I've been trying to get Mark to Moab for two years. This weekend it happened.
(No, I didn't make the "MOAB 2009" in the photo above. We came across it on the Sovereign trail.)
Friday morning we (Mark, Mark's brother Paul, and I) drove down to Moab, checked into the hotel then headed up to the Slickrock trail.
It was a beautiful blue sky day, but pretty hot (in the 90s). After gearing up we rolled out of the parking lot, across a bit of sand and up onto slickrock. Mark didn't say much, but I imagine he'll blog about his first impressions of riding on slcikrock.
After the second junction with the Practice Loop we climbed to the first seriously steep slickrock ramp. I remember my first time here I looked at the steep angle of this slope and couldn't believe it was possible for a bike to climb it. But when some others went up it, and I tried it myself, I was a believer. Mark made it up without trouble.
Going down Fried Egg Hill I did the half pipe and Mark followed, taking a slightly more mellow line.
Riding out to the junction with the loop I was feeling crappy - my heart rate would not come down, I was dizzy and my legs felt like lead. Not sure if it was the heat, the lack of riding recently, the jolt of going from riding in the car to hard riding, or just a bad day. (I did have an emergency evacuation by Shrimp Rock and felt better afterward.)
At Cogs To Spare, Mark made a good first attempt and Paul cleaned it on his first try! Mark played "Eye of the Tiger" on his iPhone and made it on his second attempt! Here's the video (if you listen close you can here the music):
I was concerned I would have trouble on Cogs with my hard tail 29er, but it did fine. I tried 5 times, made it over the steep, short middle ramp twice, but could not summon the mojo to complete the climb. The walk of shame up Cogs was bitter.
Not my best Slickrock ride, but still plenty of good stuff, and it was fun being there with Mark on his first ride.
Saturday morning we rode the Sovereign trail.
My technical skills and confidence improved from the lack-luster ride the day before. For fun we kept a casual running score of technical stuff we made or didn't make. This added some friendly motivation throughout the day.
Where the trail enters the inclined slickrock expanse we stopped to play around. We found a sweet line up a ramp, over some tabletop rock, over a gap then off the end of the rock - see photo below.
Here's a video of Mark rolling it:
I had a rather spectacular crash here that I'll cover in my next post. (Update: the crash post will be up this afternoon.)
Then we climbed up the slickrock as far as we could then went back on Sovereign.
After lunch we rode the Klondike Bluffs trail. At the end we hiked up to see the hoodoos. On the way back we decided to give Baby Steps a ride. We skipped the upper trail which I felt was not as fun as riding back down the slickrock section of the Klondike Bluffs trail. So we started down Baby Steps in the middle (after a minor navigational blunder by me). The trail has worn in better than the last time I rode it and I quite enjoyed it. I even cleaned the rocky notch move at the top of the hill (on my third attempt). (Mark A.: I've revised my opinion of Baby Steps.)
I suggested we go to Bartlett Wash for our final ride, but Mark wanted more Slickrock trail. We rode the Practice Loop then out to the Wooly Gully where Paul rode through it on his fifth attempt.
(I should have picked a better place to video. The ledge Paul climbed getting out of the gully is angled sharply left to right which takes finesse to get over without your rear wheel sliding out.)
We made it back to the car as the sun was setting. Even though my legs were tired, they had more punch than on Friday and overall I felt and rode much better.
Congratulations, Mark, on your Moab initiation. Now when can we go back?
- Perhaps it's best not to do Slickrock as the first ride.
- A hard tail 29er is a good bike for Moab, particularly for crossing sand, but I would have preferred a full suspension bike.
- The food was good at Eddie McStiff's, but they wouldn't substitute mashed potatoes for cole slaw and they charged us for another tiny tub of salsa to go with the chips we ordered. This inflexibility and nickle-and-diming left a bad impression.
- The turkey avocado panini and strawberry smoothie at the Peace Tree Juice Cafe were excellent.
- Only one mechanical: Paul burped his rear tire on Sovereign. The Stans had dried up so we put in a tube. I love my new Topeak Mountain Morph pump.
- Always carry TP. A gauze bandage is a functional, but inferior substitute.
- The burgers at Ray's Tavern in Green River are still the best heading-home dinner.
- iFart is the best iPhone app ever (according to Mark).