We arranged a private guided mountain biking tour with Rim Tours. Our guide, Russ, was at the RV park office right at 8 AM and we headed about 15 minutes North of town to an area called Moab Brands.
Russ climbed up on top of the van and lowered the bikes down to us, and I was immediately impressed.
The bikes were 2020 Santa Cruz Bronsons, a full suspension model that had a handlebar mounted thumb switch to lower the seat post for gnarly descents. It weighed a good bit less than my road bike! They come in both aluminum and Carbon Fiber. I think ours were carbon fiber, but I’m not sure. If you look closely at the drive train, you will see a single, tiny front chain ring and a 12 speed rear cassette, with a 50 tooth big cog. That is an insanely low gear! Apparently all mountain bikes these days have that single front chainring setup. A quick look online shows a retail price starting at $3499.
We started out on some pretty mellow singletrack – the RustySpur trail on the map above. We then moved onto the Bar M trail which featured some technical, rocky climbing.
We stopped for a break on slickrock overlooking a canyon, and then were off on a lot of technical double track, with some pretty decent sized drops and uphills. I have to say that the bike was fantastic, just making this stuff seem easy. It was by far the best mountain bike I’ve ever ridden (ok, and the most expensive). I certainly would not have been able to do this stuff on my old hardtail! When I came up to some downhill challenging stuff, I would just thumb the seat adjuster and sit down for a second to lower the seat, then take the terrain standing, back over the rear wheel. When through, just flick the switch and the seat pops back up. Awesome! Miranda, having only been mountain biking a few times, quickly got the hang of it after one little washout on some loose dirt at the beginning of the ride. Soon she was hammering along and handling the variety of terrain with confidence.
We wound up on the Circle O trail, which is all slickrock. A painted line marks the trail across the rock, encouraging cyclists to stay on the trail and minimize the damage to the fragile ecosystem. In contrast to the name, the slickrock was pretty grippy, though anything but smooth. After that we had a final climb up to the top of the ridge along North 40, and then bombed back down to the parking lot.
Miranda and I agreed that we’d become mountain bikers if we could ride something like the Santa Cruz Bronson. We had a great time and really appreciated Russ’ knowledge of the area and coaching on the technical aspects of riding the variety of terrain that we encountered. If you want to ride in Moab, I’d highly recommend Russ and Rim Tours.
Arches National Park
We got back from our mountain biking adventure before noon and decided to head back out to Arches National Park, which is just North of Moab. The ride up into the park snakes up the side of one of the Mesas and then rounds the corner to a valley full of wind carved mesas, spires and other geological objects that I can’t describe. All very impressive and easily viewed from the park road. We stopped at Balance Rock, which we saw from a distance on the bike ride and had some lunch in the RV.
The photos above are of balanced rock and then others from the Windows section of the park, including double arch and and unnamed formation that looks to me like a bust of a person. After a bit of walking around in the heat of the afternoon, the effects of the morning expedition were getting the better of us, so we ventured on to get a view of Delicate Arch before the mandatory visitor center stop and return to town.
Sunset UTV tour at Hell’s Revenge
First, what is a UTV? UTV stands for “Utility Terrain Vehicle” and is different from an “All Terrain Vehicle”, which is also referred to as a quad, and accommodates a single rider. The UTV has side by side seating for two, four, or even six people, and is more jeep-like. These are four wheel drive vehicles powered by motorcycle engines with a high and low gear. So, pretty serious off-road vehicles.
Second, what is Hell’s Revenge? I probably should have asked that question myself…
Hell’s Revenge consists of a six and one half mile roller coaster ride across the slickrock fins east of the town of Moab. It is extremely difficult, and recommended only for very experienced drivers with advanced equipment.https://www.blm.gov/visit/hells-revenge-trailhead
OK. So, we heard that Moab was a pretty cool place to do offroading, so we had called around to see if we could do a Sunset Tour. All the tour companies were pretty busy, and the tours were either booked up or we couldn’t get through to anyone. Sitting in traffic on the way back from Arches (they are widening the main road into Moab) I was able to get hold of Jessica at Ultimate UTV tours and she was able to get us into a tour starting in just one hour. So, after a quick t-shirt hunting expedition in town, we worked our way back to their place.
Three other couples joined us, with Jessica leading, and we headed out to the trailhead on the outskirts of Moab. We were right behind Jessica, and immediately from the beginning climb up (and I mean up) a narrow slickrock spine, I began to understand the trail name. Have I mentioned that I have a fear of heights?
Well, I need not have worried as these vehicles crawled over terrain that should have been impossible to pass, over boulders, up impossibly steep bits of slickrock and back down what looked at times like vertical drops. A few times Jessica stopped to point out the yellow lines on the rock. “Keep it inside the yellow lines here. They mean that the trail turns and if you go outside of the lines you might roll over”. OK. Miranda was vigilant with pointing out the yellow lines, and began a litany of shouting “You’ve got this dad! Confidence!”. I don’t know if this was for my benefit or hers.
Our guide, Jessica, really wanted Miranda to take a turn behind the wheel, but Miranda steadfastly refused. As we were finishing up the ride her comment was “This was really cool, but I am never doing it again!”.
We finished the day with Pizza at Antica Forma, which Russ recommended as the best Pizza in Moab. We’d have to agree, and Miranda went so far as to claim that it was the best Pizza she had since returning from Europe. She also explained, by the way, that French Pizza sucks.
A relatively short run tomorrow will take us to Mesa Verde National Park, and then on to Durango.