The event was held in the Rocky Mountains at the Terry A. Gross Park, a private event center and campground on the banks of Geneva Creek. Horizons Unlimited secured the entire camping and meeting facility for its second annual Campfire gathering, which focused on motorcycle travelers sharing information and daily ride outs.
This was a unique gathering, quite different from other Horizons Unlimited meetings held throughout the year and around the globe. The Colorado event was a weekend campout where attendees could test their camping gear in the evenings, while during the day they could test their personal riding limits over varied routes, which ranged from high-altitude pavement to extreme off-road tracks more suitable for mountain goats than adventure bikes or touring motorcycles and sidecars, some pushing 800-1000 pounds.
(Above) One tenting option was to unfold a tent from a trailer. To the astonishment of many sleeping on the ground and inside much smaller tents, inside the trailer tent was a king sized bed. (Below) Ed Haywood demonstrated how he cooked and ate affordably while on the road through Canada and to Alaska’s Arctic Circle, saying “I’m not cheap, I’m budget conscious.”
On Friday, July 11, the campground began to fill. While travelers were setting up their campsites and preparing for an evening of tire kicking and tall tale telling, some opted to compare the wide range of adventure motorcycles and sidecars. Conversations about tire choices, engine configuration and displacement, luggage carrying systems and dependability were often carried on for hours as attendees wandered among the parked motorcycles and sidecars.
Many of the registrants came prepared to cook their own meals. Throughout the campground cooking aromas wafted in the cool evening and morning air, demonstrating the camper’s ability to be self-sufficient while on the road. The glacial-fed Geneva Creek offered a natural refrigerator for campers to keep their evening swill chilled. For tougher travelers, a dip in the creek for a bath was described as refreshing to outright cold.
Saturday was a full ride-out day. Groups decided whether they wanted to attempt extreme unpaved routes like Webster or Mosquito Pass, while those wishing a less stressful circuit opted to for Boreas and Weston Pass.
One group, led by world off-road record holder John Odgen, attempted the summit of Webster Pass, only to find a deep running creek their first challenge. Ogden warned his followers before they left the campground, “Sure as shootin’, there might be a trout in the fast flowing waters big enough to knock you off your motorcycle, so beware!” Although no riders reported seeing Ogden’s imagined trout, a large snow bank halted their forward progress several hundred feet from the top of the pass. On a narrow rock strewn track, Ogden and his group learned how to jockey their motorcycles around, often requiring as many as four people to push, pull, lift and drag.
Saturday evening featured multi-media presentations for attendees. Ed Haywood, a professional video producer from Santa Fe, New Mexico, shared a travel story of riding his BMW R1100RT “Solo To The Arctic Circle.” Haywood had previously piloted the same BMW into the Darien Gap of Panama, proving by his audio and video presentation that an adventure tourer or dual-purpose motorcycle was not necessarily required to tag some extreme points on the globe.
A second feature presentation was titled “Riding Big Motorcycles In Vietnam – No Stinking Guided Tour For Us.” The content showed how a group of Americans, including two Vietnam veterans, and one German lady rider, managed to locate and rent 1960’s era Soviet Army abandoned 650cc Ural motorcycles in Vietnam and ride them from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City through some of the jungles running along the borders of Laos and Cambodia. Their adventure included keeping the 45 year-old Urals running, wandering into “Closed” or “Forbidden” areas that included a secret landing strip and jungles still showing the effects of napalm during the Vietnam War.
One well-traveled adventurer and rally attendee, George Priester from Denver, Colorado, shared his tale of crashing in Argentina and breaking his pelvis, and then being air lifted back to Denver from Patagonia. He later returned to Argentina and collected his crashed BMW, which eventually returned to its starting point in Denver.
Priester, a veteran of many motorcycle rallies, voiced his having noticed that at the Horizons Unlimited Campfire and Ride Meeting there were no VIPs riding around in golf carts like at other rallies he had attended. Taking note of Priester’s concerns about no “high nose VIPs riding in golf carts,” campground owner Al Gross made a golf cart available for any registered Horizons Unlimited attendee to drive around the campground any time, day or night. Priester then added that at the other rally their “biggest VIP” had a driver personally assigned to her to pilot the golf cart. Al Gross, again wanting to be most accommodating, told Priester he would gladly be Priester’s assigned driver, which brought a round of good hearted howling from other attendees, each wanting their own golf cart and driver. The fun ended when a BMW motorcyclist hopped in the golf cart, started it and then drove into the fir trees at the north end of the campground, not returning for several hours.
The oldest, and possibly the oddest, adventure motorcycle at the event was a 1945 Indian Chief owned by Greg Johnson of Greeley, Colorado. Johnson was at the meeting to garner the most current information on his planned ride in New Zealand and then on to Russia. One observer noted that Johnson’s Indian Chief was not living up to Indian’s rumored history of being an oil dripper. Johnson explained that he had learned to stop the oil leakage by venting the primary chain housing, a tip he passed on to other Indian owners while tire kicking was taking place in the parking lot.
Each evening torrential rains fell, lightning struck trees and cold winds blew, but seemingly what Mother Nature was throwing at the campers could not dampen their adventure spirits. A roofed area allowed for evening camp fires and protection from falling rain while attendees traded tales and watched the multi-media presentations. The foul weather allowed attendees to test tents and wet weather riding gear. The rain also washed away the dust accumulated from the day’s off-road adventures.
For one attendee of the Campfire and Ride Meeting, participating was the first stop in his planned journey to continue onwards to Vancouver, British Columbia. From BC he was shipping his BMW to South Korea, and riding from there across Asia to Germany. Another attendee was making plans for her journey to the bottom of South America. Yet another traveler was headed to Africa and several others had Alaska on their horizons.
One soon-to-be motorcycle adventurer leaf-in-the-wind, Dirk Bode, attended on his KTM 990 Adventure. Bode was anxiously soliciting information on his planned expedition into Mexico and possibly deeper into Central America. He had spent the last year prepping his KTM and trying to organize his business and personal affairs to a point where he could call the road his home and travel to points south of the USA border.
Horizons Unlimited sponsors adventure travel meetings around the globe and throughout the year. Event schedules and locations can be found at Horizons Unlimited (www.horizonsunlimited.com) under Events on their home page. For the 2015 Colorado Campfire and Ride Meeting, planners are already focusing on borderless minds for adventure travel to limitless horizons.