Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Recounting my first Moab Trip


This a recounting of a trip I took to Moab, UT in May of 2010. It's good to relive old memories.

The Moab Trip!

We rolled out at 4:30 am looking forward to a great vacation. An hour later we figured some coffee would be in order so we pulled in to the Safeway in Pollock Pines to grab a cup at the in-store Starbucks. Lake Tahoe came into view around daybreak. The first of some magnificent views.


As we progressed through Nevada we saw a whole lot of open space.


This truly is the loneliest road in America.


There are quite a few historical markers along the route. The point of interest is usually dozens of miles down a dirt road. One day I'll head down there and check a few out.




About 100 miles into Utah, we came upon the first of many amazing geological formations. They have covered the State with viewing areas so you can see these wonderful testaments of time. Amazing that all this happened in just 6000 years.


Finally, we arrive in Moab.


Time to eat! Or get the coals going anyway.


We are pumped and ready for some riding!


It's illegal to bring alcohol into the state of Utah, so I was shocked to see "The Whoppa'" a 17% Zinfandel produced by Sacramento's own Vinous Envy Wine Meetup. I don't know how it got there, but I'm sure all applicable state and local taxes and import duties were paid.


Thanks to the driving force behind this trip. Yo Bryan! Thanks for your effort!


This is going to be fun!


I hadn't seen one of these in quite some time. Younger folks may not know this, but this organization, the Gideons, used to place a bible in every hotel room in the country.


Day 1

Our first ride was a trail called "Baby Steps." See the route here. They may call it Baby Steps, but every ride we took was pretty gnarly! This was a good starter ride. Still, this trip was not for the feint of heart. 
Twentyfour of us arrived at a ruddy parking lot about 10 miles outside of town and began the last minute preparations you make before a ride. Chain oiled? Tires pumped? Mind psyched and focused? Let's roll!








Baby Steps connects to an area called Klondike Bluffs. It's a majestic overlook into an area of such wonder, I cannot describe it. Have a look for yourself.









This backdrop makes for excellent portraits!
Bryan


Danette


Blaine


Me and Vida


Kim


Lior


Jidi


Anna Aka Anna-mal!


Darold


Tim


But all of that is just the scenery. There's also the riding. the actual reason we're here. Lot's of opportunities to get some air.


A few months ago Bobby got himself a Yeti, and somewhere along the line became a real badass mountainbiker!


That little spec in the middle is Blaine. He was taking pix of the group from down there. I can't wait to see them.


We had lunch once we got to the top. Mine was Almond butter, strawberry jam and raisins on whole wheat. 450 calories of POWER!


We were literally on top of the world!


My brake failed during the ride, so I had to find a set of replacement pads...and a beer. Luckily, right next to the Moab Brewery was the Chili Pepper Bike Shop. A community-minded shop with a passion for the arts. The have sculptures decorating the town so they had a leg up in my book from the git-go.


They also had an MTB unicycle available for test rides which gave them another shot of cred in my book. This is where I see a need for body armor. Since I don't have any, I didn't take it out on the trails. Talk about a workout!


After the ride, we all met at the Moab Brewery to have supper.




Can't forget the souvenirs. 


The food was mediocre, even though this is Moab's #1 rated restaurant. Proof again that there is no accounting for taste. The beer, however was quite good. People pan it pretty severely because the alcohol content is only 3.2%, but I tried all ten styles that they offer and found them quite tasty. An added bonus is that you can drink a few pitchers and still walk & talk. I wish more places offered 3.2% beer. In the case of the Moab Brewery, the brewmeister has done a fine job working within' the constraints of the law. You see, for me, I love beer. For most folks, apparently, they love the alcohol in beer. What a revelation!

Day 2
Our second ride was the infamous "Sickrock Bike Trail!" See the route here. Yesterday when we were at the Moab Brewery, we sat next to a search and rescue worker who said: "Whatever you do, don't go to Slickrock!" Well to hell with that idea! Why do you think we even came here?!?!?. Slickrock is the name of the game! The Bee's Knees. The Cat's Pajamas. The Pièce de résistance! 

The day begins with a great breakfast! Some folks thought that meant cold cereal with milk. I guess that's one interpretation...they were wrong, IMN2BHO ( In My Never To Be Humble Opinion).
  

A bunch of us suit up with fancy body armor and such. The stuff really looks fantastic! Reminds me of movies like Rollerball. 


Nate has been here before and gives us a briefing about the trail. Apparently Sasquatch have been cited in the area and holding crossed fingers in this way will ward them off.


We all listen attentively.


Nate told us that this was with the finest damn parking lot you'd ever want to lay eyes on!

And he was right! I've never seen a finer parking lot in my life!

So there's really nothing slick about Slickrock...as long as it's dry. My tires gripped like never before! 


At some point everyone walks on Slickrock.


This was a really spooky section. It looks like you're going to fall off the side of the world, but if you just take your hands off the brakes you'll develop enough momentum to roll up the other side.


