Posted April 27, 2004
Porcupine Rim Trail (DH style)
We were in Moab last weekend to help with the Tour de Canyonlands XC race and get in some riding action. On Saturday, after we wrangled hay bales and parking cones, we gathered a crew and took on the famous Porcupine Rim Trail. Porc' is one of those must-do Moab rides, and I was stoked to finally add it to my life list.
The full loop -- from town, up into the mountains, down to the river and back to town -- stretches 28 miles, with 3,600 feet of climbing and descending in about four hours. (Here's a map and more info.) Us, we were less into spinning up a dirt road and more into hammering our downhill bikes through rock sections. So we loaded the bikes into a trailer, climbed into a van and did it shuttle style.
This sight warms my heart -- even if I was the only one with a squiggly S on his head tube.
From the trail head we had a bastard of a climb. On a XC bikes it would have been a pretty mellow middle-ring spin punctuated by a few rock ledges. On DH bikes it was a full-force standathon puctuated by a few hikes. Never has a whole body workout been so fun -- or easy!
After an hour of trudging, we topped out on the Porcupine Rim. Behind us, snowmelt trickled off the La Salle mountains. To our right, a cliff dropped to Castle Valley. Straight ahead, the AWD road gradually ran down the rim.
The lack of steepness required some serious pedaling. We made our own lines on the wide jeep road, eschewing the worn berms for straight routes over the roughest of rocks. In the flat rock gardens, it was amazing how much faster you'd go by entering slow, staying light and pumping the backs of the rocks. Every time I tried to pedal through those sections, my bike got all balled up, and I slowed almost to a stop. The best sections were definitely the steepest: I felt like an Evel Kneivel Stunt Cycle riding down a tile roof: Drop, drop, drop, double to backside, drop, drop ... We trained along the unfamiliar terrain, Ross or Steve or Jared in front, max heart rates, wringing the trail for all it was worth.
Between the fun (steep) sections we just pedaled along the wide dirt path, wishing we were on five-inch bikes with faster tires and longer seatposts.
The trail gradually veers off the rim and becomes singletrack -- more technical and definitely more fun. We ran along the southern slope of Jackass Canyon, 1,200 feet above the Colorado River. The trail became sinuous, and every left turn around an outcropping became a must-do move.
The road ride:
At hour three we dropped onto Highway 128 and formed my first-ever DH-bike paceline: Steve in front with his full-face helmet on his bars, with the rest of the gang crouched behind him, spinning single rings with seats too low and Super Tacky rubber growling on the pavement. We were a bunch of tired, hungry, thirsty monkeys. We got a drink at the natural spring at the base of the cliff at Highway 191, turned left and spun into town.
Steve and Lisa spun all the way back to our bed and breakfast (burly!), while the rest of us stopped by the Tour of Canyonlands party at Poison Spider Bicycles. Just as we rolled up, a bunch of sandwiches came off the grill and disappeared into our grateful gullets. What a miracle. Race promoter Eric Jean loaned us his truck, which we took back to comfort. No sense mashing out those extra miles. This might have been a four-hour ride, but hey, it was still a DH shuttle.
Home Email Lee
© 2004 Lee McCormack. All rights reserved.