Moto Guzzi's and the WABDR, or how we rode the desert southwest

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Mooney 78865, Sep 19, 2020.

  1. Chopperman

    Chopperman Hostile. But not Stupid

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    Im several years gone from riding so Im just coming up to speed on things like tires. So the Trailmax is not such a good choice for this terrain, it sounds like?. More like a 50/50 hoop is the better choice.

    Also being a native northwesterner Im also more familiar with hypo, rather than hyper thermia. (I did recognize it once in a sport bike dude that came into a bar I was at. He was wearing a track suit sort of affair on a 90 degree day. ). Sounds like in addition to the "normal" precautions/gear - go early. Spend some time learning about hyperthermia. Be prepared to back out or take more than a day (camp) so you arent pushing yourself into danger zones. Ive generally done day rides in the past and Ive set myself an alarm at which time I am to turn around, no questions.

    Just thinking out loud. Its stuff for me to consider because I love the desert that I have passed through on pavement.

    A grand adventure for sure, gents!
    #41
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  2. aftCG

    aftCG Long timer

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    As Mooney says, once you leave the pavement a straight up dirt tire is what you want to be riding on. The dilemma is how to get 1100 miles of slab at the front and backend of your trip and still have knobbies for the hills. One of the things I enjoy (and insist on retaining) about the Stelvio is that it is such a great road bike. This trip was two 1100 mile road trips with 400 miles of riding at the destination, less than 200 of which was dirt. And let's face it, Valley of the Gods could be done in a Prius.
    I will say that both Mooney and Frisian rolled on their choice of knobbies and I didn't exactly rear end them in the corners on those paved sections. Without making a stop to change tires near the destination, were we to repeat this trip (and I hope we do) I would make a different tire choice. This thought process is causing me to consider getting back into the business of changing my own tires.

    Frisian mentioned trailering to the location. If I've got to do that I may as well ditch the donkey and ride a barely legal two stroke KTM. Much easier to pick up. Not ruling it out of course, as it definitely solves the tire and gear hauling problem.

    I said earlier that I was going to put up a gear discussion and then we can leave Day 1 behind us. Had my crystal ball shown that we would have base camped with day trips I would have just packed my aluminum panniers. Toss stuff in the top and go. No regrets for buying and using the Giant Loop bags of course. I'm sure I'll get quite a bit of use out of them, and I'm positive they will be my go-to for off pavement rides.

    Food and water.
    We all bought a bunch of freeze dried backpacker stuff (like I said, we were in the WABDR mindset). It totally makes sense on a self supported trip in the mountains where there are natural sources of water. I'm pretty proud of my gravity water filter system using MSR Dromedary bags, but they remained as dry as the desert we rode through for the entire trip. Thankfully they don't take up much space but the only place we saw water in Utah it was coming out of a faucet. If you have to pack water to reconstitute your freeze dried food then you didn't save any weight or space. A can of chili is 1/10th the cost and tastes better than the freeze dried version. Moab is thick with restaurants and we even had food delivered to one campground. I'll probably always pack some freeze dried food just in case, but if you've got cell signal there's no reason you can't eat real food.

    The Bike.
    Delivered. My bike runs great. My GPR exhaust is too loud and flatulent but it has served well. On one of my dirt naps my rear brake lever was mangled. There was no way to fix it on day 2 (our rest day), so I just made it the rest of the trip with no rear brake. I could still lift my foot well above the foot peg and operate it when maximum braking effort was called for, and at least it didn't interfere with my foot location for both seated and standing positions. New lever on order thanks to Don's internet search skills, about $60 delivered.
    Three times dumping the bike and my mirrors never broke off. My hand guards are unbroken and my brake and clutch levers are unscathed. The brackets for my Cyclops aux lights are bent on one side but will be easy to put back into shape.
    I'm pretty sure my rear shock is blown. On some of those sweeper curves on pavement if there were dips I would get some significant bump steer and on straight line bumps it felt like it was bottoming out. Not much I could do about it on the trip so I rode it home that way. Given the abuse of some of the sections we saw it's amazing stuff doesn't just break off every 100 yards.
    #42
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  3. Flying Frisian

    Flying Frisian Born to Ride Supporter

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    I don't enjoy riding on straight Interstates for several days. For me it's all about corners and dirt roads. I can honestly say that I corner faster on knobbies than many sportbike riders on street tires. When I was younger I rode all over Europe to watch motorcycle Grand Prix. Been to most circuits in Europe and have done track days on quite a few as well.

