I spent Memorial Day weekend adventuring in Moab with friends and friends of friends. The weekend started kind of rough, as when we arrived early Saturday we were greeted by a massive windstorm, 40 MPH plus winds pelting us with sand, filling our tents, our eyes and ears... made for a fairly miserable afternoon climbing around on the nearby cliffs. But by night time the winds calmed down, ushering in beautiful weather for the rest of the holiday weekend.
Mountain biking was on the weekend adventure. I have not done a ton of mountain biking. My bike is a 16 year old hardtail, bought when my kids were young so I could ride trails with my son. We did a few such rides with the kids but it has mostly been in recent years that my bike has been getting used as it should, mostly on moderate single track trails here in the Wasatch. This weekend was first attempt at Moab style mountain biking.
The plan was to bike the Gemini Bridges trail, a 16 mile ride starting a short distance from our campground. That "short distance" proved not too short, it ended up being a bonus 4.6 miles, all up hill, to get the Gemini Bridges road. The trip to the bridges was fairly easy, downhill on a jeep road. Then the fun began, we did a few sections of the Magnificent 7 single track trail. This is were the real challenge started for me. I've never ridden slickrock, so I had no idea what obstacles where ride-able, and which would require a dismount. After a bit of riding I did start to get the feel for what I could do, and what the bike could tackle. I surprised myself by going up over rocks I never thought I could clear, and dropping over ledges and stairsteps. I have to say mountain biking the rocky single track had to be the most mentally exhausting sport I've ever done, I really had to concentrate on the rugged terrain, as I really didn't want to crash on the rocks.
Arths Corner Trail - follow the yellow slash trail!
After about 4 miles of the challenging for me slickrock single track, and a short slog through deep sand, we ended up back on the road, where toward the end we got challenged by a long steep upgrade, one where at every turn in the road you joyfully think "this must be it", only to find yet more hill ahead. I didn't make it quite to the top, at some point I had to do a little "hike-a-bike". After reaching the top, the trip down to the main road where our shuttle awaited proved to be equally challenging. It was steep and rocky enough that it required pretty constant braking and attention to rocks and gravel, so even though it seemed like it should be a coast, it was really work too.
It was quite a day for me. 20 challenging miles on the bike, amazing dessert scenery, and my first ever slickrock biking experience. I loved it ... there will be more!
Yeah, this was a killer hill, both up, and down!