Holy bejesus. So much went on in the last week…
So, a week ago yesterday, there was a winter storm moving in to my area (remember in my last post how the man named Smith told me it was gonna be a big one?) I managed to squeeze in a ride at Centennial Cone before the temperature dropped and the clouds rolled in. It’s a nice trail. Exposure still kills my confidence, though.
I fully planned to gtfo on Friday morning and spend some quality time in Moab enjoy not being in the snow. However, by Thursday afternoon, it was already snowing pretty hard.
By Friday morning, there was about a foot on the ground, and I wasn’t really sure what to do. It just kept falling, and I sort of wanted to yell at the sky to stop sending the snow down. I’d never seen more than a few inches of snow, so it blew my mind just a little.
I shoveled out around my car so that I could possibly pack it, but, alas, the snow piled right on back in there.
According to experts, you can’t drive in snow that deep unless your car is actually a lifted truck. However, eventually, a snow plow came along, and I was able to get out and start the long weekend journey. The snowplow driver probably wondered wtf was wrong with me while I stood with my mouth somewhat agape taking pictures like a tourist.
Lesson learned… if you want to get to the desert and avoid snow, you should leave for the desert ahead of said snow.
It wasn’t all bad that I started my trip a day late, because apparently there was a good bit of rain in Moab on my original arrival day. I got in Saturday afternoon and dropped Indy off at Karen’s Canine Campground (side note- if you have a dog and vacation in Moab, she’s wonderful. Indy got the special little old dog treatment, meaning he stayed in her house and got to sleep in the bed) I checked in to the hostel (side note #2- a dorm bed is $11 a night, and you’re getting exactly what you pay for) and went for a quick ride on the Pipe Dream trail that runs basically parallel to town.
Oh yeah… I forgot to mention. I took the shop’s Mach 6 demo bike. Spoiler alert- I’m shopping for one of my own already.
Sunday I wanted to ride all day. I’d never seen the iconic Slickrock Trail, and I noticed that it was on the way up to the top of the Porcupine Rim trail, which I’d ridden last time and wanted to try out on the Mach 6. So, I packed up and started my way up Sand Flats Road.
I don’t believe much that isn’t backed by peer-reviewed research. However, I do firmly believe in Trail Karma. I had no real trail karma in the bank for Moab, so, as I entered the Sand Flats Recreation Area, I paid my $2 day-use charge and also handed the attendant an extra two dollars and said it was for the next person who came through on a bike. He was a little confused at first, wondering if there was someone I knew coming through close behind me, but he quickly figured out that I was just being nice.
The Slickrock trail was cool. I highly suggest stopping in the parking lot and reading up on the history of the trail. It’s basically how mountain bikes came to Moab in the first place- people were attracted to the uniqueness of a trail that was almost all rock surface.
Note the distance between me and the La Sal mountains in the background of that last photo…
After a lap of the Slickrock Trail, I headed up the miles of climbing on Sand Flats Road to get to Upper Porcupine. My chain was squeaking and tweeting at me. Everyone out here uses dry lube because of the dust. I’m not accustomed to having to re-apply chain lube more often than I wash my bike, so it came as a surprise that a cumulative 4 hours of riding had left my chain in such a state. Lucky for me, the trail passed through several campground areas, and I saw a guy with bikes close to the road. He let me use some of his chain lube, and I was on my way.
The timing of my ride couldn’t have been more perfect. All of the shop shuttles to Porcupine Rim had passed through already, so there was hardly any traffic. Also, the rain had knocked the dust down a good bit, too. There’s an open air vault toilet along the way.
Somewhere after about an hour of climbing, I was starting to get a little tired. A mile or two from the entrance to the Lower Porcupine trail, a truck passed me. They had bikes over the tailgate and had used a yoga mat for padding… only, the yoga mat slipped out just as they were passing me. I yelled and waved at them, but to no avail. So, I picked it up, rolled it tightly, and stuck it in my pack as best I could. I figured they were either parking and all riding down the trail, in which case, I’d toss the mat in their truck when I found it, OR, their shuttle guy would be driving back down at some point.
I reached the lower porcupine parking area and didn’t see the truck immediately. I stopped to eat a snack, and just a few seconds later, dude was rolling through and saw me waving his yoga mat at him. He stopped, we chatted for a minute, and he offered to give me a ride the last mile or so up to the Upper trail. I was tired, and it’d already been a little over 4 hours, so I was happy to take a break before hitting the long trail down (which is actually another 20 minutes or so of climbing on a steep, kinda muddy section of the Kokopelli trail). When you come over the last hump to the trail, the mountains are huge and looming.
At first I was a little tentative on the technical trail features. One thing about this bike is that the bottom bracket is lower than what I’m used to. So, I had to really concentrate on not pedal striking. To complicate that issue, I’m used to Industry 9 wheels, which are way awesome for ratchet-pedaling over and through dicey spots. DT Swiss hubs may be great quality and all, but their engagement is junk once you’ve ridden I9s (don’t even talk to me about the star-ratchet upgrade… still not the same thing).
I eventually got the hang of the bigger travel bike and was confidently launching baby 1-2ft drops. Then, I happened upon this:
Ok, so that’s huge (by my standards). I basically reached the point at which you either need to stop safely or maintain/increase speed and thought that it was not that tall and put in a couple of big pedal strokes before realizing near the edge that it was about a foot out of my comfort zone. At the spot where I realized how far down it was, if I’d hit the brakes, I basically would have fallen front wheel/head first down the ledge, so I committed as if I actually knew what I was doing.
I landed and nearly rolled away giggling before realizing I needed to turn around and get a picture of that shit. The trail was amazing most of the way down. That’s the sort of singletrack that, every time you ride it, it gets a little more fun. Pretty soon, I was at the techy, exposed area that makes me walk out of fear of rolling off the cliff. I took the opportunity to get a picture of the Colorado River.
To top off the greatness of my ride, the canyon was gorgeous and green from all the rain, and I was met with a nice tailwind most of the way back to the hostel.
That evening, I went to the Moab Brewery and impressed two locals with my ability to put down a bacon cheeseburger and onion rings.
Seeing as it’s close to my bedtime, I’ll save the remainder of the trip for my next post…