Sunday, April 23, 2017

Magnificent 7: There were F-bombs

[Previously posted on FB 4/23] When in Moab, there are a few rides that are too good to miss. Yesterday I rode the (almost) Whole Enchilada. Today it was the "Mag 7." The Mag 7 links up several trails near Canyonlands National Park. Many shuttle the official route, if there is such a thing. Although the route has a downhill bias, there is considerable amount of steep, technical climbing along the way.
I did a big ride with Dave in 2013 on these trails. It was a loop and did not hit the lower portion of the Mag 7 route. Today Cathy dropped me off at the top so I could ride all the way back to town, 40+ miles. I thought with the downhill bias, this could easily be banged out in four hours, even with taking lots of pictures.
Cathy is renting a townie bike for the week, working on strengthening her new knee on the paved bike paths that lead out of town. She likes it her but has no idea how hot it gets in summer...
I sampled a good portion of the new Horsethief Trails at the height of land before embarking on the Mag 7 course. These trails were marvelous. Flowy, fast and surprises were rare. Certainly good trails for noobs to cut their teeth on before trying the Mag 7. The trailheads on Rt 313 were packed, but I encountered people only twice in 7 miles on this network.
Starting on the Mag 7, dropping in on Bull Run gives you a good taste of what you're in for over the next couple hours. Everything is rollable if you so choose. I always choose! Temps rose rapidly today, reaching into the 80's, so I was glad it was a hazy day.
In 2013, Dave and I headed back up the trail system when we got to Gold Bar. To continue the point to point ride, I continued on the Gold Bar singletrack which merges into a jeep track up the the ridge. You know those massive red cliffs you drop below heading into Moab while driving on Rt 191? Gold Bar tops out at the highest point on those bluffs. The view was magnificent, pretty much unobstructed 360 degrees. It was a brute to get up there though.
Continuing along the ridge, Golden Spike jeep track is taken. This is where the ride went to shit in a hurry. I was hoping for a relaxing cruise back to town, but the jeep track did nothing but drop off ridge and then go right back up at fall line grades. It sought out many interesting "problems" for jeeps to tackle too, which meant dismount scrambles for me. Glad I wore my new cheap Specialized shoes with sticky Slip-Not soles for this ride! Golden Spike was nothing but none-stop PUDs, pointless ups and downs, in hiking parlance. This wouldn't have been so bad if I had planned on it.
Things went downhill from there. I wasn't going to take the Portal Trail down riding solo (where several deaths have occurred), so I took option B, Poison Spider jeep track. The problem here is it's been pretty dry and numerous, sometimes lengthy sandy patches were essentially foot deep talcum powder that were impossible to ride. F-bombs! I was sipping the last four ounces of water I had for the last two hours. I brought only 90oz or so with me, not nearly enough for 6hrs working hard on a hot day. One of the jeepers did ask me earlier on Golden Spike if I was all set with water. I was at the time, not knowing what lie ahead. The jeepers were pretty impressed I rode all the way out there. I thought what's the big deal, it's less than an hour back to town... It was more like 3hrs. Golden Spike and Poison Spider jeep tracks are probably the most deserving of a "one-and-done" label of any trails I've ridden.
I was so glad when Rt 297 came into view. Been a while since I got myself into boondoggle territory, and today was a pretty good one. I finished with 45mi and 4800ft of climbing in about 5.5hrs moving time. I used both Garmin and Suunto on this ride, as the Suunto does much better capturing the minutia of elevation changes in this terrain and the Garmin does better with distance. Almost a hundred miles and 10,000ft in two days. This trip is going to kill me. 44.5mi, 4800ft, 5.9hrs.

Mustang Trail in the new Horsethief trail network

Mustang Trail with La Sal's in hazy distance

7-Up trail

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Mag 7!

No E-bikes!

Exposure on Bull Run

Slot Canyon on Bull Run

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Rim riding, probably still on Bull Run. Cathy would rather not see these. Sketchy selfie...

This might be on Great Escape trail with the ever present La Sal's in distance

Great Escape

Probably still Great Escape trail 
Great Escape trail? So much fun bombing this stuff with near continuous downhill slope. Heavy braking was rarely needed.

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Heading up Gold Bar jeep track

High point of Gold Bar, looking north on Hwy 191 towards SLC

View southeast from Gold Bar high point, around 5500ft elevation.

Slight zoom on the La Sal mountains.

View south from Gold Bar rim with Colorado River in distance. Ride pops out somewhere down there. Had no idea what lie ahead.

There were surprisingly few jeeps out. Encountered only three moving caravans and a few stopped. Despite my pathetic pace and ability on this terrain, I could still move along much faster than these guys.

I stopped for 10 minutes to watch this guy solve this problem on Golden Spike. Had a couple spotters giving wheel feedback. 
Almost there. That rear tire had to drop before rolling over.

Slick rock section of Golden Spike jeep track. This actually wasn't too bad of riding, except it still threw some ridiculous grades at you.

Golden Spike in a slickrock wash

Oh, if it just stayed like this the rest of the way! But a whole lotta suck was coming.

Tops of the La Sal's from Golden Spike jeep track

One of my favorite views from the ride on Golden Spike jeep track.

Then there came sandy section after sandy section on Poison Spider jeep track. Fine pixie dust kind of sand. Sucked your soul dry trying to ride it. Should have taken the Portal Trail down!

Brief non-sandy bit of Poison Spider

Heavenly sight for a weary soul, the final Poison Spider switchbacks down to Hwy 279.

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