Saturday, April 26, 2008

Beauty and the Zone

We have been coming to Moab for 10 years, and yet never tire of the beauty each ride offers. Amasa Back is one trail that is on our agenda every visit, and each time it is fresh and inspiring. It is never dull nor evokes that feeling of yea, yea been there done that.

Last year’s ride on Amasa was more of an adventure than for which I bargained. Less than ½ a mile from the top, my derailleur was destroyed by a flying rock. In the blink of an eye, my 5” sweet ride became a 28 lb appendage with no drivetrain. Despite what you may hear, Amasa is not all downhill from the top. Even though we had climbed for 7 miles, there are plenty of flats and short uphills that are easier to ride when assisted by a chain working around the teeth of chainrings.

Running a bike the better part of an otherwise spectacular downhill was not the optimal way to end a ride. This time on Amasa was going to be better for me. I followed my posse out to the trailhead with high hopes. It was time to take back Amasa Back!
The scenery was as beautiful as ever made complete by my perfectly functioning MotoLite.
Plenty of photo ops were to be had on the way up.

All your effort of climbing is more than aptly rewarded at the Overlook. I could hang out here all day soaking in the views, watching the birds soar on wind drafts, while the sun’s warm rays melt away my cares.

Six years ago we rode here with HFly, a Moab local with mad bike skills. He took us beyond the overlook and back down a route that at the time was secret and only know by a few locals. Rock Stacker has now been let out of the bag, but we decided not to take it today. Our California friend, Juan, had ridden it the day before and warned us of the high creek crossing at the bottom. Since this would be Mikey’s first taste of Moab, we wanted to keep it as fun as possible. We would take the descent back down the way we came.

I would be able to redeem my lost chance at last year’s downhill. The camera went into my camelbak, not to be used again until the MotoLite Express made it to the bottom. What a beautiful and fun descent I had! Amasa Back, I’m Back!

Unfortunately, the trend continued with the derailleur malfunctions. A couple miles into the descent, Raja’s bike did something strange. His million dollar Shimano Shadow derailleur lost its spring action and hung loosely with no chain tension whatsoever. After scratching our heads forever, it was determined to be an internal problem, and the gearing was set to maximize the tension. At least he was able to pedal on the flats and not play the sans drivetrain game I played. I would not wish that on anyone!

A minor glitch in an otherwise marvelous day!As we spun back to our condo, I continued to awe at the beauty which surrounds you at every turn. Even a boring road ride turns into a feast for the senses. Raja made a quick stop at the bike shop for a new derailleur, and all was right with the world.

A little slideshow of the day's ride:

After more than 10 hours of riding over 3 days, our legs were beginning to feel the pain. For our next ride adventure it was decided a treat was in order. For Day 4 of riding, we all agreed that taking the shuttle up Sand Flats Road to the LPS trailhead was a luxury we had earned. Remember, on Day 2 of our trip we pedaled up those 14 miles for our warmup, therefore, no guilt was felt whatsoever as we let the van carry the bikes up this time 'round.

For months, Raja had been reading up on this relatively new trail, LPS, Lower Porcupine Singletrack, and surrounding area. Having gotten a taste of how great the LPS trail was on Monday's ride, we were curious to check out more. Little did we know the treat that was in store for us.
More twisty singletrack along the rim with delicious views and twisty detours onto slickrock up and over rocky ledges.It was hard to stay focused. To ride or to gawk? That is the question.What a find, what an absolute joy!We were like kids that had burst through the back of the wardrobe entering the magical land of Narnia.Over each rise the bar was raised higher and higher. How could this get any better?It did get better, with every stroke of the pedals.
We climbed higher and higher almost touching the snow covered LaSal Mountains looming before us.
Then we were in the snow. As we rode along, each of us could randomly be heard bursting out, My gosh this is gorgeous!

We turned around after 3.5 miles of exploring. The smiles on our faces would not go away.The thrill of this trail combined with the anticipation of the LPS downhill to come made us ecstatic.
Time to enjoy more delicious downhill singletrack. Once again, I tucked the Nikon away so I could enjoy this zippin’ rockin’ rollercoaster ride. You have to come do this. That is all I have to say.

Here's the view just before I hucked it over the wimpy guys as they hiked down the drop. No Problem! hehe

The LPS fun was over with all too soon, but now we could enjoy bombing down the doubletrack descent.
More fun on the horizon! Give me 5” baby and I’m loving it. Huck it, Cookie!
Whoohoo! This ranks up there as one of the top 3 trails in my book.

Jungle Boy was flying down the trail with all of us in hot pursuit. We came upon a group of Canucks, and had to show them how it's done. A few of the guys got chicked. You know I love doing that!

Finally it was time for the piste de resistance, the Porcupine Rim Singletrack. Since plenty of photos were taken the first time down this trail, I decided to enjoy it all for myself. Bye bye camera for now.

Then something beautiful happened. I wish I knew how it happened so the moment could be resurrected for every ride, but I honestly do not know how to explain what next took place. After hiking down a small cliffside, I found myself in front of the guys. I took off down the trail and entered the most beautiful place of harmony ever experienced in my 20 years of riding. A rhythm began in my head pulsating through my body in perfect sync. Drop offs, rocks, and ledges were no longer seen as obstacles, but rather opportunities, notes highlighting the melody of this perfect ride. I was no longer aware of the riders with me. It was just me and the trail. I was an extension of the bike.

Raja and Jungle Boy were stunned as they watched me flow down the trail. Guys walking their bikes down techy drops were merely scenery for me as I zipped around them. Fear was not a factor. This must be how the downhill pros feel. The focus, the flow, it's Beautiful to be in this Zone. Somehow I just knew everything was going to work. I did not want it to end, ever.

I had long since dropped the fellas, and was completely caught up in the moment. As the trail took a dip and a turn, my eye caught a glimpse of a rider off to the side trying to climb back up on the trail. He had crashed and was hurt. The music came to an end as I quickly realized he was more important than my flying around in nirvana.

Are you okay? "No, my chest hurts," he said in a distressed rather distant voice. I got him to sit down and assess the situation. I did not see any blood and his helmet seemed intact. His chest had broken his fall.

That's when it hits you. As fun a trail as this is, it is as dangerous. Fortunately, his buddy was hiking up the trail and was able to tend to him.

We came upon another guy that had crashed and hurt his tailbone. Oddly enough I had randomly snapped his picture further up on the doubletrack while the guys were fixing a flat tire.His buddy was lugging out their two 40lb bikes while the injured rider awkwardly and gingerly trailed along. Raja helped his buddy with one of the bikes as they hiked out of the rocky ravine. He was not envious of the poor friend having to roll out those two hefty rigs.

My posse was fine and intact with smiles on their faces. We had survived without incident and downright enjoyed ourselves.
I was still glowing from being in the Zone! Even more, I was grateful we had all pushed ourselves to the max, getting pumped from the thrill of the ride, and all without injury. It was a special day to cherish for me, sharing the spectacular beauty of this magical place with my friends on mountain bikes....sounds corny, but it is true.
A special day capped off with a brief visit in the Zone. I could not have asked for a more Beautiful day.

1 comment:

Becky said...

Wow, great story. Love the term "got chicked"! :) And your description of your time "In The Zone" is wonderful. Especially the comparisons to music. What a special time when everything comes together like that in perfect harmony!!!