Smooth, red Rusty Spur trail
We were on our MTBs by 11:30 a.m., riding two loops of the combined Rusty Spur and Bar M trails at the Moab Brand Trails. Before we left SLC, I had asked H to swap out my clip-in pedals for flats, reasoning that on Moab's unfamiliar, rocky and sandy trails, I would be on and off my bike so much that flats would be quicker, not to mention less scary for not being clipped in. I tend to ride with my left foot unclipped in the sketchy spots anyway, and I had ridden with flats for my MTB clinic last summer, so I felt like this would be a good idea. H was skeptical - he is so comfortable on a bike that the thought of riding without being clipped in was unfathomable to him - but he swapped my pedals out for me. The first Rusty Spur/Bar M circuit I rode with my MTB shoes, thinking that the stiffer soles would help transfer power to the pedal strokes better. The hard soles kept slipping off the flat pedals, however, and I ended up switching shoes to light hikers for the second lap: much, much better. My feet still slipped a bit, and I missed having the clips on the climbs, but it was workable.
Just having come over the cattle guard
successfully on Rusty Spur
Bar M loop with the LaSal Mountains in the distance
Our two circuits gave us 19.5 miles total, with a fair amount of that climbing on the front side of the Bar M loop, so we were pleased with the ride. We took advantage of a shady bench for our post-ride beers and snacks, finally heading into town at 3 p.m. and going straight to the Kokopelli Lodge to check in. While H power-napped (it was a hot MTB ride, coming in around 90 F right in the middle of the day), I got cleaned up, read and had a beer on the porch outside our room, watching other tourists (almost entirely French and German) check in. We swung by the grocery store for provisions for Friday - beer, ice and water - and then headed out for dinner, attempting Mexican at first and then ending up at our old stand-by, the Moab Brewery. It was busy but spaces at the bar opened up for us right away. The service was sporadic and the food surprisingly mediocre (fish tacos and a reuben sandwich), but the beers (Johnny's American IPA and the Dead Horse amber) were as tasty as always. We walked back to the motel and crashed for an early night, done in by the afternoon's heat but looking forward to the hiking and MTBing planned for the next day.
Rehydrating in the shade