We had a few days in Moab to do some exploring, and I had an opportunity to ride a couple of trails. Since I hadn’t been on the bike in a while, I opted to take it (relatively) easy. Moab is at about 4,000 feet, so I didn’t want to destroy my precious, non-climatized lungs on a BIG ride.
That said, when I go back, the recommendation is to do The Whole Enchilada. It’s 34 miles and 8,000 feet of vertical downhill!
Day 1: Bar M Loop
For being off the bike for a couple months, I wanted to test the legs on an intermediate run. Bar M Loops. It’s starts off on the EZ trail, and, despite its name, it isn’t easy! Lots of rock and bouldering on a general uphill. Starting on this trail made me realize how monotonous the terrain is in the Santa Cruz area.
As I rounded around the first major bend in the trail, I opted to hit up Rockin’ A to up the ante—I was feeling good about the intermediate run, so why not go off a little and try some more?! This trail, again, was very different from what I’m used to riding. There were a lot of ups and downs over boulders. I had my GoPro with me, but I didn’t do any quality checks before I started riding. Unfortunately, I had the camera pointed at my crotch the whole time, so I can’t share anything fun from the trail.
The second cut-off I opted to take was Maverick. It was a fun, fast, flowy trail toward the parking lot. I’m really glad I took this because the Bar M Loop going around was just a wide fire road trail.
Overall: This was a fun loop—especially to get the legs warmed up. Very different terrain than Santa Cruz—challenging and fun!
Day 2: Slickrock
If Day 1 prepared me for anything, it didn’t really prepare me for Slickrock! This was a lot of up and down over boulders with amazing views. MTB Project’s description said this was a difficult trail with about 750′ of incline. It was definitely not 750′ of incline! If it was, it was the absolute hardest 750′ of climbing I’ve ever done!
I started this ride at the bottom of Sand Flats Road. This was a pretty decent ride up to the trail head on a road—not my favorite thing to do, but it really wasn’t too bad. I did get a raised fist from a dude coming back down the mountain with his bike gear in the back of his truck!
Once at the trailhead, I familiarized myself with the trail, peeled off a layer, and got to gettin’!
About 2 miles in at the top of a boulder, I chatted with a guy named Lucas. He complemented me on my bike (Santa Cruz 5010) and said it was, “a bold move to wear a full face helmet.” I complemented him on his bike as well (Santa Cruz Hightower) and promptly removed the full face part of the helmet. It’s a good thing too cause the heat was just starting to hit! We chatted for a good bit and discovered he works at Competitive Cyclist.
I had quite a few more miles to put in, so I took Lucas’ recommendation and went counter-clockwise on the Slickrock trail. He claimed it was easier, though I don’t think any way is easy! Slickrock was all bouldering, up and down for about 9 miles. And I won’t lie, there were countless times I had to get off the bike and walk the steep sections. Maybe I’m really out of shape, but I can’t imagine anyone making some of these steep, punchy climbs. There were some amazing views—some of which can be seen in the video below.
Overall, I highly recommend this trail, but save yourself the time and energy by just driving up to the trailhead—it’s worth the price of admission ($5). Otherwise, starting at the bottom of Sand Flats Road, you’ll get in a 14.3 mile / 2,000 foot climb / 2.5 hour ride!
Here’s a video, quickly put together with GoPro’s Quik software.