Moab 2018 - two old guys get crushed by heat, age and general lack of skills

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by ibafran, May 30, 2018.

  1. ibafran

    ibafran villagidiot

    Joined:
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    The Paramedic slipped the IV needle into Bryan’s arm in the darkened and quiet back room of the Visitor’s Center. With a practiced flick of his finger he started the flow of refrigerated saline water into Bryan’s shrunken vein. The accompanying EMC placed a cold washcloth across Bryan’s forehead and over his closed eyes. They were continually checking his vital signs…………..


    To metaphrase the Talking Heads…”How did we get here?”


    I got ahead of myself again, but bear with me….


    First the resumes – Both of us have ridden from Chicago to Deadhorse – Bryan three times and Fran twice. Dempster, Dalton, Campbell, Denali check check check. Fran is a certified MSA instructor, an IronButt guy and has taught track day courses for years – Bryan has ridden all over North America and the scenic parts of The Alps and taken the BMW off-road course a few years back. So not our first time at the Rodeo. But we’re getting older – 60 and 70something… so there’s that.


    [​IMG]


    Moab and Canyonlands completely kicked our asses – Bryan more than Fran. And we both deserved every bit of the beating we got.


    This posting is aimed at old riders with a near absence of dirt riding talent and experience, first timers, and those hoping to learn something about what not to do. Riders who already know all about this stuff can enjoy the hilarity that only the less knowledgeable and less experienced, like me, can supply. I am not responsible for spewed beverages on electronics or keyboards. Also, I asked for help and didn't get a whole lot from you inmates. However sometimes the 'joy of discovery' is a lot more fun if one approaches an endeavor sans any brains or actual experience.


    I have had a lot more adventure than most riders specifically by ignoring that little voice screaming at me to prepare better.


    A couple of trips up and down the Alaska Haul Road and nearby environs written up here.


    https://forums.bmwmoa.org/showthrea...riate-Equipment-to-out-of-the-way-places-quot , (2nd trip)

    also... http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/alaska-3-guys-3-bikes-goin-for-broke.1009331/ (first trip)


    Bryan and I were kicking around trip ideas for a similar challenge but of shorter (and hopefully less expensive) duration. Why waste 3 weeks of endurance riding (and occasional fear) in the Far North when we could cram all that fun into 3 days in the lower 48? Dirt donking (Donk-ing, flailing about on bikes in stuff so rough as to be in a state of mortal terror and great fun most of the time) in Moab has been on my bucket list for the last 50 years.


    Any damn fool can stay on the pavement and enjoy the National Parks.


    But getting out in the bush and hobnobbing with Gila Monsters, coyotes, and other denizens of the desert seemed much more fun. Neither of us had the time (due to near constant employment, ugh) to ride our beloved 1200 GS's out and back from Chicagoland. So, we opted for a Fly&Ride&Fly.


    The original plan called for renting 800cc GS Beemers. After some thought… and input from various riders and you inmates… we switched to 250 and 350 Husky motocrossers in near “ready to race” condition right from the crate. Clean, undented, nearly scratch-free and shod with brand new knobbies, these were rented for 3 days from Doricca – a perfectly lovely lady at MadBros www.madbroedge.com. Madbros is located on the Southern edge of Moab – so right in the heart of the action. Bryan is a pretty good trip ramrod and did a fair job pulling all the logistics together for this effort.

    [​IMG]


    Our base camp was the KOA in Moab. Bryan and I originally planned to bring tents and camping gear and move around little. But since we actually have limited actual real world dirt riding experience (though several thousand miles of gravel experience, as previously noted) and were worried that we would be over challenged trying to actually camp after a hard day on the bikes. And we're getting old. Did I mention that? So we rented a KOA Rustic-cabin which had light, heat, AC, and great ceiling fan and was across the road from the nicest lavs/showers that I had ever seen in a campground.

    [​IMG]


    I slept in a top bunk figuring that by the time I reached the floor that I would be standing up. Thus, getting up from a bed could be avoided. The creaking and snapping of my joints and ligaments might also be less obnoxious first thing in the morning. This cabin had a porch swing, a picnic table and a fire ring. Besides, packing less gear was nice.


    This KOA also had 2 cool and refreshing swimming pools plus a nice large hot tub for soaking out the kinks. The hot tub saved my life…. but nearly cost Bryan his. Also, I really like camp life and comradery as opposed to hotel/motel life. It's a learned appreciation and skill. Works worldwide as far as I know.


    I hate flying, but I still got choked up viewing the mountains flying into Salt Lake City. Due to the sheer bulk of my 1pc Stich my helmet and riding gear, I wore the Stich through the airport and onto the plane. Got some strange but enjoyable looks as people seemed to think I was a maintenance worker. My helmet was packed in a backpack. TSA wanted to know what was packed inside the helmet…. Trail mix…. I offered some if the agent needed a pick-me-up break which was politely declined. We rented a cheap minivan in SLC to get us south to Moab.


    The 250 mile drive to Moab showed no scenic wildlife. Nevertheless, the blooming desert and mountains were pretty to see, and a nice change from still cold (and always flat) Chicago. Some of the desert plants were even beginning to flower.

    [​IMG]


    After arriving in Moab and checking into the KOA, we checked in with the bike rental people to clear paperwork and get some orientation so that bike pick up the next morning might go faster and easier.


