Monday, October 12, 2009

day one in the desert

We originally had the crew rallied to head out to the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo about 4 hours east into Nebraska but we didn't quite make it. As the date approached, the forecast got worse. We decided to play it by ear. If the forecast was tolerable, we'd head east. If the Ballyhoo forecast was not good, we'd head 4 hours in the other direction, to Fruita and the western Colorado desert. Well, last we checked, the forecast for NE was in the twenties and snow. We made the call to head west. Apparently, it was a good call, as the site for the Ballyhoo got around 12" of snow. Bad weather was also forecast for the homefront so it was a good weekend to get out.

We departed a little behind schedule (because that's how we do it) and after stopping for food and gas in Grand Junction we arrived at our destination a little after 9. Destination - Rabbit Valley. RV is the last exit in Colorado on I70 and home to some of the best backcountry desert riding around. After getting camp all set up, we decided to make it a 3 days of riding short weekend. Night Ride!

Just up for something short, Chad, Doug, and myself rode the time trial loop that is used in the Fruita Mountain States Cup race. Up 4, down 3 and back to camp. It hit the spot perfectly.

Our crew of 8 riders rolled out of camp at 10:15 on Saturday. That's another great thing about Rabbit Valley. Wake up and ride - no need to hop in the car. Excellent. We headed north of I70 to break thru the Zion Curtain and into Utah. Here's looking back at I70 and Rabbit Valley.

With not much time on a dirt road, we found ourselves on some excellent shared use singletrack, very similar to the riding you find at 18 road. Steep ups and even steeper downs.
With a ribbon of long flowy singletrack on the desert floor.
But, alas, we were mountain biking. There was hiking. This is shortly after we found a motorcyclist flipped onto his back and pinned between his moto and a rock. I think he was in a little over his head.
Chad had his first mechanical of the day. One of the impressive things about Man compared to other creatures is our ability to use complex tools.
After riding Zion Curtain, we had the option to bail south on Kokopelli or forge on ahead (on Kokopelli). Ahead meant a stiff climb up to the top of Westwater Mesa but we'd be rewarded with excellent singletrack on the mesa rim. The climb was, indeed, tough.
And the singletrack was excellent. It was getting late in the day at this point. I think we'd been out for about 4 hours. The wind picked up on top of the mesa, but skies were still beautifuly clear blue.
A lunch break was in order. Mmmmm, burrito.
More excellent rocky singletrack.
With some fun chutes, drops, and techy challenges
We dropped off Westwater Mesa finally and headed back to Rabbit Valley on Western Rim. The outer reaches of Western Rim are wide open and desert fast.
The further east you get, the riding becomes slower and more tech, with excellent views.

Western Rim ends at a junction with the Kokopelli Trail. It's steep and sandy and again we were "mountain biking."

Sand and long shadows late in the day. It was getting late. We'd been out for about 6 hours at this point.

Instead of taking the road back, we opted for the always excellent and super fast trail #2. It does have some hiking on it as well. This particular one is super fun as a descent.

Made it back to camp right at the 7 hour mark. Way to go fellas! That was a long tough ride.

Not a bad place to chill out after riding.


MG said...

glad to see you guys had a good trip. sorry we missed you at the ballyhoo. it ended up still being a good time despite the snow, though there wasn't much riding to be had other than the night ride on friday.

see you next year,

redstone said...

Yeah Matty, it was a big bummer to not be hanging with you. We'll probably see you before next year, though :)

Saw some pics from the BWB. Damn, it looked cold.

Maybe in the Spring, we could organize our own meetup at Potters?