Sunday, April 6, 2008
Moab - Part I
Three of my normal riding buddies (not to say Big Ringers aren't normal or anything, I just ride with these people regularly) and I headed to Moab for 5 days of desert trail riding. I had never been there before and I let somebody else plan the trip so I had little idea what to expect. I debated hard between renting some sort of all mountain full squish like a Santa Cruz Nomad or using my all mountain hardtail. In the end my Chromag won out for cost, convenience and challenge.
We stayed in this awesome condo just outside of town, they had full size trail maps, a bike stand and tool for us to use in the 2 car garage.
First up of course was the Slickrock trail, which is of course anything but slick. Super sticky sandstone was the order of the day. You can climb almost anything on this surface and are at more risk of flipping over backwards than spinning out.
The views of the Colorado River were crappy....
This one shows what the area looks like, endless lumps, bumps, folds and valleys of sandstone...
By the end we figured out that you don't have to follow the white lines that mark the trail, they just keep you from falling into an abyss. Once we started leaving the "trail" it became a lot more fun. It was certainly more interesting to make use of the terrain as your eyes and imagination allowed, this natural half pipe was one example....
My initial impression was that riding around and finding your own lines through the area would be more fun than following the defined trail so I returned a few nights later by myself to check on my theory. For my personal experience I did enjoy the more free form riding though I did follow one of the side / optional lines for a bit and that scared me pretty good. After one descent I was a basket case for about 20 minutes. For Big Ringer context, the little roll down into the parking lot at Dupont was well within my comfort zone, this one in Moab had guaranteed death
at the bottom should anything go wrong. I do understand quite clearly why the main trail is so well marked!
Our second ride on day 1 was Bartlett Wash, an area known for it's freeride opportunities. Even though it is known for freeride I think this is worth a visit if you are looking for something less strenuous. The out and back ride is less than 8 kilometers with very little elevation gain, almost all on rock. The cool thing here is that there are 2 different but continous types of rock and they have different textures so the riding surface changes as you go along. Think of a giant skate park 3 km by 1 km with a 200 foot elevation gain. There are huge bowls, ramps, quarter pipes, drops and it is all so smooth, though many of the biggest / baddest moves have very serious consequences if you fail. We saw some locals doing some neat stuff on DH bikes in full armor but we stuck to pretty moderate stuff and still had a great time.
Unfortunately I managed to wipe out going uphill in one of the bowls, all I can say is I am glad I didn't slide downhill into a bowl at speed or this would have been much worse, I might have needed a skin graft in that case .......
A big supper and a cold beer (well, more than one) took the pain away. Day one in the books.