Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Moab MTB Trip


A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to Moab, Utah for a three day mountain biking trip with Lane Brostrom and his brother Marc. The experience for me was no different than a midwest skier's first trip out west.  I was in for some scary stuff.

We rented bikes from Poison Spider Bicycle Shop located on Main Street.  My bike was the Niner RIP featuring dual suspension (a must have in my opinion) with 29 inch wheels (another must have).  Acoomodations were at the Best Western Canyonlands also on Main Street. 

Day One was Slickrock.  New riders to the Slickrock park are offerred the opportunity to ride a short practice loop to get accustom to the riding surface and the technical challenges of Moab's severe ups and downs.  We skipped that introductory loop and immediately launched ourselves into the most technical riding I'd ever faced. Frankly, I was scared and the hesitancy showed.  Lane and Marc weren't sure if I'd make it because I kept lagging behind.  After two hours, I managed to loosen up and ride with some confidence.  It was a great day of riding that lasted about four hours.  Afterwards we played frisbee in the parking lot before riding bikes back to town (fyi - we drove up to the park's entrance;  small fee to enter it).

Day Two was Gemini Bridges.  This was the easiest ride of the trip, but still very technical.  Bull Run>Great Escape>Little Cyn (Canyon)>Arth's>Portion of Getaway>Metal Masher Rd>trail head off Hwy 313. 

Day Three was the Whole Encilada (Burro Pass>USFS Road>Hassard County Road>Kokopelli Trail>UPS Road>LPS Road>Porcupine Rim).  This was an epic seven hour ride covering thirty six miles with the most technical riding I'd ever encountered.  We took a shuttle van that started at the bike shop ($25) that took us up a mountain where we climbed out into the cold.  I was glad to be wearing arm and leg warmers plus a light jacket.  From there we rode another thousand feet of elevation before making our long descent. 

The first two hours had numerous extreme downhill sections that made me fell like I was falling downward.  After a couple of creek crossings, we rode through a beautiful stretch of Ash trees.  From there we rode through some wide open stretches before working our way to the most technical section --a 4x4 road that looked like a road of splintered rock. That means if and when you fall, you land on rock not soft dirt.  All and all, I managed to stay upright until the 5 hour mark. Somewhere along the beginning portion of the Porcupine Rim I fell.  When my front wheel rode off a ledge, landing on a slight incline, my front wheel got stuck causing me to flip over the handlebars.  Upon landing, I placed my hands out and my left thumb took most of the weight.  Immediately I knew I sprained the thumb.  After picking myself up, I could tell it was a grade 2 sprain and that riding back was going to be painful. 

After a few minutes to regain my composure, we took off and I did my best to manage the pain.  Marc had some Advil along that I took and that started to kick in about 30 minutes later.

It was a long haul back.  We had another two hours in front of us and I was bonking.  Somehow I thought this was a 10 mile ride so I had only packed two Powerbars.  So for the next few hours I grimaced at the pain and tried to ignore the ache in my stomach.  The last thirty minutes of ride was not rideable so I walked bits and pieces of it. In many sections the trail led right to the cliff's end making any sort of mistake a fatal one.  Eventually, the end came and after catching my breath, I felt reinvigorated enough to ride hard back to town and give back my bike. 

It was great trip and something I look forward to doing again. 

PS Because my flight got delayed I spent another day in the area of Park City, Utah in a quaint town of Coalville. Because Marc has a decent motorcycle collection, we did a nice ride in the area in the early evening.