    Getting a look at the bikes was enlightening. Neither Husky had provisions for trail packs or even simple tie-down points. Also, the fuel tanks seemed pitifully small for what we optimistically envisioned as our daily riding range. (Turned out the tanks and range were fine… we were not) The narrow firm seats looked "painful" to me. But, in recent years I put over 100,000 miles on an open Triumph sport bike and can deal with minimal creature comforts on a bike. Or so I thought. Looked to me that everything that I might need on the bike would have to go in my ancient crappy back pack? How bad could that be?


    Bryan's note – we also thought we knew how to ride standing on the pegs. A confluence of aging knees, hips and backs and a lack of bar risers created a standing riding position that was ok on the easy gravel but really hard to hold on the really rough stuff – which was of course precisely where you needed this position the most. This situation led to most of the problems that will follow.


    Our first evening had us eating out at Moab’s BBQ place and sharing thoughts about whether this trip was really a good idea in the first place. Trepidation is usually balanced with excitement with us. We grocery shopped w/o a list but didn't get carried away. Mostly, this happened because we had already eaten… and we are both cheap. Nothing builds an appetite like dirt biking and dehydration. We shopped with the idea that we would need simple survival food immediately upon getting back to camp for the night. We didn't starve. And we were grateful. Very grateful. Bryan mused that he was a little anxious about riding the next day. But he is the smart one. I am too dumb to be nervous. I also found that the camp firewood was so dry that 3 sticks went to ash in about 20 minutes. And the desert night sky did not let me down in clarity as ALL the stars and constellations that I know (which is about four) were vividly visible – almost like I could reach out and touch them.
    #1
  2. Merfman

    Merfman Cape truster...

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    Being of Old Fartage and graced with Moab experience, I'm in for a lesson!

    I've always found it amazing how the red-rock canyon country can simply suck the moisture out of one's system without notice... carry on!
    #2
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  3. keithg

    keithg Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    More please!
    #3
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  4. ibafran

    ibafran villagidiot

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    chicagoland
    Day One of actually getting our butts kicked

    About 6am, Bryan woke me with notice that coffee was ready. Bryan likes to pack his little JetBoil and make his own brand of high test rocket fuel subtly posed as camp coffee. I learned from previous trips not to sip this coffee if I needed to blink anytime in the next 20 minutes. The morning was cool with a light breeze and crystal clear skies – the rising sun slowly painted the Moab Cliffs to the West. I find dawn in the desert to be about as beautiful as dawn can ever get. And this day's clear blue sky was no exception.

    [​IMG]


    A lot of jackrabbits were hopping around the campgrounds and had me checking the skies for birds of prey. The rabbits didn’t seem at all nervous…. but I didn't see any hawks, eagles or owls either. As predicted, temps for our trip were mild (wrong) I had failed to pack a light jacket and had to drape a towel over my shoulders to feel more comfortable in the early morn. (Which made this look even more like an encampment of hobos and reprobates) Black and white Whisky Jacks and a couple of giant Crows silently fluttered about, working the dumpster located across the way.


    We pulled our riding kit together and headed off to McD's in Moab for breakfast in our soccer mom minivan. My overloaded backpack had an elec. tire pump, patch kit, spare tube, 3 tire spoons, tow strap, minimalist bike tools, some blue painter's tape, trail mix, and 6/16oz water bottles. All I was missing was a flare gun and an inflatable raft for flash floods. (Wish I had weighed this mess as it wasn't particularly light)


    Arriving a bit early at MadBros to pick up our bikes, I had fun talking to various customers. An (even) older couple with a non-running Razor (side-x-side quad) needed to get it fixed so that they could go back out on Poison Spider Trail…. and retrieve the guy's prosthetic leg forgotten the day before. There is a longer story behind this, but I won’t further bore you.


    We finally get on our bikes about 8:30am. There are four small piles of desert dirt in a row in an area in front of MadBros and I decide to ride over them as a check on my dirt skills and on how well this back pack thing is going to work. Good thing that I did too…. My skills were about as latent as they could be without being totally absent and long forgotten. A second pass over the piles convinced me that my skills might come back in time enough to enjoy the first day. But the back pack thing increasingly seemed like a very poor idea. However, I had no absolutely thought on how to remedy that immediately, so decided to tough it out. Bryan carried a loaded Camelback with Gatoraide filling the bladder plus 3 power bars for the total day's sustenance (or survival rations if it came to that.) He also packed a fancy Canon DSLR camera which died sometime during the slamming and bouncing of the first day’s ride.


    The previous night, we had asked MadBros for some suggested "easy" trails to regenerate some skills and warm us up. This turned out to be at best humbling…. if not exactly insane. What I should have requested was "trails suitable for riders with no skills, no brains, and no talent" from which local medical rescue might be exceptionally easy for said rescue persons. What we had for maps were a pair of beautiful Natl. Geo Trails Illustrated maps. These maps had been carefully highlighted for us and were wondrous to behold. And as we had absolutely no place to mount them for viewing while riding. I carefully folded one open to the area we intended to ride and blue taped it over the fuel tank. These were of course totally unreadable while in motion.

    [​IMG]

    But, at least one did not have to dig it out of a pocket or some such to read it while stopped. Essentially, I had no idea where I was for 3 days. I can name places where I thought I was. I can name places where I read signs that appeared nowhere on my maps. Yes, there were plenty of moments when I knew where I was but one could not string them together in such a manner after the fact as to determine where the hell we went for the most part.


    Highly annoying and joyously freeing by turns.


