Category Archives: Utah

Moab and the Monumental Southwest

After a few days in town we got a hold of Matt Hebberd, my friend Nicole’s Uncle. She said he was super into mountain biking and a way cool guy we had to meet. Stopped by his place, and he said that he knew we were coming, got some Pabst for us and it was keeping cold outside. Matt fits the archetypal heroic bachelor quite perfectly. Maybe he’s 45 years old, but you would never know it. By the time you sit down at the kitchen counter he built and start chatting, you’d swear that you were back in college. He moved to Moab to ride bikes and now runs Rim Tours, which offers some of the best guided adventures around (as voted by National Geographic Adventure Magazine). Mountain Bike Hall of Fame recently inducted Matt because of his contributions to the whole fat tire scene at it’s early stages. With a bit of research I was able to scrounge up an article about him in the Fat Tire Flyer, that said something to the effect that you are liable to injure yourself if you try and keep up with him, and that bike manufacturers are all trying to get him to test out their bikes. If that isn’t enough to cast him as a core mountain biker, then the rotation of 20 odd bikes sitting outside his house just might. Ranging from some of the earliest models of fat tire bicycles up to state of the art full suspensions models (which he seems to favor over the others). In fact, while flipping through a book about the history of Specialized Bicycles, I turned to a page with a bike on slick rock. I look up and see a beautiful old bike with wooden rims and look down and see the same bike. “Hey Matt.. This your bike???�

“Yep.� He said and continued to give the background about the bike.

There was another book called the history of Fat Tire Bicycles, and while flipping through that one, I saw a bike that looked remarkably familiar. I look outside amidst the collection of bikes neatly hanging from racks and see the same bike. I look closer at the picture and there’s Matt, sporting a white baseball cap turned backwards with curly blond hair.

He asked as us about our trip and our plans, and we had said that we were planning on staying in Moab for a bit, possibly even get jobs to earn some extra money. “Sure, you guys are welcome stay here, make the trailer a homebase, for as long as you need.� And he showed us a nice streamliner that he seemed to use for guests and for accommodations at the annual 24 Hours of Moab racing event he’s involved with.

A few days after we arrived he invited me to head out to some trails. Met up with a bunch of folks. It was the first time that I had used a short bike in about a year and it felt incredibly awkward. My front wheel would pop up without any effort, even when I was on the gravel road headed to the trail. I foresaw a difficult ride for me, quite possibly embarrassing.

The first words somebody said to me as I turned onto the trailhead was, “Be Careful. If you’ve never been on this trail.� And so I promptly and quite naively blasted myself down a series of steep and increasingly large steps. On an Xtracycle there is not such thing as an endo, you never have to worry about your back tire flipping over your head. They just barrel through. And so I bounced on my fork down a few steps and instantly flew over my handlebars, fortunate enough to land on my feet. I really wanted to give it a whirl on my loaded Xtracycle, but was committed to experimenting with the short bikes. Challenging and technical, if not IMPOSSIBLE sections lined the route. Yet Matt and his friends would scamper up and through and down and around with such ease it was maddening. Very interesting riding with such a large group, and really just riding with somebody other than Sean and Goat. Mobilizing 14 or so people on a bike trail is quite a task. Often we just waited for everybody to rejoin before heading on. Ride 15 minutes, stop wait. Hang out. Eat snacks. Ride another 20 minutes, eat another snack. Actually quite luxurious. Our usual days incorporate solid 4-5 hour rides with maybe a 5 minute snack break, often our munchies consumed straight out of the handlebar bag. The highlight of the ride was a stretch of smooth slickrock dotted with various sized potholes filled with water and frozen over. Then an insanely steep slickrock dome with an incredible view and on towards a smallish arch with a pothole on top (more or less a cave with a round hole in the roof). Then back down to the city, winding down epic slickrock singletrack, forcing me to dismount both voluntarily and involuntarily at various sections. My lack of short bike experience was made brutally apparent by the dog that could descend faster than I could, taking the ledges and cuts with considerable ease. When I tried to get my weight behind my seat I would get my pants stuck and be forced to continue with my stomach pushed up against the back of my seat.

Soon enough we managed to get comfortable with our domestic existence. Every night was long because it was so near the solstice, and wound down with a movie and cocktails. Every morning I would concoct the perfect cup of coffee, making it marginally better each day. Sean and I attempted to type away a few articles with grandiose dreams of publication. I was ecstatic to hear back from Adventure Cyclist who was willing to publish an article I wrote about the wolf chase up in Alaska. Our attempts to find any kind of temporary work pretty much drowned in each successive cup of coffee I drank from the town’s coffee shop that stayed open, not because they made money, but because the locals appreciate their service in the off-season. Moab is deserted in the winter.

