Slick Rock and Moab Rim

With the arrival of Dan and Leslie late Friday night, we had some big plans for riding. Slick Rock was primary on the list, so that was the first place we headed Saturday after the clouds started lifting. It still wasn't really warm (about 38-40) and very grey out but we all had the clothes and the motivation to ride. We loaded up the Subi with the big bikes on the roof and my bike in the car and headed up Sand Flats road. The parking lot was quiet when we got there and we were off and riding. And it was truly a different riding - nothing but miles of sandstone with white dashes. The tires stuck like glue to the sandstone and as long as you stayed close to the white dashes, it was a make your own fun affair. I followed Dan's lines for most of the ride - he's been out there a lot and knew what I would feel comfortable riding. Some of the climbs were bloody steep and the only way I was able to get up them was by switch backing up the side of the solid dunes. Coming down the other sides of those hills, I think I warped another disc rotor! I like my brakes... and falling down on solid rock does not sound like fun. We saw a few other riders out, plenty of motorbikes and a few jeeps on the "Hell's Revenge" trail. Some of those jeeps were filled with tourists who were pretty freaked out when one or two wheels weren't on the slick rock. Hard riding - lots of body language required to muscle the bike over and around the rocks. But fun riding - I was having a blast.

And just a note to the other single speeder we saw... Boasting about how great a rider you are is not a good way to make friends. Especially when insuating that everyone else is just a wimp for having gears. I don't think he noticed Nick, he was too busy bragging about how much power he was putting into the pedals and complaining about how hard it was to ride with "newbies" But enough with that...

After lunch, we studied the map a little more. Dan wanted to ride a new trail "Pipe Dream" with Leslie, so Nick and I decided on the Moab Rim loop, coming back either on the road or trying to find the north trailhead for Pipe dream. We knew that the first mile of Hidden Valley would be hike-a-bike, but the rest of the ride would be cool. So we both put on our best cycling shoes for hiking and prepared for the climb. And Dan and all the trail reviews weren't joking - it took us 30 minutes on the money to get to the top. But once on top, we were in the hidden valley, happily riding. We kept a pretty good pace because it was later in the day and we didn't want to be riding home in the dark. I'd looked at the map on the computer before we left, but didn't really know where we were going. I just knew there was a large curve in the trail before we dropped down to the Colorado River. Nick had his map, but again the detail wasn't very good. There were a few jogs and switchbacks on the trail that weren't on the maps we'd looked at. At one point, the white dashes we were following split - one set when up, the other down. Nick took the up path, I stopped and looked and it seemed like the routes joined at the bottom of the slick rock section. And so I took the low path - no sense in climbing a steep hill just to ride down it again! And that's where the confusion started. Nick thought we got on the wrong trail and when he saw another set of white dashes going south we followed those. Turned out that we repeated the loop we'd just done! But this time, when we saw the dashes heading south, we kept going straight and found the trail. A few climbs later and we were on the Moab Rim overlook, with a really cool view. Then the drop almost straight down to the river. And if I hadn't warped a rotor on slick rock, I for sure did it on that descent! It was really cool slick rock with some tricky step ups and ledges, but I wasn't liking the 1000+ foot drop! My hands were hurting so much at the bottom. But that time it was dusk, with the sun dropping behind the cliffs above the Moab valley. We hightailed it back down the road, looking for the trailhead for Pipe Dream. No luck - down the highway we went back to the car. I was suffering, doing my best to stay on Nick's wheel. About three miles from the parking lot, I started to pop. About then, Dan and Leslie passed us in their SUV. He turned around, Nick sprinted ahead and said something. Not sure what Nick had told them, I tried to catch up - without much success. Then Dan offered me a ride back to the condo. I was tempted - very tempted. My legs were tired, I was pedaling squares and it was cold. But I didn't want to wimp out and Nick hadn't indicated that I should take the ride. (Although in hindsight, with him sprinting away and me moving slower and slower, I should have gleefully hopped in the SUV.) But another successful outing and a fun ride on some cool new trails.

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