Saturday, July 9, 2016

Four days in Moab....

The only "downside" to Moab is there is SO much to see and do.  I guess I could say that about all of Utah.  More than a motorcycle rally, Moto's in Moab forced us to slow our pace and do more in depth exploration of a single area.  Not that we wouldn't have on our own... Maybe...

We had an entire book of off road trails in Moab.  They were rated easy to difficult.  I've looked through the book repeatedly, and marked, well, all of them as looking fun.  I finally settled on a few that were near Dewey Bridge, so we could see that on the way.  

The ride up the Colorado river was beautiful.  The road was twisty, the weather was perfect, the scenery was beautiful.  If only we could ban the cars.  

We got to Dewey Bridge, and saw there were two; the current bridge, in use, and the old Dewey Bridge, that was pretty decrepit.  

We continued on to the area we were going to ride. There were three trails in the area; Pole Canyon Rim (6 miles in and 6 miles out), Delores River Overlook (18 miles in and 18 miles out), and Top of the World (4.5 miles in and 4.5 miles out, plus 10 miles to get there and out).  The first two were rated green, the third was red - difficult.  They were 4x4 trails, though, so I had the thought that we could check it out, see how it was going, and decide what to do as we explored.  

This was our first road.  You can see the lack of signage.  I wasn't sure if we were on Delores or Pole Canyon, so I had no idea whether we were on a 6 mile or 18 mile trail, but neither sounded unmanageable, so I didn't worry about it.    

Easy, pretty, nice, right?

We hit some more challenging sections as we rode.  This photo does not do it justice.  It was a combination of slick rock and loose rock; the slick rock is not actually slick, it is quite grippy.  It is also super uneven due to use I believe.  So, the uneven lumpy rock and the loose rocks made for some fun.

And then we found Top of the World Trail.  Really, says Kris, how hard can it be?  

This is quite a bit steeper than it looks, and pretty uneven; takes a LOT of throttle confidence, something you may have figured out is not my strong suit... We'll watch Nathan do this a couple times...

See Nathan's feet actually bouncing off the pegs?  Yeah. I'm good.  Let's keep doing the "easy" trail.

Not knowing exactly what trail we were on, and having inadequate maps seems to be our schtick.  I believe this was a mountain bike only section that we accidentally got onto.  The photo finally does the steepness justice.  We did have some fun figuring that out in a couple of spots, turning around, and going back through the hard parts.  I made it through most of them.  

We finally figured out we were on the Delores River Overlook Trail. Look!  We are overlooking the Delores River!  At that point, we got the map out, and checked every turn to make sure we were headed back the right direction.

Though I had other ideas for trails in the area, practicality called.  (meaning we were hot, sweaty, and stinky.  And had BIG plans for tomorrow.)  

We headed back to town, and hit up laundry and showers.

We were super excited to be doing the White Rim Trail the next day.  There is a lot online about needing to get a pass to do so, and the passes selling out. So, we tried.  A lot.  It turns out (we found out the next day) their website was broken.  The ranger was super cool, and just wrote us a pass on the spot.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  We also cleaned our air filters that night.  This becomes a bigger part of tomorrows story later. We met some other folks who planned to do the White Rim Trail the next day; we tried to get a plan together, but we wanted to go in the morning while we were fresh, and they had other morning plans, so we went our separate ways. We enjoyed the BBQ at Moto's in Moab, and went to bed.

We woke up the next morning, knowing we had 100 miles of off road riding in front of us.  I had the bright idea to stop at Subway and get sandwiches for the day.  I get hungry riding off road! On the way to Canyonlands, my bike throws a fit.  It had two things working against it; we had yet to reject it (that is something I'd recommend at the beginning of Moab next time) and it was hating the elevation.  And, post air filter wash, we had air dried the air filters, but that little bike likes to be dried with a cool hair drier.  If you don't, it chokes, coughs and sputters whenever you roll on the throttle.  Which I did on the highway trying to get out of Moab.  But, I'm flexible and adaptable, and I made it work.  Slowly.  Not due to my one limitations, but those of my bike.  Something that was becoming quite apparent to me was that I was outgrowing this machine for what I like to do.

We made our way to Canyonlands, waited in a LONG line at the gate (Sunday of Memorial Day weekend) and then made an immediate left on to White Rim Road.  

At the top of the White Rim Trail, there are the Shafer Switchbacks.  I am going to copy and link someone elses photo of that magnificence.  

As we were at the top of this trail, I sat on my bike... 100 miles of off roading. Totally doable. I looked down at the switchbacks, that were really nothing more than a gravel road, and felt my first sense of intimidation.  I had planned on skipping this experience when I still had the GS; I was not a confident rider on that bike.  As confident as I am on the xt, I still doubt my skills.  I decided not to pull out the camera; I was going to ride and ride and ride, do my best for as long as I could, and worry about photos and memories later.

So I headed own the switchbacks.  It's all a mind game.... They really weren't bad.  Got to the bottom, and it was a combination of gravel road, big sections of slick rock, some up hill, some downhill, but I was finding it all manageable.  I was really using the advice I always get from Nathan "Faster is better."  Truly, it did smooth most of the trail out.  Except the slick rock; I was headed across very uneven sections of slick rock at 20 mph, and seriously feeling like I was going to bounce my head off my neck.  So I tried going faster.... And it was worse!  I finally decided that 15 was a better speed on the slick rock... not too slow, but I wasn't going to vibrate my body apart.

