After leaving Snow Basin we decided the next mountain bike area we needed to see was Green River, WY, but it was 95 deg. and the middle of the day. Hard pass. It looks awesome, though, so it’s on the list for another trip.
The next option was Curt Gowdy State Park between Laramie and Cheyenne. That was good timing and even allowed us to stop in Laramie for a movie. (It’s our first movie with MoviePass and we wanted to see at least one movie before they run out of money and go under.) We left Laramie and headed into the nearby Medicine Bow Nat. Forest to camp for the night near the park. As we turned sharply into a trailhead across a cattle guard there was a huge bang and jolt. It felt like I hit the edge of the cattle guard as I swung into the lot.
We parked and I got out to take a look. The side of the van was fine. I crawled under to take a look and initially didn’t see anything. I went to take a look at the trailer hitch to see if I somehow bottomed out the back of the van, but it was fine. From the back I looked under and noticed that the right rear shock mount was a little angled. Is it supposed to look like that? I check the left, perfectly straight. I look back at the right, okay, it is a lot angled. Uh oh.
I go back to look from the front and it is readily apparent that the shock mount on the rear axle is bent and cracked.
Things got a little quiet then as I pondered how bad it all looked. Well, we aren’t going to solve the problem tonight so might as well go to bed.
Fortunately we had great internet coverage (a nice change from the majority of I-80 in Wyoming) and I could lay there and fire up the Google machine. I also posted on the Ford Transit forum asking for opinions about whether I was at least safe to drive back to the dealer in Laramie 9 miles back on I-80. Everything I saw, and the one early response to my post, supported the conclusion that I could drive it safely back to the dealership.
We made it to White’s University Ford right when they opened and it didn’t take long for them to get it up on a lift and take a look. Scott “Scooter” the mechanic took me back to talk about what he was seeing and talk about what the shock actually does. Although the mount was bent and cracked, there is still a lot of steel still holding the mount to the axle. The shock is also not weight-bearing and it just dampens the movement of the axle, which is actually supported by the leaf springs. The air bag suspension I installed also helps so the same function, so his conclusion was that we were safe to continue to somewhere more convenient for repairs. He even said we could drive at regular highway speeds. Two huge thumbs up to White’s University Ford and they didn’t even charge us!
Well that is a huge relief! (Sara is equally relieved that she was not driving when this happened.)
With the prompt inspection by Scooter and the crisis averted, we still had time to hit the trails before heading on to Kansas. Curt Gowdy State Park is a very well developed and maintained state park with a lot of trails and two large reservoirs. It was pretty busy on 7/3, but still not so much on the trails. We hit two connecting trails called Stone Temple circuit (intermediate) and Ignoramus (advanced) for a quick ride. The trails are beautiful, winding through a mix of high desert and sage brush, Pinyon Pine, and pink granite outcroppings.
Stone Temple Circuit was mostly crushed granite with some outcroppings of more serious rocks, almost all of which we could successfully navigate. There are a number of alternate routes and skills areas to practice and we tried out a few of those spots. Ignoramus was the same, but with more serious rock obstacles. We still rode about 90%, but it would take some practice to ride it all cleanly.
This was one of the little skills sections.
Sara riding up and over a fin.
Dropping through the rocks.
Staying on the trail is obviously not a skill I have mastered.
So what could have been a disaster turns into an inconvenience and eventual expense. We made it the additional 10 hours out to our friends in Kansas and the suspension looks exactly the same.
Roll on, Powderhunds, roll on!