Our camp location is so nice, there wasn’t even any mosi’s last night and although there are a few pests this morning they aren’t doing too much damage. Not enough to spoil our brekkie on the Colorado River anyhow!!
All squared away we head to town to see how much they want to rob Huw for hiring a bike for the day…
We call into Poison Spider, pretty much the first shop we come across. The guys in there are pretty switched on and the cost is very reasonable – $45 for a fully-suss for the day, helmet and repair kit included.
All decked out and ready to roll, Huw sets off for a possible 4 hour peddle while Bernice takes in a local coffee shop and some retail therapy. Everyone’s a winner 🙂
Bernice would be lying if she said she isn’t worried about Huw while he is away, but thankfully there was only a minor casualty, in the grand scheme of things….
If you ride mountain bikes and you come to Moab, you just have to ride Slickrock (http://www.utah.com/bike/trails/slickrock.htm)! The usual drill is to get a shuttle to the trailhead and start the ride from there, but being as organised as ever Huw just misses out on one leaving the shop, the last one of the day! The alternative is a 4 mile ride uphill to the trailhead – well how hard could it be?! Umm, it is fairly tough more due to the lack of bike fitness than anything else. On the upside the road is really quiet, although apparently at certain times of the year it can be full of 4x4s who also have a trail or two up on the rock.
There are a couple of other riders getting ready in the trailhead car park but the “lot” is pretty empty. Huw has a quick look at the trail info board but it majors on how the route is the hardest in the area and is only for experienced riders …blah! blah! Most ominously is the map with directions to the local hospital!! Ah well in for a penny … Huw sets off to try his luck on the “Practice Trail”, this is a 2 mile circuit that gives you a chance to see if your skills are up to scratch before committing to the main trail. Wow – this is a completely different riding experience to back home. The trail is over solid rock marked with dashes of white paint. Before long Huw is riding horizontally along steep walls of sandstone, riding into the dips and gulleys formed by these pertrified sand dunes. The downhill technical sections are great fun, its the uphill that causes all the issues. Unlike back home the uphills are as steep as the downhill sections and this makes getting up them all but impossible. Huw starts to consider one of the following possibilities, either 1) Huw’s skills need some work 2) this is really hard 3) he is a slacker/unfit (by the end of the ride he is pretty certain its all three!!). What makes things worse is that there is not another soul on the practice trail to compare notes with….
Anyway, mostly undaunted by the prospect of an epic fail, Huw sets off on the main trail. At the trailhead there was a short description of the history of the trail – apparently it was laid out by some motorbike riders back in the 60’s. So, Huw guesses he shouldn’t be too surprised when a couple on trials bikes come past – but he is anyway!
Confidence is restored as Huw starts to meet people on the trail – not that it is crowded, he probably meets 20 people during the whole 12 mile loop. The first people he encounters is a young couple who seem to be pushing their bikes around the whole route, this is followed by a succession of lovely people who all stop to chat, catch their breath and comment on how gnarly (surfer talk for really hard) the uphill sections are. The one thing that is a bit puzzling is the lack of people travelling around the loop in the same direction. This is resolved when Huw decides it is time for a look at the map half way around only to discover he is riding the opposite way round to the “recommended direction”. It seems he missed the “easier” and “harder” labels where the loop started – doh! Either way the trail is awesome, even if it means pushing the bike up lots of the uphill sections!
Towards the end of the trail, Huw is pretty wiped out, the challenge of the ride, the initial slog up the hill and the heat taking it’s toll. Thankfully it is a partially cloudy day! On the way back to the trailhead he stops for a break and takes a photo for a couple of guys who are just setting out. They take one of Huw in return and go on their way. Setting off down the next section, there is a loud clattering noise and he looks down to see the camera and it’s battery silding down behind him (the casualty)… Oops – should have done the case up fully!! A quick examination suggests everything is OK, if a little more battle scarred – who needs ‘tough’ cameras huh?! All that is left to do is a great downhill run back into town for a well earned beer and shower 😀
…. As the afternoon wears on the skies become blacker and blacker. Bernice is just returning to the car in order to drive down to the bike shop, hoping Huw doesn’t meet the rain as it certainly will be a slick rock if he does, when she hears a shout from behind her. Relieved, it’s Huw :-). Back at the bike shop we both grab a shower without getting wet by the imminent storm 🙂
Exhausted and in need of sustinance we head back along the high street for lunch. We’d been warned the Utah doesnt do beer, only an excuse for beer at 3.2%. State law! We brought some supplies with us from Colorado so we’re good, but a weak beer for lunch does the job just fine. It’s at least tasty.
Then Bernice having decided to book the same campsite for tonight, allows us to have a relaxing afternoon and evening looking around town and generally chilling!
Oh did we explain, most campgrounds, especially park campgrounds, don’t have showers, so it was great news to discover the bike shop had some. In fact we hope to use them again tomorrow, so much for being stinky!! And it’s only $2.50 a token 🙂