Moab Road Ride

This weekend we went down to 24 Hours of Moab and I squeezed in a road ride on Friday.

Around 2:00 PM Jolene dropped me off at Castle Valley to ride up and over the La Sal Loop Road then out to 24 Hours of Moab. I was a bit apprehensive to go solo, but I've wanted to ride the "reverse" direction ever since I did the Moab Century in 2006.

Jolene took this photo of me before she drove off.

Starting up the road I caught sight of Castleton Tower (climbing it in 2004 was one of the best experiences of my life).

The road is flat at first but then climbs at a mellow 3-4% for a few miles which was a good warm-up. Then the steeper climbing begins. Fortunately it rolls enough to give some breaks, unlike The Big Nasty on the other (south) end which is always steep or steeper.

Part way up the climb looking back into Castle Valley with Porcupine Rim on the left and Castleton Tower to the right.

Up ahead I could see what looked like the summit. My legs wanted it to be, but my brain said it couldn't be high enough. Sure enough after climbing the switchbacks and cresting the saddle I could see another small valley I had to cross and more climbing on the other side.

There had been a fire in this valley recently. All the trees were burned black, but new growth was coming up. Here the road had patches of loose, gravel (perhaps caused by the fire) and I went slow to avoid a crash. On the other side there was this pleasant forest of conifers and Aspen.

A few miles later I reached the true summit. I could still see Castleton Tower off in the distance.

After the summit I was treated to some nice descents and a few short, mellow climbs.

As I went south I could see the La Sals above me.

I had one major drainage to cross. Descending into Mill Creek was bitter-sweet knowing I'd have to climb back out. The creek was still running. The bridge was new - put in 1-2 years ago. Climbing out was not too long or hard.

Part way down the real descent off the mountain I could see encampment for 24 Hours of Moab.

I really enjoyed coming down and it seemed to go on and on. Eventually the grade dropped to 2-4% as I headed north toward Moab but it was still fun as I could lightly pedal in my highest gear and zip along.

I took a road that connects over to highway 191 and started south again. This was only 4-5 miles, but it seemed longer. My legs were getting tired. When I rounded what I hoped was the last bend I was not happy to see a hill. I ground up it and there was the turnoff.

My wife had left me a message on my cell to tell me the road in was dirt but hard packed. Cyclocross time. It wasn't bad on the road bike except for a few spots of loose sand that the skinny tires dropped right through.

I got some looks as I drove through the temporary mountain bike mecca and found the Mad Dog camp. It was a good ride of 43 miles and just under 5,000' climbing. My legs did OK, but not having been on the road bike much this year my back ached on the big climb. The scenery was amazing and the cooler Fall temperature was perfect for the ride.

Tomorrow I'll post about 24 Hours of Moab.


South County Ciclista said...

I have always wanted to road ride that road. But I have a hard time getting off my mountain bike everytime I am down there. The LaSal Mountains are the best part of Moab. Looks like you had a good ride.

KanyonKris said...

I had a fantastic ride. And I know what you're saying - it just seems wrong to not bring a mountain bike to Moab, or even to bring the road bike too.