New Mexico makes 44

Dateline: Gallup, NM

Yesterday I drove out into USFS land to Quaking Aspen TH for local trails. I drove I-40 and exited @ Fort Wingate to drive up into forest. An older white Ford pick up followed me up road and turned in behind me. I’m paranoid for some reason and I think I fouled this dfriver and he followed mw out to settle some unknown score. I get out and start walking towards truck, driver is out walking towards me. i see a bike handlebar sticking over the bed edge and suddenly everything is cool.

Jack introduces himself, he followed me because of my van. He is a local and involved w/ these trails. We strike up a friendly conversation and offers a beer. Beer goes down and conversation goes on. Another midwestern transplant from Wis & has been thru SPokane. He offers a shower for Thurs. eve. I try and talk him in to a ride today to show me the trails but he said he felt he needeed to do house chores as he had ridden the last 3 days.

Another rider was in TH, Blaine, a Navajo Indian. He is havong some bike issues so i helped as i could. He shared some personal stories about spirits and Native Culture. He gave me an Indian weapon carving. He shared w/ me because he knows I am an explorer.

He left and Jack and a buddy show up on their evening ride. I offer beers and they down one & complete their ride.

34 deg in AM. Fridge cut out several times during night because of elevation in excess of 3500′, camped @ 7600′ there abouts.

Bfast @ TH and putzed around waiting for sun warmth. Beautiful day: sunshine, no clouds, no humidity, ride temp in low 70s. A pickup pulls in and a guy gets his bike and splits before  I can ask for a rdie share. I leave a bit later following the well mapped trails thur P-pine & open forest floor, flat desert forest. I catch up w/ rider and ride his wheel for a while before we stopped. Met Doug, 65 yo local. We struck up a conversation & shared the ride. Doud is a tough old codger as he has ridden his road bike self supported just finishing a ride to SC. First rider I have ridden with older than me. he is a bit slower than me and I enjoy the high elevation pace that allows me to sort of breathe. Our trails split but we umplanned rejoined @ Sheet rock stock pen and chatted over snacks. We rode a new trail in system. These trails are mostly scatch & ride. later I learned from Jack that they can ride a trail in in about 6 months.

At the TH Doug said he was going to do another ride up to fire tower and I joined him following his wheel. We climbed the fire tower. Doug is a solitary person like me but we each allowed each other to share our selves. Iasked Doug if he ever thought about writing his adventures and he said no as there are so many other stories already. he invited me over to meet his wife & son & a shower. For another day.

I drove back into Gallup & called Jack to accept his shower offer. His house is SW w/ stucco & adobe. I know that if I ever build another house the inside will be the exposed timber & adobe. More great conversation. he seems to be leaning to a ride tomorrow. He is a grade school teacher and their school is on spring break. Really neat house like i would want. SW architecture.

Drove to Safeway parking lot for a grocery dinner. While eating Brett sees my van and starts up a conversation. He is driving thru and is a mountain biker and wanted to talk. He and his buddy are cooking out on the tailgate in parking lot.

Amazing driving E on I-40: Desert. Exit and climb S and low and behold I am in P-pine forest and no slab sandstone. What a change.

Emailed Stan the writer of the guide book and he replied and invited in several other people & I have a big ride for Sat. Cool.

So, off to drive back up into forest for high elveation acclimation.

Fastly typed competing w/ the clock.

Confessions of a Coaster Geek

Dateline: Gallup, NM

To confess is better than to be found out. I paid $15 for a shuttle ride to upper TH of Porcupine Rim Trail, eliminating maybe 2 hours & 3000′ road ride. During the ride I learned there are 4 shuttle services in Moab for just mountain bikers. I struck up conversation w/ this petite young woman before getting into the van. She rides a composite hard tail as is hers. She and her boyfriend are from Montreal. She sat next to me in the van and we continued chatting. her boyfriend rode up what we drove up.

It is true that Porcupine Rim Trail is longer and sad to say better to take the shuttle to top. The services just received permission from USFS to go all the way to 11,000′. Moab is 4,xxx’, imagine almosy 7,xxx downhill.

