29 October, 2007
The More the Merrier
if the aphorism the more the merrier didn't apply to this iteration of moab i wouldn't know which would. usually it's just hez-billy, kev, and me. but as the years progress alec (see links i frequent in left sidebar) was added into the mix. now, john and julie (coincidental that their names start with the letter "j" don't you think?) and their unique brand of gregariousness were the latest addition. it was a stupendously personable trip.
it all started saturday morning at four, ante meridiem. for our posse, it was the evergreen park and ride; for billy's posse, it was the highlands ranch (bermuda) triangle. eventually we all met at the city market in breck, where everything's closed at 5 a.m. we eventually had starbucks and evacuated normal bodily functioning waste products in rifle (where, incidentally the wal-mart's open by six). julie was pretty much asleep (partied a wee bit too late) until we arrive at the parking lot at sovereign. alec's an unstoppable, damn-the-torpedoes destination kinda guy and we go sans break directly to the sovereign trail, whereas billy's posse actually has breakfast back in rifle. okay, here's the ride itinerary: sovereign, amasa back-pipeline (day one), and slickrock (day two-last day). let me preface this trip with: billy has only one useful hand on this trip and he absolutely slayed.
the trail finding part of sovereign's always tricky and to add to the geographically impaired scenario, at the trailhead junction some poor state workers were x-raying natural gas lines (for cracks) and told us to stay away so as not to get irradiated by radium. radium breaks down into radon (a problem for people with basements) and alpha particles. its symbol is Ra with 88 protons that don't like each other in the nucleus and whose atomic weight's 226, and yes, i'm a science geek.
the first day was a great re-introduction to moab with temps in the mid-70's and sun, sun, sun, all around. we rode pretty conservatively because we were going to do a second ride later that day. conservatively means chilly-chill on the ups while still trying to be squeaky clean on the technical stuff with letting the bike run free on the downs. and that's how it was, billy and his lobster-clawed hand was putting on a cleaning demonstration. in fact, alec was hypnotized by his smooth, clean uphill line(s) that he smacked a tree at speed telescoping his mesmerized mellon onto his cervical vertebrae. it was like the complete opposite of rock-em, sock-em robots if you can remember that far back. his helmet made a loud thwack as it got punctured by a rather pointy branch. yup. nutty. anyhoo, our gaggle of riders where all lined up roady style on the climbs cleaning (some walking) the techy stuff, making my roady self all proud and shtuff. julie said at one particularly technical uphill, "man, i wish we were going down this stuff!" and i told her it's an out-and-back so we will. on the back part, kev took off and i followed his line (he has a point and shoot style (dual boinger), whereas i thread the needle (hardtail)) and he was flying. we built a little lead at the part of this technical downhill where we could spectate and be entertained by our posse's downhill skill. we expected john to be good and he was. if billy dab'd, we'da goofed on him (because he is after all, mr. clean), and we didn't know what to expect from alec and julie. julie showed us her downhill skills and alec showed vast improvement from last year. after the ride we all wanted to nap and eat and we would start amasa back by 4:30. so hello mr. sandman...
back on the bike a second time was literally painful for all the body contact points with the saddle and primary movers. billy didn't join us because his post operative (lobster claw)hand was hurting. we moved pretty slow and kev and john gave us a downhill technical demonstration as we hit the trailhead. on the way up we saw some neat and/or busted looking tweaked-out 4wd crawlers (see pic) and blue, warring native americans strategically placed by our mt. biking predecessors (see pic). john laid down the gauntlet and flew up squeaky clean followed by kev, julie, and alec. near sundown we snapped some cool pics at a decent overlook and began looking for our landmark pipeline to go back down. i took the lead and as the sunlight diminished so did my trail finding abilities. i accidentally took them down some nutty a$$ed terrain, through some electrical posts and stopped because i ran out of trail. once we found it, it was pathetic trying to ride our bikes from this point forward. in fact, john was hitting a pretty technical descent where his front tire hit an obstacle, turned the bike (front wheel perpendicular to rest of bike), and he launched away from the uphill. he landed on a rock ledge just wide enough to support his body in the fetal position. he probably could've used a stitch or two on his left quad cut (see pic). if it were a few more inches to the left, he surely would've fallen off the 500 foot cliff where we were making our way down. alec and i were in awe in how close he was to walking towards the white light. he was truly inches away from death. it was like witnessing a car wreck, it's kinda ghastly but your hardwired, instinctual rubbernecking supersedes all logic and you stare, with your mouth and eyes wide-open like a silent nitwit. note to self: don't do cliff rides at night. my god it was awesome trying to get down. it was cloudy so no light whatsoever from above and we were trying to remember the way out from memory from earlier years. it was the blind leading the clueless. it was uber-nutty now. we were barely walking on the rocks and it was sooo dark. holding the bikes didn't help either. once down we had to portage our bike over the final obstacle-a creek. it was cold and kinda deep. on the other side of the crossing was a rather high embankment that made it difficult to get over. we did the fireman bucket brigade for our bikes and busted the human ladder-action to get out. once back at our cars, john selflessly shared his classic tasting beers and we inhaled it while our endorphins popped and our adrenaline subsided. yuck. wet shoes (and julie left her wet socks in alec's ride. you go girl!). yea! we exited amasa back with no permanent damage. dinner consisted of our usual: a trip to city market's salad bar. time for sleep and paraphrasing john a cacophony of snoring...
day two: slickrock (see pic o' julie climbing). we were pooped out from the first day but a trip to moab isn't complete without doing slickrock. alec's friends came out to ride this one. they didn't fare so well. on the flipside, alec really showed major improvement. again, we roadied up the climbs in our nice little group and lunched it at shrimp rock (see pic). after that, our legs couldn't hang with the anaerobic stuff. i gave it all i had on the really steep stuff and could barely mash the pedals, but everybody was feeling this empty too. knowing that the end was near, i pedaled my way to the front of the group and i could see billy jamming it. i put in my middle ring and floored it. i came on him and he said, "sounds like a mike mequi closing in." then he jammed it. at the last bend came the unofficial finish line (the cattle guard crossing), i was so close i could've gave him a wheel enema and i was calculating how to get around him. the centrifugal force was too much to pass on the inside and the left hand sweeper we were on was off-cambered. i figured i would do the classic brake-late-and-pass-him on-the-outside-apex. i guess he figured that out too and he held the line firm and i couldn't jam him on the holeshot. as a competitor, i can respect that billy outkicked me to the line (...bastidge...). we entertained the thought of riding top of the world later, but that left our synapses after 0.000001 seconds.
this latest version of extraordinarily cool people on and off the bike was 6.8 stars out of five. somebody pinch me, i must be dreaming; and to boot, i'm off the rest of the week (go teaching, go teaching, it's your birthday...). billy and i both agree that this episode of moab and the cast members (and what they brought to the mix physically, socially, sonically, intellectually, and spiritually) involved resulted in an extremely memorable experience. i'm probably going to suffer from post traumatic holiday blues...