Wednesday, May 31, 2006


The 2006 D.O.M. Annual - part 1

This year's D.O.M. Annual is now over, and I'm back to work. But I have some great pictures to show and memories to share. The picture above was taken at sunrise on Fri. morning 5-26-06 from the center of our campsite, which was located at Camp "C" northeast of California City. It's hard to see, but that flag is attached to my quad. By the next morning, that same flag was flapping in the cold, blowing wind so hard it almost snapped the whip. Yep, we had desert weather: sunny and warm one day, cold and windy the next. We went from shorts and T-shirts to multi-layered sweatshirts.

I've decided to do a series of posts related to the 2006 D.O.M. Annual. I'll weave pictures of people and scenery between info regarding the weekend's activities, which were mostly races. But I don't want to make any one post soooooo long that readers get bored, so here's part one of I-don't-know-how-many. The first couple of posts will have some very special people to me: my kids - Brady and Nina. Unfortunately, my wife Laura had to work late on Fri. and all day on Sat. Me and the kids missed her, and so did many of our friends who attended the Annual. Please enjoy.

Here's Nina and Brady playing together in our trailer. They behaved pretty well this weekend; I didn't have to break up too many fights:

Here's Brady and his friends Josh and Chris pictured with Brady's go-cart:

Here's Nina and her friend Ty: Ty loves to play with Nina, and hangs out at our trailer a lot. I'll have to find the pics from last year's Annual ('05). There are some cute pics of Nina and Ty riding Nina's Barbie Jeep around camp.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Today Is The Day!

Today is the day I leave for the D.O.M. Annual!!! I'm all packed and ready to go. The next post on this blog will be to reflect on everything that happend over the Memorial Day Weekend at the D.O.M. Annual. I've got to go; the desert awaits!

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Gettin' Ready For The Ride

I've been working my ass off all day long getting ready for the D.O.M. Annual next weekend. I was just going to change the oil and the oil filter, but with the high prices of gasoline, I decided to convert to "natural gas". It seems to be working out okay so far, but I'll have to see how I do in the races.

I'm also going to bring a spare air filter with me, because after putt-putting around this afternoon, the fumes from my "wind" have soiled the air filter. I have to thank my wife for taking this picture of me. She held her breath for almost a minute. Luckily the camera still worked.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


D.O.M. - About the Annual (part two)

Continuing on from another post about this same topic, I was going to describe the awards portion of the D.O.M. Annual. But first I neglected to talk about two other race events that have evolved over the years. One is the Blind Man’s Race, and the other is the Go Cart Race. Neither of these races are as traditional as the other 4 that I previously discussed, but are just as fun. In fact, the Blind Man’s Race is probably the funniest “spectator” event the club has.

These two events are held on Sunday after the Scramble event concludes. Both races take place on the same open field course as was used for Saturday’s events, and is modeled after Barrel Race: (1.) The Blind Man’s Race – has been around for about 8 years, and allows 2 people on 1 vehicle with the driver BLIND-FOLDED. The passenger tells the driver which way to turn around each trash barrel. The type of vehicle doesn’t matter – most people do it on quads, but I’ve seen pick-up trucks, golf carts (yes, golf carts), and go carts. No time is added if you hit, miss, or even run over a barrel. However, of those who successfully navigate all 3 barrels, the fastest time wins. This event is a blast just to watch!

(2.) The Go Cart Race – now in its 2nd year of existence, and was established because more club members have been buying go carts for their kids. Go carts cannot compete in any of the other events. The Go Cart Race is exactly like the Barrel Race – 1 rider navigates around all 3 trash barrels as fast as they can.

Now on to the D.O.M. Annual awards ceremony. This takes place on Sunday evening, after all the events are completed. It takes time to tabulate all the event winners. The finish times of each person in each event is compared the others who competed in the same event – to establish a first, second, and third place. These “placings” are assessed points in order to establish the first, second, and third place of each class. Ribbons are awarded to each person that places first, second, and third in each event. For the child classes (Pee-Wee, Brats, Girls, and Boys) trophies are awarded for first, second, and third place in each class. All children who participated will receive something, so if they don’t actually place in a particular race, they will still get a participation ribbon.

The most coveted trophy is awarded to a boy with the highest points in the Boys Class. This trophy is named after Dirk Harbor, who was a member many years ago. Dirk loved riding motorcycles, but tragically passed away from cancer when he was still a boy. I never met Dirk; I joined the club long after his passing, but only know of him from the trophy presentation in his name at the Annual. One of our long-time members usually tells the story of Dirk Harbor, and this portion of the awards ceremony is usually very emotional for those in attendance.

