Fri-Sun we rode in Moab. This was my 6th trip, and 5th time on Al’s Moab Tour, 7th Al’s Tour alltogether. The group grows out of Phx ultimate frisbee, but over the years has connections with lots of other riders in the Valley, SLC, Boulder, etc. via work and people who moved. Lots of good people, and each year I see old friends and new. This was the first trip Beckie missed, which was too bad cause there were a lot of women and they were as forceful as the guys in setting the tone for the rides. Probably 35? people all together, about 10 women, which is a huge change from the normal 9:1 sausage fests. Its weird going to Moab so many times — I never tire of it or the trails, but now its like an old friend. My *wow* over Moab is different, but I still love going there every time. each trip has been special in its own way, but I didn’t take a lot of photos this time around.
Rode up Friday early with Stan Marks and Kevin Hatch. It worked out good to meet at Stan’s near 51 and 101, but like everything when you have different people in the carpool, it took awhile. Mellow ride up mostly, except for the most bizzare gas station incident ever. The shut-off valve on the pump didnt shut off, and gushed like 10 gallons of gas onto the parking lot. The “manager” gave us great shit about having to pay for it, threatening to call the cops when I threatened to contest the charge…he actually told us it was our fault since we did not pay attention to the sign that said not to leave pump unattended. Stan carefully noted that there was abosorbent all aroundt he pump, so clearly this was not the first time. Much finger-pointing, call to the owner, finally Kevin just paid the $15 difference and we got out of there. Still, gotta call the AZ dept of weights and measures and report that f*ing crook.
We got to Moab finally about 3:30, just in time to unpack for Slickrock. I committed this year to no-car-in-town, so hoofed it 2.5 miles up to the parking area. The weather was err 50-60 maybe and overcast. From the start I just felt good, not so much physically though the strength and wind were there, but the flow on the bike was smooth. I was descending fast (for me) and taking speed through turns really well. I could tell all the night rides on National and the other rides I’ve been doing with faster MTBR riders had helped a lot. I just flowed over the bumps descending, and it made the whole ride so much easier to have that boost going back up. Slickrock can get in your head cause you risk going otb but if you dont carry speed you go ot-seat on the uphills. Choosing the right gear is usually a nonstop angst-ridden nightmare of doubt and remorse. But really, none of that happened this time. I just flowed flowed flowed. Stood strong on the steeps and cleared everything but one, the nearly ungettable double-hump-out-of-sandy-wash taking the loop counter clockwise. I actually slid down the hill on that and got some nice burn to show for it. The weather was just a whisper of rain but windy and sand in the air, so lots of sliding out on the trail. Plus my shoes are getting so old there is like no rubber on the bottom anymore. Bloopers video would have been quite amusing for some of the slides, but we didn’t get too many. At the top of one hill early on, I found a super nice fleece hat and a compression headband someone had obviously dropped. Though I tried, no one claimed it, and it was a godsend cause I managed to forget all headgear for the weekend. Wore those things practically all weekend cause it was cold cold cold the whole time except the morning we left. About halfway through Slickrock, I lost my little gear on the rear. Rick later told me it was just my old-ass drive train, and that I should just get through the weekend and replace it. Which it was, and I did, and I did. Halfway through when we were just about at the Arches lookout about as far away as you can be, the wind picked up and I thought for sure we were gonna get dumped on, so I hammered from the far point of the ride all the way back and down to the condos. It was cool as I was alone for almost all of that, and that never happends on Slickrock. It was so worth it, made the social pace worth it to have some personal time as well. Hit 30+ on the descent back. Dinner at McFisters, then crashed knowing we would likely sleep in to let the weather clear.
