Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mag 7 - Moab Day 6

Wednesday was supposed to be the capstone ride of our trip, the White Rim Trail. It is a point-to-point ride, 78 miles of jeep road in the Canyonlands National Park. Closing the loop on dirt and paved roads brings the mileage to over 100. Things kind of fell apart last minute. Dave broke his Yeti frame on Monday. A warranty replacement rear triangle was due in at Poison Spider Cycles on Wednesday. He really wanted to get off the heavy rental bike and back on his own bike. Splitting into two riding groups with complicated car shuffling after the White Rim ride would almost certainly have prevented Dave from picking up his part in time. Plus we weren't really in the mood to be out there for 10-12 hours anyway. So we bailed and opted for a logistically simpler ride, aMagnificent 7 loop ride.

The Mag 7 trail system was recently built on the fringes of Canyonlands.  Since RichB raved about these trails after hitting them a few days ago, I was really looking forward to riding there. Better now than this weekend. Enduro races are slated for Saturday, effectively shutting the area down this weekend.

The temperature plummeted here from Tuesday, 20-30F colder. We narrowly escaped the snow storm that wacked Colorado, even shutting down Denver Airport I'm told. The weather front deposited a fresh blanket of white on the nearby La Sal mountains. Arm warmers and wind shells were needed starting out.

Our route took us a few miles up paved Rt 313 to pick up the 7-up trail. This climbs to the height of land where the Mag 7 trails begin.

Heading up on 7-up Trail. At times barely-there doubletrack, singletrack further up.

7-up Trail following canyon rim.
Good thing Dave and I didn't commit to the WRT. We were pathetic excuses for riders. We limped up 7-up. The wind was awful too, and we couldn't help but thinking of the others on WRT, even if they scored mostly tail wind.

Ledge riding on Bull Run, beginning of the Mag 7 meander to bottom.

Gemini Bridges. Looks like single arch, but a 2ft wide gap in middle splits it into two arches.
Easy to miss and fall through, dropping hundreds of feet.

Dave on Little Canyon Trail.

After bottoming out on Little Canyon Trail, we popped back out on Gemini Bridges Rd for a slog back to the top to hit another series of singletrack trails back down. This climb sucked donkey balls. 40mph wind, sand in face, loose sand to ride in at times. Took an eternity, but we didn't want to miss any of the recently minted upper trails.

This second way down used Gateway and Great Escape trails. Gateway proved marvelously satisfying. It oozed flow. Brakes were rarely needed. And when you couple great flow with drop dead scenery, you have a masterpiece of a trail. Gateway meandered from slickrock canyon rim riding, to ridgeline, to wide open desert with mountain views.

Dave on Gateway Trail. I wonder if it is called gateway, as in gateway drug. This
trail possessed flow that would get newbies to MTB immediately addicted.

HJ on Great Escape Trail.

When we popped out on Gemini Bridges Rd again to drop back down to the car, I was dismayed, no, pissed we had to climb in sand into that heinous wind again before dropping. Dave sensed my agitated glycogen depleted state and dropped me like a turd on this climb just to make me more miserable. It worked.

Gooney Bird Rock on Gemini Bridges Rd heading out. Wind gusts were powerful enough to
to fling gravel in your face.

Climb from hell. 40mph wind in face, double digit grade. 5+ hours riding in legs. Ride
out was supposed to be all downhill. This went up flanks of Arths Rim before dropping.

We finished with 48.2mi, 4700ft of climbing in 5.3hrs moving time on the Garmin. Six days of hard riding are taking a toll. Thursday looks like a "easy" day, maybe doubling up rides right from town, like the Slickrock Trail and Pipe Dream. The Mag 7 ride was easily my most enjoyable Utah ride to date. Combination of intermediate-advanced terrain and killer scenery elevate Mag 7 to this lofty status.

The day was a big success. Dave's part came in, we returned the rental, and got the Yeti back up and running. Major kudos to Poison Spider Cycles for moving so quickly on getting Dave going again, especially since they didn't sell him the bike and might never see him again.

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