The adults only receive ribbons for placing first, second, and third in each race event. Adults don’t receive trophies for their high-points achievements in each class, with two exceptions: The overall high-points adult is awarded the Harry Essres trophy – named after an original member of the club, one of the original Dirty Old Men. The adult over the age of 40 with the highest points is awarded the Old-Timers trophy.

The next part of the awards ceremony recognizes club spirit and effort. A trophy called the Stein Award is awarded by the club King and Queen to a member of their choice. The club King and Queen have the responsibility of managing the club treasury, writing and mailing the club newsletter, dealing with membership (collecting dues from new or existing members), choosing ride locations, planning all activities at the rides (pot lucks, raffles, arranging for club apparel, etc., etc.). This takes a lot of work and requires a lot of help from other members. So, once a year the current King and Queen recognize a worthy recipient of this trophy. And yes, there is a stein on top of the trophy.

The last part of the D.O.M. Annual awards ceremony is the crowning of the new King and Queen. One of the other responsibilities the K & Q have is to seek out and find a replacement. The term of a K & Q is one riding season – from Annual to Annual. Some K’s & Q’s have taken on consecutive reigns, and others have passed on the torch to someone else after their reign. But since it’s a surprise to the rest of the club, the announcement of the new (or continuation of) K & Q is the last order of FUN business and closes out the ceremony.

Memorial Day (Monday) of the Annual weekend is when everyone packs up and goes home – until the next riding season begins in September. Drive safely!

Saturday, May 13, 2006


D.O.M. - About the Annual (part one)

The D.O.M. Annual is less than two weeks away, and I was thinking it's time to start writing about our club's biggest event of the season. After all, this is the unofficial blog of the D.O.M. (in addition to being my personal blog), and I also have the the unofficial website of the D.O.M. Please keep in mind that even though the club name is Dirty Old Men, it's not like we're all a bunch of dirty old men. We're actually a family-orientated club. But the club has changed a lot in the 30+ years of its existence. More on club history some other time.

The Annual has been going on for over 30 years, almost as long as the club has been around. I've only been in the club about 9 years, and only missed one Annual in that timeframe. Well, I do have my priorities straight - I had to attend a family wedding. So here's what goes on in a nutshell:

The club has organized, timed race events. Most of these are conducted with one rider at a time on a marked course. There are two events that have all the riders together (in their respective classes) on a marked course. Now let me emphasize that SAFETY is everyone’s utmost concern, particularly for the child riders. Also, the events are for FUN, and even though there are ribbons and trophies, it’s just for fun.

We hold three race events on Saturday of the Annual. These 3 events take place in a large flat open area nearby where we camp. We cordon off the whole area with cones for SAFETY. The 3 events are: (1.) The Slalom - where the rider navigates in and out of cones as fast as they can. Time is added if the rider knocks over a cone. If the rider is on a motorcycle, time is added if they put their foot down. (2.) The Barrel Race - where the rider navigates around 3 trash barrels as fast as they can, but one particular barrel (which is identified and the same for all riders) must be last. Time is added if the rider knocks over a barrel. (3.) The Blow and Go - where all the riders are on the course together facing the finish line. At the signal, they blow and go and the fastest one to the finish line wins. Basically it's a short fast race to the finish.

We hold one race event on Sunday of the Annual. This one is called The Scramble. The smaller kids classes are held on a small track, and the riders race one at a time with the fastest times taking 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

The larger kids classes and up take place on a nearby course, which is marked with bright ribbons. These ribbons are recognized by riders participating in the event, spectators of the event, and other persons in the area who may be camping nearby and riding for fun. So again, it's for SAFETY. The Scramble has all the riders on the start/finish line together (within their class), and are signaled to begin racing. Depending on the class, the riders go 2, 3, or 4 times around the track. The faster riders are able to pass the slower ones. The Scramble is more of a marathon race as compared to the Blow and Go, which is more of a sprint.

I've mentioned class a few times. The class a rider is in depends on different factors: Their age, their ability, and the vehicle they're riding. Currently we have 9 classes, and will be adding 1 more this Annual. The 9 are: Pee-Wee (approx. 2-to-4 year olds riding whatever they have); Brats (approx. 5-to-8 year olds riding whatever they have); Girls (approx. 9 & up riding small motorcycles & quads); Boys (approx. 9 & up riding motorcycles ONLY); Women's Quad (female teen's and adults riding quads ONLY); Men's Quad (male adults riding quads ONLY); B-class (male & female adults riding larger motorcycles); A-class (more skilled male adults riding larger motorcycles); and finally AA-class (the most skilled male adults riding the largest, fastes motorcycles). Breathe.

