Monday, March 22, 2010

A Moab trip unlike the others

This turned out to be a Moab trip like no other. This time it was my wife that wanted to go. She's not a biker either, so it kinda sounded funny when she pitched it. "Want to go to Moab in late March?" Well, the standing answer to that question is pretty much always yes, so I agreed. Moab 1/2 Marathon. First day of Spring. Sounded great!

After a winter of preparation (for her) and lots of beer drinking (me) we were all set. Perfect timing, too, as strong March snowstorms were supposed to paralyze the Colorado front range right after our departure. We checked out the weather scenarios and decided to leave late on Thursday night. We'd get in super late but would be refreshed to wake up on Moab the next AM to have the entire day. It worked out well. We woke up Friday anxious to see friends from far reaches that were meeting us in Moab. The ladies will run and the boys will ride. That and the fact that we weren't camping were shaping this into a trip that defied previous molds.

Friday came and our buds showed up. We were able to squeeze in a ride late in the day, the last day of winter. Although Moab didn't get the big snow that the Denver area did, it was breezy and chilly, with bouts of snow in the morning. We bundled up and headed out. Not having a lot of daylight left, we opted to head north to the M-O-A-B trails between Arches and Sovereign. I had heard only that they were new and good. OK. Pablo, Matty and I parked and headed off down the dirt road.

We planned to hit Rockin A, Circle O and back on Bar M, missing Killer B. Well, we should've hit Killer B since it has real dirt singletrack. Bar M was tame jeep road. I was pretty unimpressed with the bumpy no flow "slickrock" of O and A.

Oh well, at least it was new to me trail.

Next day/ladies race day/dinosaur bone hunting with the kids day/ and another late day ride, our goal was to hit some Sovereign in the northern reaches. We'd climb up singletrack ala lollipop to a loop on top of a mesa. At least the weather had drastically improved. Long story short, the first bit of singletrack was good

but we missed a turn and ended up doing quite a bit of road riding. It wasn't a total bust, though, as we got to hang out and catch up on times long gone by. Not to mention that Pablo had a broken toe and serious thrashing wasn't doing it any favors.

We rallied and pulled it together, basically doing a humongo loop around the damn mesa we were trying to get on top of. We ended up on the highway a couple miles north of where we were sposed to be. Ever see the quad track next to the fence on the other side of the ditch from the highway? Well, now you know why it exists. After doing a little ditch riding, we were back to an acceptable location where we'd hit some singletrack. Just one more climb to the descent.

And then it was over with too quick. I'll definitely be back for this one, but next time I'll take that left turn at Albuquerque.

After the requisite post race/post ride partying, that "early morning start" on Sunday (our last day to ride) didn't really come too early. The pancakes were good though, and I'm not even a pancake guy. Since Pablo wasn't riding this day, Matty and I sweet talked him into "shuttling" us out of town. Or dropping us off, rather. The game plan was to depart from 191 south of town, Behind the Rocks to Back of the Behind then back into Moab via Pritchet Canyon and Kane Creek Rd.

Yeah buddy. It started out good and just got better. Just me and Matt. Matty and I make a good team and have quite the history of covering serious ground together. I remember the first time we rode together like it was yesterday and it was (damn) close to 17 years ago. Homey Chaybo and I met up with Matt (local fast racer at the time) and he proceded to stomp the crap out of us on 50 miles of dirt roads around Lincoln, NE. Good times, good times. Matt and I still maintain a competitive friendly relationship.

Our dropofff right off the highway 15 miles out of town.

As we started off on the ride, the weather was absolutely beautiful and the dirt was fantastic. Fridays snow squals still held onto a couple of spots tucked into the shadows.

For the first 1/3 or so of the ride, it roughly follows the 24 hour of Moab course which both of us have ridden several times. We detoured a couple of spots to keep it interesting, though. The scenery is otherworldly. From crazy water hewn drainages to humongous hillsides of rock, there was always something cool to look at.

Once we got off of the 24hr route and into foreign terrain, we definitely started to feel "out there." Really out there. We'd seen a couple of 4 wheelers all day, but that was it. Remote. Just what the doctor ordered. Backcountry and no people = a good day.

Then, all the sudden, way the hell out in the middle of nowhere, we ventured onto a couple of features knows as Roller Coaster

and White Knuckle Hill.

White Knuckle Hill is reputed to be one of, if not the most demanding jeep obstacle in the greater Moab area. I'm pretty sure it's rideable, but not by me. The biggest feature is a drop to flat that was about shoulder height on me. The rest of it was pretty cool. They even install bolts for jeeps that go rock climbing, just like people. Just hook your winch up and tractor out of there.Very shortly after White Knuckle Hill, we navigated Back of the Behind to the sand dune roads near Pritchet Arch. Pritchet arch was sweet, by the way. It is a gargantuan arch, one of the biggest I've seen.

I think a few places refer to it as a natural bridge even, instead of an arch. I dunno. I'm no expert but it was cool.

It's also important to note that right as we rolled by the arch, the rock smackings of the day decided that they had taken their toll on my rear der hanger. Luckily, we found a bikestand nearby.

Shade tree, bikestand, soft sand to sit on and it was lunchtime. One stop shop. Once we left lunch, we were officially on the last trail option of the day, Pritchet Canyon Jeep road.

I think we were lucky that sand/dirt conditions were pretty good after recent moisture. Pritchet is a ride that can definitely offer up some beach sand talcum powder if it wants to.

The trail down was a mixture of babyhead river bottom, sand, HUGE rock features and drops, slickrock and stunning views from the bottom of a canyon that gets tighter towards the end.

I was seriously impressed with Pritchet Canyon. To say it was good would be an understatement. Couple of things that make this ride not for everyone, though. A, it's seriously technical. Without skillz, it would be a frustrating walk down a lot of the fun stuff.

B, it wouldn't make a great out and back with all of the ledge scrambling and power killing sand. C, it's a pretty long ride to do as a point to point. Not to mention an excersize in navigation. One missed turn out there could lead to more and you'd be out there all day. Maybe next time, I'll do that and just bring some camping gear. Matty and I busted it out pretty quick with minimal breaks and it still took us just over 3 hours.

The ride back into town on Kane Creek road seemed really long. It was worth the ride, thoug, as we capped 'er off with a stop at Moab's best burgers since the 50's, Milt's. Slider baby, here I come.


Tony said...

Awesome pictures..really makes me miss Moab. That burger looks killer! I gotta get me one next time down.

Davetoo said...

I did that ride only once, maybe 8 years ago. I ran out of water, broke a borrowed stumpjumper hardtail, and then screwed up the shuttle back to the starting point.

God I miss Moab.

Brian said...

"I'm pretty sure it's rideable, but not by me."

Who are you, and what have you done with Dave?

Good pics and write-up. Looks like pretty atypical Moab rides.