    In any case, the day one riding was challenging enough that 100 yards on any trail made navigation a moot point. I was having so much immediate riding fun that I really didn't care if we never got to any of our desired scenic vistas for pix. I’ll note here that Bryan had a fully loaded Garmin 60 with the regional National Park maps – which didn’t enlighten him more or very often. What passes for a trail on the Garmin winds up being a tiny thin dashed line across the stacked topo lines. Bryan assured me that this was unreadable at speed on a bike being slammed and bounced around like a pair of sneakers in a dryer.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    One of the things that we did indeed get right was a clear understanding that either one of us could call a halt when the riding became over-challenging. There would be no shame in turning back when stuff became too risky. We both wanted to live to ride another day. And it didn't matter who called for a bail-out. One rider's skill set can vary significantly from another's. (Bryan’s note – Fran is the better rider) Nobody wants to lead another rider into too much challenge. We had Sena Bluetooth sets to keep each other appraised of good times and bad.


    And 93F degree heat and 20% humidity did have an effect.



    20 minutes into the transit out of town to the trail heads, my butt was on fire… and may have been bleeding. The bike seat was now a "one cheek wonder". My butt never recovered and the seat never got any better. (Bryan’s note - See earlier comment about standing on the pegs or the lack of doing so, Husqvarna (KTM) never intended these to be actually sat on)

    [​IMG]

    I missed a turn on the Kane Trail (asphalt that degraded into gravel and eventually a jeep trail) and we ended up at Hunter's Point (Bryan’s note it was actually Hurrah Pass… to prove our point of being more or less continually lost). Here we saw 4wd rock crawlers, a bicycle tour with chase/support truck, and talked with several people from The Netherlands, about where we were… and in which direction there be dragons and hostiles.

    [​IMG]
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    Maybe only 3hrs into this, I am already exhausted. Backtracking from Hunters' Point/Hurrah Pass, we had our first mechanical fail. Bryan's 350, which was recently converted to street legal from track only, had a rear brake lever adjustment bolt back out to the point where it completely and solidly locked up the rear brake….. just as the bike was traversing an extended rock ledge leading to a 14” drop off. This left a permanent black rubber streak across that hot Utah rock, but Bryan was able to bring the bike to a controlled stop and then drug it to the side of the trail. (Try that trick with a R1200GS)


    Bryan did a pretty good job of diagnosing the problem so by the time that I turned around and got back to him some 20 minutes later all he was missing was the 10MM box wrench in my overladen backpack. Actually one cannot imagine how deeply (spiritually?) grateful I was to find Bryan actually upright and alive, standing by the side of the trail. There were so many places along the trail where a bike could go down and one break a bone. (Bryan’s note i.e. almost any place further back on this particular stretch of trail.)


    The bolt was readjusted and after some discussion about optimal handlebar positions, we rode back to where we missed the turn for Kane Trail…. where it would become Kane Springs trail. The sign was pretty obvious, making me wonder how I could have missed it. I finally settled on the fact that I was so busy and so in awe looking at all the rock formations that the sign was of no interest to me had I noticed it. That's plausible, right? (Bryan’s note – we were already so Fu**ing shaken and rattled, signs alongside the road weren’t noted.)


    At the fork in the trail, Bryan decided to adjust his handlebars, rotating them upwards for somewhat easier ‘standing on the pegs riding’. Grateful for the respite and while Bryan futzed around with his handlbars, I lay down in the most comfy looking cactus patch I could find to sip water, ponder if I had finally gotten too old for this stuff or merely bitten off too much adventure, and wondered if this would be my final resting place? If so, I was prepared to die happy in a place of considerable fun and raw beauty. As it happened, I got up and Bryan brushed the innumerable cactus needles off and out of my Stitch with his leather gloves. I teased Bryan about missing the nearby shade with picnic tables that we didn't use for our resting/repair spot. (Bryan’s note – there was no shady spot within ten miles of Chicken Crossing)

    [​IMG]
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    Continuing on to Kane Spring Trail, we had our first water crossing. Bryan encouraged me to go first and show him how it’s done. And I did so with minimal slithering about. Shortly after that, 5 bikes absolutely blew past us with brightly clad millennial male and female riders on the pegs or their small dirt bikes….and obviously moving quite a bit faster than us. And even after they cleared us, they didn't wick it up even further and blast off along the trail like we were a huge drain on their fun.


    Thanks kids.

    [​IMG]

    Not very far after that, we came to the worst rock garden (babyhead rocks, what fun) that I had ever seen. Out in the middle of this rock garden and down the trail was a large boulder beckoning like an oasis of calm. I decided that it would be a good place to stop and further assess the terrain. The five riders who passed us were taking a break beyond the rocks and eyeing me with somewhat morbid and vulture-like interest. I got the impression that they were waiting for us in case we needed assistance. Very kind of them, if true. Very kind of them even if they were anticipating taking pix and laughing their asses off before assisting us. However Bryan radioed me that he had to turn back… but he could use some help getting unstuck from between two big rocks first.


    I waved off the other riders and dismounted to help Bryan get turned around. Sometimes it is possible to go around a rock garden but I didn't see a way in this case. Temps in this place and time might have been 90+f. I was pretty sweaty under my 1pc Stich, but the cooling was great once I got up to 10-12mph. My H2O consumption was only 1qt at this point.


    We rode back to Mad Bro for more permanent repairs to the brake lever bolt and Bryan's handlebar adjustment.


