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· This place needs an enema
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had a chance to get back to the Colorado Plateau last week. It required heaps of driving for the allotted time off, but the itinerary and company promised to be worthy. We left gravel immediately and wended our way down some packed sand doubletrack, courtesy of an extended monsoon season.

The route idea was mine, a variation on other routes I've explored in this zone. Which meant that it was on me to do the navigating, a task I failed at three or four times -- gaining bonus miles and vert each time -- before I reluctantly paid less attention to catching up with my compadres and more to staring at the track on my phone.

If this area were a pair of -- say -- corduroy pants, then we largely crossed the ribs for the first few miles before turning into one of the valleys and following it down for a spell.

Permit me a brief digression into tire choice here, won't you?

One of our group lives a few minutes from this loop. Rides out here all the time. Claims to pay attention to what the weather, rain, etc... are doing. When I called him a few days before to discuss appropriate tire sizes for the route and conditions, he assured me that 2.8's would be "plenty". I'd been jonesing to ride my chosen rig with her plumper meats, but he insisted that all the recent monsoonal moisture made big tires superfluous. Said he'd be on 2.8's himself. I passed that info on to the Reverend, and then both of us removed our plumper meats and re-installed the skinnies.

Overall, 2.8's were a good compromise. Speedy on the hardpack and rock. Light for the climbs. But pretty craptacular for all of the sandy wash riding. I'd have been totally fine with that compromise if the guy that insisted 2.8's were plenty had actually stuck to his word. But he showed up with 5" meats and proceeded to ride miles of the washes while the rest of us schlepped along beside the bikes, slowly sanding the callouses off our feet.

Just like Tom and the Rev, I took it in stride while making many mental notes to sandbag Mr. Fatbike as hard as possible next chance I get.

Some of the corduroy ribs were steeper than others, keeping us engaged in all the ways one desires, without crossing the line into suffering or apprehension.

'round about here we made an on-the-fly route adjustment, forgoing a unique rock wash in favor of descending more sand that wouldn't then need to be climbed in the morning. I considered the section we abandoned to be the jewel of the route, but my opinion didn't sway Mr. Fatbike one iota. Down the wash we went.

I hadn't been here in ~3 years, and was surprised at how much moisture was still present in the soil and puddles, and flat stunned at how much damage had been done by moto riders avoiding the wet spots. Just because you can does not mean you should. I've heard rumors of this wash getting closed to motorized use and I'd heartily support that decision.

Somewhere shortly after this shot was taken the light faded and we sussed out a campsite above the most recent high water line. Tarps were strung, fire was kindled, sleep mats were inflated, jokes and flatulence were equally and enthusiastically shared. Fast moving scud gave way to thick overcast and even some blustery gusts, convincing me to holster the camera and just enjoy the moments with friends.

Morning came a bit earlier than expected, and within an hour or so we found ourselves at the end of the wash. Front wheels removed, gear stowed in boats, hulls inflated, paddles snapped together, then we oozed our way into the current.

Like ^ that. Look closely and you can see ruffling of the water from wind, the result of which is that I stuck the camera into its drybag before it got sprayed with mud, and left it there for the rest of the float.

It's the time of year when sun in the desert feels lovely, and you find yourself working a little harder to stay in it when the current is moving you toward shade.

Sandy doubletrack churned by endless SxS's greeted us where we left the river, and led to a pleasant climb up a side canyon and back above the ledge.

Overall it was a good route. Not great, just good. Some fun trail and good views. A quiet camp. A roadless riverine stretch that we had to ourselves. Even a few luxurious moments of brush bashing where blood was drawn. But I can't help feeling like I've failed if I end up on a road. If a car can drive it, why would I want to ride it? Where's the adventure in that?

Gives me good reason to go back to make it right by amending the route accordingly, I guess.

Thanks for checkin' in.

P.S. Mr. Fatbike somewhat redeemed himself with the drone shots above. I'm grateful for that, but not so much as to feel forgiving...

P.P.S. The false-flat 2wd gravel road we finished on positively tore Mr. Fatbike a new one. Whenever I circled back into earshot I'd hear him sniveling to the tune of "These tires are at least 40% less efficient than yours..." And then I'd grab another gear and accelerate ahead into silence. Karma buddy!


· Registered
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Looks spectacular Mr C - I really love those desert ramparts, so majestic and colourful. Sounds like it was hard work in places though, which may have detracted a bit (too much). But I’m glad you didn’t gloss over that, it reminds me that it’s not always cream. Thanks for the inspiring write up.
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