Sunday, October 21, 2012

September 25, 2012 Moab's Famous SlickRock Trail

"So why are you sat at home?
You're not designed to be alone
You just got used to saying "no"
So get up and get down and get outside
Cos it's a lovely sunny day
But you hide yourself away
You've only got yourself to blame
Get up and get down and get outside"
 - 'Reasons Not To Be An Idiot' by Frank Turner
We got an early start and picked up breakfast at a gas station next to the Poison Spider Bicycle shop.
 So here it is...the reason I decided to travel to go mountain biking on the most famous mountain bike trail in the United States. I will admit to being unsure that I will be able to ride this trail. And I can admit that if Mike wasn't with me, I probably would have bailed after the practice loop. So I thank Mike for providing the incentive and being patient with me on the trail.
 The ride will be 10.5 miles since we are gonna ride the practice loop before the main trail.
 It starts out so innocently...
...then the warning signs begin to appear...

 ...WTF...still on the practice loop and I need a break already.
 The scenery once again gives me a good reason to stop and take pictures.
 The clouds are keeping the temperature in the high 70's to low 80's...thank God.
 Of course if it rains...we will learn firsthand why it is called slickrock.
 All you have to do is follow the white dashes across the slickrock...seems easy enough.
 Until you come to a very steep descent...

 ...quickly followed by a steep climb...that put a smile on Mike's face.
 He also handled the technical cliff drops...

 ...with a smile.
 So if you are wondering...this is what the easier parts of the trail look like... Mike was able to get a few shots of me riding instead of walking my bike.

 The sun was trying to break through the clouds all morning.
 At first I had more trouble with the steep descents but my technique improved as the day went on. The steep climbs were just exhausting to I usually knew I couldn't make it all the way up so I just jumped off and walked the bike up to conserve energy...not sure how well that idea worked...I was exhausted walking it up too.

 Another impressive downhill run by Mike

 I think we stopped for a cliff bar at the Portal Viewpoint.
The Colorado River & the town of Moab were below us.
 Mike climbed the rocks above us for a better look around...
 ...I enjoyed a much needed rest.
We both had big smiles in our self portraits.

 Due to extremely bright clouds, I thought these looked cooler in black & white.

 Trail ettiquette says to allow uphill riders the right of problem especially with that incredible scenery all around us. Just like everywhere we've been on this trip, most of the people we met were European...mostly German.
 But this picture was taken by an American who was riding this trail without a full suspension that was really impressive because I could barely ride it with an incredible bike that absorbed every bump.

 We decided to celebrate before we even finished the ride...
 ...because the background scenery was better here than in the parking lot.
 Back to the grind of exhilarating descents...

 ...followed by grueling climbs.
 This guy is like a machine...nothing can stop that smile.
 Views like this kept a smile on my face too.
 I kept trying to keep up with Mike but even in the granny gears it was impossible.
...AAAHHHH!!!! Downhill!!!

 This state sure has amazing clouds.
 Almost done. This trail is a lollipop and here's the end of the loop. Only 2.3 miles to go.


So I did it. I rode and walked the famous SlickRock Bike Trail. It was an incredible experience and I can't wait to ride it again. That said...I've never been so exhausted. It was easily the most intense five hour bike ride I've ever done. But after a refreshing swim at our hotel pool and a delicious seafood enchilada at La Hacienda, it was off to the Manti-La Sal Mountain Loop Road.
 It's been a running joke ever since I first saw the Colorado River from high above in the Grand Canyon. I jokingly say, "This is as close to the Colorado River that I've ever been." Well that joke is now over because today I stood on the banks of the river. Notice the green color of the water, pay attention...I'll come back to that.
 I only took this picture because on one of my SlickRock trail maps someone put a comment next to the Negro Bill Canyon that says "and people wonder why they don't see more minorities out here?" It still makes me laugh. Even this sign has a comment about the name of the area. "Negro Bill Canyon is named after William Granstaff, an early settler of the Moab area. Granstaff lived in Moab in the 1870's." I guess since it was an acceptable term 150 years ago. I guess that makes it OK. Why not rename it Bill Granstaff Canyon? I've never been to a Honky Bill Canyon, have you? Then again, I'm just assuming that Mr. Granstaff was African-American. I'm also assuming he was the only black person living here in the 1870's, hence the name.

 There was clearly a storm east of us.
 But we turned south into the La Sal Mountains where the sun was shining but the road was closed. Due to construction our loop road turned into an out & back road.

 An extremely rough dirt road took us to Castleton Cemetery...
 ...good thing we had a rental car.

 This cemetery looks like a very peaceful place for a final resting spot.

 Over the course of our week in Utah, we drove on many Scenic Byways.

I told you to pay attention...look at the color of the river now. Apparently the rain up river washed the red rock into the river. So we headed back to Moab and stopped at a locals only bar called Woody's. We had a few beers and burgers while we read the very funny bumperstickers plastered all over the bar. The one I remember said, "Just because I slept with you last night that doesn't mean I'll ski with you today."

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