TL:DR – We trailer our motorcycles down to Grand Junction, Colorado and Moab, Utah for a fun dual-sport motorcycle adventure, including some excellent training lead by MotoDiscovery, riding some classic routes in Moab, and camping under the desert stars. On the way home, the wheel fell off our van.
Part 1: Trailer to Training, Grand Junction, Colorado
Our trip started with a mellow drive from Hood River, Oregon to Grand Junction, Colorado. While our sprinter van, DAPHNE, had never carried a trailer before (I know – crazy right?) she was handily up to the task. However, getting DAPHNE’s receiver hitch ready for the trip is an entirely different story (see updates on this post). In Grand Junction, we met up with Beth’s work crew (Mosko Moto) and the friendly and knowledgeable team from MotoDiscovery.
Showing up to MotoDiscovery in Grand Junction, Colorado is like entering a dream world. We were immediately met by great people, excellent food, and so many adventure ready dual-sport motorcycles! Honestly, I can’t believe how lucky I was to be there.
From their base in Grand Junction, we spent three days getting professional off-road riding instruction from the MotoDiscovery team, including world traveler, international expedition leader, and photographer/videographer Barak Naggan – just listening to that guy tell stories around the campfire was an education in and of itself. But Barak is also an excellent teacher, carefully and calmly breaking down a variety of riding skills into organized bite sized pieces we could learn, practice, and build upon over the three day training. This course definitely upped our riding game and gave Beth and I a confidence boost going into the more technical riding in Moab.
Part 2: Desert Riding and Camping. Moab, Utah
Beth rode from Grand Junction to Moab, while I trailered my moto around to reduce the mileage of the return trip. In the Moab area we camped and explored some of the classic moab routes – I LOVE DESERT RIDING! Some highlights included:
- Onion Creek
- La Sal Mountain Loop
- Hurrah Pass
- Sovereign Slickrock (Copper Ridge Trail)
- White Rim Trail
The above trails are fairly beginner – which is right about where are skill level is at. Other’s in the group with significantly more skill explored more challenging trails, such as top of the world, rose garden hill, and the world famous slick rock trail in sand flats. Yes, we kept it fairly mellow and that was fine by us, going slow, looking at the scenery, and enjoying the desert sun.
But that doesn’t mean it was all easy; there are some pretty steep and technical climbs on the white rim trail, particularly going up and coming down from Murphy’s Hogback. And the riding around the Sovereign Trail System also had a fair bit of technical challenge. Otherwise, things like the 16+ creek crossings on Onion Creek or the incredible vistas on Hurrah pass offered less technical challenge and just pure type one fun and wonder. The WOW factor of being in Moab never seems to get stale for me. Its just that gorgeous.
Part 3: Van Trouble. Boise, Idaho
With some excellent riding in the books it was time to return back to the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, our van had other plans for us. About half way through the drive home and in the middle of nowhere (about 100 miles east of Boise, Idaho) the wheel fell off our van while driving down the freeway.
I guess this is a thing with aluminum wheels, where the lug bolts can loosen over time. Lug bolts not being something that I periodically check on a vehicle we had know idea this was happening and thus, while traveling at about 70 MPH on interstate 84 the rear driver side wheel fell of and shot across to the otherside of the freeway. Fortunately, about 5 seconds before it fell off completely it made a noise like we had a flat tire and so I was already making my way to the shoulder, slowing down, and cursing. Right as we got to the edge of the road the wheel came off completely, slamming the axle (rotor, shroud, etc.) into the paved shoulder. The lug bolts had completely sheared off. I ran across the freeway in the fading evening light and grabbed the wheel and tire. Both were damaged beyond repair. And with the lug bolts gone, this wasn’t going to be a simple roadside tire replacement.
We waited hours for a tow (note to self: Geico roadside assistance is a joke – they couldn’t actually provide assistance – get AAA) and it was well after dark when they finally showed up. We had decided during the wait to have the van towed to Boise. While Twin Falls, Idaho was only 50 or 60 miles behind us, we figured that Boise might have better services (and a shop open on a Sunday) that might be able to get us back on the road. And with friends in Boise, we figured that was the best direction to go. So around 1am we loaded up in the tow truck, the van on the flatbed, and the motorcycle trailer behind.
We made it about 30 miles towards our destination when the tow truck broke down. No kidding.
So a new tow truck was dispatched – which took another hour. But when the replacement tow truck showed up it didn’t have the proper equipment to tow our motorcycle trailer. Now there was no way I was going to leave motorcycles (or the borrowed trailer) on the side of the freeway. Tow truck drivers “You mentioned you had friends in Boise – can you call them to tow the trailer??.” So that being the only viable option at 2:30 in the morning that’s exactly what we did. Yes, we have really really good friends – who agreed to drive 70 miles from Boise to pick us and the moto trailer up and take us back to their house arriving right around sunrise.
Repairs to the van also turned into a fiasco. Turns out that supply chain woes extend to lug bolts and sourcing these items wasn’t as simple as going to the Mercedes dealer. However, after searching around for a while we were saved by EM Motors in Boise that do custom Sprinter Van upfitting. Since they take stock wheels off these vans all the time they were able to hook us up with replacement lug bolts and those, combined with our spare tire/wheel (and some replacement brake parts installed by Firestone of Boise) got us back on the road.
As I was just a guest on this trip, I have to give extra special thanks to Mosko Moto for letting me, an outsider, come along. Truly I was so lucky to be a part of this great group. Also a huge thanks to MotoDiscovery including Alex, Penny, John, Barak, Michael, Jeff, and the the rest of their crew for hosting us for the training as well as providing route input and guidance throughout the Moab portion of the trip. Erik from Ruby Moto for the surprise party bus visit, including amazing food and cold drinks! And lastly, the Carlson Family who went above and beyond to get us off the road in the middle of the night and put up with us for an extra week while we sourced parts to fix the van.
A multi-day moto trip takes a fair bit of gear and we’ve put it all down in a handy list (including a PDF)! But below are a few highlights of the equipment that we took on this trip:
- Motorcycles: Me (Austin) on a 2019 Honda CRF450L. Beth on a 2016 Yamaha WR250R
- Luggage: Of course, all Mosko Moto – Reckless R80 on the CRF and R40 on the WR.
- Camping: We added chairs to the mix this time (yes we are getting old) – Klymit Timberline Camp Chair
- Extra fuel, carried on the back of the CRF: 1.3 Gallon Fuel Container (though someday I am going to pony up the $$$ to buy a Rotopax)
- Safety: Never leave home without an Garmin InReach