White Rim Sandwich
It's 3am, and Cooler King and I are rolling down Kokopelli. The cold blackness is doing its best to engulf me but my lights reveal an eerie path through the high desert. With fresh Michelin Deserts on the front of our big XRs, I'm pretty sure there will be no flats today and that's good because we have 140 miles to ride before breakfast.
Toddler spawned this satanic ride idea and gave it the name "White Rim Sandwich" (with Kokopelli bread). The challenge is to ride Kokopelli's Trail from Rabbit Valley to Moab, then the White Rim Trail, and back on the Kokopelli within 24 hours. There is no prize. As far as we know, nobody has finished the entire sandwich and I don't know if we can do it either, but it will be fun trying.
looking forward to this one.:1drink
It's freezing cold and there is only a tiny sliver of moon. With headlights painting the cliffs, Rabbit Valley is now in the distance and we are winding our way through the rocky unknown. This is fun. We are following the line on our GPS units. We suddenly reach pavement, so I wick it up. Cooler King is not keeping up because it's so cold, and soon I roll off the throttle because I too have frozen my hands. Whirrrrrr, we're cruising down the road towards the Colorado River.
We take a few minutes for a warm-up stop and get rolling again.
In for the epic ride!:clap
Thankfully, the trail has turned back to dirt, and we eventually find ourselves down by the river on singletrack. I squeeze past some ruts that could eat a bike and ride out on a ledge. The path has suddenly ended. To my left I see an immediate plunge of doom off a cliff into the river, and to my right I see an impossibly steep hill or cliff. With the helmet light I can only see the spot I look at, not the whole scene, and rather than seeing what is probably a beautiful and relaxing river scene, I'm only seeing potential disaster. The pucker factor is high. I can't tell quite how far I can roll backwards so we turn around very carefully. As cold as the air is, I'm sure the water is worse.
In about 20 feet we see a steep ascent, so up we go, squeezing between rocks. Down a steep drop and we're laughing as we barely fit between cliff and vegetation.
Up a hill, now there are volcanic looking chunks of black rock all over the place, in stark contrast to the light colored dirt. The smell of sage brush is strong as the singletrack widens into two-track.
Eventually, we see a bridge below us. It's called Dewey and it's a mother beautiful bridge. We've lost the trail and circle around about 5 times until we settle on the most likely option. The GPS track goes over the old Dewey bridge and Cooler King almost tries to take it because he doesn't know that it no longer has a road deck. :lol3 The new bridge is a good place for a wheelie, so I signal Batman with my headlights pointing into the night sky.
We ride over the bridge and through some fast dirt road sections. The horizon is getting bright and I'm feeling energized.
We've stopped at a mildly gnarly uphill to take a quick break. I remove my helmet light. The scenery is beautiful in the rising sun as we charge towards the infamous Rose Garden Hill. It feels like we are getting close because the terrain is becoming more rocky with more ledges and big cliffs.
Suddenly I'm at the top of something big. It has to be Rose Garden. :eek1
"2nd floor, hardware, childrenswear, ladies lingerie. Oh, good morning Mr. Tyler... going... down?"
I'm picking my way down the hill one ledge at a time, my oversized front brake rotor is controlling the hulking weight of La Porcina Roja Grande, aka Godzilla Mankilla.
Finally both of us are at the bottom.
Whew, that actually wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, although it is pretty gnarly. I'm looking forward to breakfast now.
Flying through Fisher Valley, we take a quick detour through a wash where the road is completely missing. It's fast and fun, dodging ruts and washouts. Up we go again, the snow capped La Sal mountains getting closer. A fat brown bear runs across the road a ways in front of me. Eventually, we find ourselves on pavement and it is absolutely frigid, even in the sun. Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. My heated grips are on but they are not enough. Oh no, we're on a long shady stretch of road. I have to stop to warm up so I pick a nice sunny patch. Cooler King doesn't see me stop and continues out of sight around a bend. I place my hands on the air cooled engine, ceremoniously anointing it, until the heat soaks through my flesh and I continue onward. I find Cooler King on the side of the road doing the same thing. Brrrrrr, we can't wait to get out of the mountains. CK says "how much farther to breakfast?" I check and the GPS says about 25 miles as the buzzard flies. He says "let's stop in Moab for some thick leather gloves."
