Our goal was achieved, destination Moab in under 6 hours of driving. Welcome to Moab – biking, hiking and rafting mecca. The approach to this town-in-the-desert is spectacular. The carved canyons and red rock are truly mesmerizing. As any well seasoned travelers would, we headed straight for the local watering hole, in this case the Moab Micro-brewery. At 3.2% alcohol content, otherwise know as mal-content to a Canadian, we satisfied our hunger and left in search of accommodation (with our new Moab Micro Brewery pint glasses which we’ll fill with the real stuff when we get home). (nb: the food was decent and fairly priced). Did I mention it was raining?
Weather and general atmosphere have been a challenge since leaving home and Moab proved no different. Once we were fuelled up and ready to find our accommodation for the night, it started to rain. So much for camping, yes, we’re precious (it was raining hard, really!), and onto a motel for a good night’s rest before venturing out for our first mountain bike ride in this land of red rock.
Waking up at our usual time and having a quick bite (mini-muffins, complimentary at the motel) our first priority of the day was to secure bike rentals. Enter . . . Chili Pepper Bikes. The staff are friendly, knowledgeable and the rentals reasonable . . . toss in a free water bottle or two (and some stickers) and we were ready to hit the trails. Why in hell do the locals keep asking if we’re really going for a ride this morning? Geez . . . it’s only 9:30am. A quick stop at Gear Heads to fill up on free filtered water and 99¢ Cliff bars and we’re ready to ride.
Destination for our first day of riding? Slickrock - 13 miles of some of the best mountain biking in the world. Passing through the park gates we surprised yet another local with our intent to ride. So why the concern and surprise? We were about to find out. From the park gates (nominal fee to ride here in summer - $5 for entrance of one vehicle for 3 days) we headed to an almost empty parking lot. There were a few riders already coming back in from their morning ride (it hadn’t even reached 10am yet) - must be nice to see the sun rise up over the trail (maybe another day) and only a couple of others heading out to ride. One guy was particularly hard core – cotton shirt, wool socks, hiking boots and a vintage bike without any suspension (saw him later on the trail and he was a totally kick-ass rider! I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learned in here somewhere, maybe it’s not what you’ve got, it’s how you use it).
Moab is truly a unique place to ride…heading out on the trail one can see for miles - the rock just keeps rolling on and on and it is quickly realized that the inclines/declines are steeper than home. The traction is unbelievable but not even granny gear could save us on some of those climbs and as for some of the descents, our butts were hanging so far off the back of the bike . . . . There are canyons and drop-offs all around – pay attention to the painted warnings on the rock, they are to be heeded. Monika, you’d love it here but leave your new hubby at home, with Jesse – they’d probably kill themselves. Not a good idea to catch any air around these parts unless you know for sure there’s a landing strip. It didn’t take much time out on the trail to realize it was quickly getting hot. Not hot, like, isn’t this pleasant, but damn hot. Triple digit hot. 102 degrees by 11am, hot. Actually, dangerously hot – no wonder the locals were all surprised (at our stupidity). We ended up riding only half of the trail (luckily there were some short cuts to take us back toward the start of the loop). The heat was so intense we finished off 3 litres of water each and cooled off frequently in what little shade we could find (every 15 to 20 minutes). People have actually died of heat exhaustion on this trail. We made it back safely and headed to the first convenience store we could find for another litre each of Gatorade. The trail is kick-ass, and we’ll go back but not in summer.
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