The new class being added this Annual is Boys Quad (approx. 9 & up riding quads ONLY). The reason for this is that the club has been changing over the past few years. There are more and more quads in general, but many of the kids are starting on small quads and working their way up as they grow up and get more skilled. The original classes were built around motorcycles (until Men's Quad and Women's Quad were added years ago). It's also not fair to the boys on quads to compete with the men on quads - even though its for FUN. It's also not fair to the boys on motorcycles to compete with the boys on quads. The boys riding motorcycles are competing for FUN, but there is one very special trophy associated with Boys Class. I will explain that in my next post about this topic, along with the awards portion of the Annual.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


D.O.M. - The April Ride to Searless Station

So, what’s this D.O.M. thing all about? It’s just a group of friends that go riding out in the desert. Let me quote directly from our mission statement, which can be found on our unofficial website: “To enjoy safe, family-orientated fun in the desert and respect its’ environment.” Now I’m not going to give the whole history of the club right now. On this particular posting, I’m just going to talk about our last ride.

The location was Searless Station. Searless Station is not an official train depot (that I’m aware of). It looks more like a rail car holding area for seldom- or formerly-used boxcars, which appear to all have been used for the same purpose. I hesitate to call it a boxcar graveyard, because there’s obviously activity there. On this ride – as has occasionally been the case on past rides to Searless Station – there was movement on the tracks by rail workers. I don’t know what they were doing, but a locomotive moved some boxcars around. As you can see from the picture below, we were camped too far from the tracks to see whether they were coming or going, and quite frankly we were there for the D.O.M. experience, not the trains. You can barely make the train cars out in this shot, and no I'm not referring to the white trailers in the foreground.

Anyway, in terms of where Searless Station is located, it’s a few miles southeast of Ridgecrest, California, in the Mojave Desert. This is a large area known as Spangler Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Area. This particular spot is east of U.S. 395, and south of Searless Station Cutoff, which is a narrow paved road that connects U.S. 395 to Trona Rd. Ridgecrest is roughly 150 miles north of the greater Los Angeles area, not too far from where State Highway 14 and U.S. 395 meet. Pictured below is the view of the big hill at Searless Station from where we were camped. Why yes, I have gone up the face of that hill on my quad, but not on this particular trip.

The club loves this area. There are actually three different camping sites that we go to from time-to-time. The other two spots being just a few miles away. This is not camping as some people camp: in a campground with hookups for your electricity, water, sewage, and cable TV. This is called dry camping. So if you’re fortunate enough to have a trailer (like our family does) or a motor home, you use your batteries and propane for power, lighting, heating, and cooling. Most of us have generators, so we do have electricity for other luxuries such as microwave ovens, TV’s, and electric blenders. Well, we have to make margaritas ya know! Oh, did I mention there’s happy hour?

A couple of people on this ride camped in tents. Now I give these brave souls a lot of credit. This ride, as with the three before it, had poor weather. Not as bad as some of the recent rides, but bad enough. There was light rain, wind, and cold temperatures. We experience wind almost every ride, but this time it was steady for a couple of days. So my D.O.M. hat goes off to the two families that "tented" it this time: Our dear friends, the Keller’s, and their neighbors, the Arrita's.

Other attendees were: the Ingram’s, the Bell's, the Guevara's, the Guy's, the Hauptman's, the McGhee’s, the Woolridge’s, and another family whose names I didn’t catch. This was a smaller turn out compared to the usual, and is nothing compared to what will be expected on Memorial Day Weekend when the club has their annual field events.

As far as what we did: we rode our desert toys, of course. Most of us have quads, some folks have motorcycles, and a couple of us have go-carts. We rode all around the trails in the open areas, and we took a group ride to Randsburg. On the way there, we found a desert tortoise right in the middle of the trail. We all stopped and took a look without touching, and waited until the tortoise crossed the trail and went into the bush.

Where the hell is Randsburg? Randsburg is a mining town about 20 miles south of Ridgecrest. Our destination was the White House Saloon, where we ate lunch and had a few beers. (Well the kids didn't drink beer, nor did the folks who don’t drink).

On the way back from Randsburg, we saw a snake on the side of the trail. We all stopped and took a look without touching, but were a lot more cautious than with the tortoise. We also stopped at a deserted shelter probably used by miners. This shelter was blasted out of rock that was part of a mound or small hillside. Some exterior walls of brick and cement remain, but everything is in ruin and long vacated. There are all kinds of things like this that we come across in our rides. There was quite a bit of mining done years ago, and the evidence of what the miners left behind can be found everywhere.

I can go on and on about what we’ve come across when we’ve gone riding, but I’ll save that for a later posting. The bottom line is this: Those of us DOMers love to go out and ride, be with each other, and enjoy various activities on our weekend rides. I’ll take the time to describe more of the activities in a later posting, especially since our annual field events are coming up next month. So until next time, bye.

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