss a beat!
They’re not overly heavy, but they are tall. Courtney’s concern, being 5’8”, was whether she'd be able to get both feet flat on the ground when coming to a stop – when the bike’s 300+ lbs was most noticeable. However, after a few words of wisdom from Uwe, a suitable arse-sliding-off-the-seat strategy to sit one foot firmly on the ground greatly increased riding confidence and reduced the frequency of ‘stopping incidents’.
In terms of protection from said inevitable falls, there is an option of renting all the required dirt riding gear ($55.00 for the full set), but AdMo prefer the rider provide his own. I brought my Dainese outfit with me, but took advantage of Admo’s chest armour and off-road helmet and goggles.
Water and snacks are also made available at the start of the ride, although each rider takes what he thinks he needs in a small backpack (provided), which he has to carry for the day. Since not all routes have a location for lunch, Uwe recommends stuffing yerself with a big breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant (and big they are), as lunch may just end up being a snack.
Finally, Admo supply gas and a guide who is very knowledgeable of the area and how to ride in this stuff (he'll happily offer up riding tips if you ask).
WHAT YOU NEED TO BRING
You will need to provide medical insurance (and does it cover helicopter lifts out of the desert?) and a motorcycle-endorsed driver’s licence ... and if you have a camel-back and any dirt gear, bring 'em too. If you're there in winter, don't forget that it can be chilly at the start and end of day, so something warm is a good thing to have too.
You’re also responsible for your own lodging, main meals and accommodation.
A one day tour is US$315.00 (per rider), with each additional day costing US$265.50. It's not super cheap, but a lot of that cost is in the permits that AdMo has to buy in order to access a lot of the trails. If you can get three others to join (total of four) you then there's a 15% off per day, per rider.
HOW TOUGH IS TOUGH?
The level of difficulty of the ride is determined by two things:
I'd say that you should really have a couple of seasons of riding in the dirt under your belt so that you have an idea of how to tackle the terrain. The area around Primm is either rock or sand (hey, it’s the desert after all!), with some hills to climb, so you should be comfortable in this kind of terrain, as avoiding these surfaces/obstacles is not an option.
Each day ride lasts for between 80 and 120 miles, with about 8 hours on the road ... er, gravel.
Like any sporting activity (well, except maybe curling), there are inherent risks involved. This is an adventure tour, and the emphasis is placed on the client to decide just what level of riding he is comfortable with. This particular tour is not your usual pampered all-inclusive winter getaway, and both Courtney and myself came away with some wicked bruises, and bodies that refused to play nice for a couple of days afterwards.
If you go faster than you’re comfortable going, or push yourself to a point where you’re getting tired and sloppy, you will undoubtedly fall off. This is a serious consideration – along with an honest assessment of your fitness level – when deciding how many days to ride.
Day three was when I had far more close calls and ‘oh feck’ moments occur, and with hindsight I would have been much better off opting for a two dayer and thus keeping well within my fitness/skill levels.
The tour guide does carry and cell and satellite phone with him, so if you do get into trouble, outside help shouldn't be too far away.
Courtney - I had a slightly different experience than Rob here – being almost a complete novice, I was mostly in major shock and survival mode throughout day one. Day two was when I was fighting with the fear of knowing what lay ahead, challenging my confidence, and this is when I had most of my ‘holy crap’ moments. Day three was when it all came together, the fear took a hike and I revelled in the terrain.
There is no doubt though had there been a day four it would not have been pretty!
If you break it you bought it. Well, there is insurance included in the tour fee, but there’s also a hefty $1,500.00 deductible, so any physical damage (scratches and wear and tear don’t count) will likely be charged to you. Thankfully, the DRZs are tough mothers and it takes a good fall (like a moderately fast get-off in soft sand) to cause any bendage.
For more information, check out their website at www.admo-tours.com or call 1-760-249-1105.
There’s no airport in Primm, but there are plenty of flights to Las Vegas, forty miles to the north on Interstate 15. Prices seem to vary wildly, but the cheapest times appear to be during the week (people seem to flock to Vegas for the weekend), with plenty of seat sales over the winter months. You are much better off to book your hotels ahead of time – there are no deals for those who search for a room the night of…
There is no public transport from Vegas, but there is a shuttle that runs to the outlet mall there, although you’ll be a little late as the first bus doesn’t arrive until 10 am. We opted to rent a car (CMG-RC members can get a 10% discount with Avis, as well as a $15 discount coupon), which ended up working out to be around US$200 for the week (including an upgrade to accommodate the ‘arris height), and gave us the freedom to explore the southwest pre or post ride.
There is only one place to stay in Primm and that is the Primm Valley Resort, owned by MGM. Thankfully, it comes with three separate complexes, of varying plushness and price tag. At the bottom end (where we ended up, of course) is Whiskey Pete’s, which is surprisingly cheap at about $35.00 a night with good-sized rooms and reasonable facilities. The only downside is that the walls are a tad thin (we were awoken on a couple of mornings at 5 am by the TV next door), inescapable cigarette smoke (it's all smoking in Nevada) and the phone rates (see warnings below).VEGAS HOTELS
Chances are if you’re flying into Vegas, you’re going to spend a night or two there. The bigger hotels tend to be in the US$100+ a night range, although there are some cheaper chains in the US$50 a night range.
If you don’t mind that slightly run down feeling then the Howard Johnson near the airport can be had for US$40 with a CAA membership. Oddly, the Best Western just down the road cost more and yet had an altogether grottier feeling.WARNINGS
Hotel rates can as much as double on a Friday and Saturday (both in Primm and Vegas), so we recommend aiming for a mid-week experience to keep costs down.
Also, be aware (as always) about hidden charges. Primm does not offer high-speed internet access, so I had no choice but to dial-up back to Canada to access email. My mistake was to not double-check that my computer connection went through my calling card. It didn’t, and to my horror I was saddled with a US$100 phone bill for my 30 minutes of Internet time – although the hotel has since kindly dropped the charge.