Woke up at 8, saw it was raining, rolled over. Woke up at 9, repeated. Woke up about 10ish, got some coffee, and slowly motivated to do Sovereign trail. Sovereign is a neat 14 mile out-and-back, mostly singletrack, with a taste of everything Moab on the way. We did it about 3 years ago, but this time started from the other end…it was cool I mostly forgot the trail that way, so it was exciting and felt like a first time. The flow over the slickrock fields and in between the rocks was awesome, again I felt good carrying speed and carving turns. I mostly yo’yod at the front of the pack with John Roach riding his 6/6 Rocky Mount. Apparently this was his first ride on the bike, and first ride all season. He did great, and we had a good thing rolling. Couple other guys got in our little pack, and we had a blast tearing through the terrain. One spot I carved so hard the bike slid out – i put a foot down and saved myself, but was more scared about getting pounded by the fellas behind me then falling. Near miss, all was well, fortunately I had ridden with Justin and Sean the week before at Black Canyon Trail, so I was pretty comfortable with them by that time. Right after, near the end of the outward leg, I punched whole through my aging rear Weirwolf, which worked out good the pack caught us as I was changing it. At the far point on the out, a lot of our group got worried about weather and took the road back to the cars. Me and John said screw that we are here to ride, what’s an hour of rain?!? that moxie lasted about 15 min til we started missing lifts with the trail and our tires covered in red sand. The weather threatened and misted, and John and I agreed to hammer home and not much stop. Light bike, pride, competitive friendship…whatever, I dropped him quickly :p! Right about when the weather was making me grumpy, we ran into Guy and Karen, Aaron, Kathi and Ally, who all had started later from the other side. Was just the lift I needed, and we all played around on the trials up the one big climb for awhile. Guy is blast, just like snowboarding he’s a nut in his special way — man I like my friendship better with him now that we don’t play ultimate together anymore, likely he says the same thing. The weather cleared up a bit to where even the mist stopped, brake preservation was in order and actually worked out well by heading for the sand pits every time I needed to slow down. Again we had the trail mostly to ourselves woohoo. Bombing the last DH was great.
Kevin coming up the first climb\last DH
how I spent my time ahead of the pack
Back at our condos, the partying started early. Karen, Kathi and their friend Ally brought the Boulder ultimate tradition of carbombs to the party, and it was a huge hit. at least I think it was, I really lost track after the 3rd one. The Utah basketball game was on, so I didn’t have much idea about the extent of the drunkeness until Guy stumbled into our condo all sloppy blaming Freight Train (renamed Light Rail by Kathi during the carbome extravaganza). Maybe it was the rain driving everyone inside, but after a couple of carbombs it felt like being back in college. All of us crammed into one condo, loud as shit and sloppy drunk. There was broken stuff, there was vomitting, there was a subsequent nasty letter from the management. It was almost as good as our wedding, and best of all, I managed not to be the cause of any of it!
Amazingly, we managed to motivate for Porcupine Rim in time to get back for the start of the Suns game at 1:30. This year me and only Ray opted to ride the 10 miles to the trailhead, and it got plenty cold and dreary on the jeep road up. Around mile 8 with the trail getting slushy and the wind chill getting in my head, I had my doubts. the additional hour-long technical climb to the Castle Valley overlook really hurt, and I felt cold all over. but it was such a fun climb as always. snow patches were mixed in with spring wildflowers of red, yellow, purple and white. Some stuff I didnt try knowing I’d slip off in the wet sand, but mostly I just spun slow and cleared it all and had fun working my way up the hill. At the overlook, there were maybe 30 people at the top, a far cry from the hundreds you usually see there. So while we didnt stop long, and it was cold and muddy for the first 1000 feet down, the trail was virtually ours alone! My little group of 5 (John Roach, Al, Nick from Park City, and Greg ??) took full advantage and sailed down everything — I actually tried to avoid braking as much as possible to save my pads from the destructive sand. The little bit of jumping I’ve been slowly adding to the repetoire was a big help, and I really started wanting a bigger bike to launch off of things. We got in “the zone” like a few years ago when Matt Westfield, Alex, Beckie and I tore ass down this run. 5 miles of descent went by in no-time, we stopped when John had a little slide-out on the sandy rock, but were glad to give our hands a break. It was still cold, so after just few min we were off again and were past the Diving Board and onto the singletrack in maybe 45 min total. The single track was divine — John and Al a few hundred yards in front, Nick and Greg a few hundred behind, and no one else in sight! This never happens!!! It was total blast just focusing on the technical descent and the river 400 feet below and not worrying about running up on someone or someone riding my butt. I was able to be patient and let the lines appear before me instead of worry about crowds, a few things I went back and hit twice. I got in a great zone, just going with my flow, and nailed everything but the stuff that imo is unridable — the best run down that trail I’ve ever had!! Bad memories of my endo 2 years ago just faded away and I just was in the moment rolling through this incredible, beautiful trail.
We were far ahead of the group, and it was still cold. Al wanted to synch up, but I talked John into coming along as my part-time puller. He didnt take much persuading…Back just in time for the Suns game. More partying, more friends, virtually no blood or bruises the whole trip!!! A great weekend cant wait for next year when I hope to tack on 2 days in Fruita!!