Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Moab Man Camp: Amasa back, Captain Ahab, and The Whole Enchilada

Moab Man Camp Day 1: get to airport in DIA. Acquire luggage. John Waller tackles me from behind at the luggage carousel.. After assuring security that this is not a act of aggression, we proceed to public house to await the arrival of Josh Patterson. Once we were on I70 headed West we got caught up on everyones stories, and John Waller reaffirmed his financial backing that the first person to pee on Patterson got 20 bucks. The tone was set.

We got to Moab that evening and set up camp off of Sand Flats Rd, not too far from the worlds 2nd most scenic landfill (its says so on the map).little canyon that provided We initially tried to get a campsite down on Kane Creek Rd at the Moonflower canyon, but we arived about 10 minutes too late. I had forgotten how sandy and windy it is in the desert southwest. It was soon apperent that I would have to taylor my bushcraft to thrive in this wasteland.. At about midnight, Slater and Jeff rolled in and set up camp.
The next morning we went on the prowl to find a less wind swept campsite.
Boom. Shade at 3pm
We were able to catch a family leaving their site (Site G6) that was nestled right in a sweet little canyon that provided complete afternoon shade strting at about 3pm. If you have ever spent any time in the desert you know that this is money.
Looking through our little canyon of vice
With our now digs nailed down, we headed out to ride Amasa Back. I managed to make it about 150 feet into the ride befoe I fell and busted my knee. Turns out that moondust is not that grippy. However once we started rollling up the punchy climbs of amasa back, I started to get the hang of transitioning from sand to slickrock, and soon we we ticking off the miles. Patterson had a Cannondale Trigger 29 for me to ride this week. I was really impressed with the balance that it struck between capable trail bike and pedaling stability. I would characterize the Trigger as a bike for the “all-mountain curious”. It has a 69.5 degree HTA, and a 130mm lefty max that I found to be quite stiff. My only gripe about the Lefty Max is that the dampening cartridge is tuned for a 180 lb rider so I could never really use all of my travel (even after dropping the pressure to under 50 psi).

Amasa Back
Once we saw all the sights at Amasa Back we came back down via the new trail called Captain Ahab. It was mostly lots of exposed, technical slick rock. On Ahab you were either going up or down, so it was pretty challenging since at that point it was also the heat of the day that was sapping you dry. There was some terrain on the last 3 miles of Ahab that really challenged your handling skills with blind approaches and no way of knowing what was at the bottom of each drop.
Pattersnap up to no good
The next morning we all ponied up for the Whole Enchilada Shuttle, which turned out to only take us up to the start of the Kokopelli Trail since the trail up at Burro Pass was still snowed in. We decided to start riding up towards Burro Pass to get as much of the Enchilada as we could stand.

Headed up from Hazard country

Patterson: its not much of a climber

Hello there La Sal

Jeff has a PhD in geology. We learned about rocks. Of which there are plenty in Moab

sitting there. bleeding.
It was not long going up, before we were in hero dirt, and into the aspen groves. I think that this is one of the features of the whole enchilada that makes it so unique; you go from high alpine tundra, to aspens, to high dessert slick rock, to sandy canyon bottoms.
Patterson was intent on slaying some mexican food on the whole enchilada.

The descent was simply amazing, as it constantly challenged you with more and more technical terrain. It forced you to constantly trust that your tires were going to hook up, and that if you had enough speed you would roll over everything. I only got in over my head once when I tried to roll off a 4 foot drop without keeping my front end up.
We got spit out into Negro Bill Canyon and then had to ride back into town to get the vehicles (and beer).

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Moab Man Camp: Poison Spider Mesa, Portal, Slick Rock, and Fruita

The next morning we headed to Poison Spider mesa to ride up to the Portal Tail Overlook, and then descend the portal trail. The ride up Poison Spider was our first and only time sharing the tail with jeeps and moto traffic. The jeeps drivers were very courteous, waving us thruogh whenever there was a back up and cheering us on in the tech sections.
After a few days of man camp things were starting to get pretty weird. Photo Cred: J Schroeder

Navigating around the sand on poison spider mesa

The only real bummer was the 2-3 miles of deep sand that we had to navigate through to get up to the overlook.

Finally to the top
Once we got to portal it was all business as theer was a storm brewingto the south, and portal is one of the deadliest trails in Moab due to the extreme exposure. The signs specificly tell you to dismount now, as 3 bikers have previously died on Portal.


And Patterson kept riding. Photo: J Schroeder

lots of exposure Photo: J Schroeder
After we finished portal with all aof our appendages intact, we snagged some pizza headed to our swimming hole up left hand canyon. Knowing that it was our last day in Moab we also got a twilight slick rock loop in before dinner. Slickrock is one of those trails that many folks think has played out, but it is just so incredible the first time you ride it.

The Classic: Slickrock
We rolled slickrock right at dusk, and it was perfect.  One thing that I did notice was that there were a lot of people riding slickrock that really were ill prepared for it. I really think that the real reason the slickrock trailhead/parking lot is so big is so that they can get the ambulances in more easily. 
Fruita: Horsethief
We did stop in fruita on our way back to DIA.  I got to ride a $10,000 mtb. I managed not to trash anything.
Thats not gonna buff out.
Which is more than I can say for some people.
In all seriousness Moab really is still the place for wide open technical singletrack. I would not have had near as much fun without a dropper seatpost and a 5 inch bike. When I got back on trails here in MN I found myself steering with my hips and using more body english instead of steering the Scalpel .  Moab is just one of those places that sticks with you.

Early Season Levis Trow

Butch hatched the plan that we should take a day trip to Levis Trow. This was my 4th or 5th trip so I got to play tour guide to Butch and Alvin!
It was so early that Butch had to scootch under and around all the tree fall.

Alvin powers the wee wheels. We had a 29er, a 650b, and a 26er. We don't share tubes.

Alvin Shreds the notch on Toad Road. I think that this is the most iconic part of Levis.
We had a great day, full of monstrous sandwiches, homebrew, and large DQ Blizzards on top of about 35 miles of single track.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Strada Fango 2013

Strada Fango v2.0 was this past weekend. It almost was for naught as the original course was still buried in snow.  If we had been on the original course ( and the ATV trails) I would have take the Scalpel.  But since the word on the street was that this was a "gravel" thing, I took the CX bike.
Start was fast.  Lead group was whittled down to 6 pretty quick, with Swanson and Lillie (on a SS MTB!) leading the charge.  I was able to hang in until we hit the glacier road.  4 miles of riding through either snow melt or praying that you do not break through the ice crust.  the group of 6 split, Lillie, Swanson and a Ski-haus rider were gone.  I yoyo-ed with Tim from Duluth for the next 10 miles until I shifted over cassette. He got out of sight, but would miss the next turn.  So I got to ride 40 miles by myself, which is a great when you are on soft, wet sand roads that attempt to suck you down. It was a character building ride, to say the least.

My trying to avoid swampy mud was for naught, as I would find out.
I did notice the lever throw of the disc brakes grow considerably after the swampy sections, but I never ran out of braking power. The OEM brakes that Cannondale specs uses organic pads.  I was not thrilled about this, but will look for some metallic aftermarket pads.
Bar plug down!

Photo Cred Out There

Photo Cred Out There

All thing considered, it was a great day. We had awesome weather, and I got to hang with some great people afterwards.  Big thanks to the Strada crew for putting on a great event.

Lot of Character building went on.