    We were however back in camp by 3:30pm. The hot tub soothed out my muscle kinks so nicely that I wanted to take a nap in the tub. Having ridden in the desert outside Las Vegas long ago, I knew to be sipping water nearly continuously. Camp dinner of grilled hot dogs and canned beans with bacon was great as only a camp dinner can be to seriously starving campers. We lubed the bike chains and finished out the evening watching other campers including a kid on a motorized single wheel skateboard-like thing. Of special appreciation to me was watching an older camp couple strolling the grounds hand-in-hand. Love blossoms everywhere if given a half decent chance. The stars came out and the temps dipped comfortably. So ended the first riding day.
    #4
  5. Boxerbreath

    Boxerbreath 2017.5 GS Black Storm

    Joined:
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    ...feeling your old dude pain. Yeah, you gotta be fit to dualsport, still have decent joints too, and heat doesn't help at all.
    I'm a feared to hear the rest of the story.
    #5
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  6. ibafran

    ibafran villagidiot

    Joined:
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    chicagoland
    Day Three and 2nd Day of Riding

    Bryan's coffee is now an addiction. Nothing snaps one to attention in mind and body first thing in the morning like a sip or two of his elixir. I wonder if I will suffer detox and withdrawal when this trip is over? The morning is cool like yesterday and the temp promises to again rise into the 90's. Based on yesterday's water consumption, I packed 4@16oz. Besides Bryan's coffee, I hydrate continuously and wonder if I am doing it well enough? Had a quart before we left camp for McD's for more coffee and carbs. Did the urine and skin test – everything looked pretty good.


    We decided to try for Gemini Bridges as a loop. Navigation is still hell despite my efforts to do better. I consoled myself with the old adage, "A good traveler does not mind being lost and does not expect to arrive in the first place". After a little while, it became a sort of mantra for me. In reality, being anywhere in this desert is pretty damn good. And we were having a delightful ride anyway. Somehow, we got turned around and came out more or less the way we went in instead of the desired exit a bit further north along Rt 191. The road into Gemini Bridges from Rt191 was well marked. After that…. not much. Or nothing that I could see to keep us on the desired path. But what we did see was spectacular. Note that it is easy to see 'spectacular' everywhere near Moab if one comes from the flat lands of Illinois.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Of note, we had some trail traffic which we didn't have yesterday. On-coming cages and quads were respectful of our safety. Bikers gave us finger signals to tell us how many were following in their group. Very helpful to predicting traffic in narrow spots and blind corners. We stopped often(er) to rest under the guise of taking pix. So it was easier for me to hydrate. Gemini Bridges was easier and more predictable riding. That made me wonder if I was getting better, or if the trail was just easier. It was also in the morning, I was fresh for the day and the heat hadn’t begun to build. Interestingly, out in the middle of nowhere, we came to a tee intersection with a sign. It made no sense to what I was seeing on my map. Taking a 'best guess' (Bryan suggested the correct route based on his GPS – Fran ignored him) we ended up riding out pretty much the way we came in. However, we did ride most of the Gemini Bridge loop with no mishaps or embarrassments so there’s that.

    [​IMG]

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    Transiting north on Rt191, we decided to try for 10 Mile Road. Where we found a DNR Ranger in his official pickup with an official police dirt bike in the bed, well secured. The Ranger was quite helpful and confirmed our basic bearings, and he noted that the National Geographic maps were plagued by a few problems – not the least of which were mislabeled roads.


    I was given a map of trails from the Ranger on which there were zero markings of names, distances, objects d' art, or anything that made sense to me. But I was glad to have it for however it might prove to be useful. (Bryan’s note – the Ranger was later identified by another National Park EMT as “essentially a professional motocross racer who happens to also be a Utah DNR employee”.)


    This Ranger actually invited us to follow him. Which we did for about 100yds before he utterly, totally and literally left us in the dust. The Ranger was going to ride a "Desert Road route". We dipped down and out of a dry wash of such dimensions and depth that crashing in it could prove to be a trip end-er for any number of reasons.


    The initial 2-track soon devolved into a single track that was only recognizable if one had started out knowing what it looked like as it grew dimmer. If I was lost in the desert and came across it, I never would have thought it any sort of byway. We followed it for a while until it turned into a very tough track with truly nasty sharp rocks. I rode parallel to it in the virgin desert dodging cactus and the nasty little places where one really did not want to tip over. After a brief radio exchange, we decided to turn back since the Motocross Racer/Ranger was long gone. Coming back to the dry wash, I noticed due to all the extra air in my Stich that the main, full length zipper had failed. (Bryan’s note – this was less a case of the Aerostich zipper failing and more a case of Fran overstressing it beyond any reasonable design standards)

    [​IMG]


    We stopped on Ten Mile and I duct taped my suit leg closed. The upper half was left to ventilate my now sweaty body. (Bryan’s note – the Aerostich Roadcrafter is an excellent riding suit and I’m on my second one now. However, I’d never ever consider wearing it in the desert at 95 degrees at low speeds, and Fran discovered that ten year old duct tape actually isn’t good for anything, least of all taping a riding suit back together)


    We decided to ride back to Moab and raid the True Value for fresh duct tape of 2 strengths, some rivet-type tarp fasteners, a camp hatchet with which to apply said rivets, and some large industrial safety pins. The rivets I held in reserve as a last ditch repair because I had hopes of getting my suit repaired and did not need to mangle it to the point of complete loss. Again, note well, it is not a true adventure unless one has to buy fresh duct tape to see one thru. While in town, Bryan observes that he has been thru 2L of water before noon and he filled his camel back from a drinking fountain. The fresh duct tape works well and the safety pins do a nice job of keeping the top half together while still providing ventilation. All in all? Ride Is back on!


