Today we woke up at 18 Roads campsite once again, ate a quick breakfast, got in the car and drove straight to Moab.
It took about twice the 45 minutes that someone told us it would… but we got there just in time to catch an 11:30 shuttle on “Coyote Shuttles” to the LBS (or something like that) trailhead. Our driver Christie was great and drew us a homemade map of the trail. We didn’t have any cash with us, and they don’t take credit cards, but she told us it was no problem and said to just leave her some cash at Slickrock Cycles when we got done. We got dropped at the entrance gate to the Manti-Lasal National Forest, rode about a half mile up the fire road, and then cut left onto a trail that led to the rim of the canyon. From there, we followed the canyon along one of the most beautifully scenic stretches of singletrack that I’ve ever ridden.
What made it difficult was choosing between looking at the unbelievable canyon views and concentrating on the intermittently technical sections of trail. Here are a few photos demonstrating what I mean when I say "technical":
The trail started as a narrow singletrack that followed the edge of the canyon, and then progressed to a narrow doubletrack that descended to the lower rolling hills. Just when I thought the views had subsided, the trail brought us to a bluff overlooking “Negro Bill Canyon”. We could see the trail snaking down below us and it took us right to the edge of the Canyon, once again turning back to singletrack. The last section of trail was moderately technical and really tested our concentration, skills, and weary bodies.
After all, this was our 11th day of riding in a row. Not every day has been a big ride, but we’ve done a lot of climbing and a lot of really technical descents, which are fairly taxing on both your body and mind. What made it even more frustrating was the constant stream of riders of all ages and shapes who descended effortlessly (on presumably fresh legs) and passed us by every time we stopped for any reason, whether it was to take in a view, a little food, or to make an adjustment on our bikes. We just decided to take it slow, enjoy the views and the ride and not push ourselves too hard.
It always seems like you are most likely to crash when you’re at the end of a ride and are tired and you are focusing on your sore body instead of the obstacles ahead.
We finished the trail section of the ride which quickly snaked down through the canyon with a few short portages over rocky sections. The end of the Porcupine Rim trail is actually on Highway 128 about 4 miles shy of Moab. We did a road-bike pace sprint (19-20mph) over the mostly flat road back to Moab, passing a big group of riders who had overtaken us on the trail. It’s a beautiful section of road along the Colorado River that passes a number of National Recreation Area camping sites.
We packed up our gear, and I bought a couple of stickers for my bike from the Poison Spider Bikes shop (they are the shop I rented from the first couple of times I had ever ridden Moab with my brother Mark and his friend Dave back in 1997). We grabbed well-earned beer, burgers, and fries at the crowded Moab Brewery (tomorrow is the big 24hours at Moab race), and headed back to camp at 18 Roads in Fruita.
When we got back to the now crowded campground, there were two tents set up next to ours at our campsite. Chris, Karen, and Kelly (a Beaver Creek Ski Patrol/EMT, a civil engineer, and a marketing guy, respectively) were from Vail, CO and ended up joining us around the campfire for some bike and life talk before we hit the sack for the night.