A few more pics of such a diverse area. So glad this group got me out there. Many more visits to come.
Day Two: I’d set the alarm for seven, waking up bleary eyed to the realization that there was no kettle, so I resigned myself to the fact that the nearest coffee was going to be at 8am when “the store” opened. I felt like crap, but then I usually do at that time of day, so it was perfectly normal. Paying for my coffee at the desk, I idly noticed the lollipops containing real scorpions amongst the usual tourist tat, reflecting that there was a completely different kind of wild life in the desert, and that it now also included me. I sipped my coffee, watching the jack rabbits loitering around the site, oblivious to the dogs the RV owners seemed so fond of as the trucks rolled past on the highway. Well, if they could survive, then so could I - I’d just have to be careful crossing the road
I slid out onto the highway and opened it up, pleasantly surprised at the engines response, and headed out to Willow Springs a mile down the road. Arriving at the site, I found the group had grown in size, and huddled over a map of the area. I had absolutely no plans, nor any intention of making any before I left the UK, knowing full well that looking at a map often bore no resemblance to actual terrain conditions. We were about a dozen riders, and the consensus of opinion was that “well, we take a little bit of this trail, then a little bit of that trail, then turn onto that trail, and then loop it back to around here”. It all made perfect sense to me, taking it easy, about a four hour run. It all seemed perfectly reasonable at the time, after all, I had done exactly one mile on the bike already — what could go wrong ?
The group took off at a goodly pace, down the highway, turning onto a gravel road, and set off into the hills. As we found the rock surface, I came to realise that the oversized pegs on the bike presented some difficulty to my size 8 feet. Whilst perfectly adequate on tarmac, I found a tendency for my right foot to completely miss the brake pedal, while my left foot often bounced around on the gear shifter (or stuck underneath it), resulting in some “unexpected” gear changes, just when you needed it the most. As a result, I found myself riding hard trying to keep up with the rest of the group, bouncing around like a lunatic, trying to find a gear that often eluded me, resulting in an inability to take the easy route, and taking the hardest route instead, simply hanging on and hoping for the best (often at a crazy rate of speed). Thinking back on it, I reckon that the speed I took on some of that probably saved me from going over the bars at several points. The TW just took it in her stride, though as to the rider, the expression “shaken, not stirred” took on a whole new meaning
After half an hour of this, it was starting to take its toll (on the rider), a combination of jet lag, heat exhaustion (the ride started out cool, then crept up to the high eighties) and altitude, combined with being unfit in the first place all combining to an inevitable conclusion. After that, it was only a matter of time. As a fellow rider got his rear wheel stuck in axle deep sand in front of me, I tried to slow down and go around him, only to find my own front wheel biting deep and then dumping me unceremoniously beside the bike. It was an easy fall, no damage done to ether me or the bike, and a couple of the guys took the bike further up the trail for me. But as I tramped uphill towards the bike, struggling for breath, overheating like crazy, I wondered if I could do this. A few hundred yards later, I caught up with the group who had stopped to recover the stragglers, and considered my situation
Admiral explained that we were about “two fifths” into it, more rocks and sand ahead. Initially, my tendency was to continue, but after a few minutes of considering what this would of meant to the rest of the group, slowing up the pace, and potentially turning a four hour ride into a frustrating (for everyone else) into a six hour run, I had to admit defeat, and reluctantly agreed that the sensible thing to do was to turn back. It was my physical condition as much as anything, which would likely get worse as the ride continued
Randell (Plumstraight) kindly volunteered to see me back to camp, at my own pace, as quietly patient as ever. Setting my own pace (and gritting my teeth), we made it back to the highway easily enough, where the big guy said “we can go back out in the side by side” — he would have likely caught up with them too. But, I had to decline his kind offer, realising that I was in no condition to try it. It wasn’t just the trail that had defeated me, it was a package deal. The heat, the jet lag, the altitude — roll all that into one, and I was “walking wounded”. I made my way back to “the shack” at Archview to lick my wounds, and consider the next day ……
A few more pics of such a diverse area. So glad this group got me out there. Many more visits to come.