    Looking at out map and the remaining hours to our likely exhaustion, ‘Fins and Things’ 4x4 trail seemed do-able, close by...and fun. The riding was supposed to be easy. There was a huge, 2-track, steep rock hill we saw as we entered. Bryan noted that there was no way in hell he was riding that – the slickrock trail had to be easier.

    [​IMG]


    We met 2 riders at the parking lot….A father and son. The son is riding a big 701cc Husky single. Both said that they had just done the 10 mile Slickrock loop. They said that there was a 2 mile 'practice loop' and if we didn't like that, we could make our escape easily. The father acknowledged that the 10 mile loop had "kicked his butt." He looked capable to me and I was worried that I didn't have 10 miles in me? We opted for the practice loop.


    From my POV, Slickrock is a really fun and cool place. Has to be the coolest place around since there are three ambulances seemingly permanently stationed near the entrance.


    Almost all bare rock, traction is actually phenomenal for bikes and motorcycles – but not so much for horses in the days of yore, hence the name. The trail is marked with dashes of paint on the rock making navigation a non-issue. (Bryan’s note – LOL) Because hikers and bicyclists are allowed but no 4-wheelers, it’s like a giant trials course at a non-competition level. And if the marked route seems too difficult, a work-around is usually obvious.


    First thing that happened to me is that I tipped over on top of the first rock after leaving the parking lot. Just plain messed up gearing down and not carrying enough throttle and fat-fingering the clutch. Stuck out my leg to catch it and pulled/strained my right hamstring. Hurt so bad that for several seconds I wondered if my trip was over? First time for me to damage myself in such a manner. Anyhow, the pain subsided to a dull roar and I tested the leg by picking up the bike. The leg hurt bad but seemed to operate with enough power to carry on. The duct tape held but several of the safety pins popped and had to be re-bent for return to service. Once I got going, the riding became serious fun. The trail turned tightly every which way with all manner of pretty steep grades. I really love this stuff, but find it even more exhausting than riding the desert trail that we had been on. I could see where stopping to take a sighting walk for difficult places would be useful.

    Did I mention it was now pushing 95 degrees, the rock was scalding and the humidity was something like 25%?

    Bryan again found himself in a difficult place requiring my aid in extraction after he stalled his Husky on a steep grade, and slid backwards ten feet, forgetting to kill the engine in gear. No big deal and an easy ride-around was available. But, it was exhausting for me to get around on my gimpy leg. It was late, it was hot and we were starving et al and we opted to turn back on the practice trail. Bryan led the retreat and then proceeded to high center his bike on a ledge, requiring him to dismount and walk it up a steep grade under power.


    Somehow, on the return route I managed to miss the turn for the exit and Bryan’s second embarrassing situation. Hard to believe if one has seen the paint and arrow on the rock marking the exit route. But I do like to look around while I ride and enjoy the scenery. Fortunately, I didn't get far due to waiting for Bryan. A kindly bicyclist checking on my well-being politely informed me that I had missed the exit…. and my buddy probably had not.


    Turning back, I marveled that I missed the turn. I joined Bryan in the parking lot and consumed the last of my water. Thankfully, camp was not far away.


    Arriving at camp, my first move was to acquire and drink more water. Second move was to get my aching body into the hot tub. I don't believe that icing the hamstring was going to do me much good. But a general body relax in the hot tub would help me more. As it was, the hot tub saved me. Most of the pain disappeared from the whole of my carcass. Managed to talk myself into a cart ride back to camp in one of the staff carts. Got dropped off at the water supply for a refill as I had drunk another quart in the hot tub.


    Bryan made a freeze-dried, backpacker's meal that also saved us from certain starvation. Now that we have a camp hatchet, we get a small fire going for the relaxing entertainment of it. Helga and Abe touring from Germany and staying in the cabin next to ours, joined us for delightful and educational camp conversation. I continuously sipped water all evening long. Not knowing which beer in the USA is actually good, Abe bought Budweiser because it "had good advertising." He thought it was terrible beer, Bryan agreed…. but drank a can.


    Comments from Bryan: He likes my trail mix and but he thinks that our bikes could use a reverse gear. He also remarks that he doesn't know how I have lived so long.


    We left the door open on the cabin for better ventilation when we retired. I was pretty wiped out and didn't have many late night thoughts before falling asleep. All my water bottles were filled and 2 were placed conveniently near me in case I woke up due to thirst.

    fran -doing my best not to dry out
    #6
  7. AZ Mark

    AZ Mark Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
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    Awesome read... Nearly Spewed liquid on the screen a couple times already!
    Sorry for your pains but certainly makes for a "Hell-of-a-Story" :D
    #7
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  8. fastredbike

    fastredbike back on the loose

    Joined:
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    605
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    Mighty nice story tellin’ I like the pics too. Eager to hear more.
    #8
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  9. misterk

    misterk Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 30, 2008
    Oddometer:
    464
    Location:
    DFW Texas
    great report, I read your other report to Alaska. You have a gift, keep telling us more.....Thanks for your time to share this ride.
    #9
  10. ibafran

    ibafran villagidiot

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2007
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    1,314
    Location:
    chicagoland
    Day 4 of 5 and the 3rd and last riding day


