Hammertown, Johnson Valley
Maybe this is normal for some of you, living with dust-caked skin day in and day out, zipping around on dirt bikes, UTVs, and quads until your skin is scorched from the desert sun. For a first timer at KOH, it was a fantastic example of extreme offroad culture and community.
When entering into Hammertown, one is greeted by a parking lot of heavily modified Wranglers, Cherokees, Franken-Jeeps, bare-bones rock crawlers, toy haulers, side-by-sides, and everything else dirt worthy. Passing by huge manufacturer and offroad camps like Polaris, Can Am, Rockstar Garage, Warn, and tons more, the stage has been set for the type of action ready to unfold over the week.
When you just want to go fast! But cant. The ongoing draught that California is enduring has created the dust bowl of all dust bowls in Johnson Valley. While immediate visibility is fine enough, distant flags or dust trails are invisible. Out of nowhere dirtbikes and smaller offroad vehicles like Canam and RZRs are doing flybys on incredible suspensions allowing them to float at high speed over the bumpy and rocky terrain.
On these courses, your opponents are also sometimes your obstacles. In the case of a vehicle getting stuck, breaking an axle, or a host of other break-down worthy reasons, you can expect competitors to roll over you like another large rock down the course. While there were some good-sportsmanship moments of pushing people through treacherous rocky obstacles, there were others where patience took a backseat to this race's competitive nature.
We heard there were parties. We heard there were bands playing and of taco trucks and projection screens with action films. We opted to get outside the madness in the hills of the valley, overlooking Hammertown instead. At least with some distance between us and Hammertown, we enjoyed a respite from the dust and the noise, and decompressing from the long days under the sun.