Monday, April 14, 2014

Spreading the love of dirt

Last weekend Drew and I helped the Utah High School Cycling League pull off a Moab Family Skills Camp.

Camp Coaching

The camp is designed for high school mountain bikers and their parents to learn new technical skills.

We went down early and Friday and got in a ride on a new-to-me trail system called Klonzo.

The lighting was terrible for pictures but I threw this one in so you can see the flowy ribbon of trail in the lower third of the photo on the red dirt. I think the finer grained red in the foreground is Summerville Formation and the white rocky parts are Salt Wash Member of the Morrison. All Jurassic in age.
Klonzo is a series of short, low to intermediate level loops that you can link together for about an hour and a half of riding. 
Primrose in bloom on Klonzo trail

Drew is happy to be on his bike in red dirt country.

I love how the trail goes between these huge rocks.

First ride of the year for us together in Moab. Big smiles!

Sun splashes on the far peaks.
Post ride, we grabbed a growler of beer and some nachos to-go from Moab Brewery and trucked on out to the condo.  Our friends the Binghams were staying with us so we wanted to make sure we beat them home.


The next day we assisted skills camp instructors all day.  The camp is divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced groups that rotate into different skills clinics: 1. Braking, 2. Cornering, and 3. Managing terrain.  Each group also did an hour of trail building a brand new trail linking two parking areas and went on a ride to use all their new skills.

It was a really long day for us because we spend all day watching and assisting kids while all kitted up to ride, but not really riding much at all.  After the skill camp activities were done, we stuck around and did a loop there at Klondike Bluffs. We rode up Mega Steps and down Alaska.  The trail is phenomenally fun, and the views are some of the best in Moab.

Looking off the ridge of Summerville Formation over into Salt Valley, which is a valley because the salt in the underlying Paradox Formation has been dissolved and removed.  I briefly explain the formation of this type of valley at the end of this post. Snow-capped La Sal Mountains in the far background.
Another picture of Salt Valley. We could just barely make out a camper in the valley in the center of the photo.  I wanna be there!
Skills camp again on Sunday morning was fun.  All the participants had rested and were eager to ride and put their skills to use.  We took the beginner-intermediates out on an easy, flowing trail (across Morrison Formation - shale for the most part, which makes for smooth trail) so they could practice ride position, braking and fast corners. I think they had a lot of fun.

Like herding cats at times.
We returned on Dinoflow trail.  They were all much improved over how they started the weekend.

Riders and coaches at Moab Family Skills Camp
For the final ride, we took that same beginner intermediate group on Mega Steps.  They did awesome.
Mountain bike cool factor: Intermediate level high school riders making it up Mega Steps trail.       Geology cool factor: Most of the top of Mega Steps and Alaska trails traverse across Salt Wash Member (Morrison Fm) and Summerville Formation, but occasionally there are erosional windows where Moab Member (Curtis Fm) is exposed, seen here as the flat, white sandstone to the right of the trail.

Coach Lucy and two female high school shredders.

At the end of the camp on Sunday, many of the students seemed to have progressed quite a bit in technical skills and they all seemed to have had a positive experience.  It is my sincere hope that we were part of a weekend that infected these riders with the slick rock mountain biking bug.

Coach no more

After out duties were done, we stayed a couple of more days.  Monday we had a chance to ride Captain Ahab.  We had wanted to ride this trail since it opened last year and we watched the video of how the Moab Trail Mix crew built the trail.  It is a completely amazing video. Watch it here on Vimeo.

The way to access Cap't Ahab is on a very fun, techy new trail called HyMasa, which lets you avoid riding the Amaza Back Jeep road.  I highly recommend HyMasa.

On HyMasa
The top of HyMasa or maybe we were already on Captain Ahab at this point.
Plants grow where they can in the desert.

We found the bat cave!  At least I think this is bat guano on the underside of an overhang.

Views off the south side of the trail.

Captain Ahab is really fun.  Lots of technical riding. Quite a few places I walked, but after coming off teaching and practicing skills for two days, I found I was doing better than ever on the technical stuff.  My new 2x10 drive train and 170 mm cranks may have contributed too.

Here is a silly 17 second video of me coming down a series of rollers.

 On lower Captain Ahab, there is a section that goes around a cliff.

The sign says "Walk Your Bike".
So I walked that section, but also filmed it.  Watch the 20 second video of that cliff section.

After the ride we headed into town for a milk shake but ended up with smoothies.  Bonus health points for D and L.

It's not all fun and games in Moab.  We spend a fair amount of time doing maintenance and deep cleaning the condo, which is how we spent Tuesday morning before driving back.

The end result of the weekend: awesome time teaching high school kids to ride slickrock and I love the new trails!

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