Jon brought his Monster Energy Kawasaki Teryx along with his friend’s 2009 Polaris RZR S for the Rally on the Rocks.
Rally on the Rocks was held in Moab, Utah on May 12-15, 2010. The event was organized by Kyle and Michelle Hill, and although this was the first year for the event, they are no strangers to Moab, UTVs or organizing a combination of the two.
I teamed up with my buddy Dave who brought along his 2009 Polaris RZR S and made the 14-hour drive from northern California much easier. I brought along my Monster Energy Kawasaki Teryx that I use for the Pit Bull Tires King of the Hammers UTV Race and VORRA desert series. I built this Teryx as not only a race vehicle, but something I could also play in at the dunes, trails and rocks. With the rock crawling trails in Moab, it is a perfect location to use it. My Teryx has a full chromoly race cage, Funco long travel suspension, Fox shocks, Pit Bull 26.5-inch Rockers, DragonFire Racing beadlock wheels and a 840cc Muzzys big-bore engine.
Wednesday: Gold Bar Rim and Golden Spike Trail
We arrived Tuesday night and hooked up on Wednesday morning to ride Gold Bar Rim and Golden Spike with Aaron Wedeking and his crew from PRP Seats www.prpseats.com, Reid Nordin from Team Green Kawasaki Racing, Joey D from UTV Underground www.utvunderground.com, Rick “Wally” Wallace from Side x Side Outfitterz www.sidexsideoutfitterz.com, Baja racing legend Larry Roeseler, Todd and Jack from DragonFire Racing www.dragonfireracing.com, Troy and Don from UTV Off-Road Magazine www.utvoffroadmag.com, Damon from HCR Racing and a few RZRs from Wagon Burners Racing.
The Gold Bar Rim Trail takes you along the Gemini Bridges Trail then up sandstone ledges to a viewpoint on the cliffs high above the entrance to the Moab Valley. From Gold Bar Rim, you can take the Golden Spike Trail all the way down to the Golden Crack and then on to Poison Spider Mesa Trail. The Golden Spike Trail is one of the most famous slick
rock trails in the Moab area. Our group’s goal for the day was to get to the crack by lunch, and head back out the same way.
The first part of the trail on Gemini Bridges Road climbs up from the valley floor is an easy, albeit dusty ride. After a few miles, the trail leaves the dirt road and turns to sandstone for the ascent to Gold Bar Rim. This trail starts easy but gradually becomes more difficult as it gains altitude.
Along the way, we hit several tough obstacles – The Body Snatcher, Golden Falls, The Wall and Golden Stair Case. After you see them firsthand, the names make a lot of sense.
We made it to the Golden Crack just about time for lunch. The Golden Crack is one of the most famous obstacles in Moab. It is a waist-deep fissure in the stone that swallows a 25 inch tire. The only way to cross it is at an angle so at least one tire on each axle keeps traction. I decided to put my Monster Energy Kawasaki Teryx to the test and try this out. With a few riders hanging on the side of your UTV to provide counterweight and a push when needed, this obstacle isn’t as tough as it looks. Do it without assistance and it is a bit more nerve-wracking. I wanted to try it solo and it went better than I had hoped for. The toughest part was when the first front tire is swallowed and has a hard time climbing out. It felt like I was going to snap off the front A-arm. After a few tries, I made it across. A few others gave the crack a try and everyone made it. Even Troy in his Polaris RZR 4 made it over.
After lunch, we headed up to the edge of the rim to check out the infamous “Magic Bush” that Reid Nordin wanted to show us. I had no idea what he had in store for us, but the views where we parked were incredible. He had us walk a certain path out to the edge of the rim where a bush sat. We had our pictures taken, and wondered what the big deal was. Not that the bush wasn’t nice, but there where hundreds of bushes that looked the same all over the area. Then we headed over to where the pictures were being taken and saw that there was nothing but a ledge under the bush and a 1200-foot drop to the valley floor. Yikes!
From the Magic Bush, we headed back out the same way to the trailhead. It was a fun ride with great company, and I couldn’t wait to hit the trail again on Thursday.
Videos: Crossing the crack on Golden Spike Trail
Thursday: Pit Bull Tires run on Moab Rim Trail
On Thursday, Pit Bull Tires www.pitbulltires.com organized a run on the Moab Rim Trail. I run Pit Bull Rocker XORs on my Teryx, so I figured this was a good trail for me to check out and also see other Pit Bull-equipped vehicles in action.
The group missed the police escort through town, and we all ended up with two or three groups and probably close to 50 UTVs at the trailhead at the same time. Moab Rim starts just off of Kane Creek Road right at the Colorado River and the hardest obstacles are within the first ½ mile of the trail.
If you haven’t been up the stair-steps along the ascent from the Colorado River before, the trail can be nerve-wracking to say the least. It seems like one small mistake would send you tumbling down the side and into the river. In reality, it isn’t that bad, but it makes for a good adrenaline rush.
The secret to climbing stair steps is to approach them from an angle so you aren’t trying to climb a step with both tires on the same axle at the same time. This makes the climb easier, but sometimes makes it feel like the vehicle could tip over.
