Saturday, November 10, 2018

The White Rim Trial, Moab 2018

Moab Utah is one my favorite ride destinations.  As I have said before it is an outdoor playground where everyone from hikers, bikers, climbers, motorcyclists, 4Wheelers, etc. all get along together. This is demonstrated on the 100 mile White Rim Trail. This trail outside of Moab in the Canyon Lands National Park is a 4 wheel drive double track trail that is not technical for a mountain bike, but the views are spectacular and you can find some more challenging rides along the canyon walls.

White Rim 2018:
This trip was the brain child of my younger brother Curtis who is an Overlander and provides medical services for wilderness events.  There are a limited number of campsites which must be reserved in advance as they limit the number of permits for camping.  We did the "loop" in three days and two nights.  That included two almost 40 miles days and 20 miles finish.  4-Wheelers and motorcycles could do the entire thing in one day, but with the heat (depending on the time of year) a mountain biker needs two to three days (unless you are a pro) because you can't carry enough water.  So it really needs to be a supported ride for us "mere mortals."

We had four rigs (a Toyota Highlander, Toyota Helix, Jeep Cherokee, and a 2001 Suburban) and 11 mountain bikers.  The one thing to point out, this is not a trail for a cross bike, heavy old mountain bike or for the non-fit rider.  While it is double track, is bumpy, rocky, sandy with punchy climbs.  And if you don't stay hydrated even before you begin, you'll be in trouble.  We had four of our riders give up after the first four hours.

What We Learned:
  1. Water - The biggest thing we learned was that water is key.  The campsites have out-houses but there is no running water.  And you need to be drinking all the time, let a lone cooking and clean-up.  On the first day I had water in my Camelback, but I didn't pre-drink.  As a result when the temps hit 100 (mid-May for us) I couldn't drink enough to stay ahead and got dehydrated by mile 40 and our first camp.
  2. Shade - There is no real shade.  Our first campsite had one tree that we clustered under.  So we also had some tarps that we could stretch between vehicles or you looked for large rocks to get behind.
  3. Wind - You are exposed, so the wind can be an issue as you are riding, camping or cooking.  Cooking is when we noticed it the most as it would blow out the flame on your stove or make it so things took longer to cook.  Also when riding in a headwind with the temp in the 100's can really dry you out and sap your energy.
  4. Cell Service - It is very spotty, so you need to make sure that you need with you for food, water, mechanical and medical.
  5. Fire - As warm as it was during the day, it can cool off and you can have a fire in the designated fire pits.  So bring wood.
  6. Power - If you have a phones (for pictures and emergencies), GoPro's, GPS watch, etc. you are going to want a means to recharge them.  We had a small generator, spare batteries and  solar chargers to keep things going.
  7. Views - take the time to look at the views and there are many.  You are driving along the canyon most of the time. So stop and look.  I also took time to leave the road and drive along the ridge in several spots (which gave some of our crew the "willies"). Also you can't beat the view of the stars you'll get.  There is no light bleed from a city.
  8. Direction - You can ride it both ways, but I recommend for a bike ride to do it clockwise. I felt that the downhills were much longer going that direction.
  9. Bonus - Since you are close to Moab, allow some extra days to ride the trails around there, we road Porcupine Rim (and ate at Milts).


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