We got to a high point and decided it was a great place for the trophy shots.
Danette


Barbara


Vida


Bobby


Bryan


The day we left, Nate said to me that it's hard to leave because you never know when you'll be back. I'm suddenly kinda' sad because he's right. I have no idea when I'll make it back to Moab. It's definitely in my plan to do so though.


Someone rode this piece of junk about half way in to the loop and decided to leave it. It will eventually be scrapped for parts probably. I suspect the person riding it was pushing it and decided it would be easier to just walk. It'll be funny to see if it's still there next year (or whenever I make it back.


Looking out to the horizon was absolutely dreamy, and it makes a really great background for a closeup.


I personally averaged 2.7 MPH for the 10.4 mile lollipop route. By the end of the loop section I was leaving a lot of footprints. I actually spent the last six months on a fitness regimen and lost nearly 50# in preparation of this one ride...and I still left more footprints than I care to admit.


The only people who get to see this are hikers and badass mountainbikers. Motorcycles and 4x4s are allowed in the park too (sadly), but this section is only for bikes.


Leaving Slickrock I noticed something off the side of the road. The dump. I guess it's like any other place. You go find a big hole in the ground and fill it up with your trash. They don't recycle in Utah so they need bigger holes to fill.


Eventually technology will solve our waste problems. Until then.


Day 3

This day a lot of people went rafting. A few of us went to Arches National Park. It's Utah's pride and joy so you have to go there if you're in the neighborhood...but you have to leave your bike at home.



That night we had Steak Salad for supper. It was fantastic!


Day 4

On day 4 we took the Poison Spider Shuttle up to the Porcupine Rim trail. They wouldn't take us to the top because it was snowing up there. See the route we took here. We loaded up and piled into the shuttles. It took two of them to carry all of us.





As it turns out, it was snowing at the lower trailhead too. Surprisingly, it wasn't miserable, which is what came to my mind the moment I heard snow. In fact, conditions couldn't have been better.


We came upon more fantastic photo ops on this ride. I got fewer pix this time because it's a pretty fast moving trail.


There were some very challenging trail sections here. We all hiked this one, but somewhere out there are people who can actually ride this kind of stuff. See page 2 of this thread for video.








Somewhere along the line we had an injury. Just like most things in life, a little duct tape will tide it over till we can get to a proper fix. 


These rides have really built our confidence and provide a real sense of accomplishment.


This downhill was highly technical and I found myself doubting the routes I chose. Then a couple of locals came blasting by and all of the sudden I understood how these trails worked. At that point I took my hand off the brake and before I knew it I was 20 minutes ahead of the group. That knowledge would prove very valuable on our final ride.


Just like every ride we took on this trip, the route took us to places that are only seen by hikers and mountainbikers.


And we cap it off with a little air at the end.


Day 5

On our final riding day in Moab, we voted on which route to take. Amasa Back was chosen and here is the route. Before we left, a few repairs had to be made. It's a good thing those of us who had broken dérailleur hangers had brought spares.



The first thing we had to do at Amasa Back was to cross this chasm by descending 200-300' to begin the 1000' climb to Pothole Arch. 





After about ten minutes we had crossed the chasm, we see the cars parked straight across the gorge. 


The climbing got much more difficult after this. We were well rewarded though. After climbing for what seemed like an hour we reached a flat clearing. The beauty was majestic. As I greeted later arrivals I had the pleasure of saying: "Look behind you." It was breathtaking! Another photo op.
Dano


Anna-mal


Bryan


Again we were treated to sights the privilege of which only a hiker or mountainbiker earns.






Back at the end of the route was Pothole Arch. A little bowl in the rock with a hole in the side. The guidebook inferred that it's a party spot for stoners. I can imagine taking a full moon ride up there to that spot and drinking Manhattans as the guidebook suggests.



The Fruita Excursion

Five of us had decided to go on to Fruita, CO, an equally famous mountainbiking destination with over 450 miles of trails. Fruita is a mountainbiking town like Moab, but they haven't jumped on the tourist bandwagon in as big a way. There's a lot of room for expansion of the MTB tourism market in Fruita.

On the way out of Moab, we hit the Movie Museum and got our picture taken with the Duke.


There are a lot of really famous movies that were shot in Moab. Thelma & Louise, Back to the Future 1 & 2, Mission Impossible II and more.

We also hit the Colorado National Monument and other local attractions.




The event of note was the "Mike the Headless Chicken Festival." A few years ago someone chopped this chickens head off and accidentally left the brain stem in tact. It lived for 18 months (so they say). Fruita is a town looking for a reason to celebrate, so they made a festival out of the occasion.


As late as 9:00pm Friday the forecast for Saturday was partly cloudy. Saturday came and it was pouring rain. The trails there are bentonite clay. That's the kind that sticks to your wheels and cakes up so much that your bike weighs and extra 50# and your wheels are stuck from binding. We didn't get to ride in Fruita. We'll have to go back another time.

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