Once to the top, we were treated to another incredible view of the Moab valley from the edge of a sheer cliff. Even though I have been at this same lookout a bunch of times, the beauty of Moab never ceases to amaze me. The snow-covered La Sal Mountains to the east, Arches National Park, the Colorado River and the Moab valley all from one spot.
From the rim, we headed out to some sand and slick rock. We stopped at one spot for a group photo, and I think there were over 20 UTVs in our group. I wish I had a wide-angle lens to get everyone in the picture, but I couldn’t back up far enough to fit everyone in. We stopped for lunch at the end of the trail, and then headed back around another section of the trail back to the rim that brought us by a steep sand dune. Now I am no stranger to dunes, so this looked pretty interesting. The sand around Moab is very fine, so getting traction is more challenging, and this hill had no opportunity to get a run at it. There were a few turbo RZRs climbing, but not many naturally aspirated UTVs made the attempt. I have a Muzzys 840cc big-bore in my Teryx, so it has about double the horsepower as a stock Teryx. But it is also setup for racing so I knew the extra weight was going to hinder me. I figured I would give it a try to at least get some good photos. On the first attempt, I made it about a third of the way up the hill. Damn. This is a tough climb. Once at the bottom, I decided to give it another try since we didn’t get a video the first attempt. I was determined to make it up a bit higher this time. I hit it hard at the bottom, and at about the same spot where I stopped on my first attempt, I tried a little bit different line. The Muzzys big-bore was working hard slinging the big Pit Bull Rockers, but I kept on it and made it all the way to the top! What a rush when I turned at the top and headed back down the hill.
After everyone had their fill of playing in the sand, we headed back to the rim and started down the stair steps to the Colorado River. The trail coming down is a completely different feeling. Gravity makes the descent much easier, but taking a slightly different line or turning your wheel at the wrong time can send your rear end up an over. Knowing when to let off the brakes and add a little gas can be key. We all made it down in one piece and Pit Bull Tires even set up a nice BBQ for everyone on the run.
Videos: Following Larry Roeseler on the Moab Rim Trail
RZR S coming down the stair steps on Moab Rim Trail
Friday: Metal Masher and Gemini Bridges
On Friday, a group of us decided to split off from the guided trail rides and play around on Metal Masher. Once again, I was joined by Reid Nordin from Team Green Kawasaki Racing, Joey D from UTV Underground www.utvunderground.com, Rick “Wally” Wallace from Side x Side Outfitterz www.sidexsideoutfitterz.com, Baja racing legend Larry Roeseler, Todd and Jack from DragonFire Racing www.dragonfireracing.com, and Mike Lasher from Off Road Press www.offroadpress.com came along with us in his Kawasaki Teryx. After the crowds from the first few days, it was nice to head out with a smaller group and enjoy the trail at our own pace. I jumped in Wally’s Polaris RZR for the day so I could focus in on taking pictures and videos.
Metal Masher starts at the same trailhead as Gold Bar Rim. The trailhead is north of Moab, so you need to trailer your UTV out and pay $5 for a three-day parking pass (private land). The trail was quite dusty for a several miles and I was wondering when we would hit the rock part of the trail. We finally did, and I was not disappointed.
The rock crawling was pretty routine until my buddy Dave decided to take an alternate line around Mike Lasher and make a clean pass. No one had been in race mode, and from there it was game on! Everyone stepped it up a notch and it was like the Gumball Rally in the rocks. The UTVs were all being hit pretty hard flying through rock gardens and stair-stepped climbs. After a solid 10 minutes of hard core “racing,” we took a break and all agreed it was some of the best fun we had had all week. Truly amazing what these UTVs can do, and how much punishment they can take.
In an attempt to make it up the widowmaker with his RZR, Wally used a strap to prevent him from rolling backwards.
After the break, we headed out through some more rock crawling and desert trails until we hit Widowmaker. Widowmaker is an almost vertical climb of over six feet that is more suited to longer wheelbase vehicles. It would be extremely difficult to climb without assistance in a Rhino, RZR, Prowler or Teryx. Reid got to the top with assistance from his Warn winch and got set up to help all the others up. Wally decided (or more likely had his arm twisted) to give it a try in his RZR with a strap to keep him from rolling all the way over backwards but without the winch pulling him up. Didn’t make it far before he rolled backwards and saw more and more sky until the strap caught. Quite the “pucker” moment for Wally. It would have been ugly without the strap, because he was going over.
After everyone was through Widowmaker, we headed back onto desert trails and roads until we reached Gemini Bridges. The area near the bridges is now closed to vehicles, so we walked down to check it out. Truly an amazing sight with two natural bridges right next to each other – another amazing view in Moab.
Wally attempting Widowmaker
It’s a Wrap!
Dave and I had to blast home early in morning, so we missed some of the other activities that Rally on the Rocks held on Saturday. I always have a great time in Moab, and wish I could carve out about a month to do nothing but explore Utah in a UTV. Maybe next year….
If you have never been to Moab, put it on your to-do list. Rally on the Rocks makes it easy for first-timers with police escorts to the trail and guides to help you along the obstacles. There are trails for just about every level in Moab, so don’t get too concerned by the pictures I took. I have been off-roading in Moab several times, and like to choose trails with more challenges.
Be sure to check Rally on the Rocks out on the web at www.rallyontherocks.com and put next year’s rally on your calendar.