Unknowingly, we filled up on our stagnate existence in Moab. We had needed the break from the daily 60 mile grind, but were unable to recognize that until we were neck deep in luxurious domestic accommodations. We had collectively decided that there are probably very few people in this world that could have put up with us for a solid month, and appreciated Matt’s hospitality to no end. He made sure our bikes were up to snuff. If we needed a tire voila, he made it appear. If we were having trouble with flats, voila, our tubes were filled Stan’s Slime Protector. After a month of still life in the streamliner, we were ready to go, and I don’t doubt that our endlessly benevolent host was probably ready to have his house back.

Matt charted us an off-road route that would take us into Monticello, the next town south. Maybe 65 miles out of our way on 4×4 roads. So eager we were to get back out there, that we hardly consulted and considered the route for logistical planning. And we set off with a grand total of about 4 meals. We escaped the syrupy molasses pull of civilization late as usual and could account for very few miles by the end of the day, but the landscape was incredible and we were on the road again.

The condition of the road devolved throughout our trip. Beginning with accessibility to any SUV, it turned into something that only jeep enthusiasts and atv’ers could dare traverse. We harbored a new appreciation for the rockhoppin’ “Jeepers� who are generally the antagonist to the mountain biking community in Moab. Nothing you want to see less biking out in the middle of the beautiful desert than one of those ugly jeeps whorred out with large stickers as if it was a mobile billboard. Anyway, it seemed impossible for them to navigate some of the sections, and I was secretly impressed that they could actually manage. Overall the toughest thing about the route for us was the boggish sand and mud, depending on the temperature. Towards the end of the day it would freeze on top only to crack under our weight. These conditions forced a belabored movement through the desert, and while we could keep our balance just enough to keep moving, it was slow enough that I could scan the earth under me for signs of arrowheads (I had recently found one in Moab hiking around, and was temporarily obsessed with the prospect of finding another pointy little treasure). One stretch of sand, about a mile long, forced us to dismount and arduously push our bikes while the sun colored the desert sand. Rock gardens were covered in snow and required immense concentration to maintain balance. Incredibly difficult to ride up, but never as difficult as having to push your bike up, so we struggled. And by the end of our relatively short 4 hour day of riding we were thoroughly wiped out, unanimously agreeing that there was not a pedal stroke more left in us. Either that or we were trying to justify our pathetically long mornings, sleeping in and lounging around until about 1 or 2.

By the end of the second day when we had fully faced the fact that we were still a good 2 days ride from civilization and were going to be mighty hungry, having eaten the last of our food stuffs. Nothing we could do but keep riding, after, of course, we attend to our ridiculous leisurely mornings. We got creative with our cooking and mixed trail mix with oatmeal, downed protein powder shakes proclaiming to add “rock solid mass� to our brawn. Anything that was edible we consumed.

By the end of the third day we were seeing signs of life, which then occurred to me how little of it we saw on the trail. There was but a few rabbit tracks in the snow, and very little else. The human footprints raised our spirits with optimism. A bizarre assemblage of mushroom shaped rocks towering overhead asserted a nice camping spot below them, and we regrettably had to keep moving, search for calories. At the edge of these we saw a creek, the first since we left Moab. We had been reduced to filtering water from ponds and melting snow to get water, which consumed much of our daylight. Our water had not frozen solid just yet and did not require the creeks offerings. But it did prove a tricky crossing. Thin ice covered most of it, and a Jeeper would happily mash on through, without fear of the elements, yet we were humble bicyclists, completely lacking the artificial climate offered by the V-8’s heater. A bit of teamwork got our bikes and selves over the creek where we saw more human footprints. Then port-a-potties, then I rolled up to Goat talking to a car camper parked alongside the dirt road who was kind enough to give us some quinoa and instant brown rice, enough carbohydrates to get us into the next town. That night was a cold one. Had to clear off snow for a spot to pitch our tent, before we woke up and had to cover the remaining 40 odd miles into town.

We arrived just after dark and were able to belly up to a truck stop diner. Two girls and a mother hung out next to us in a booth and the waitress (the older daughter) would simply turn from her seat and ask if we wanted any water, passed it over to us without getting up. Redefined my understanding of a mom and pop establishment, and we were overjoyed to sit there in the warmth and chat with them. Midway through our meal, a cowboy type in stylish boots and ten gallon hat appeared, “How’s ya’lls food?�

“Outstanding,� I replied quickly, thinking it was funny because we had all just commented seconds ago on how good the food was.