    Morning reveille consisted of great coffee and a Cliff Bar. Due to last night's exhaustion, we had to lube the chains this morning. Hint to first timers, evening meals should be easy to prepare, require very little effort to cut up for consumption, and if possible easy to chew. I was so tired last night that I had to rest mid-chew. On a certain level, I was proud that I was still so tough that I didn't have to take a nap, mid-meal, to get through it. Due to the severe wake-up properties of Bryan's rocket fuel, I had enough peppy zip and zest to work on my failed zipper. The slider was worked off the wrong side at a place where a couple of teeth were missing. And then, the slider was used to zip up the top half of the Stich. A pair of safety pins were placed at the bottom of the good section to keep the slider from going too far. Duct tape would keep the bottom half together. I was pretty happy to have the garment serviceable for this last day. 5 bottles of water went into the backpack with the 6th still at hand for sipping while my preps continued. Considering the water shortage of yesterday, I wanted all 6 bottles topped up for this effort.

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    The White Rim Trail was supposed to be easy and the most spectacular. And we had saved it for our last day hoping that we would have an easy and fun filled day. We pulled out of camp at 8am and I was looking forward to a nice transit in cool temps. We had to ride through Moab to get to Rt297 which would allow us to cross to the west side of the Colorado River and head back south towards Canyonlands N.P. Imagine my surprise when we didn't stop at McD's for some carbs and a bit more stomach fill than a Cliff Bar? (Bryan's note - for me a Clif Bar is all I have for breakfast almost every day. Stopping at McDonalds every day would be a diet and health disaster for me. I actually didn't know that Fran wanted to stop)


    Again, I had studied the map with near religious fervor. The plan (hah!) was to ride Rt279 (Potash Rd) south along the river turning west onto Long Canyon Rd. Potash Rd would go all the way to the White Rim Trail via a long transit and eat a lot of our limited fuel. Long Canyon Rd looked to be a nice, scenic, short transit to the Park main entrance. Naturally, I could not find Long Canyon Rd. We rode all the way to Potash and back to Rt191 and I missed it both ways. As aggravating as the navigation error was to me, the scenic road next to the river was very nice. The whole area is gorgeous and even being lost does not wreck the scenic joy of being there. We gave up trying to take dirt trails to the park and finished our transit on Rt313/Island Rd with the tourist traffic. It might have been a good idea to detour to the nearest fuel stop? But we did not do so.

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    Upon entrance at the park using our geriatric lifetime passes, we were directed to the Island In The Sky Visitor Center to get our passes for the White Rim Trail. The passes were free and made me wonder why we actually needed them? Maybe the Rangers wanted to make it easier to identify our corpses and know how long our bodies had been out there? We took the stop to be a good time to hydrate and use the facilities and top up our water before heading out.

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    Schaffer Trail Rd. leads to the White Rim Trail and is spectacular. It's also a little scary if one is not used to serious elevations, rocky dusty trails, no guard rails, steep grades and so on. As a flat-lander on a dirt bike on steep grades and loose surfaces with ruts and boulders mixed in along side a sheer drop, I wondered how long it would take me to ride in such terrain before my internal butterflies would fly in formation... if not settle down? Add a little traffic both ways, and the fun just increases exponentially. Riding where we rode, a rider with good skills and familiar with conditions could probably do it on a large adventure bike fully loaded. I could see me doing it after a bit of practice. I can't see me ever getting so well as to ride it 2up. The trail was indeed mostly easy. However after 20 miles or so, Bryan suggested we turn back due to fuel. It took me several minutes to give up my desire to press forward. I finally could see the wisdom of this and we turned back. Like I could find somebody so dumb as to ride it with me. (Bryan's note - so at this point I was sliding into severe dehydration and was ignoring all the signs and symptoms. Occasionally dizzy while riding, I had developed a headache and my mouth was parched, despite my regular swigs from the Gatorade filled Camelback. It's amazing how you can rationalize everything. Hindsight, of course, gives me 20/20 vision)

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    I marveled that bicycle tours rode the White /Rim Trail. There are old people on those bicycles. The tours have a support vehicle. In the smoother sections, a bicycle may be traveling close to my speed. Riding while tired, trying to pick a good line on the trail to dodge rough spots, looking at the scenery, keeping track of my Budd, and trying to execute a clean and safe pass of anything is a lot to process. The bicyclist was worried about me until I raised my chin bar and told him to maintain his speed and that I would make my pass at a nice wide spot whenever we came to one. Bryan gained some ground on me during all this.

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    After leaving the canyon floor and starting the climb back up on the serpentine Schafer Trail, I came up to Bryan at a wide spot on the cliff. Bryan radio'd me that he was dizzy. By the time that I got to him, he had his helmet off and he didn't look good to me. By the time that I got off my bike and approached him, he staggered backwards faster than I could catch him. (Bryan's note - at this point I was exhausted and the dizzy part of this shit was kicking into high gear. As I had stopped I had to steady myself on the bike - about the time Fran pulled up I was looking for a rock to sit down on....at this point my horizon line tilted abruptly 90 degrees and I probably blacked out. If I had started to stagger to the edge of the cliff face, my death would probably have been written up as a suicide as the drop was long, steep and certainly fatal)

    Fortunately, the grade was tipped toward the wall and not toward the edge of the 800' abyss. However I didn't get to him in time to keep him from falling into the shallow, rocky ditch. He said that he didn't hit his head nor break any bones. I helped straighten him around and got him some water for cooling and hydration. I expected the dizziness to abate because I had thought that he had shaken the rocks in his head loose. When the rocks settled back in place, he would feel ok. And, yes, the trails for the last three days had been rough enough to shake one's" rocks in the head" loose at any time. Bicyclists riding up out of the canyon slowed for us. But I told them to maintain climbing pace and that we were ok. With my help, Bryan eventually got to his feet and with assistance dizzily made his way over to the bike where I told him not to let go of it. He wasn't getting any better and we decided to get him out of the canyon in the bicycle support vehicle. Mike, driving the Magpie Cycling Tour truck diagnosed dehydration and took Bryan to the visitor center.

