Wind, Sun, Sand, & Smiles at RevZilla’s GET ON! Adv Fest Mojave 2022
After traveling 1522 miles (2455 km) from Alberta to the RawHyde Zakar facility in the Mojave Desert, I was beyond ready to lay down some serious off-road tracks in the beautifully arid landscape found there.
Mission accomplished! I’d like to thank all the people from RevZilla’s GET ON! Adv Fest team for making the desert riding dreams of this adventure rider from Canada come true.
I’ve become obsessed with Joshua Trees and wild desert donkeys ever since, but that’s not a bad thing.
Long Story Short
To sum up, the story here is that I drove a long, LONG way, to meet friends whose faces I’ve missed seeing since last year’s GET ON! Adv Fest Sturgis in July 2021. Better still, I added some new ones to my circle of riding pals.
The people I’ve met at events like these are the ones I’ve instantly clicked with—and who I’m certain will ride with me the rest of my days.
I played with wild abandon on the bleached sand and hard rock terrain of the Mojave—as any sunshine-starved Canadian adventure rider would when given the same opportunity in April.
The Demo Rides
Getting an opportunity to demo the alluring new 2022 Aprilia Tuareg 660 in this kind of awesome off-road environment to truly test its capabilities was a rare treat!
Wasn’t That a Party?
It was absolutely worth the $1300 US in diesel fuel it took to trailer two adventure bikes to California! My friend Lorne’s trusty 2006 Dodge Ram 3500 didn’t let us down.
It definitely wasn’t all roses in the desert during the event, but some adversity always helps me appreciate just how sweet the good times are. Still, let me share the less desirable parts first.
The Wind Killed My Tent
The open prairies of Southern Alberta are no stranger to strong winds so I’m accustomed to dealing with that out on the motorcycle, but the stuff I found waiting for me in Mojave was something else.
From the moment Lorne and I crossed the border into Montana on Monday, April 18th until 6 am on Saturday, April 23rd, we faced an incessant headwind of 45 to 50mph no matter where we went in the U-S of A! It caused our fuel economy to plummet in the truck, and after the first two nights of it beating on my tent at Zakar, the poles literally split in half, and the shell tore in some places.
That prompted me to sleep in the truck for a night to preserve my sanity. The stiff breeze coupled with temperatures that dropped to 41 F (5 Celsius) had people wearing winter coats, several layers of fleece, and tuques each night.
Err… I guess I should clarify that tuques are called beanies in the US, eh?
The Situation Improved Dramatically
It’s funny now in hindsight, because I have the big picture in view, but it was tough to get any REM sleep thanks to the roaring wind and flapping tent sounds the first couple of nights at Zakar! On the bright side, I threw out my damaged tent to lighten the load on the journey home.
That’s it for the bad stuff though, and if the worst thing at an event like this one is an element beyond the control of the organizers, it points to a successful venture. Happily, from Saturday morning onward, Mother Nature provided pure sunshine and a gentle breeze to keep everyone comfortable.
I guess it would have been better to have more showers and flush toilets available as well, but this is yet another minor detail easily overshadowed by the positives.
Let me talk about all the good stuff!
The Food and Festivities
The wind put a damper on the evening festivities for the first two nights, as many people hid in whatever shelter they could find instead of lounging around the campfire.
Great effort and planning put on by RevZilla staffers along with gracious generosity from Eric Wright and Chris Sackett of Fasthouse kept spirits high. Fasthouse staff, along with several RevZilla personalities, handed out what seemed to be unlimited, free cans of 805 beer each night to provide social lubrication.
RevZilla sweetened the deal by ensuring there was plenty of ice cream around for anyone needing it.
It’s the little things, right?
Morning Cups of Ambition
Additionally, each morning we were greeted by the Atomic Café coffee truck, which prepared all manner of specialty hot drinks to warm everyone’s chilled hands and cheeks. I found the barista running the show entertaining, because his behavior was reminiscent of the famous “Soup Nazi” character from Seinfeld. He didn’t ban anyone from coffee for one year, but his over-the-top passion for fanciful coffee concoctions made me chuckle.
Adventure riders seem accustomed to taking their morning cup of Joe straight-up black, which perturbed our barista—until everyone caught on and began requesting exotic lattes, macchiatos, caramels, espressos, and cappuccinos instead.
Obtaining your warm beverages at the coffee truck each day ensured you could collect three of these stylish BDR tin cups for your camping collection. Yes, I brought three home with me.
Bag lunches were provided each day to take out on the trail, in addition to a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner that seemed to match most everyone’s culinary preference.
I was impressed to find most of the people serving up and prepping the food were volunteers, although I never caught how they came to be involved with the event. I suspect they may have been connected to the BDR community (but could be wrong).
The Riding Trails
Rever had 3 or 4 routes available for download to their app on each day of the rally with easy, moderate, and advanced levels of difficulty.
For my part, I found the app worked fairly well, although there were bugs appearing on some different models of smartphones. I think the efficacy of the app largely hinged on how much memory was available and the age of the device.
I chose to ride the moderate-difficulty routes each of the three days and had no difficulty handling them—despite the fact I’d never ridden in desert conditions before.