“That’s what I like to hear.� He said and patted me on the shoulder. “Let me know if you want any more tortilla’s.�

The mother of the place asked us where we sleeping and after seeing that her words lingered in our thoughts, recommended that we camp at a ballpark field just up the road.

Blanding was the next town, where I fondly remember an all you can eat buffet of chicken wings, pizza and salad. Somehow Sean and Goat passed up this morsel of never-ending food and bought groceries to cook up. I made sure to rub it in when we met back up. Fueled by a platter of chicken wings and pizza I pedaled onwards towards an off-road section that would take us towards Goosenecks State Park and the town Mexican Hat. A lengthy hill reached its peak at a formidable geographic formation, a sort of fin shaped mountain winding north to south, that in the past presented an impossible section to travelers headed towards the sunrise or sunset. Modern man managed to blast a canyon through a section and pave a nice road defying the power of nature. Exiting the narrow wound in the rock, a steep hill took us to Comb Wash road, where we hoped to cut across the dirt path to the next highway. There was theoretically cliff dwelling nearby, but we sure couldn’t find them. We camped there a night and followed the well graded and surprisingly solid surface, easing our fear that we faced another grueling 20 miles of sandy biking. We splashed out onto the road and saw a tremendous hill that would take me a good hour and a half to see flatten out. A plateau, stood in front of me like a table missing a leg that tilted downwards rolling the contents into the wash that we just pedaled through. And like one of those rickety café tables with a roll of receipts and paper trying to stabilize the surface, after reaching the top it leaned the other way, sending the three of us rolling down the table like spilled coffee. Into the Valley of the Gods, where huge monoliths and spires reached for the sky and dotted the flat desert surface, remaining like a child’s mashed potato sculpture on a plate of uneaten vegetables. Sagebrush and a few odd trees dotted the landscape uniformly, like the freckles of redheaded child, as the sun set and flushed the earth’s surface with an embarrassed hue, as if we caught it involved in some mischief.

And from there, we left, still mystified by the beauty of this nook of the world to the Goosenecks State Park, where the San Juan River folded itself like ribbon candy, winding itself impossibly back and forth. A rather adventurous hike took us to a land bridge in between the river where we could look to our left and right and see the same river going different directions. Like the comments from Stan Hinkle in the visitor’s registry, it was “a nice meander,� to say the least.

The next day took us into Monument Valley, where the monoliths seemed to aggressively challenge the sights we saw the day before, rising up even higher and more magnificent than the “Seven Sailors� formation or “Women in a Tub�. These perpetual cliffs seemed to commune with the sky as if you could walk off the cliff and onto the clouds. The atmosphere was preparing a good chuckle for us that evening, as the sun dropped in the sky and my shadow raced off into the distance, hoping to escape the sub-zero temperatures that were falling on us. With the last ray of sun, went the last positive degree of warmth. Set up camp and hustled around to keep circulation going while the food that we had, (5 minute rice and chili due to negligent planning once again) warmed up. We had a few beers, but found myself too cold to consume more than one and the other exploded, frozen in time in a fizzy slush.

“Damn it is cold,� I said. Over and over again, much to the annoyance of my companions who would rather not hear my endless whining. Oh and so cozy in the tent that night. I wore every article of clothing I owned and still tossed and turned all night. We survived the night and rushed towards a rumor of food just a few miles away. The pleasure of a downhill was missed when the freezing temperatures and wind chill, took away the circulation to my feet. I sought refuge in a diner where I employed the joys of another all you can eat buffet. This area has been favored for moviemakers for it’s incredible scenery, Hollywood has used it for films such as Forest Gump, Thelma and Louise, and most notably for How the West Was Won. Long before the sun went down we arrived in Arizona and in the small Navajo town of Kayenta.