    Nowadays I only ride roads that I enjoy. I like to load up the van and my trailer and set up camp in an area where we can explore for several days. The problem with riding 4 days on Interstates for little bit of dirt is this:

    New rear tire before the trip.

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    Rear tire after the trip: About 2,500 interstate and highway miles and just a few hundred dirt miles.

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    I have to say, these Bridgestone AX41 tires handle great on the road and are very good in the dirt. I love the Shinko 804/805 tires but the AX41 rear doesn't step sideways as easy as the Shinko 805 in the loose stuff.
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  4. Chopperman

    Chopperman Hostile. But not Stupid

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    That is definitely the question to be considered. Im still going to give the trailmax a spin. If Im to be honest, I really am spending far more time on pavement than off.

    The dehydrated food point is a good thought and one Ive never had to consider. BTW many foods come in "pouch" form so you can avoid the bulk of cans
    #44
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  5. Mooney 78865

    Mooney 78865 Long timer

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    I guess I look at tire choice a bit differently. Tires are consumables. I have NEVER had to buy or install a tire on any BDR. Even the IDBDR, probably the longest garage to garage ride I’ve done. Canada to Clovis is a bit of slab to be sure. Most of the BDRs involve 800-900 miles either coming, or going, plus the 700-1200 miles of the actual ride. My shinko’s will get me easily 4,500-5000 useable life out of the rear and more out of the front. If they have any off road value after a trip so much the better. Am I bummed if I have to buy a new set when I left with a new set 10 days earlier? Nope. A set of Shinkos cost in the neighborhood of $200 delivered. Cheap insurance, and transforms the off road capability enormously. I can’t think of to many things you can break on a Guzzi that cost less....
    #45
  6. Dons1911

    Dons1911 Long timer

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    I mounted up a new set of Trailmax Missions before this trip. I wanted to try that tire out, but honestly wanted another set of Midas E-07+'s, like I had in Death Valley. I ended up with the Dunlops as I couldn't find any E-07's or +'s, and the date was drawing near. I did get an email from RMATV the the Midas tires were now in stock. Of course that email came the day UPS delivered the Dunlops! I am very pleased with the Trailmax in everything except the loose deep stuff. Bear in mind I ride year round, even in snow, and lots of wet pavement. I think the Trailmax would do fine for me here in my normal riding. I do lots of forest service roads and rocky roads, but we don't do deep sand up here very much. About the only thing I haven't ridden the Dunlop on yet is wet pavement. Oh, and snow. So far, I like it and it seems that it's gonna give some good mileage.
    #46
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  7. Utrider1

    Utrider1 Been here awhile Supporter

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    You guys!

    Thank you so much for the thoughtful gift.

    Humble here for sure!

    Attached Files:

    #47
  8. OrangeYouGlad

    OrangeYouGlad Adventurer

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    Great trip write up! Sounds like a memorable adventure! I hope to be doing the same in a year or two.
    #48
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  9. Dracula

    Dracula Moto Guzzi jockey Supporter

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    I watched it all, throughout today. Thanks for sharing it! I get a feeling some of the sandy washes were deeper, and the bumpy bits were bumpier than they appear on video. Awesome adventure and certainly one that needs a revisit. I would take more time and actually enjoy a night camping on the trail, if at all possible. Think of all that star lit night sky. I know I'd be a horrible travel mate since I love to stop a lot and take photos thus spend a lot of time smelling the flowers. It's just my opinion as I'd very rarely ridden with someone, but when I do I like to space out some more between riders so each can go with his own pace and have more room - such as to go faster in sand, or slower on the rocky sections.
    #49
  10. Mooney 78865

