Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spring in Moab

Trying out something new, a guest writer!

Craig and his wife Julie recently rode their Ural Artic Sidecar Rig from Denver to Moab, Utah, this is their ride report.

Spring in Moab, 2010

Ah, Spring! The sun is shining, the birds are singing and a young man's fancy turns to… dirt?

The origins of the current ‘Spring in Moab’ began back in 1966 with Dana Williams, aka DirtyDr, taking the coming of spring as a sign to make his annual pilgrimage to the Mecca of the Mechanical World – Moab, UT. For many years, DirtyDr was mounted on his various dirt bikes—an ’82 XL 500 R, later a BMW GS; he graduated to three wheels in 2006 with the purchase of his Ural Patrol.

In 2007, DDR drove his Ural from his home in Vail, CO to Moab and ‘Spring in Moab’ was born on the Soviet Steeds web board ( an invitation to all Ural drivers to join DDR in a celebration of friends, warmth, rocks, dirt and mud.

Also during 2007, I was deep in the throes of Uralitis-an overwhelming desire to own and enjoy one of the wonderful, three wheeled machines made in Russia. My affliction was cured in June 2008 as our Ural Arctic was delivered by the dealer in Bellingham, WA.

After viewing the photos of the 2008 and 2009 ‘Spring in Moab’ get together, my wife (and hack Monkey), Julie, and I decided to take up the offer and join in the 2010 ride. For years, friends and acquaintances who had visited Moab kept telling us, “You gotta go!” Now, all I can say is, “Wow! What took us so long?!?”

Ground Zero for ‘Spring in Moab’ is the Archview RV Campground and Resort. Located about 10 miles north of Moab, just to the east of Hwy 191, Archview is close enough for shopping yet secluded enough to avoid the ‘crowds’ in the small town. It also happens to be located hardly a stone's throw from some of the most amazing trails and dirt roads I’ve ever had the pleasure to ride.

Julie and I left our home in Centennial, CO (a suburb of Denver) on Saturday morning and arrived in Moab that afternoon. We checked into our rented cabin and were promptly greeted by ‘Eric, the Recycled Teenager’. I believe Eric had the distinction of “long distance dude”, as he had driven from his home in Ottawa to join in the fun. He had heard about the Ural get together from the Adventure Riders web board ( and thought it would be fun to tag along on his KLR 650. Two wheels, three wheels… it doesn’t matter as long as you’re there to have fun.

Since most of the group was arriving a little later, Eric, Julie and I decided to take a short trip down to the Needles District of Canyonlands. Sunday was a day of mostly on road riding, as Needles is about 94 miles from Moab. After heading south on Hwy 191 for about 60 miles, we turned west towards the Needles District – another 30 miles to Canyonlands.

Rounding a blind corner, we came across Newspaper Rock; a protected collection of hieroglyphics close to the entrance of Needles. Southern Utah is full of surprises! Newspaper Rock… a story from a different time, told in ‘words’ I can only guess at.

 Photo: Julie & Craig

 Eric navigating a dirt road on the way to Elephant Rock trail
Photo: Craig & Julie

We did manage to find a few dirt roads in Needles, one of which lead up to the Elephant Rock 4wd trail. We parked in the lot at the bottom of Elephant Rock and found one of the rare shady places to enjoy a sack lunch. After lunch, we decided to hike up the 4wd trail to see what was on top… there wasn’t a chance the Ural would climb such a steep/rocky trail… it was difficult enough trying to get up there on two feet!
Believe it or not, Eric and Julie are looking over the edge of the 4wd trail; the couple at the right is also on the trail.

 Photo: Craig & Julie

Afterward, we once again donned our riding gear and headed back to Moab. An uneventful trip north had us arriving back at the campground around suppertime; I spotted a friendly face and a familiar shape coming towards us. It was Dana, on his Patrol, leading a group out for dinner. We made brief introductions over the sound of idling engines and each continued on their way.

Monday morning we headed out  to do some sightseeing in Arches National Park- Eric on his KLR, the rest driving our Urals -Ron & Linda, Mark & Tonya, Craig & Julie with Dana leading the bunch.

We explored most of the paved roads in the park and a couple off road excursions were thrown in for fun. Here we are coming back down the trail that leads to Delicate Arch. I’d like to say we made it the length of the trail, but not everyone had bash plates and high exhausts (I now have one dinged muffler!)- And the rocks kept getting larger and closer together. Discretion, being the better part of valor, we turned around at the half way point.

Around noon, we headed back to camp on our first lengthy trail ride. A dirt road connecting Arches N.P. with Hwy 191 just north of our campground, it’s a relatively easy trail full of sand, slick rock and dinosaur foot prints!

Monday afternoon was our next ‘group’ ride, off to explore the Gemini Bridges. This was another relatively easy drive. I got us stuck once; neglecting to put the Ural in 2wd before a sandy uphill section, the rear tire dug in and our forward momentum was lost. A quick back up maneuver which put us ‘sideways’ on the hill, a flick of the 2wd lever and once again, we were underway.

Parked at the Gemini Bridges – left to right – Walt, Linda (in car), Ron, Eric, Tonya (in car), Mark and Julie Photo: Dana

Gemini Bridges - Two parallel arches named after the Gemini Twins in Greek mythology. That’s Craig & Julie walking along the top; it’s a long way down!