Dinosaur Country

“Dinosaur capital of the world,� proudly proclaims the quaint – bordering non-existant – town in the northwestern corner of Colorado. It is hard not to feel drawn towards Dinosaur City, after riding through so many desolate areas, where one can easily imagine, prehistoric creatures are romping through the wild when your back is turned. You’d almost believe that they manage to hide, the moment you turn, only….they’re so massive, animals like that just can’t hide.
Well, even after being extinct for millions of years, they still managed to hide their remains from us. Dinosaur national monument was closed because the building was liable to collapse. Constructed on an area concentrated with dinosaur bones that have been petrified in a layer of earth that was bulging upwards and exposing the prehistoric layer which actually operated to wreck the building. So, our highly anticipated glimpse of dinosaur remains was lost and we had to settle for the crudely disproportionate cement Triceratops near the city park. It was pathetic. I even went to the visitor’s center to solicit a few pictures of what I might have been able to see, but was met with a shut door bearing a sign that said “Closed�. Our travels continued along the 139, winding for about 35 miles to the Douglas Pass and then descended for the final 40 miles into Grand Junction. Kokopelli pictographs depicted a mysterious flute player with dreadlocks along the sharp sandstone cliffs. Our mountainous environment had been replaced by the desert canyons, only hinting at the marvels we would see when we got further south into the Canyonlands, and Arches National Park.

We pitched our tent back in a side canyon, far enough to lose view of the road. After our typical hearty breakfast the next morning of rice, beans, eggs and sausage we continued up the pass. It was a steady incline most of the way, until maybe the last 4-5 miles when it painfully tore it’s way upwards at a much more strenuous grade. Winding up and around the mountain, light patches of snow that had hid behind various bushes soon grew to envelope the entire roadside surface. Cars passed us and gave us enthusiastic thumbs up accompanied with a positive howl. Eventually we reached the top just before sundown. I watched a car slowly meander it’s way down the extremely steep, windy downhill, it’s lights would flicker in and out of visibility until it faded completely into the mountains. I looked forward to following the trace of lights down that same path. The wind howled past me, and caused me to shiver.

Many mountain passes hesitate to drop, generally winding along a ridge for a mile or so before falling back into the valley. This pass reached a peak and instantly bent towards lower elevation, and the top offered an amazing view of where we came from and where we were headed. It was so steep that there were hardly any places to set up camp, but behind a snowplow shed there was enough room for our humble tent. There was even firewood to make a fire, which we would have enjoyed a bit more if we would have set it up further from our tent and didn’t have to constantly worry about flying embers burning a hole in the fabric.

Riding downhill the next day fulfilled all my expectations. Hugging the turns at 35-40 mph, I could even pass cars as they raced us to civilization. After the initial steep descent it became gradual, letting gravity pull us towards Grand Junction for the next 35 odd miles. At some point during the 2 hours of downhill bliss, I almost forgot about the toils of yesterday’s riding.

We met up at a gas station and saw Goat hobble in shortly after we had sat down with a pint of ice cream. He had gotten run off the road and into one of the most evil patches of goatheads any of us had ever seen. It was as though the tread of his tire had incorporated a steady stream of the prickly seeds to add traction. They turned his tube into Swiss cheese and required methodical removal so that the new tubes wouldn’t be burdened by remaining shards in the tire.

Grand Junction was a cool bike town, with lots of bike related sculptures lining main street. At the library we met a man named Rob Wells. He approached Goat in the library and spoke as if he was talking to somebody on another level of the building, “I shouldn’t try and communicate, because I’m deaf. But I was wondering where you guys are headed on those bikes?� Goat scribbled on a piece of paper, “The southernmost tip of South America.�

The man held the paper and a great beaming smile covered his face. He spoke about how he had traveled halfway across the country on a bike when he was younger and loved to hear more about our trip. He lived alone and had not spoken more than 40 words in the past 4 years. Because of a hereditary issue, he had lost his hearing completely 14 years ago. He invited us to stay over at his house and gave us directions.

They were simple enough. Head down the highway until you reach 19-1/2 street and turn right. Keep going until you reach K Street, make another right, my house is 3rd driveway on the right. It had gotten dark by the time we had managed to leave the city and we were eager to get some rest. 19-1/2 street came soon enough, but K street was another 45 minutes away and his driveway was another 25 minutes from there. The expansive 3 story house seemed out of suite for a man living on his own, and we were unsure we had the right house.

We couldn’t just knock to get him to answer the locked door, because he wouldn’t hear us. And naturally, there was no doorbell. So we waited outside his house while the neighborhood dogs yelled at us relentlessly. We feared a lynch mob would follow the cries of the dogs, wondering who was disturbing the peaceful rural neighborhood. Eventually we saw Rob through the window and got his attention with a flashlight we shined through the window at him.

He was a healthy old man, probably around 70 years old, but active enough that you would never know. He had a full head of grey hair and brilliant smile, accented with wrinkles that transformed his entire face into a glowing statement of happiness. Bushy eyebrows adorned his face like wreaths, adding a good measure of depth to his profile. After the grand tour of the house he proudly built, we rolled out our Thermarest and got a good night’s rest.

