I started planning the April trip before Christmas. It was epic. I drove four days straight, more than 2,500 miles from my home in Portland, Maine, to Moab, Utah, a mecca for desert motorsports adventure. Dragging my Russian sidecar bike behind my truck, I made it all the way out west, over the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, losing a trailer wheel bearing in Des Moines and sleeping in truck stop parking lots.
But I made it.
I met up with a group of sidecar nuts, like myself, at a campsite near Moab, a town hemmed in by dramatic cliffs, canyons and river bottoms. I was prepared for dusty trails, sunshine, cactus and sand. What I mostly got was drizzle, chilly winds, mud and washed-out ruts.
According to usclimatedata.com, the average April rainfall in Moab is .83 inches, as opposed to the average of 4.33 in Portland. I’m not sure how much we got that week, but it rained every single day I was there.
It didn’t rain enough to flood us out, but the sky juice turned the powdered sand into sludge and rendered many of the cliffside trails I wanted to ride unsafe and dangerously slick.
That’s not to say I didn’t have fun. I had plenty of fun and the folks I met up with — none of whom knew me at all — couldn’t have been more kind.
I did manage to ride the length of Long Canyon while out for a solo ride on Thursday. It rained on me, of course, but there was also thunder, lightning and hail, just for variety. Looking up, I could see the rainfall pouring off the hard rock canyon tops in makeshift waterfalls. I wondered how much rain was needed for a flash flood down the bottom of the canyon. Luckily, it only rained for a half hour or so that day.
The steepest part came at the top, in a series rutted switchbacks called “Pucker Pass.” I managed to get hung up on a ledge and pile of rocks there. I was able to yank the bike out, but almost ran myself over in the process.
After that, it was a series of magnificent views and changing clouds. The fickle weather did provide some spectacular sunsets and dramatic lighting reveals.
I have a ton more video to edit, but I’ll leave you with just this song and record of Long Canyon today. Eventually, I’ll edit the rest of my footage into a “best of” film.
Until then, I’ll leave you with this thought. You can’t have adventure travel without adventure and adventure only starts when something unexpected happens. I went to the desert looking for hot sun and sand. I found dark skies and cold mud. But it really didn’t matter much in the end because what I really wanted was adventure. And I got plenty of that.