    Mooney 78865 Long timer

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    @OrangeYouGlad, why wait a year or two? We let anyone ride with us, even Doodles with Austrian bikes! The four of us still want to do the WABDR, you'd be a perfect fit.
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  11. Mooney 78865

    Mooney 78865 Long timer

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    Your in luck Vic, this would be the perfect ride for you! Scenery is magnificent, which is Latin for " it ain't got no trees, or damn flowers" I'm thinking @Bonafide Bob could even enjoy himself... :D
    I did finally decide that 20-22 mph would hold the bike above the sand. Silt, not so much, didn't duck walk, but I sure wasn't making any abrupt inputs on the bars!
    #51
  12. Flying Frisian

    Flying Frisian Born to Ride Supporter

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    The video doesn't reflect the steepness and depth of the sandy and rocky sections well. I didn't get any of the tricky sections or downed bikes on video. I should have swapped batteries but didn't care at that point. I'm pretty sure @Mooney 78865 and I could have easily made the entire loop before sunset if we didn't have to deal with dropped bikes, but we were there as a team. The mission was to get everyone safely back to camp.
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  13. Dons1911

    Dons1911 Long timer

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    And for that I am forever in your debt!!!
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  14. Mooney 78865

    Mooney 78865 Long timer

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    As @aftCG said, I think we're done with our day on the WRT. We all made it out, and back to camp to ponder the next few days adventure. After dinner and a few more Mikes Hard Lemonades, it was decided to take day 4 as a "rest" day and work on the bikes, and ourselves for that matter. I probably had the biggest issue with a bike that would not start without pushing it. As I lurk on the Moto Guzzi merged threadfest all sorts of horrible things danced through my head as I went to bed. The morning dawned like all of the others with clear skies, no wind, and the expectation of more days to follow.
    I started simple and checked all of the fuses, no joy, then relays, again not it. Resolved to having the possibility of a bad starter/solenoid, I remove the starter cover. Low and behold there was a single wire hanging down by the wiring for the Lambda Probe. Calling Heinze over to help me rummage around for a possible location it should be, he found a single spade terminal on the back side of the solenoid. We reinstalled the wire and hit the starter... clunk, then nothing. Wiggle the wiring for the Lambda Probe... rump, rump, nothing. Well progress, I guess. Looking closer at the starter there are two grounds under the "stud nuts" that hold the cover on. When removing the cover, I didn't remove the screws, but had removed the stud nuts that hold the grounds to the starter. Once re installed. bang, zoom! All good. The Anvil lived! @Dons1911 was trying to give me grief because the bike had broken, and we all know my bike doesn't break. I claimed foul as it did not cost anything to repair and in fact never did not RUN. Might not have started, but with a mighty shove, it would run. Besides, no parts needed, no foul!
    The following day we broke camp and headed to Arches NP taking in the majesty of nature. @Dons1911 and @aftCG spotted a sign that said "4wd high ground clearance only" and started off down that rabbit hole. I, as a trained professional, (and having done the same thing in the past) stopped and waited for @Flying Frisian to pull up. He came up along side and asked why I didn't go. Said, don't worry, they'll be back.. Yep, they came back. That road gets REAL bad, REAL quick! and it damn sure isn't going the way we want.
    In the end we headed off South towards Valley of the Gods, stopping if Bluff at the Bluff Fort for a soft drink and to chat. (hope someone tock some pics of the place) we were looking for a place to stay the night and really couldn't find anything close to the start of the Valley of the Gods so we headed a bit further down the road and stayed at KOA Journey. Which if you don't know, KOA has three levels, Journey, Holiday, Resort. Journey is just that, Your really not looking for anything other than a secure place to stay. (Which really means, no trees, no flowers Vic) And this will blow your mind... Rather than going into town to buy a sandwich at the C store, we called a catering company and had dinner brought out! Ribs, chops, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, fry bread (love fry bread). This is getting long so I'll stop for the night and finish up tomorrow... A few pics from Arches NP.
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  15. Mooney 78865

