Marketed as “the worst moto campout ever,” no one really knew what antics were in store when they signed up to be part of this year’s Motos in Moab, Volume 2. We’d all heard stories from the previous year: being kicked out of a Mormon campsite less than 24 hours in; taking shelter in a farmer’s field only to be greeted by multiple feet of flash flooding; tents erupting in flames that wandered over from from gasoline-lit fires—fires started with good intentions, if also with drunken ineptitude. Those stories, however, only intimidate the faint at heart. Over 800 others blindly agreed to be part of whatever would be thrown their way.
People from all over the US rode through red rock canyons and lush desert flora to one of Southern Utah’s most beautiful terrains for a weekend that will forever remain in infamy. As the sun began to set and dusty plots became temporary homes, campers were called to a stage for an introduction. Ozzy Osbourne’s voice echoed off the canyon walls as “Iron Man” blasted from the speakers, and a creature straight out of a sci-fi movie emerged from the woods. He slinked toward the crowd, shooting flames 10 feet into the night sky out of a Vietnam-era war weapon strapped to his back. Like literal moths to a flame, we all followed to the 30-foot-high bonfire that would set the tone for the weekend. With the inferno as its centerpiece, the field was transformed into a flat track full of dirtbikes, Harleys, and mini bikes with sidecars, carrying two, three, or even four riders at a time. People crashed, bikes and bodies were mangled, but no one got seriously hurt, and we all laughed at what will probably go down as one of the most ridiculous scenes of the summer.
While the nighttime was reserved for whisky drinking, hell raising, and lighting what seemed like anything and everything on fire, daylight hours were for tracking down swimming holes and taking rides through some of the country’s most beautiful national parks. My group’s final ride of the weekend led us through Arches National Park just before dusk. We were humbled as the setting sun illuminated ancient rocks that the wind has spent millennia carving. No amount of Snapchat or Instagram filtering can capture the feeling in your chest when you gaze upon thousands of years of nature’s artistry glowing in the golden hour. As we shifted gears through twisting roads and expansive views, my breath was stolen when I realized the wind that whipped my face, and the desert sun that warmed my skin were the same artists that had sculpted everything in our path.