Down the mountain we go, shivering. :vardy Oh, I missed the turn off for the dirt, ah, there we go, this is a nice trail. Bouncy bouncy, we're quickly going down in elevation. Woohoo, Sand Flats Road, I can smell that burrito.
Then, Sand Flats, and it pains me to pass up a ride on Slickrock. I tell the dude at the Sand Flats gate that we had just come from Colorado. Really? Yup. He thinks that's pretty swell and says we don't have to pay because we're not using the Sand Flats trails.
The next thing we know, we're sucking down New Mexican burritos and tasty muffins at Love Muffin Cafe. The folks at Love Muffin are being really good to us, although I'm having a hard time talking and shoving food in my mouth at high velocity. As we're leaving, one of them gives us a personal number for help if we need it (we didn't ask for it). That place is great.
We cross the street to the Shell station for some fuel and water refills. CK only drank a few sips so far, I had almost a half gallon. I had pre-packaged several portions of electrolyte powder mix into zip-lock bags. So I'm standing there at the gas pump pouring what looks like cocaine into my backpack. Haha, that's how we do it, this train runs on cocaine!
We deposit the half-used water jug next to the pumps. I can't help myself: "That's for KTMs" I say, and then we roll out of there. :rofl
Then like boom, we're out to Potash and it's about 11am, feeling cool and nice. Through the potash evaporating ponds we go and they sure are blue. One minor navigational problem later and we're now on our way to the White Rim.
At the White Rim, we ride for a while and meet a nice ranger. We cruise to Murphy's Hogback, take a quick break, and shed a bunch of clothing. Several mountain bikers are gathered here taking a break also and shooting the breeze. One of the drivers of a support vehicle says he's done this (the White Rim) in a day on his GS and asks where we're coming from today.
"Oh, Rabbit Valley."
I walk 40 feet back over to my bike and hear:
"THEY SAID THEY CAME FROM RABBIT VALLEY! THAT'S UP BY GRAND JUNCTION!"
One granola bar later and we're rolling again. The evaporative cooling effect from my sweat-soaked shirt feels great. The way down to the river is offering up some nice sandy straight track and we're taking full advantage of it. It feels like riding in a big old Cadillac, just smooth and cushy. We blast right through the sandy wash bottom, the Michelin AC10 rear tires chewing through the soft dry sand like eating a whole pack of Big League Chew at once. Delicious. Stuff it all in your mouth and try not to drool too much.
Up the red cliffs, down the red cliffs. We get to Mineral Bottom and blast up to the top and back out toward the Island in the Sky. I can smell that burger all the way from here. No no no, I can TASTE it. Out to 191, back to Moab, and we make a pit stop for more fuel and water, then head to Milt's. It's about 4:15pm.
While Cooler King is waiting in line at Milt's, I'm refilling water and cocaine, I mean, electrolyte solution. People are asking questions and one guy says it was 21 degrees F at his house in Moab this morning. No wonder we were so cold. CK eventually gets the food: bacon double cheeseburgers, massive baskets of fries, and small chocolate shakes. OH YES THIS IS GOOD. HOLY CRAP. MMMMMMMFFFF
Ok... it looks like we will get back to Rose Garden in the daylight if we move it. Let's go! Through Sand Flats, up the Kokopelli, launching over water bars. The road section isn't very cold this time. There's the bear again, good day to you Mister Bear. At Fisher Valley we blow past a couple of KTMs that were headed in the other direction... aside from a couple of mountain bikes near Sand Flats, these were the only people we've seen on the Kokopelli. The trail is getting very rocky.
There it is. Rising like a massive serpent into the sky, Rose Garden Hill is outstretched above us. Our major obstacle, the thing that's been lurking over our heads all day. We drop the air pressure in our tires until they are practically flat and remove jackets and earplugs. This hill is going down!
This is awesome!
What a great idea! Love those early morning rides that last
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