Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Pre-Trip Report: Nevada Backcountry Discovery Route (NVBDR)

2017 is all about adventure motorcycling and to kick off the year, I will be heading to Nevada (in May) to ride the newly established Backcountry Discovery Route.

The Backcountry Discovery Routes aims to establish off-highway routes for adventure motorcycle travel. i.e think of those big adventure touring bikes following cross country trails.
Thanks to BDR for creating Off-Road Routes for Adventure Travel

The big benefit of the BDR is that the team have scoped out some of the best adventure riding across seven states (todate) and have published maps and GPS tracks (which are downloadable) to enable adventure riders to explore off-highway routes.

A post shared by Backcountry Discovery Routes (@ridebdr) on

I first heard about the North American Backcountry Discovery Routes through the Adventure Rider Radio podcast - it was an interesting interview with Paul Guillien (Founding member of BDR).
Jim Martin introduced the podcast with a few thoughts: "Humans crave adventure. We love the idea ; the feeling we get ; but who has the time and how do we manage adventure with our schedule?"
Introducing Backcountry Discovery Routes.
Take a listen to the podcast via Adventure Rider Radio.

One of the interesting conversation points on the interview was the financial contribution the BDR has bought to the remote towns and communities.
"The best way to protect access to these areas is to create economic stimulus for these small towns and communities."
According to Paul Guillien, this has lead to the small towns actively encouraging routes to traverse their towns.  Fantastic commercial viewpiont which I think many small towns could benefit from.

Nevada Backcountry Discovery Route

There are many benefits working for an American company - one of them usually includes trips to the USA for annual sales and technical conferences. The end destination is usually Las Vegas as the city can support a thousand plus employees in a single conference venue. It was my turn to travel from Sydney to Las Vegas for the annual conference so I added a few extra travel days, recruited a few colleagues and hired the adventure bikes.

The plan:  to ride parts of the Nevada Backcountry Discovery Route.

A post shared by Backcountry Discovery Routes (@ridebdr) on

"The NVBDR is a scenic ride across Nevada, beginning in Oatman, AZ, and finishing in Jarbidge, NV. Created for dual-sport and adventure motorcyclists, this 900-mile south-to-north route primarily uses dirt roads to lead riders through Nevada’s expansive deserts, open sagebrush valleys, and seemingly endless mountain ranges.
In rural Nevada, you’ll experience historic saloons and relics from it’s rich mining history. The state’s maverick spirit remains, and you’ll see ghost towns, artifacts, desert sculptures, murals, the world’s largest car forest, jackrabbits, antelope and even wild mustangs." Source:

Pre-trip prep:

Balancing family life, a career, hobbies and sport often means that my overland adventure travels needs to be planned and thought through so as to maximise the time.
Thankfully, I love planning and don't quite enjoy the unpredictable nature of spontaneous travel. I love the research involved - everything from pouring over maps, reviewing budgets, recruiting willing participants and sharing the adventure to willing ears.

Logistics and Route:

Bike Rental: We opted to rent motorcycles from Great Southern Moto Adventures. The company is based in Las Vegas and were part of the volunteer team to establish the Nevada BDR. They offered two types of bikes: The Kawasaki KLR and the new Honda Africa Twin. All the bikes are equipped with soft panniers, and tank bags with optional accessories available like GPS and helmets. Curtis, one of the owners,  was very patient with our many emails and provided insight into alternative routes back to Las Vegas.

Equipment: This has proved a tough decision as many of us are new to adventure motorcycle touring and don't have the clothing or additional equipment like GPS units. We have opted to borrow and purchase 2nd hand equipment. Everything from boots, protective gear and jackets. We have mostly hired helmets.

GPS:  I have opted to test the motorcycle app (iPhone & Android) to plan, track and navigate the route.  One of the benefits is the ability to plan a route on the website and then use your mobile phone or tablet to start and track the route.   More on the app usage later.

The route: Here's a snapshot of the route:

Day 1: Las Vegas to Primm via Searchlight and Nipton.

Day 2: NVBDR: Primm (via Pahrump) to Beatty

Day3: Beatty to Tonopah following the NVBDR. This is a combination of Section 2 and Section 3.

Day4: NVBDR Section 4 to Route 82. Then back to Tonopah.
Tonopah back to Las Vegas via Extraterrestrial highway (and past Area51).

The full #NVBDR route on Google Maps as published by RideBDR.  The downloadable GPX file contains plenty of information and detailed route tracks.

That's it for now.  I will endeavour to provide a daily log... links below:

Additional Reading:

Day 1: Trail or Tracks
Day 2: Broken Pegs & The Happy Burro
Day 3: Canyons & Craters
Day 4: Valleys & Peaks