    Dehydration was hard for me to accept as Bryan had been drinking. I thought that there might be more to it including the lack of enough breakfast. Maybe elevation was part of it? It was warm but not blistering like the previous 2 days.


    I leave it to Bryan to fill in his side of the experience from here. (Bryan's note - Fran had ridden ahead and had the EMT and Paramedic alerted and waiting. Initial treatments of capfuls of cold Gatorade had no effect as I was sprawled on the shaded front bench at the Island in the Sky Visitor's center. The Paramedic diagnosed acute dehydration and sugged a Saline IV - I acquiesced. I turned myself over to the professionals. They supported me to the back room of the Center, laid me down, inserted the IV and commenced the Saline drip injection. My arm felt cool as the refrigerated solution began to work its magic. The team continually checked and recorded my vital signs. Let me say here that our National Park Rangers are a vital resource and asset for the Parks and our Country. They have to do everything from fighting fires, to doing SAR work like this, to dealing with unruly tourists and predatory animals with the .45s on their hips. Their skills and equipment saved my skin that hot afternoon.)

    The gist is that Bryan got a ride back to Moab after spending some time with the Rangers. I got a ride back down into the White Rim Trail for 8.5 miles to retrieve Bryan's bike. Cat was the name of the female Ranger that took me to Bryan's bike in a Jeep Wrangler at about 4-6-8mph. She gave me a nice private presentation of the canyon as we went. The black stuff on the sheer stone is 'varnish' that seeps out of the rock. The green layer is not copper oxide but some sort of degraded iron. The desert was in bloom and I heard the names of all the plants. She didn't point out any wildlife. (Bryan's note - Cat drove the Park Service Jeep at that speed because their budgets have been so slashed that this vehicle now must last another 6-8 years)

    Returning to the visitor center, I parked Bryan's bike and rode my rental back to the shop returning it on time at 5:30pm. Bryan answered my phone call and came to get me in the rental minivan. He felt about 80% and felt ok to drive the rental. We had to go to the visitor center and I had to retrieve his bike. It was nice to ride the tarmac transit back to Moab sans my Stich but with my helmet. As it was, I didn't make it back to the gas station in Moab without running dry about a mile from the station. A kind soul manning the desk in a motor court gave me a 1/2gal of fuel to get to the station. By the time we finished turning in Bryan's bike, grabbing a burger, and getting back to camp; it was 9pm. I was completely worn out. The hot tub was only open for an hour and I used the whole of it to soak away my aches. Falling into bed, I realized that I was still hungry enough to eat another dinner.

    So ended another fun-filled, adventure=packed day for which I was still thinking myself blessed.



    Epilogue


    As a biker, I found the environs of Moab to be a fearsome and joyous challenge. As a biker, I always believed that riding inappropriate equipment in difficult places to be just part of the genre. Rider skills should adjust for most of the difficulties. Moab changed this attitude substantially. Because I am so old (70+) and carrying way more weight than I should be (50lbs would not be too much to lose although 30lbs might be enough), better equipment designed for the local conditions and adjusted for our heights might easily extend my capabilities. My dirt/rock riding skills were pretty rusty and took longer to revive than I expected. And even though a lot of those skills resurfaced, they were not well honed in a mere 3 days of effort. Saving the White Rim Trail for the last day made it very enjoyable primarily due to the previous 2 days of experience to tune up my riding skills.I remain enthralled by the area and dearly hope to return having increased some skills appropriate to another effort.


    Additionally, I need to do better homework on several; fronts. Sourcing a better bike that would be more comfortable, carry some gear, and have at least a 200 mile range might work wonders. Speed is not the issue as 20mph is fast enough in the good spots. Being able to see everything along the way is important. Solving the navigation problem needs to be researched. Having a better riding plan allowing for frequent but short stops to hydrate and having more trail food could keep my energy level up and increase enjoyment while extending my mileage for the day.


    Knowing when my exertion level has been so high that resting for a few minutes right after would be much better than pressing on. And if the trail is easy long enough, knowing that I should plan a short stop every 45 minutes to rest, nosh and hydrate would make the day go much better. Especially in keeping me from being so wiped out when retiring for the evening. When it comes to First Aid, I have always been weak. Bandaging, splinter removal, and Boy Scout First Aid plus some Red Cross training in CPR and Mother & Child Care was of no help to me dealing with dehydration. I learned that extra care to prevent dehydration is the best medicine. Treating dehydration in the wild is problematic at best. I can't believe I forgot to pack some OTC pain meds!


    I am especially grateful for my trip Budd who kept me mentally stable if not entertained most of the time. It really is nice to have someone to share observations and thoughts with. I will continue to travel with him in challenging places mostly because he seems to have the Right Stuff when so many about me seem to not have any at all.


    I used to think that I should live in the Far North. Now I think that I should live near Moab first for a while.