Day Three: Unsurprisingly, I opted out on this one. Instead choosing to stay at the Archview camp and recover. I had a chat by PM with LT, and he pointed out that going from a life at sea level to 4300 to 5000 feet could take a while to acclimatise, something I had not considered. Throughout that day, despite my flesh temperature being “cool”, I still felt hot, realising that the previous days heat had slightly fried my skull. I’ve always been prone to this, and found that while my body is impervious to the sun’s rays, my head remains vulnerable. “Mad dogs and Englishmen” only works with pith helmets it seems.
I had a few visitors that day, “the girls” from the camp came by to see how I was doing, and later on, the “Admirals” came to check on me, having done “Onion Creek” et all (Le Sal), looking tired and slightly soggy for their efforts. I took the precaution to ask them to take my wide brim hat back to camp with them, where it would be there when I needed it the most. I may be stupid at times, but I’m a fast learner ………
Day Four: The previous night, the heavens opened, and dumped an inch of rain in short order on the desert landscape. What was dust, had become mud, and while this made the sand a bit more stable, it turned the red stuff into a clinging quagmire. Willow Springs turned into “mud, mud, glorious mud” until we were joking about visitors coming in a thousand years’ time coming to see to see “Randalls footprints”. It pissed it down that morning. Riding across the Willow Springs camp site with its dips and twists became an adventure, and a challenge in itself, but one I was more used to coming from the UK. Some of the guys where opting to sleep in tents, but as the run off often led directly beneath said tents, it lent new meaning to “water beds”, much to the mirth of those in trailers
Some of the guys worked out where they would be riding later that day (as it promised to dry out fairly quickly), but having seen the pace some of them could keep up regardless of conditions, I left them to it, having learned my lesson. The Admiral mentioned that Mrs Admiral was planning to go into Moab town later on to pick up supplies, and suggested that I was welcome to tag along. It was a welcome offer, as my guts (still not quite right) were suffering from a selection of sandwiches with no sell by date, which denoted a change of diet
Lori turned up at Archview with Gregg in tow, and we hauled into Moab town to stop for a bite to eat, then heading up into the hills for a tour of the local countryside, before getting the shopping in. We took a left along the Colorado river (South side), then headed up into the Le Sal mountain route. Given the weather the night before and the potential for muddy trails, it was a welcome respite as we climbed up the mountain into the snow line. That the Admirals had done this the day before after Onion Creek, with the TW’s struggling to breathe in the thin air was all the more remarkable, as we climbed to 8500 feet, before taking the trail road back down. It was good discuss everything and anything as we went, taking in the scenery, with Gregg discombobulating the odd stray cyclist as he stopped to take photos
The Moab area seems impressive when you’re riding through it, but the Rocky Mountains view soon put it into perspective.
Upon making it back into Moab town, passing slick rock on the way, (you really need to see that thing side on to appreciate it), we hit the supermarket for grub and beer. I was after microwaveable burgers, Lori was after beer (not for herself), and it was as crowded as hell. I’d pretty much given up on finding what I wanted, but Lori stuck it out and came up with the goods. The beer we had to go elsewhere for in the end. I learned that Lori is a particularly tenacious woman and that the Admiral is lucky to have her (like he has any choice in the matter). She gets what she wants – period – lol
Dropped off back at Archview, it was a good day ………
More misc Moabery
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Day Five: Plumbstraight took the lead on this one, and sticking his woman on the back of his TW, we followed him up Willow Springs Road, through the rough stuff and on into Arches National Park. A little bit of sand, followed by a little bit of rock riding and we were onto two lane black top. There was a point in the rough stuff where Fred decided he’d left his wallet behind (with his pass), but this was Fred, and he soon overtook us again to take photos of the group as they rode pass. The guy is like the Road Runner, “beep beep” and he’s ahead again
Plumstraight led us through all the tourist spots, which I would have completely missed otherwise, and gave us “The Grand Tour” of Moab. No looking at maps or any of that nonsense, the perfect guide. He can also knock up a decent breakfast if you find yourself in the right place, just another of the delights of Moab. As this was my first visit to Moab, I needed to see this stuff, it would have been silly not to, having travelled so far.