 Photo: Mark & Tonya

Tuesday, 8 a.m. and things began to get more interesting. It was an all day ride down to the Green River and a return road which would take us down Long Canyon. Take heed the warning signs…

 Photo: Craig & Julie

A brief ride along Hwy 313 and a quick turn onto a dirt road lead us to this; a road cut into the side of the cliff. As we were heading down, I told Julie, “If you get scared, just close your eyes…that’s what I do!” Fortunately, she saw the humor in it.

Heading down to the Green River with Dana (leading), Craig & Julie, Walt and Eric bring up the rear. 
Photo: Mark & Tonya

Down at the bottom, we were greeted with more fabulous roads; this shelf road is part of the White Rim trail that circumnavigates most of Canyonlands National Park.

 Photo: Mark & Tonya

Into each life, a little rain must fall, or if the sky is clear, then a little air must escape. Prior to our Moab invasion, I was having trouble with the rear tire holding air. All the symptoms pointed to a faulty air valve… at least all the symptoms I was paying attention to.

Turns out, I had picked up a nail somewhere along the way and should have changed/fixed the tire before our trip. 20/20 hindsight. But where’s the fun in that? Why change a tire in the solitude of a lonely garage, especially when you can get four other Uralisti to help!

 So…how many people does it take to change a drive tire? 
That’s Dana doing the most important part – keeping the sun at bay. 
Photo: Mark & Tonya

Tire changed, we headed back up the twisty dirt road and over towards Dead Horse State Park. Before we reach the park, Long Canyon Road takes off to the northwest, another good choice of roads on Dana’s part.
Mark, at the top of Long Canyon, trying to capture just a little of the vista for posterity.

 Photo: Julie & Craig

Long Canyon descends from the Islands in the Sky plateau back to the Moab valley; and descend it does! There are very few road signs in the back country around Moab, and the ones you do see say something like: “Beware, turn around! It’s not too late!”

Well, maybe not in so many words… I’m sure if there were a ‘grade warning’ sign, it would have said somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-12%. Throw in the rock ‘steps’ you have to negotiate and soon you have your Ural pretty much standing on its nose! At least it felt that way from the saddle.

Craig on the brakes and Julie with one hand on the ‘OhMyGawd’ handle and the other shooting video. Photo: Mark & Tonya

Three quarters of the way down, a boulder had fallen across the road, fortunately, it came to rest allowing passage underneath – along with a serious photo opportunity for those brave souls who made it this far.

Craig & Julie and Walt under the boulder.
Photo: Mark & Tonya

Wednesday morning, Julie and I decided to go hiking in the morning. We chose the “Double O Arch” trail in Arches N.P. as our destination. It’s a rather strenuous, 9 mile hike round trip. Well worth the effort to see some amazing, ‘hidden’ gems.

 A self portrait with an ‘infant’ arch as our backdrop. 
Photo: Julie & Craig

While Julie and I were hiking Arches, Dana was again leading the way on yet another trail. Unfortunately, I’m not quite sure the name or location of their ride, but from the photos, it looks like they had a ball.

 Karl and Tristan negotiating a sandy creek bed on their Tourist, 
Mark & Tonya and Walt following. 
Photo: Dana

 Walt in action – crossing a deeper section of the creek bed. Photo: Dana

One of the nice aspects of riding with other like-minded people is the chance to get together over a good meal and swap lies about the day’s adventures. Ron and Linda hosted a barbeque Thursday evening- a roasted pork shoulder, coleslaw and baked beans. Yummy.
Ernie showed on his GearUp just as dinner was winding down. He was staying at another campground and wanted to stop by and say “Hi”. He had just eaten dinner and was ‘stuffed’… stuffed until the pie came out, that is. Good to meet him, even if it was only a short time.

 Thursday Diiner
Photo: Dana

After the meal, and as the day was winding down, it was decided we need a group photo of the ‘Spring in Moab’ attendees. We gathered our rigs in a vacant lot on the edge of the campground and put on our best ‘Say Cheese’ face.

 Left to right: Eric, Tonya, Mark, Linda (in car), Ron, Julie, Craig, Cookie, John, Dana (the tour guide), Ernie, and Walt… not pictured: Karl & Tristan (Ural Tourist), Mike (TE610) Photo: Julie & Craig

Friday morning and it’s time for Julie and me to say Au Revoir to Moab. Our cabin reservations have expired and, with the car show in town, there isn’t a motel room to be had. At ten o’clock, we pull out of the campground and notice there isn’t a Ural in sight… everyone’s off having fun – good for them!

Typically, on Friday afternoon/evening the car show people ‘strut their stuff’ on the streets of Moab. The remaining Ural group stakes their claim to a good vantage point to watch the hi-jinx, and enjoy a hearty dinner at Cassanos Italian Restaurant.

 Photo: Mark & Tonya

 Even with the car show in town, the Urals gather interest. 
Photo: Dana 

Spring in Moab, 2010 is now in the books. I can honestly say, “A good time was had by all.”
Just because the week of fun, food and friends was coming to a close is no reason to be bored. Dana manages to find more cool roads on his ride home.

 Photo: Dana

A final, heartfelt shout-out goes to all the Monkeys attending Spring in Moab, 2010. They were real troopers throughout the week of riding, getting stuck, digging out, dirt, dust and generally bouncing around. From the ‘bench racing’ which took place during our mid day stops to the rehashing of the days ride at dinner, I truly believe they each had as much fun as their drivers did. And if it wasn’t for them, most of the photos you’ve just enjoyed couldn’t have been taken.


A very nice ride report Craig, I hope everyone who reads it enjoys it as much as I did.


Oz said...

What an awesome trip! That looked so cool. Great post.

Unknown said...

I am so envious. I am trying so hard to get a new Patrol