Sunday, November 30, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
October brought a long awaited return to Moab. It’s not that I haven’t been there within the past couple years, cuz I have, but not to mountain bike, which was the purpose of this latest venture. One might say that riding fat tires in Moab is the principle reason to go there. Probably, but I’d say the climbing is mighty fine too. Didn’t do that this time, but didn’t find the trip lacking either. Seeing as it’s so damn expensive to fly with my bike (NWA will let me bring 100lbs of crap between two checked bags plus a carry on and personal item as an employee, but a 50 lb bike case by itself is apparently unacceptable), I rented from Poison Spider Bicycles, a local bike shop in Moab, and I think one of the best (although Moab is small there are somewhere around 7 quality shops due to the enormity of riding culture there.) I rented a Trek Fuel EX7, which I’d have to rate as adequate for the job, but not as cool as my Stumpjumper which was hanging up at home wondering why. The West is what it’s made for. Sad. That aside, the riding was as I remember it- stellar. We (myself, Kelly, and friends from MN- Nate and Emily) rode Amasa Back the first day, and took it further than I have in past years. We didn’t just top out on the initial climb as normal, but continued along the top of the Mesa that leads out above the Colorado river and eventually overlooks the mines of Potash, which in my visit two years ago Alison, Ty, and I rode out to via road bikes. It was a different view from what I think was a couple thousand feet above. You never can quite tell unless some topo map or local can tell you for sure. But you can surely tell it’s damn high and straight down. I enjoyed the climb up, having been without long, technical climbs that I got used to living in Northern UT. We sessioned a few hard rock piles, mostly failing but loving each try. The biggest challenge for me this trip was breathing. I’m am again a Midwesterner that can’t breath at altitude. It really hits you. The descent was a blast, but I’m going to have to say that Poison Spider didn’t watch the pads on my disc brakes very well, as they were less than ideal at high speeds. Not what you want on technical rocky terrain. I was pinching my fingers between brake lever and bar before getting enough stopping power. Not comfortable. I compensated the next day by moving the levers in so as to pull on the very ends, and it did the trick. Still, give an expensive rental pad that aren’t super worn. Come on. They’ve always been wonderful shop so I’ll let that one go. I still bought a t-shirt. J The next day brought the biggest push. For the first time (since we all have jobs now), we took the shuttle van far up into the La Sal mountains to ride down from Hazard to meet up with Porcupine Rim, which I’ve blogged about before as my favorite trail ever ridden. Still is, but I have even more respect for it’s harshness after this trip. The La Sal trails (which I don’t even remember the names of) were a reminder of Wasatch riding- fast high altitude (translation, lung busting) gravely singletrack with lots of baby-heads (small round rocks protruding from the ground, which I know is horrible term, but it is what it is) and sharp rocks as well. Basically, a great place for suspension and the right tires. I miss that feeling of getting tired from descending. Not possible in MN. Maybe in the ND Badlands, but probably not. The day saw over 6,000 vertical feet of downward travel on two wheels over many many rocks. To use a slightly overused term in most mtb circles- epic. After the alpine singletrack of the La Sals, we transitioned to the Upper Porcupine Singletrack, or UPS trail, which is technically not supposed to be ridden (BLM disputes I think), but if you know where it’s at, which one of us did, and you follow that person, no one’s around to see you ride it. And you have fun. It’s basically an extension off the top of Porcupine Rim, and way worth the ride. But be careful, there’s a lot of places you could disappear and not be found for a while, the trail follows the Rim, which is quite tall, so don’t try to be a hero. No when to walk your bike, as is good advice in Moab in general. Also, if you crack yourself along the trail in general, it’s a helicopter ride or a long long super miserable hike out, which will end in the dark for sure. Porcupine Rim in and of itself was still there, the same trail I’ve raved about. But I’ve never ridden it after already descending so far and thus with already blistered hands. I looked down at one point to see blood coming through my glove. One blister decided to open up. Didn’t hurt until the next day, but looked pretty ugly. My blister was not the injury of the day. The trail bit hard at only 1.75 miles to go till the finish at the Colorado River. Emily had the biggest endo I’ve seen to date in person. Her front tire washed out to the left on some sand, and she fell to the right, and over a 12 foot cliff onto rock upside down with bike on top. Bad news. 15 feet in all after starting atop her bike. She was super tough through the whole thing; not a tear shed. And Kelly, being an EMT from his ski patrol experienced was able to figure out her condition. It was lucky. She could have easily broken her pelvis, which out in the backcountry can lead to death by way of internal bleeding, but did not. She came out with a badly bruised sacrum (the end of your pelvis). We did get a walk-out search and rescue ordered, and the trip from crash to ER was around 4 hours. Not bad for coming off the Rim. But it was a bummer for her to have to close out such as great ride with a huge crash. We’re all glad she’s ok though, to state the obvious. Moab does at least have to tasty eats, and we were able to shake off the excitement with some good food and brew. We hoteled it for the night so Emily didn’t have to put up with tents and 35 degrees injured, and drove back to SLC in the morning. Getting back to MN was an adventure too with reduced flights and non-revenue status; it took two days and we missed a day of work. Well, in the words of Office Space, “I wouldn’t say we were missing it.” J Long story short, wonderful trip with a sting in the middle. Go to Moab. Ride huge, but respect the wildness of UT. Do your best to stay upright, and don’t take the battle with gravity too far.
Pictures, in pretty much reverse chronological order...