As it was we were dropped off @ upper TH for a 3300′ drop with 600′ of climb. $ grudgingly parted w/ but well enjoyed. Fresh snow dusted the ground from last night’s storm. The first part was new to me. It is above the old entry point where there was an uphill jeep trail to get to rim proper. However there is The Notch that is a treacherous drop a bike cliff face to get down. The trail stays right along the rim’ edge like the Wilson Lake trail, albeit much greater consequence of a blunder. Then the old rim trail is joined. I rode it way better than my previous ride back in maybe ’04. I have more confidence in my ability from all the technical riding I have done and the fantastic suspension tuning from PUSH, and, oh, The bike itself, my Turner Spot.

The lower single track section dfropping off the rim to the river below has had some helpful rework but it is mostly the hung on the edge of canyon rims and difficult. Quite a few places still require walking.

Finally down onto pavement and ride back into town, past the closed spring and the reforestation of the valley bottom. Tamarask(?) grows like Scotchbroom on flood plains chocking out native cottonwoods that are being restored. The spring closure is contentious. I scanned a front page newspaper article that the city government is considering how to legally reopen it to satisfy public request.

Stopped @ Visitor bureau for a list of places offering showers. Picked the KOA S of town. Nice shower facilities for $5.00.

Back into town @ Gearhead parking lot for groceries across street, filtered h2o,  & laundromat. I spied a hair salon with a sign soliciting walkins. I saw a woman washing the front window so I had an inkling that there were no customers. I needed a grooming. I had $10 cash. I walked in and exchanged greetings and told the owner (only person present) that I had &10 to pay for a trim and she accepted my offer. I look better kempt.

New laundromat w/ nicer facilities.

A truck w/ 2 road bikes pulled into a parking lot and guy Troy, spoke to me. He said he saw me @ Fruita out on road 18. He told me that he and his friend Rachael were camped out near Sovereign TH and invited me to join them. They are in their maybe mid 20’s. Just a few exchanges into conversation I asked them uncharacteristically how they were playing the big Goof. Pretty personal. They wondered the same of me. Rachael was a ski instructor @ Aspen and saved her tips. I do not recall what Troy did but he placed 20th in the Telemark Worlds. Rachael is also a sponsored downhill bike racer.

I drove out there. Great place to camp up against rocky ridge just before crossing sand wash to TH that i didn’t want to drive across. Later they arrived as did 3 other single guys. I met Eugene who works for McKenzie in Oakridge, OR, home of the Powderpuff and ALpine trail. I met McKenzie on 2 previous visits. Chris works for Cog Wild in Bend, OR where I have ridden several times. I met 2 contacts and shared some common history that felt good.  Chris and Tory each have VW Vanagons. Something for young people to have old people’s rigs. And they were listening to Led Zepplin played loudly and commenting about the musicians way more than my knowledge when it was new back in late 60s. Young people.

Woke up to sunny AM. Fixed bfast & did some weak internet work and geared up to ride the Sovereign trail. Said goodbye to 3 guys and told them I will look them up. Chris kept telling me that the fall riding in Moab is special and that they ride usually way up high where upper Porc Rim trail starts. Hmmm, too many enjoyable fall places to ride.

Rode sand wash to TH. I am the first person on trail. Another technical ride that was rather flat but @ end of out & back ride I rode 15.88 miles and climbed 2020′ on combination of slickrock and sand. Better ride, made more moves. Felt flat, low heart rate but heavy breathing. Chatted with a woman riding the first Turner Spot DW link bike I have seen on the trail. She was happy and enjoying it, however she left a junk bike for the Turner so she had a different perspective on how good it is. Told her about PUSH. 4 guys showed up and 1 was riding an older Sultan. I caught up w/ him later and gave him a PUSH pitch. Further back to TH I walked a tech move and a rider resting on a trailside rock spoke to me. He told me he was beat from riding the 3rd day and was looking for improvements. I told him about PUSH and went on about how is riding would be so much better. At the end he said he felt like he had just been to a Scientology session. Oh well, the unPUSHed.

Plan is to drive down to Gallup, NM and ride NM and  AZ. Headed out of town accordingly. Land became drier & drier w/ less & less plant life. drove over to 4 Corners monument that is on Navajo res. They waived the $3.00 admission as they were about to close. All I had time for were a few pictures & drove the van 2x around monument. No bike ride.

Route to Gallup, NM was thru Indian res and I did not want to dirtbag camp as i was uncertain what their response would have been. Plus it was pretty barren. i drove down 491 in dark. Van headlights are focused too close in on low beams so i potentially overdrive my lights which is dangerous and no fun. And I jumped onto old rt 66 again. I picked a side street and found a gravel parking lot outside Amerigas propane dealer for the night. I needed propane anyway and this worked.

