A different approach to off-road in Moab Pt. 1

Onion Creek Road on smaller bikes.

It’s already March and both Dezso and I have been champing at the bit to get out on some rides. It has been a long winter with very little riding, not even when I could take the Ural out in the snow. Work and everything else seems to have blown up in my face and kept me out of my garage and neglecting my bikes.
So when Dezso proposed a trip to Moab to rent dirt bikes, I was all for it. I had taken a dirt bike class, using Honda 230s in a vain attempt to help me ride my GS through dirt, sand, and gravel. Sadly, only dirt had been present at my class, but I did get a better feel for riding a small bike off-road.
We invited some friends, Dezso’s brother, Alex, and my wife, Deana, who were interested in renting ATVs, and struck out for the weekend, camping along Highway 128 and eating at Fiesta Mexicana like we usually do. In the morning, after a breakfast of habanero bacon, eggs, and coffee, we headed to High Point to rent a slew of machines.
The crew at High Point Hummer and ATV were friendly and charming, but as they went over the machines with us, noting every scratch, ding, and dent, we all became worried that we’d have to account for everything that touched the bikes and ATVs, including our butts. But that wasn’t the case, as they took our machines back with smiles. (Not that we tore the living shit out of those machines, but I’m sure it’s every rental agency’s worry that they won’t see their cash flow return, and it’s the customer’s worry that they’ll find something that only can be seen with the aid of a microscope)
Photo Courtesy of Rachel

Since only one dirt bike (A new Honda 250) was street legal, we had to rent a trailer as well ( Which actually comes free with the rental as do coolers and a gas can). I rode the Honda 250 up to Onion Creek/ Fischer’s Tower and Dezso towed the rest with his truck. Dezso and I had ridden this road last year as part of the Utah Backcountry Discovery Route and I had wished I had been able to take photos, but also wished I could’ve shown the area to Deana. Now I finally got the chance.
I had tried to sync our three helmets (Deana, Dezso and me), but couldn’t quite figure it out. Plus we were all ready to hit the trails, so talking to Deana trumps Dezso in this situation.
It wouldn’t have mattered; we unloaded the machines and Dezso immediately took off only to be spotted when he returned to see where we were.
Michael and Rachel brought up the rear as they had their two dogs with them, but the poor dogs lasted about 3 stream crossings before tiring out and they had to return to the car to let the dogs sleep it off. I stuck with Deana as she got the feel for her ATV and I got the feel for my Honda 230.
This improved road follows Onion Creek and crosses it many times. For once I had on waterproof boots and had no qualms about splashing through each time. On such a small bike, I had no problem bouncing over hidden rocks in the stream bed, or going a little faster around turns, using the techniques I had learned in my class.

The red canyon walls crept closer and taller as we wound our way through. There were other ATVs, dirk bikes, and cars on the road. Vehicles had parked all along and off the roadway, enjoying an overcast and slightly chilly day. The road dipped and turned, giving Deana the opportunity to practice shifting as well as turning while using the thumb accelerator on her ATV.
Gradually the road led up a few switchbacks and put us (sort of) on top of things. We had the option of continuing on, or returning to the truck and trying another off-road trail. It was a unanimous consensus and we turned around. There was more to see out there.
On the way down, we met up with Michael and Rachel who had dumped the dogs in the car to rest and sped along to catch up with us. We told them our plan and they were fine with it. By now we rarely saw Dezso who zipped along like a Labrador Retriever chasing balls.
We made it back to the trailer and opened our coolers for meats and cheeses and crackers before trailering over to the next area.


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