Saturday, May 16, 2015

moab in may: mountain-biking

To console ourselves with the loss of the ski season, H and I scampered off to Moab for an early May long weekend.  The weather seemed ominous when we left early Thursday morning - 30s and raining, which would end up being a lovely snowstorm in the Wasatch Mountains for Snowbird's final weekend - but it was mostly sunny, breezy and about 70 F when we got to the MOAB Brand Trails.

Focused on Rusty Spur

We did two laps of the Rusty Spur/Bar M loop for a total of nineteen+ miles.  There were very few people out riding when we got there; vehicles started rolling in when we finished.  The local Moab trail crew, the Trail Mix Committee, had done a lot of work on the trails since we'd been there last September: the hills on the back side of the Bar M loop had been regraded to be much less loose and rocky, and one uphill corner that I had never been able to ride had been de-bouldered and smoothed out - and I was able to ride it.  Otherwise, due to spring season and the recent precipitation, the trails were not nearly as sandy as they've been, making it a much more enjoyable ride.

Cruising around the Bar M loop

We really like those two trails, which feature cross country-style riding with rollers and swoops, a little climbing, a little slickrock - something for everyone, really.  Some beers and snacks in the parking lot concluded the first MTB ride of the weekend.

Near the Great Pyramid overlook, DHPSP

We didn't get out on our MTBs on Friday because the weather turned cold and wet after our hike [hikes will be in a separate post].  Saturday was a different story.  We got up and got going, stopping at the grocery store for gas and provisions, and at the Moab Diner for breakfast, then headed on up to Dead Horse Point State Park to get on the trails there.  It was a chilly start - 43 F (!!), partly cloudy and breezy - but it was already pretty busy up there by 9 a.m., certainly busier than we've ever seen it during our fall trips.  To get ahead of the hordes, we struck out for the Big Chief loop of the Intrepid trail system, both of us in long sleeves due to the cool temperatures.  My fingers got cold right away but warmed up after about fifteen minutes of pedaling.

Out on the Big Chief loop

The Big Chief trail is exactly the reason why I asked H to switch out my clip-in pedals for flats: I was on and off my MTB a lot, even though I did feel like I was riding more of the rocky step-ups than I have in the past.  We didn't see a single rider on that trail - although the rabbits were rampant.  When we got to the Crossroads trail junction, we took that across to the newer trails on the west side of the park road.  These trails were definitely sandy but since the sand was damp, they were very rideable.  We did the whole Whiptail trail (saw five other riders and lots of bunnies, including a huge jackrabbit), then took the Twisted Tree trail to close the loop.  I had to walk a fair amount of that trail (climbing up over rocks) but it's a short connector and so the hike-a-bike wasn't too bad.

Grinding uphill, Bar M loop

We headed back on Whiptail, having to navigate the singletrack carefully as more and more riders were showing up, many of them newbies who didn't have a clear concept of MTB etiquette.  Back on Crossroads, right before crossing the park road, I was enjoying the swooping rollers among the sagebrush when I took a corner too fast.  My rear wheel slid in the sand, my front wheel twisted and I went right over the handlebars into a sagebrush.  I got a little scratched and bruised, but nothing serious - only some stiffness and soreness that wouldn't really kick in until a couple days later.  H shook his head, reminding me to be more careful; I was mostly dismayed he hadn't gotten a picture of the crash! 

H with the LaSals behind him

 As we headed back towards the truck on Ravens Roll, the trails kept getting busier (one guy, heading downhill, told me to move over and I snapped at him that uphill riders had the right of way).  The parking lot was completely full and swarming with MTBers when we finished up - I was glad we'd gotten out early, despite the morning chill.  It was a great ride, crash notwithstanding, with 16.7 miles and incredible views every pedal stroke of the way.

MTB art shot! (and product placement)

On Sunday, after a fantastic hike on the Moab Rim Trail, we managed to squeeze in a quickie ride back at the MOAB Brand trail system before we had to head for home.  Since we were getting there after noon, it was pretty busy but we lucked out, not seeing with anyone on Rusty Spur and only coming across a few folks out on the Bar M loop.  My legs were feeling the fatigue (and my sit-bones were a little tender, getting back into the saddle!) from the morning's hiking exertion, but I still managed to climb all the hills.  There was no post-ride toast - we were out of beer, horror of horrors! - but with Ray's Tavern not far away in Green River, we were still able to send off the long weekend in style.

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