27 July, 2008

Moab in July (updated w/Billy's photos!)

l-r me, billy, kev on top o'klondike bluffs (courtesy o'billy)
moab's temperatures nowadays hover near 100° fahrenheit and the lows are in the 70s. so, what better time than now to go to moab (thinketh the homey trinity)? i believe i'm living a charmed life. as a believer in karma, i do believe i need to become a better individual-starting immediately-as a result of the weather and massive endorphin release hanging/riding/conversing with the homey trinity in moab this past weekend. the national weather service said friday was going to be 99° so hez-chilly looked up rides in the nearby la sal (this is spelled correctly) mountains (14 or so miles south of moab). he found one and later confirmed as a cool ride by the poison spider bike shop dudes. it was called moonlight meadows. originally it (was) The Manti-La Sal National Forest in the mountains above Moab just opened the Moonlight Meadows downhill trail, which was built to reroute a renegade singletrack built by Moab locals (Philipps, 2006).
here are the la sals in the waaaaaay background
at the la sals looking down!
it's quite a different perspective isn't it? if you notice a localized rain cell's dumping in the near background. this rain cell cooled our trailhead to a nice 77°. it was chilly. we were also 9000 feet up. meteorologically speaking it was a rare but pleasant surprise! armed with gps units and billy's pocket guide we hit the moonlight meadows trail. the poison spider guys warned us there was a long-ish, gravelly, fire road climb but the wacky descent was worth it. sure enough the climb sucked but we also realized it just rained up here and there were wee pockets of standing water in the depressions. okay, so we thought the trail'd be nice and tacky (kind of like your distant, kooky relative poaching your wedding). at the top of this farmer's meadow we see the singletrack-and it's mudfest.
the calm before the storm (courtesy o'billy)
the key to gliding/riding over mud is to pretend you're on ice and to make the turns eons before the trail goes crooked (and to not ride the brakes!). once you lose your imaginary fall-line (kind of like a mental laser pointer on the path), and your front tire's no longer on the laser pointer marks on the ground (your fall line), you end up fighting-via over compensating-to keep the front tire on your fall line. once the steering gets hamfisted the front tire wants to launch over the troughed-out, rain-slicked tree roots, with rocks-a'plenty singletrack like a bad luger going high on the berms. that was my mistake twice and i launched! thank goodness my three years of kara-te paid off and i rolled to absorb the impact of the ground anxiously awaiting my airborne, gravity assisted 145 lb mass of glee and fright. i was tête de la course for the first and arrière du kev and billy for the second. the downhill truly was an invention of sick moab locals...
i'ma walking (courtesy o'billy)
kev's a'walking (courtesy o'billy)
...and throw in some very loose baby head sized rocks with off camber switchbacks you have either: a very defeated person who's riding something over his/her head; or, you let 'er rip and use the knowledge and skill set you accumulated mountain biking over the years (and hope you have some muscle memory to finesse the sick stuff!). since it was also testosterone-fest the latter person showed up and we were riding close, singlefile stuff hoping the person in front wouldn't biff and doing a major case of monkey-see-monkey-do over the technical shizzle. it was all tight singletrack through the aspen groves and the babyheads never stopped! it was a mixture of pins and needles and open-throttled white noise in the brain. your whole, leading edge of your body was like a radar dish soaking up as much terrain data, sights, sounds, wind speeds, and topography, as it could possibly handle and translating that to body english, center-of-gravity shifts, calculating fall lines, and feather braking in real time. all this sensory overload led to voluminous releases of adrenaline and endorphins. scary yet pee-in-your- pants fun!
this picture does the trail's ninja-like technicality no justice!
at the oowah lake trail junction we take a breather.
me in disbelief that we all survived that downhill (courtesy o'billy)
kev smilin' because we survivedbilly-aka the master, stoic, because he is the master
by now the trail's getting drier but the tight singletrack and off-cambered switchbacks with copious amounts of babyheads continue. after some more trail finding and descending we arrive at our trailhead parking lot. wow. we thought briefly about camping while at moab; but sensibility arrived and we ended up getting a room at the inn that had a perfectly working hot tub and pool. we mixed up both in order to achieve a state of physiological and mental relaxation (and repeating if necessary to achieve both). what a way to end the day. 11 something miles in about 2h.
we woke to freezer burns on our bodies because we cranked the air conditioning unit. it makes for great sleeping too that ac. today, we set a goal for making our best pr time at slickrock. three words describe our effort(s): pain, pain, and (did i mention?) pain. last time we did it in 2h flat. this time? 1h 36 mins including a seven-minute break we took at this particular junction...
for reasons unknown i took a picture of my doggies...after we ate, we hit our pool/hot tub combo again before venturing out to arches national park. inside arches, there are some spectacular looking rock formations like this one called (yup, you guessed it!)...

