Lord have mercy, Day 2 in Moab would prove to be a body buster. If you’ve been to Moab, you’ll know that you don’t have to ride very long distances to put some hurt on your body. Day 2 found us riding a relatively short distance, but on some of the gnarlier stuff that Moab had to offer. The day was going to be John T, Brian, and myself. In a group of 2 or 3, you can really knock out some rides. Brian was only in town for a short time, so he was looking to get some riding in. I can’t blame him. When you drive 1300+ miles to a location to ride, you want to ride…..and ride….and ride.
First one must gear up for the ride:
So that is what we would do. What to do first though? First up was decided that we would ride a section none of us had ridden before. Close by, and some of the reviews said “if wet…..don’t attempt”. Silly jeepers can’t handle rocks apparently. We decided as well that we would ride Steelbender North to South, so that we’d be closer to more riding after the section was done. From what I recall of the beginning, the trail was a good mix of sand, and rocks. Some moderate obstacles were in along the way, but nothing that was unmanageable. This section of the ride, it was early, I was mildly tired, and thus resulted in me taking minimal pictures.
Somewhere along the way of Steelbender, Brian offered up his 500 to me. I was intrigued to try his bike for a couple reasons. One was that I wanted to see what I was missing with having the 350 instead of the 500. Two, Brian had some fancy re-valved forks on the bike. I want to say Pro-Action 3 way valving, but I may be wrong here. Three, Brian runs a steering damping (Scotts) and I run nothing on my 350. Anyways….I was glad I got to see the difference.
Power wise, there is a pretty easy comparison. The 500 has the power of the 350, but from 0 revs on up. I know it has more, but it was smooth, linear, and while it could rip your arms out, you didn’t have the feeling like it was constantly going to run away from you. The 350, you gotta be up in the Revs to be pulling all its power. On top of that, with the 13/48 gearing I was running, you could feel the slight lack in pep vs riding back at sea level at home. Suspension wise, while I felt that the re-valved forks were good, I didn’t think it’d be worth spending the money to get my forks reworked. If I were racing AA on a weekly basis, yeah the OEM fork valving needs help, but for the 99%…the stock valving is pretty darned good (spring rates aside). The steering damper is another thing, well I had no idea I was testing a bike with one. So in that regard, I didn’t notice any ill effects. Brian stated that he loves his, though only had it due to it being on the bike when he got it. Again, I suppose it could help, but the prices on those……
Bike testing aside, once back on the 350, I felt back at home, though down on power. I missed that, and realized that if I had to have 1 machine, that the 500 would for sure be it. We meandered along the trail, enjoying some nice overcast sky.
Brian and John discussing the trail thus far:
The bulk of the trail looked like this:
That last pic is a bit of a lie. Yeah, just about everything in Moab is 2-track, since its all Jeep created (motorcycle specific areas excluded). What you just don’t get is how you go from a flowing sandy 2 track section, to knee high rock boulders in the middle of the trail, requiring instant clutch work with a healthy dose of body english to not go bashing your rims like a bowling ball into rock ledges.
Some of those rocky things behind me:
You can see John T coming down a bit of these rocks here:
As we worked our way to the end of Steelbender, it was apparent why going the opposite direction of us would have been a PITA. There’s one bad hill climb, that if wet, would be nearly impassible. At the end of the trail is a nice creek crossing, which had some depth to it due to recent rains. We had a small crowd (2 ladies walking their dogs), so we all did our best to not drown any bikes. Success was had, with us working our way West out of the area to intersect with 191 and decide our next course of action.
Enter…..Behind the Rocks:
We saw we were close to Behind The Rocks, and I secretly saw that it connected with the back entrance to Pritchett Canyon, so I was all for doing this. The pic above shows what is the first obstacle to get into Behind the Rocks. After Brian and myself worked our way up Guardian Hill….we pulled out the lawnchairs and watch John. This climb is one of those commit, and line selection. The added difficulty being that at the top, it’s all sand, which gets really kills your grip along the way. If you have a hard time with balancing….this one could prove difficult.
I snagged a quick video of “helping” John :lol3
Brian has some good video leading up to Guardian Hill, as well as all of our climbs up it. Sweet word these videos don’t do this place justice:
Looking back at that video….I see I was of 0 help with getting John and his bike up the hill. Woops :lol3. Behind the rocks though, would prove to be a great combination of sandy stuff where you can just rail the bike, combined with technical rocks, and some wicked climbs and descents. We found ourselves on a quick little off-shoot, which was a nice place to stop for a quick snack break. Good time for some of the peanutbutter balls my wife makes for me:
Then how can you NOT like stuff like this?
Along the way, you end up at an absolutely gnarly downhill. There is a go-around, but Brian and I felt we were up for the challenge. I missed taking some pics at the top, so I’ll do my best to describe it. This downhill had several lines to get down it. The main issue though with most of the lines is that at the end of each, there was a 4-5′ drop you had to do. I’m not one to shy away from such dangers, but figured I’d choose to most conservative approach of the available lines. Brian chose to be Mr. HotRod & do one where he jumps off at the end. My video….which he makes it look like you’re rolling off a curb at Starbucks:
Brian’s full video, you can get a bit better grasp of what you’re dealing with:
From here, you work your way down, around, and through the woods….to White Knuckle Hill we go. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but soon understood why it was called that. I began riding down, to realize that the route I’d chosen…..well, wasn’t the best. Luckily I was able to stop, reposition, and square of the direction I wanted to go. I did capture a nice pic while I scouted my lines:
As soon as I got down, I saw John & Brian scouting a much different route….one that appeared to have less ledges\etc.
At this point, we weren’t far from the end of Behind The Rocks, and were seeing the sign for Pritchett Canyon. It was decided we’d better eat a snack before heading on, as we’d been told that Pritchett Canyon is one of the hardest trails in the Moab area.
I suppose it’s possible that they could be right (trail goes down off that ledge…)
PS – If you’re interested….All off Brians videos are posted here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_Rof1UeU6rqyGsBwTd7GTw/videos?shelf_id=0&view=0&sort=dd