Kite surfing, still one of the most extreme sports around, is an ever evolving sport – it started on water but is now done on any suitable surface – deserts, beaches, snow plains, alpine mountains… you name it and someone will try it, if it hasn’t been tried already!
Ivanpah Dry Lake in Nevada is one of the best buggying places in North America and kite buggying enthusiasts from around the world come here.
It is about 40 miles outside of Las Vegas near Primm and is just off Interstate 15 which connects Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Nice and easy to find. The 13-square-mile (34 km2) lake is almost entirely within California and is closed to motorised vehicles.
We covered the Spring Break Buggy Blast the other day, so today we are merely going to elaborate further on what this area has to offer apart from the SBBB… now known, since 2004, as the NABX (the North American Buggy eXpo).
The NABX are justly proud of themselves. They are an environmentally conscious organisation which aims to combine an abundance of fun while putting an emphasis on sharing knowledge, encouraging education, and supporting the kite traction movement.
All buggies are suitable for using on the Ivanpah Dry Lake, but it is recommended that you come with one you are comfortable with. There is enough space on the dry lake for cruising long distances in a race style buggy or trick riding in a freestyle model.
The lake bed is hard and fast. If you are used to buggying on grass or sand, you’ll find that you will be using at least one kite size smaller than you normally use for a particular wind range until you get used to the speed and the lake bed. Speeds here normally exceed 30mph and you will feel like you’re crawling along. So bring kites ranging from 3 to 7 metres. You’ll usually end up using all of them over the course of the week.
Safety equipment is adviseable for all pilots. The lake bed is hard and if you fall, which you probably will, it will hurt, so take a helmet in addition to elbow and knee pads. Some wear full motor-cross body armor. Wearing trousers and a long sleeved shirt is a good idea to help minimize road rash should you have an accident.
A mobile phone is a good idea too. The lake is 4 miles wide in places and 7 miles long. You could well be stranded out of sight whether it be a crash or lack of wind, and it would be nice to know that all you have to do is “phone home” – and this lot had to do!
The lake bed is abrasive so 2-ply tyres will not last long. Experienced buggiers tend to use the thicker 4-ply, but it is also adviseable to bring a spare set – there’d be nothing worse than getting out there, having an absolute blast, and then find some socking great holes in your tyres. The most well-known and popular brand of buggy 4 ply tires for desert conditions are made by Carlisle and known as “smoothies”. The standard size of most buggy tires is 4.80 x 8.
That’s the advice NABX offers, plus plenty more if you go directly to their website (www.nabx.net). All kite traction enthusiasts are welcomed and invited to join NABX in the open desert for a fun-packed, high speed, kite powered adventure.
The organisation centres around 3 core events:
The Circuit Race:
A 3 point sailing style race. All riders start at once heading toward the designated 1st marker. From there, they will either set a course upwind or downwind (depending on the course conditions) to marker 2. As they round the last marker, all riders return to the start/finish line and round the course again. Each race typically finishes after 3 laps. The combined results of all races determines the winner.
The 50 Mile Enduro:
Set on a rectangular course, the Enduro is a fast-paced long distance race that tests the limits of riders and their equipment. Riders lap the course at full speed for up to 50 miles or the 2.5 hour time limit. Blowouts, breakdowns and fatigue often reduce the field of competition to a handful of ardent contenders.
The Team Enduro:
Based on a combination of the 50 Mile Enduro and a traditional relay race, the Team Enduro pits groups of 2 or more riders against one another in a long distance speed race. Teams may trade out tired riders for fresh ones in accord to their individual strategy. The first team to make 50 miles or the 2.5 hour time limit wins.