balanced rock
with super nutty rock formations every second driving deeper into the park, it's as if i was in manhattan for the first time. i kept looking up, put in a constant state of awe and wonder (in this case nature's beauty vs man's) by these nutrageous rock formations. by now it's 103°. 103 oppressive degrees. 103° of torture. 103° of mind numbing foolishness. ouch. but billy says we have to press on and hike to this spectacle of nature called delicate arch. like a novice, i hike in my flip-flops. oh well. after abrading my doggies on the hike, i'm rewarded with this view of delicate arch. those are people skirting the top of the rim. watch that first step! it's a doozy...
here it is closerpretty spectacular isn't it? yeah billy, good call on arches! two very enthusiastic thumbs up for this national park kids! i was so inspired i bought this t-shirt as a souvenir...
for our last ride, we do klondike bluffs. i want to weasel out of this one because the hike and heat's kicking my butt. our goal too is to completely blast our legs for this trip so we head off to the klondike bluffs trailhead. as soon as fate would have it, another storm cell rolls overhead and we go from 103° to 86°.
here's a friendly storm cell
as our last hurrah before we start school a sudden sense of urgency kicks in. we realize it's our last opportunity as a cycling pod to put a fraternal, friendly, competitive, butt whoopin' on each other. when we hit the unforgiving moonrock signifying the start of the ascent, billy goes to the front and establishes a torrid pace. i dangle off his wheel and wait for the right moment to return the favor. we hit a sandy patch and he breaks traction. this is where i go for the pass and drop it a gear. again we roll onto this nasty moonrock and i'm bumped off my line and can't even sustain my cadence. i get passed. darn you inventor of the dual suspension frame! eventually we meet at the top and my camera's dead. we hike to the scenic viewpoint to witness the devil's furnace (or something like that). it's indescribably beautiful and coupled with the depth between us and this landmark, it gets me seasick and i have to ensure my feet's grounded so my brain'll stop freaking out.
behind us's the devils furnace outcropping (courtesy o'billy)
on the descent, kevin and his brand new yeti 575 show me wassup and they both wait for me at the bottom. darn you inventor of the hardtail frame! oi! what a trip. what other ride(s) can we do next time that'll release even more endorphins from the pleasure/pain portion of our brain? i can't wait!...you may ask yourself why does machmoud go with the homey trinity to moab all the time? the answer is: because i can and the homey trinity's cool like that! amen brothers and sisters. amen...

ps. kev drove us in his sweet, pimpish (that's an adjective my high school students use to mean oh so cool) toyota sequoia
pps. upon googling moonlight meadows, i came across this interesting piece of info from trails.com. it reads: This eTrail is currently unavailable from Trails.com. According to the USDA… 'the Geyser Pass to Oowah Moab Lake (Moonlight Meadow) Trail is in violation of the Manti-Las Sal[sic] National Forest Travel Plan. Furthermore if you have ridden the Geyser Pass to Oowah Moab Lake (Moonlight Meadow) Trail you are in violation of the Manti-Las Sal National Forest Travel Plan. Forest Order Number 04-010-002 "(3) Possess or use any type of vehicle off forest development roads or trails when prohibited or restricted as shown on Exhibit 'A', the Travel map, 36 CFR 261.56.'Further legal action my[sic] follow.' oops.
ppps. here's a slideshow of most of the photos hez-chilly and i took. enjoy

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