Mountain Biking USA

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MOUNTAIN BIKING USA.

PART ONE. THE MOAB CHRONICLES



A friend of mine gets back from Nepal and gloats about
what a fantastic time he’s had out there. Partway
through the conversation he mentions that he met
some Americans and they raved about Moab, Utah as
a bit of a MTB mecca. The seeds of intent were sown.
After a bit of internet surfing, I had information on
motels, restaurants, cycle routes and the climate for
May.


Two months later we arrived at Denver following a ten
hour flight from Heathrow (via Chicago). Having picked
up the bikes from baggage reclaim we went to the Avis
desk to sort out the hire car. There the receptionist
there tells us that for the money we had already paid
we could have a 4WD sports utility. Sounds like fun.
We drove away from Denver airport in a Isuzu
Trooper, all 3.5 litres of it.


Following a long drive through spectacular scenery,
snow and an overnight stop in Glenwood Springs we
arrived in Moab Utah. Having made a previous
booking at the Redstone Inn we were itching to get out
and ride. First stop, up to the famous Slick Rock Bike
Trail.


The trail consists of rugged sandstone outcrops and is
extremely demanding both physically and technically.
The trial, marked by dotted lines is approx 15 miles
long and can take upwards of two hours to complete.
The riding was intense taking in steep sided slopes
narrow ledges and sandy flats.


Back to the motel and to the Moab Diner for something
to eat. Moab is graced with the usual fast food joints,
Pizza Hut, McD, however the Diner provided the best
value with a selection of local dishes.


The next morning a breakfast of pancakes and maple
syrup set us up for the Porcupine Rim Trail. The ride
started off at 6000ft with a gentle rocky climb to 7000ft
with spectacular views over Castle Valley. Then
followed 10 miles of singletrack descent starting along
jeep trails running into extreme singletrack alongside
500ft drops into canyons below. All
the way down you’re taking a pounding from the rock
strewn tracks, but what a buzz.


The following day it was up to the Top of the World,
starting with a 3100ft climb. Two and half hours later
we were at the top sitting upon a rocky outcrop over a
drop of 2000ft. After a well earned break it was
downhill, seven miles in 35 minutes. Described as
Gonzo this ride is a must for the supreme downhill it
offers.


Waking up to a cloudy sky the next morning we spent
the day driving around the Arches National Park. More
offroad but of the 4WD kind. Egged on by my
travelling partner we spent an afternoon driving up and
down more rock strewn tracks in the comfort of the van
(and air conditioning). Didn’t manage
to use the cruise control though.


Having resisted the temptation of the handful of bike
shops, we succumbed and spent a few hours perusing
the likes of Posion Spider, Rim Cyclery and Chili
Pepper the following morning. In the afternoon it was
back onto the bikes and along the Moab Rim trail, not
in the guidebook, this takes in a near impossible climb
of over 1000ft in less than a mile. A real lung buster.
At the top we gazed over the town before proceeding
around the rim into Hidden Canyon and a steep hike down back to Moab.



Another showerery day saw the 4WD getting a run
around the Canyonlands National Park. The following
two days we rode the Kane Creek Trail and Poison
Spider Mesa Trail which took in more sandstone
escarpments intermingled with rock strewn tracks.
After this we had totally had enough of the pounding
that the terrain had offered. Coupled with the sandy
flats which are impossible to ride we were rapidly
loosing interest. A change of venue was required.
After a quick scan through some guide books and a
look on the map the following day saw us set off for
Durango, Colorado.


The riding in Moab has to be experienced to be
believed, it is totally extreme. The map guides that
are available provide invaluable trail information and
guidance. If you go there be prepared for a rough ride.

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MOUNTAIN BIKING USA.

PART TWO. DURANGO DIRT



Having exhausted the rideable trails in Moab we
decided to take a drive to legendary Durango. home of
mountain biking legends like Ned Overend and Julia
Furtado.


Arriving in Durango early afternoon we checked into
the Silver Spur Motel. John Wayne stayed and liked it
said the neon sign. It came recommended. With the
necessary formalities over we jumped in the van, map
in hand and went off in search of the Halfin Creek Trail.
Unable to locate one end of the trail we tried the other
and were rewarded with a piece of single track that
disappeared into the trees. From the guidebook this
was identified as the hardest trail. No mistake there
(Picture Dur1). The trail snaked its way up along the
side of Halfin Creek with intermittent scree slopes
along the way. The total elevation of this climb was
3,300ft, however at around 9000ft the trail was still
covered with snow. On the way down, the tight turns
made it extremely hard to stay on the bike. That
coupled with a endo over the bars onto some granite
rock didn’t make for a relaxing descent.


The following day, having been woken up by the
Durango-Silvertown steam engine, we set off to the ski
resort of Purgatory and an attempt at the 1990 World
Championship course.


Again the snow got the better of us at 9000ft, so we
headed back into Durango to the Logshute Trails. This
trail winds its way up to 8400ft through pine and aspen
forest. There are two loops, one of 7miles and one of
4. Both are excellent and provide a taster of the
superb singletrack riding that the Colorado forests
have to offer (Picture Dur2).


With the weather forecast for the next day being rain, a
sight seeing tour to Mesa Verde was planned. Mesa
Verde is a series of Indian settlement nestled under
cliff overhangs. The dwellings are mesmerising as
they were only discovered at the turn of the century
and were quickly set up as a heritage site (Picture
Dur3). Be warned though, its surprisingly tough
walking around at 9500ft, and watch out for the over
fed Americans when embarking on some of the tours,
which involve climbing down steep steps and through
rock cuttings.


With the weather forecast still predicting rain, we
braved another trip into the mountains. To Jones
Creek, were there are a series of trails that along the
creeks in this area. On brush track
up the climb it started to snow, and we soon became
very cold. The following descent down although lovely
and smooth was uncomfortably cold and saw us back
at the van with the heaters on full.


Arising the next morning realising it was our last day,
we opted for a local ride. Just opposite the motel was
Animas City Mountain. The trail goes straight up and
down. 1300ft up in fact. The trails is unrelenting with
technical rock strewn stretches. At the top you arrive
at a ledge with fantastic views over the back of
Durango. The singletrack ride down is gnarly and we
soon found ourselves at the bottom and facing the long
drive back to Denver.

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