Dead tired so I immediately went to bed. Temp dropped during night, cool for even all the blankets. Turned heater on when I got up. Ate bfast while waiting for propane people to arrive. Finally did and I asked if I could buy propane here. A driver said he could fill me from his truck when he started his rounds. Cool, remote delivery.

Here I am in New Mexico, my 43rd state. I am resting today. I tweaked my right knee like when i torn the meniscus and am concerned. Rest just means I won’t use it for a day.

I found a trail guide book for Gallup that I will purchase later today and plan my rides. The author claims a rider could ride here for 20 days and not ride anything a second time and why would you want to ride anywhere else. Claims, too many of them. Desert riding. I have been told that if it gets too warm just ride higher up in mountains. My altimeter reads 6230′ and the fridge is not consistently lighting because of elevation.

Mel, I have ridden 2880 miles on the Turner and driven around 25,000 miles.

Mark, I will post those siderock picts. Tell me about your full suspension bike purchase.

Off to other things.

A day on Slick Rock

Dateline: Moab, UT Sand Flats XG

Last night b4 10:00 a diesel pusher RV pulled into my safe spot. Sure call attention to me why don’t you. They were quiet.

Hot engine noise up & down Main street. But @ 10:00 a coordinated quiet descended: All loud car noise ceased! Able to sleep and no cop rousting.

Diesel fired up engine as I was getting out of bed and left shortly after. Drove up to Slick Rock TH, just a few rigs in the lot and fixed scratch pancakes.

Chilly morn but no wind or rain. Parking lot filling up.

Took off to ride the practice loop to see how new brake worked and if my cluster wasn’t worn from old chain. Practice loop had some good test climbs & drops and both worked well. The new Formula brake is white and after the pads settled in the stopping power was grand. The cluster is slightly worn but the chain never skipped under standup I gotta crank this pedal or fall over backwards.

Continued on the main trail which is a path of white dashes on the slick rock. This slick rock is exposed sandstone and there is nothing slick about it for our rubber mtn bike tires. It is called slick rock because of the early horse days with iron shoes the rock was indeed slick. There are more riders on the trail than I have ever seen, for the most part everyone was considerate. I made all but a few steep climbs, my engine is loosing performance. Trail is 10.36 miles & 1928′ vert. Grinders.

Riding Moab is like nothing else, like skiing Utah powder or riding FATS. There are many very steep sections so steep that if you were riding your home tread you would have spun out long ago. There is an amazing side hill gully where you ride your side knobs for friction. Unbelievable.

really, it' steeper than the picture shows
really, it's steeper than the picture shows

Finished ride & hung in parking lot waiting till 3:00 to find and open campsite. This AM driving in the sign said full. I needed to wait until weekenders headed home.

Picked site on first loop just past the closed campsite where I first camped back in ’92. Went for a walk on slickrock, amazing what even hiking shoes can do for traction.

Fixed dinner & cleaned up and a storm blew in. I am parked somewhat broadside to wind which is rocking the van. Wind gauge read 34mph. Hardly a drop of rain  in it. But blowing dust, real fine: it is in the air and on the keyboard.

Got some sun to add to my biker tan: my arms are brown from the edge of my gloves to my jersey hem line, everything else is blindingly white.

Living in my van is advantageous with these storms as I can shut openings and be protected and comfortable not exposed like the tent campers.

Sunday music is classical: Straus’ Blue Danube.

Plan tomorrow is to drive back down into town and then ride back out here to do Porcupine rim trail & back into town, about 33 miles. Today from up on top I looked down on the bottom parking lot which was plugged. Don’t know if they were all from the shuttle from town riders or not. Won’t have any weekenders tomorrow.

Weekenders: When i was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail we called the weekend hikers we encountered as Wally Weekenders because they hiked from Sat to Sunday and we had the trail to ourselves during the work week.

Saw maybe 6 VW campers, they are still on the road although in diminishing numbers.

Buddy Tom Zysk from Spokane is in China on a work assignment. he sent a link to a hike he just did. Impossible! Over time I had seen these same pictures showing the trail is (3) 2 x 4s together on the side of a vertical rock wall with the hand line being  a chain bolted into the rock. Pretty airy. Several pictures had him in it so i know that it is real instead of a Tom prank. Way to go Tom.

This desert riding is so familiar to me, I have almost forgotten riding in the eastern broadleaf forests w/ no vistas.