Fred’s group on the other hand, had split off by then, presumably to take on one of his “easy rides”, complete with “rope descents” (without the rope). As I’ve said earlier, it’s easy to look at the videos and think “hold my beer, I got this”, but the reality is very different. If you consider that on my first visit I was on “level one”, Fred was on “level nine”, and looking at “level ten”. Fortunately, being “full of shit” about my abilities is not something I’m known for, and accepting that, made me slow down and accept Moab for what it is. Moab is like that. It will make you, or it will break you, but first you have to learn to respect it. Like the sea, it doesn’t care who you are. Roll with it and you will survive. Roll against it and you will fail
We see these videos posted and think “Yeah, I can do that”. But can you do that for six hours, at bone jarring speed, in heat and dust (and never underestimate the dust). My respect for those that can, and do this, has increased greatly, but I would have never have known this without being there.
Day Six and Seven: By this time, I’d realised that Moab wasn’t about proving anything, something I’d probably already figured out. The trail riders rode the trails, the fastest grouped up, the slower had their own agenda, trails already ridden, trails in mind for next time, each finding their own reason for being there. For my own part, now recovered fully from the difficulties earlier on in that week, I blasted through the hills on my own, content to explore the countryside, to follow the wind wherever it would take me. During those days, I experienced the freedom of my surroundings, no time constraints, no agenda, simply “exploring”, which the TW is built for. I was in Moab, and judging by my grin, it was the right place to be. Life is simple at times, as long as you can appreciate it …….
Moab for me has been a learning curve. My primary objective has always been about the people, the members of this board. Spending time around the camp fire talking to people who achieve the seemingly impossible, while finding the simplest things in common. From kicking Fred’s front tire when he (good naturedly) took the piss out of me bailing out on that first day, to discussing why we leave Pheasants so long before cooking – it all adds up. Every memory, from failure and the support that was offered, to the freedom of riding in the desert on my own will remain with me forever
As we went as a group to a restaurant later on that week, a booking “for eighteen”, I looked around me at the assembled gang, knowing that any one of them would have been there for me, just as I would have been there for them. It was a nice feeling, and one that’s rarely felt. If you think that being part of this forum is special, try Moab – the sense of “oneness” is quite unique
I came, I saw, and I got exactly what I expected – the absolute unyielding geography of Moab, and the absolute unselfishness of the TW group
The one conquers the other …..
I had no ambitions for Moab this year other than to be there, meet the people, and explore the scenery, which I have achieved. Sure, I missed out on some of the group rides, but as a wise man once said, “If you love someone, set them free”. There was little to be gained by holding anyone back, myself included. We shared what we had, and that was what important to us all. Should I ever do the whole “Moab” thing again, I will have learned from the lessons this trip taught me. Altitude means hydration, jet lag is a bitch, and never try to keep up with Fred …..
Special thanks go to the Admirals, without whom the entire trip would have been an impossibility, to Plumbstraight, who was there for me when I needed him, and to the rest of you – any one of whom would have stepped up to the plate. Just knowing that is a special feeling, and one I will treasure for ever
Whenever I see these videos now, I can factor in the bone jarring impacts, the heat and the dust, the absolute reality of it all beyond the screen. And more importantly, what the fellow members of this board are made of, and stand for ……..
Oh Purple, I'm no better than many of the other riders there, just somewhat comfortable with the terrain and enthusiastic..so I sometimes stand out. Brightly painted cartoon bikes help.
It is the quiet ones that calmly motor all over the nastiest of obstacles that impress me. Admiral, Ejfranz, Washington Larry, Bodi and others come to mind. Good guides and riding companions all.
Come back again Purple and we'll do more together at a more appropriate pace. Moab and the region need not be always a challenge of man & machine.
Shucks, we've even been known to slow down and just enjoy the views. Here Lori demonstrates a relaxed approach to lunch overlooking the Green River.
Last edited by Fred; 05-11-2019 at 08:47 AM.
What's he thinking? He's trying so hard not to place his muddy feet flat on that clean carpet. Ha.
Dirts A Flyen SanDue
2014 BMW R1200GS LC
That mat was far from clean! But is now after a through pressure wash on both sides.