Monday, November 17, 2008

Like no place on earth

Utah's White Rim Trail. What can I say, I developed roots in the state of TX and didn't know much about the White Rim Trail until recently. But now that I know, it'll be a MUST-DO ride every year. The experience was simply amazing. Pictures speak way louder than words, but pictures don't even come close to capturing the scenery/scale/amazing world of Canyonlands National Park.

Mr. Swift and I headed up early on Friday so that we could hit some trails in Fruita. He wanted to show me Rabbit Valley - where a Mountain States Cup XC race is held. We got to the trail just as a bunch of 4-wheelers were finishing - we even saw them carrying some handguns. It was good timing. We didn't want to get in the way of their rabbit target practice. I mean really - what did they need handguns for on a 4-wheeler ride?
We didn't ride the trail we were hoping to - it was just over this ridge. Jesse was bumming about missing this trail, but it gave us some great practice riding sand for the next day's adventure.
We rolled into Moab, found our lodging, met up with Little Colin, made our dinner, and fell asleep. The next thing I knew, the 4:15am alarm was going off and we were on the road. We met up with about 2 dozen other riders for our single-day loop on the West Rim Trail.

I got out of the truck, lubed my chain, then realized I had to poop. There were no portos at the parking lot so I had to bushwack through the desert. I return to the truck and see everybody leaving! I was left behind. This was not a ride where folks were casually waiting around. 108 miles of dirt was serious. My heart started beating out of my chest (not the best feeling) and I moved in fast forward to get my chit together. I headed out on trail and made a quick look back to see if I left anything. And...the interior light was on - so I rode back, opened my pack, unlocked the car, turned off the light, then hit the road - completely darkness...with blind faith that I'd meet up with the other riders. That'll teach me to be on time. Geez.
Luckily, it only took me a few minutes to charge back to the group. I was wearing my perscription spectacles which have a pretty dark tint. I couldn't see anything on the road and I just hoped that I wouldn't hit a rock or a big patch of sand. The ride starts with a 45 minute gradual descent - so I was rolling fast.
The 1st stop of the day. Some of the group looks over our bikes and prepares to get down to business.
Next was this nice little downhill into the valley. Nothing like a 1500' drop in about 1 minute.
In the valley, we hit some deep sand. There was a big 'pig pin' cloud of dust surrounding us. Good thing we had some practice the day before at Rabbit Valley!
Yep - there were some incredible views. I didn't want to get TOO close ;)
Here's Parker Macy - a Longmont local who I met for the 1st time. Crazy that it takes a ride like this, in another state, to meet my neighbors.
Not much to see here folks. Seriously though - it was like a 10 hour movie backdrop. It was so entertaining just to look out and see this all day.
Here's the man of the hour, Brian Smith. He put this ride together as a birthday tradition years ago. What a way to celebrate the day! He rocked the trail on a 29'er SS...and so did his wife Jenny...and so did a 58 year old feller from Crested Butte. The ride was one of those experiences that opens your mind to what is possible. It was the longest dirt ride I'd ever done.
Just another day at the office.
Little Colin - keeping it entertaining at about mile 75.
We were told there was a big climb at the end and it was recommended that we take some supplements before the last push. I learned about Sierra Nevada's Bierschnapps today. You learn something every day.
This is probably the best place in the world to drink Bierschnapps.
Jesse approaches a big wall. Our cars are on top of that wall.
And here's the mile 96. Jesse's checking it out to see what we just came up. Go ahead a click on this photo and see if you can follow the trail - UP.
I have to say I was very pleased to have this ride under my belt. It was time for a beer...or three.

The next day, Jesse and I headed back to Fruita for a little fun before returning back to 'normal' life on the Front Range.
Kessel Run was a must. I did my best to do it in under 12 parsecs. I rode it fast, but I had nothing on the Millennium Falcon.
Speaking of space-mobiles. We spotted this at the trail head. I've never seen one like this before - pretty sweet though - esp if that panel on top was solar.
The 18 road trails are A LOT different than the White Rim - but a great time nonetheless. It was a great ride to wrap up a killer weekend of riding. I felt so fortunate to not only have the health to ride these trails, but even more fortunate to have the perspective to enjoy the experience.