Friday, May 3, 2013

Captain Ahab

While Dave was perusing riding destinations on the web last night, he stumbled upon a new trail that was just constructed this year. It is called Captain Ahab, out on Amasa Back just outside of Moab. A nicely edited video of construction of the trail was made. The extraordinary measures taken to open up trail-lines is impressive. Some of the rocks moved must weigh many tons.  Take a look.

Captain Ahab Trail from Tyson Swasey on Vimeo.

This piqued our curiosity. Not doing the White Rim Trail opened up a day to explore other terrain. I was game, even though this trail is listed as "Extreme" on some trail ranking websites. Advanced trails in Moab generally put me at my skill and wit limits. Extreme likely meant I would be doing more walking and less riding.

Amasa Back is close enough to town, about 5mi from our hotel, that we could ride to the ride. We waited for the temp to rise a bit, another cold morning at about 40F. The relative humidity was going to be extremely low today, dipping into single digits. This usually raises havoc with my throat and nasal passages. It is great for taking crisp photos of far away features.

We headed up Amasa Back Rd, not only popular with mountain bikers, but also the moto set. It climbs to the height of land from the Colorado River, about 1200ft net gain. We were not able to ride 100% of it. Even trail bikes struggled on one section.

Both Dave and I had no desire to push pace today. The non-stop anaerobic digs on Slickrock Trail last night had us searching for muscle fibers left intact.  We dilly dallied about on this ride. It was so peaceful being out here in ideal conditions. Perfect temp, light winds and see forever views.

After hanging out for half an hour or so up top, we headed out on the Pothole Arch trail. This rode very nicely with very little elevation change. Most of it was on slickrock. Pothole Arch is essentially a large pothole in sandstone with a drain hole out the bottom. A bunch of mountain bikers were here. Great lunch spot.

Heading back, we took Rockstacker. I did zero research on this trail. Turned out to be over our heads, requiring many dismounts/hike-a-bikes. Great views of the Colorado River though, riding the rim about 1000ft up.

We picked up the new Captain Ahab trail next. A bunch of climbing started things off. I read the lower portion had more flow, but I found the upper portion more rideable.  The extensive rock-work was evident everywhere. Often we rode the worked areas without hesitation, other times self-preservation and family responsibilities got the better side of us. Dave and I took turns cleaning and dabbing various features. Good times. I experience more adrenaline coming down Capt Ahab and any other trail in a while.

I'm sure we came across as roadies or not really belonging out there. We were the only ones in spandex out of many riders. Baggies dominate the scene out here. Several riders were in body armor.

Here's a photo dump. You never know how Blogger is going to place these. I name them in chronological order with 1_x, 2_y, etc, and Blogger usually places them in that order. Not this time. Too big of a hassle to shuffle them around once placed.

Dave on Rockstacker trail

Dave dropping on Captain Ahab trail

Myself on a rare flat spot on Captain Ahab

Viewpoint on Capt Ahab

Exposure on Capt Ahab. Off-camber, covered with slippery moon dust, precipitous drop
to right.  I walked it.

Kane Creek Rd heading back out after riding up top

Kane Creek Rd in morning, initial gradual climbing from the Colorado River

Amasa Back Rd, climbing in earnest

Section of Amasa Back Rd that gave experienced moto riders pause. We hiked middle rough
section.  When we got to the end of Amasa Back Rd, we talked a good while with this group of four.
Good guys.

These little lizards are everywhere. Rarely do they pause exposed long enough to capture photo.

Dave on Capt Ahab

View from high point of Amasa Back Rd

Looking towards La Sal Mountains from terminus of Amasa Back Rd

I could not look down while Dave took this photo. 1000ft straight down between my knees.
Dave on Rockstacker
Dave on one of many hike-a-bikes on Rockstacker trail

We finished the ride with 30 miles, 3400ft of climbing, in 3.9hrs moving time on the Garmin. A very slow ride to be sure, especially considering that about 10 of those 30 miles were flat pavement.  One more riding day left in the trip. Saturday will most like be a day out at Kondike Bluffs, or maybe doubling up between Klondike and Brands trails nearby.


Paul said...

The Captain Ahab trail was designed and built by the guys at Poison Spider - same guys who got the replacement Yeti part so quickly.

Steve Power said...

Just absolutely fabulous photographs Doug. Thank you for taking the time to post these. I follow your blog pretty regularly, but I liked these so well I posted the link to them on my FB page.