My Rally Highlight: The Husky Memorial (Monument)
I’d never heard of this sacred monument to fallen motorcyclists before one of the routes brought me to it during the rally, but I waxed slightly philosophical upon seeing it there out in the middle of the Mojave.
This tribute and collection of tokens to people’s loved ones rests out in the sand branching out from the original 1978 Husqvarna 390 dirt bike that sits there half encased in concrete. That Husky dirt bike belonging to desert racer Jim Erickson back in 1987 inspired others to grow the somber collection into the moving sight it is today.
Was it mere coincidence or a good reminder to me to ride freely but responsibly, being that I was on board a Husqvarna motorcycle the day I first encountered it?
My 2022 Husqvarna Norden 901 was completely at home in the open and high-speed sandy trails and also did well in the more technical tracks. It’s quickly become my favorite motorcycle to date, ahead of my previous darling: my 2019 KTM 790 Adventure.
After the first day of riding, I had an issue with the front tire leaking and had to install a tube in my tubeless rim to carry on with the festivities.
Losing all the air gradually in the front Motoz Tractionator Rallz tire while riding resulted in me denting the rim of my new bike. Despite pounding the dent back into nearly the original position, it just wouldn’t hold air. My suspicion is that the super stiff sidewalls on the Rallz weren’t completely seated on the bead of the rim and started leaking after I hit a few good bumps on the trails.
Looks like I’ll be buying some upgraded rims for the Norden soon, eh?
Rabaconda to the Rescue
much easier. BMW Motorrad had a tire repair shop set up, but they were very busy and I was glad to be able to take care of the problem myself. Having said that, Catie did a good job balancing my dented wheel after I installed the tube.
We also used the Rabaconda to swap out the front tire on Lorne’s KLR650 for a new TKC80 and helped another KTM 890 Adventure R rider put a tube in the rear rim on his bike after he experienced the same dented rim issue I did on the Norden. I haven’t finished putting together my review for this effective and portable Rabaconda tire machine, but I can tell you it’s worth every penny for do-it-yourselfers.
The Rabaconda was great back at camp, but it’s too large to carry around on the bike. Out on the trails that same day, Brandon Wise picked up a chunk of barbed wire in the rear tire of his Yamaha T7. I loaned him my Tirox SnapJack V2 to take care of that business.
The People of GOAF Mojave
That’s what I so thoroughly enjoyed about this event: people helping people. I didn’t notice any egos or elitist attitudes at all. Everyone was in attendance to have fun and looking to be friendly while sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm for motorcycling. To call them all “cool” would be accurate, but it seems lacking somehow.
But it was equally uplifting lending a hand to (or chewing the fat with) my fellow riders whose names aren’t famous on the internet and who don’t have an army of followers on YouTube.
On the last morning, I happened to meet Glen West (below) as he was packing up his BMW GS for the ride home. I found out he is a Sales Manager for Schuberth Helmets, which led to us having a great conversation about helmet safety standards, their new C5 helmet, and riding in general. Awesome stuff!
That’s why I keep wanting to come back to these rallies and why I’m keen to attend the Sturgis GET ON! Adventure Fest in July this year (14th to 17th). If I can slot it into my schedule I’ll for sure be there. Best of all, I bet there won’t be so much wind at that one (based on the perfect weather we had last year)!
The Swag and Giveaways
RevZilla, the vendors in attendance, and several other sponsors of the event made sure none of us went home without three times the hats, t-shirts, sandals, and stickers we came with.
There were also some terrific prizes awarded randomly through draws, much to the delight of everyone—including a new pair of Alpinestars Tech 7 Enduro boots and a new helmet or two as well.
The Camaraderie of the Last Night
After 3 days of fun and group bonding, the last night consisted of watching the new Wyoming BDR film as a group. It was followed by live music and finally gathering for libations around a crackling campfire until the wee hours of the morning.
If you were there, you’ll recall the playful antics of Steve “Coywolf” who quietly rolled his KTM 890 Adventure R up behind our seats by the fire before climbing up on the seat and dancing while shaking his maracas to some kind of tribal-sounding music pumping out of his Bluetooth speaker nearby.
As a group, we laughed and urged him on to dance more, until he was finally spent, and everyone retired to their tents for some much-needed slumber. It was the perfect amount of frivolity tempered with a healthy dose of respect for the accommodating hosts, RawHyde Adventures and RevZilla.
All this (and more I can’t write about) happened under the beautiful night skies at the Zakar zombie apocalypse compound built by Jim Hyde somewhere in the middle of the Mojave Desert.
The Long Trip Home
The long drive home included opportunistic riding stops in Death Valley, Titus Canyon, Big Bear Lake, and The Bonneville Salt Flats, because you only go around once and we never know when another pandemic might shut down travel again, right?
The weather turned sour while we were up in Montana, and I was appreciative of the fact we were towing the bikes on a trailer rather than riding them in the blizzard conditions we encountered.
Seizing every opportunity to ride in a new environment is what an adventure rider craves most. I’m all about doing that… but I’ll pass on the snowstorms.