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Friday, July 09, 2010

Two Lazy Canadian Down-Hill Bikers Take On Moab...

Moab is famous for its technical mountain bike trails – people come from all over the world to challenge the rugged terrain. This article provides a very good introduction to the sport, and includes great photos. It's fun read. Below are excerpts.

This past spring my husband and I made the impromptu decision to take a coveted week off of work and road trip to Utah. Neither of us had been there before, but we had heard enough stories to peak our interest about little place called Moab, a desert town a few hours south of Salt Lake City. What makes Moab such an amazing destination is its terrain. The distinctive red rock is recognizable in countless well-known mountain bike photos. Set in between two National Parks, the town is surrounded by bright red, iron-rich sandstone carved into smooth, intricate shapes by the sometimes ferocious winds. The rock, like a fine-grain sandpaper, provides unbelievable traction and gives tires, feet and finger-tips an uncanny ability to climb (and descend) otherwise treacherous rock faces.

The most well-known trail in Moab is called Slickrock. It's an all-day epic ride across slick-rock (that fine-grain sandpaper I was talking about) which is spray painted with white dotted lines and arrows. As there is no dirt and no trees to help mark a trail, the dotted lines are essential for not losing your way or riding off of cliffs (a very serious possibility). We didn’t have time to do Slickrock in its entirety, so we took off on the practice loop. What a wake-up call! The loop wasn’t even an hour long and I was ready to throw my big bike off a precipice and walk home.

At the top of everyone’s list was Porcupine Rim trail. It’s THE downhill trail of Moab*. For $20 per person you can take a shuttle to various drop-off points on the trail. In the late summer/fall you can go right up into alpine meadows of the La Sal mountains for the most scenic downhill trail you could ever imagine (or so I’ve heard). Being May, the upper drop-offs were still under snow. From where we were dropped we took close to 4 hours to get back to town (taking our time and stopping for breaks and pictures). The trail was a combination flowy single-track, narrow 4x4 roads and surprisingly technical descents that would give “Goat’s Gully” a run for its money. It was amazing!

Day three and our goal was Portal Trail. Described as death-defying, Portal Trail apparently follows a narrow trail hundreds of feet above the highway and river below. I was told that there are mandatory walks as people have literally fallen to their deaths trying to ride the whole thing. After the “technical” Gemini Bridges, I was feeling confident. However, to get to Portal Trail you have to ride up Poison Spider Mesa, another bike/4x4 trail. It was surprisingly fun. It’s a combination of road and slickrock with some technical climbing...

We passed the Jeepers, rode another 3 hours, met back up with the Jeepers (odd since we were all traveling to the same location), realized we were lost and out of water (the kind Jeepers gave us extra water bottles), rode another hour before giving up on Portal trail, turned back, ran into one of the Jeepers who had lost a wheel, helped fix it for an hour and finally, sun-burned and dehydrated, returned to our truck after seven hours. Our happy ending- the broken down jeeper, Frank, invited us over to his campground for beers afterwards. Turned out Frank’s “campground” was a chromed out Greyhound with matching chrome trailer for his $70G Jeep all sitting on top of a landscaped RV pad

Read the entire article.

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