These nice flat dirt sections were super fast.  Well, as super fast as a poorly jetted xt with a still damp air filter would let me go... which, it turns out, was about 45.  Still, for me off road, this was quick. I wasn't stopping for a ton of photos and I was having fun.

The off-roading is bliss, and the scenery was beautiful. 

Check out that step down I jumped going downhill!

above - gentle slick rock
below - super bumpy slick rock

We wanted to stop for lunch, but wanted to find shade... Little did we know how hard that would be...

The canyon did a nice u-turn, so I could get a photo of Nathan on the other side of it.

I come to a stop, and Nathan says he's found some shade!  Puzzled I look around... Then he heads for a cave...

I didn't trust my arm post last fall (still experiencing some pain and weakness) so I let him hang in the shade.  I tossed down food to him... Well, the food that survived.  Which happened to be vitamin water and cookies.

This is what happens to subway sandwiches when you off road with them in your top case.

We met some cool offroaders as we took our break.  One of them pulled out an umbrella... instant shade!  I have another set of friends who do that as well.  I might have to consider adding an umbrella to my topcase.  These guys were amused by our windshields... "I've been riding the White Rim Trail for 20 years, and never seen motorcycles with windshields out here!"  I hadn't even thought of taking it off, though given my propensity for falling, it may have been a good idea.  Wait... This made me realize that 60-70 miles in I had yet to fall or even have a close call.  What is going on here?  

On that note, Nathan climbed out of his cave and we set on our way again. 

More glorious scenery and riding.  There was a tight uphill switchback which was my first and only oops for the day... There were a couple deep ruts; The on I was in had a huge hole; I panicked and stopped.  We got the bike turned around, and I tried it again; I stuck to the right rut this time, and viola!  Up the challenging section!  Super fun.  

We got to the Green River, and I couldn't help taking a couple photos.  

Maybe more than a couple...

This sand was loose, but I hear it gets really deep later in the season.  Glad we were here now!  We also got to do a water crossing... We really timed the trip perfectly; The water had actually flooded the road and made it impassible a week or so before.

These are our "Hey! We finished the White Rim Trail" pictures. 

Hungry and thirsty, we headed back to Moab.  I had my heart set on trying Moab Brewery.  Turns out, we weren't the only ones with that idea.  We found a little spot in the bar.

We drank the Squeaky Bike, at the Nachoes and Pretzel, and soaked in the best representation of Moab without actually going out and adventuring in Moab. Pic's of that in a bit... 

Tired and happy, we returned to camp.  We ran into the guy who was going to the White Rim Trail.  He had done some national park riding, and then had done the switchbacks to Potash road.  He had a lot of fun, but after hearing how much we loved it, he was super bummed he hadn't done the whole trail, and immediately began planning his next trip to Moab.

Monday; the last day of Moto's in Moab, but we had one more day.... Last week, Nathan had set his helmet on his seat, and the wind had played a little trick on him, knocking his helmet off his seat and demolishing his visor.  He ordered one "overnight" which was amazing that Revzilla sent it, but with the holiday weekend meant ordering overnight on Friday would get it there Tuesday. So, we had another day to play.  We packed up.  It was 11 am, and already about 100 degrees.  While Nathan waited in the shade, I checked out a little park we'd driven past every day. It was called Moonflower Canyon; who could pass up a park with a name like that.  When I checked out what was there... Petroglyphs!   Super cool, but too populated; lots of graffiti and defacing.  Sad.

We hadn't been to Arches yet, so that was our destination for the day.  We were still tired from 100 miles of off road yesterday, plus it was bloody hot, so we planned an easy day.  

Something clearly took over my brain.... Near the Delicate Arch Viewpoint, there was offroading!  Who could resist offroading in a national park?  

We didn't make it far, though... I was way more tired than I thought.  I decided to turn around, got myself stuck in soft sand, and dropped my bike.  I decided to stick to street for the rest of the day.  

We found the Balancing Rock, and hot and tired....

Headed back to Moab  Brewery!  They have Gelato.  Amazing Lemon Gelato.  

I had many ideas about where to camp that night, but we could not drive past this pool again.  We made a quick detour for swimsuits, and checked in for the night.  Pool, laundry, showers... It was so hot...

I mean you hardly have to leave the campground; you could just enjoy the arches from this painting!  

This is an important part of life on the road... making all the batteries work.

Tuesday was d-day.  The face shield was coming.  We decided to do some bike upgrades.... New tires for both bikes, new jets for my bike...

Moab Powersports let us use their garage floor to do all of our repairs.  They had this adorable shop dog.

A face only a mother could love, but sweet as can be, and could like my whole face at once.

Looking at all dog photos, I'm getting the impression that I might have missed Moto a little.

We finished all the bike chores, and it was time for lunch... Any guesses where we went?  Yup! Moab Brewery!  I had to take pics of all the fun things they decorate with.... Moab is a great city.  I'd definitely go back.  

Goodbye Moab!  Time for a new adventure!

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