I know you desert riders can appreciate this one. Here's my post ride report from Sat. Mar. 6 at Ocotillo Wells in So Cal. The weather was ideal, low 70's with standing water in the low washes. This was the most strenuous ride I've ever done. Just about 75 miles of flat out haulin' _ss! I was out of control more than I'd like to admit. Lot's and lots of whoops, ridges, (small) jumps and sand washes. But I suprised myself by NOT crashing in the most critical parts of the ride, namely most of it. I did drop it twice though, and now my bike (not me) has the badges of honor to prove it. I'm really glad I have a plastic tank. Definitely paid for itself on this ride. And as for my Asterisk knee braces, I won't ride off-road without them, EVER! The more I ride this beast, the more I learn. Standing up, knees tight against the tank, and keeping your elbows out are critical riding techniques that can't be ignored, especially at speed (I know, I'm 42 and still learning how to ride). I had a blast catching air, pulling wheelies, going 40+ mph over the whoops, and carving in the sand. Great place, great fun. All I can say is...When are we going back? My buddy is beginning to see the "dual purpose" in his XRL. He wasn't sure where the XRL fit in for him. After this particular ride, he basically just discovered that this bike can do many things and do them well. You couldn't tell by the permanent ear-to-ear grin plastered on his face. I told him throw on a different pipe, plus a 14-tooth and you'll really bring out the hidden dirt manners of this air-cooled beast. Thanks to Zeek (XR650R desert master blaster) for being the tutor and "tour guide." He said we didn't slow him down too much (being polite, of course). This guy was riding with one hand while we were white knuckling it. He was wheelie-ing past me at 50 mph! He also showed another one of our riding partners, Juan, the "technique" for kickin' over his '02 XRR. Juan and his right leg are eternally grateful. I'm pretty sore, especially the lower back. I'm going to invest in a kidney belt next. But this is why I returned to this sport of ours. To get the blood pumping, challenge myself, and eventually get even better at riding off-road.