    Mooney 78865 Long timer

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    Last day
    Our final day of riding as a group dawned like every other day, clear sky and not a cloud to be found. The difference in terrain in the 125 miles between Moab to Mexican Hat is amazing. No longer did you feel like you were in a "bowl" surrounded by rugged plateaus and vertical escarpments. The vista here was more broad, more "open". Sure there were jagged formations, but gone was the enormity of the landscape. Where the White Rim was just literally riding up, down, and along the face of formations that seemed to go on for ever. The Valley of the Gods was a "sprinkling" of awe inspiring formations randomly tossed about. Just enough to have you thinking "I want to go there".
    The "road" through Valley of the Gods is nothing if not the most maintained bit of dirt road you could ask for. No washouts, no shelfs to climb or descend, pretty tame in every sense. To compare the views of the White Rim with those of the Valley of the Gods does neither justice. Having done the UTBDR and this being the fist section, I've had the opportunity to ride much more than the ride we did. It is the same as the White Rim, but different. The isolation is complete. The views every bit as inspiring to the imagination.
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    I am no photographer, but am sure the others with a much better eye than I, will post up their pics soon. I have an excuse though, I've been here now 4 times, and have more pictures than I can count. I'm sure I will be back. This place is what turned me to Adventure riding. EVERY other area, every other BDR I have done, pales in comparison to Utah.

    Looking back on the "ride" I can say I have no regrets, we work well together, offering and receiving, encouragement and comradery without reservation.
    Adventure riding is, or should be synonymous with adversity. That we had in spades, yet, we as a group prevailed. And isn't that what it's all about?
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    #55
  16. Mooney 78865

    Mooney 78865 Long timer

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    +1 :beer
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  17. Dracula

    Dracula Moto Guzzi jockey Supporter

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    Even without trees or flowers, I'd still have to bring my camera and several lenses to fully enjoy the visit. I have a propensity for walking around with the fixed prime lenses and gawking to find best angle shots. Perhaps even bring my kermit chair and kindle. And a little bourbon for the evening.

    Sounds like the tire choices you make are perfect. No way anything resembling a knobbie short of Heidenau or Mitas could make a cross country trip and still have knobs when there. I was really curious about the Dunlop Mission as they truly seem a better long distance 50/50 ish tire. Certainly lowered pressures must have been called for, which to my mind could greatly help even with a less aggressive tire like that. There ought to be some moto shops around the area to arrange a ride and swap tires once there. Funny thing is, to spend two days on the trail would require carrying a big load with tent and supplies.
    #57
  18. Flying Frisian

    Flying Frisian Born to Ride Supporter

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    A very skilled rider without heat exhaustion could have made it with 80/20 tires on a fully loaded bike. However, I will not compromise on tires. It makes life so much easier having the right tire for the job at hand.
    You bring bourbon, where were you? We could have used some.
    #58
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  19. Dracula

    Dracula Moto Guzzi jockey Supporter

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    No argument on tires, as @Mooney 78865 put it get the best for the task, its not only much more fun to ride but also cheap insurance for one's safety. Heat exhaustion and fatigue in general I found sets in at varying degrees of difficulty and stress. No one size fits all. So yeah that's a conundrum of group ride dynamics, you give some, you get some in return. Sure is fun to do some real socializing after a day's worth of adventure.
    #59
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  20. Mooney 78865

    Mooney 78865 Long timer

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    Oddly enough, I don’t air down off road anymore. Cold, rear 34, front 32. Both ends increased about 3 psi when hot. ( almost perfect) checked them right after we got in the fist night, and the next morning when cold. Haven’t checked them since... the Shinkos have a nice and compliant carcass. Way to many hard edged bits out there to run much lower pressures without running the risk of dinging the rim.
    #60
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