    Random thoughts that I have yet to figure out what to do with:


    - Slickrock was a real delightful challenge for me. I wish that I had more time for it and had attacked it at the beginning of the day.

    - I have put together a list of desirable bike specs. If I go again, I will hunt around for better rental options.

    - I have no idea how to practice riding at home for Moab. A MX track is good but not optimal. An old quarry might help?

    - Physical conditioning program would pay huge dividends mentally as well as physically.

    - Due to the shortness of the trip, being willing to "play" to the point of exhaustion seemed necessary. If the trip had lasted 2 weeks, such an effort might not be deemed so important.

    - Parking the bike was often more difficult than in the Far North. I had to lay the bike over once in Sliprock to assist Bryan as there was just no other option at that moment.

    - Stopping to look for 'work arounds' in difficult places should have happened a few more times.

    - Mini-binocs, like my camera, seem like a good idea even if they don't get used much

    - Mirrored and/or Safari (tan.or greysunglasses might work better than the usual green ones.

    - All the water in the world will not help if the body's electrolytes are not kept in balance. And Gatorade may not be the best option although a diluted Gatorade could be good.

    - Bicyclists and campers seemed to have been the most pleasant people of the trip.


    Bryan’s observations –

    Extreme dehydration is nothing to fool around with. My Achilles heel was the evening hot tub soaks – I’d completely forgotten how dehydrating these are and my hydration got further and further behind the curve. I then proceeded to ignore all the telltail symptoms of headaches and instant dry mouth. I had a camelback with Gatorade and drank frequently – but I still fell further and further behind where my body needed to be.

    Fran’s observations on the bikes is somewhat correct, but I’m also absolutely sure that a ½ day trail riding refresher course would have been far more useful than bar risers. It’s always 95% the rider and 5% the bike. Always.
    #10
  11. Merfman

    Merfman Cape truster...

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,848
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    Glad you both survived the dez. Moab and UT SW is the weirdest place I've ever visited when it comes to dehydration. So much so that when I visit solo, I ALWAYS
    carry a 5 gal jug of water and drink when I'm not even thirsty. I'm headed that direction tomorrow so thanks to this RR I'll (hopefully) remember these lessons and
    ride wisely-er.. As far as how to practice for Moab? Just ride. Once you're re-accustomed to the bike and have experienced slickrock there aren't
    really any special skills needed (other than traction control) to ride the slick... one last thing, ARMOR the bike as much as possible. I've seen more punctured side
    covers from brake levers than I can describe... the simple act of dropping a bike on it's side is much different when on rock than if that same manuever is performed
    in dirt...

    Thanks for sharing!
    #11
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  12. liv2day

    liv2day Is Anyone Here a Marine Biologist! Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    984
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Gents - that was one hell of a trip report and one of the most enjoyable reads I've had :thumb:thumb

    There's nothing like the combination of good, humorous writing whilst also being humble in the approach. Really glad to reach the conclusion and know the hydration was resolved with some help from the park folks; kind of a crummy way to end the adventure, but far better than some of the alternatives.

    Don't think it's been said yet, but you guys are an inspiration to guys like me who have yet to hit Moab. While I haven't quite obtained your vintage yet (:D), it's fantastic to read reports from folks who are still out there doing it in their 70s (and 60s). Makes me think of watching the 50 Years of Kicks video and gives me hope to be doing the same thing (hitting 47 this summer and hope to keep throwing a leg over well into my 70s).

    Thank you for taking the time to write the report, thoroughly enjoyed the entire read and vicarious experience :ricky:ricky
    #12
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  13. ShaftEd

    ShaftEd Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2001
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    Location:
    San Diego, CA USA
    Really good report and thanks for taking us along. BTW, the official ADV Chart says you had a good adventure.:1drink

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    #13
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  14. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    Best RR I've read in many a moon. I have traveled the area many times with skilled riders but I concur with all of your observations. I'll be watching for your next report from your next trip. It will happen. My first trip to Moab was to check one more off the bucket list but I have been back numerous times since. I can't explain the draw that keeps me coming back only that I need to go again soon.
    #14
  15. fastredbike

    fastredbike back on the loose

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Oddometer:
    605
    Location:
    Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
    thanks for the excellent reportage. did not know that about hot tubs - I generally am not attracted to the hot tub but can understand the appeal of soaking out some aches and pains.
    #15
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  16. Northstar Beemer

    Northstar Beemer Face Plant

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    434
    Location:
    Frozen Prairies USA
    This chart could have saved us a lot of typing! Love it.
    #16
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  17. snglfin

    snglfin this statement is untrue

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    125
    Location:
    berkshire county
    Thanks for sharing your ride, I’m really enjoying the writing.

    Best regards,

    JohnnyG
    #17
  18. JoeFab

    JoeFab Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    niagara falls, canada eh!
    Great read guys ! while not an 'off road' fan I can still enjoy the story. I really think though that at aged 60 and 70 plus you may have to admit that these types off 'adventures' might be too much for you nowadays, no matter how much prep. you do. Glad you both made it !...j.f.
    #18
  19. CafeRacer

    CafeRacer Been here awhile

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    Sep 15, 2006
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    City of Angels
    A really excellent story gents. Enjoyed the hell out of it.
    #19
  20. SAM13

    SAM13 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    May 1, 2017
    Oddometer:
    237
    Excellent report! When you come back I’ll take you on some more age appropriate, and scenic, trails. Plus.....l’m first aid/ cpr certified :thumb
    #20
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