Next was Thanksgiving and he loudly shuffled into the main room. His voice bellowed through the empty house, “Today is Gobble-Gobble day, you guys want to go to the mission and get a Turkey Dinner.�

We all thought that Thanksgiving day was still a few days away and woke up excited about the prospect of free food. All three of us were taken back, when his car screamed out of his driveway and onto the road. We were not used to being in a car, speeding across the countryside at 55 miles per hour. Despite his rushed pace, we had arrived at the mission way too late. It was only 2 o’ clock but everybody was gone and there seemed to be no leftovers. Rob suggested we go to the grocery store (K-Mart) to get some food and have our own “Gobble Gobble Day.�

We sat down around his table and enjoyed a huge meal. It was fascinating to communicate with somebody who had spoken so little, and who was so eager to exchange words. Of course we had to write everything down, and he unknowingly yelled at us with his every word. But ultimately, there was something surreal about spending Thanksgiving with somebody we just met, and quickly finding a comfortable space with each other. It was definitely a holiday we will not forget..

We departed the next morning and he gave us two self-addressed envelopes for us to write to him. Earlier in town, we had been told about the Kokopelli trail, that began in Fruita, a few miles west of Grand Junction. Said to be well-signed and would take us all the way into Moab on an off-road route. We blasted our way onto a trail among dozens of cyclists heading out for a quick ride. They warned us about a few hike-a-bike sections that would be challenging and gave us some advice on which routes to take. The well graded gravel road we began on ended and took us into a technical singletrack section which then became an even more impossible hike-a-bike section that we were told of. We cautiously maneuvered our bikes down steep ledges and narrow paths. Sometimes we pulled the bikes, often, they pulled us down the hill. It had been too long since we had been on the trails and relished even the misery of the hike-a-biking. Though, I can’t speak for Sean who’s grunts and moans spoke more of pain and misery than any kind of enjoyment. By the end of the day, we were all singing the same tune, when it had gotten dark and we had been battling our way up the same hill for the past hour. Extreme exhaustion set in, and we had pedaled or pushed our bikes, at most, a whopping 20 miles. Sean seemed the most disturbed by the hike-a-bike section and was relegating himself to sleeping on the steep hillside. Goat and I grabbed his bags and guitar against his wishes and carried them to the top, making it easier for him to get his bike up.

Throughout the night, trains snaked their way through the valley that we had ridden along. A massive serpent of steel, followed the beaming headlight and disappeared into the darkness of a tunnel. I had many nostalgic moments that night thinking about my adventures riding the rails. I had once hopped on a gondola railcar in the summertime on the same tracks, which would soon conform around the Colorado River and veer towards Salt Lake City.

The next day offered a much more steady stream of riding. Bits of slick rock here, sandy sections there, in between technical rocky ledges. Kokopelli trail was truly incredible, offering incredibly diverse riding conditions among some of the most beautiful scenery on earth. Canyons and rock formations manifested themselves in unearthly shapes and contours, leaving you to momentarily question what planet you are on. Sean had a lot of trouble with flat tires that day and found himself tailing a good ways behind. His misery on the hike-a-bike was always the most vocalized, often to the discreet humor and entertainment of Goat and myself. The light in the sky began running to the horizon shortly after I had just pushed my bike up a lengthy steep section. I asked Goat, “You seen Sean lately?�

“Nahh, not for awhile.�

“He had a flat tire, I haven’t seen him since.�

“Hmm. Hope he’s all right. I sure don’t want to have to push up that hill again.�

And then we saw him turn the corner in the distance.

“Think we should stick around and watch him suffer up his hill?� I asked.

Goat merely replied with his infectious laugh. We stood there catching our breathe and watched Sean get closer and closer. Darkness was setting in and we had been out of water for most of the day, so we opted to continue our path towards hydration. We sped through a singletrack section weaving through thick bushes and trees. The trail spilled us onto a paved road dropping quickly downhill. We saw on the crude map we printed up from the library that we were near the river and imagined a nice campsite around there. We hurried towards the water. My head was pounding from the dehydration. We toured the campsite and abandoned ranger station looking for the next section of the Kokopelli, and found nothing. “It would be all-right, deal with that tomorrow,� I thought.

We sat idly, waiting for Sean, since there was little we could do. He had the water filter, the cooking equipment and the weather was clear enough, so there was no reason to put up the tent. We got impatient and filled our Drom bags with water and purified it with iodine, while we eagerly waited for both Sean to appear and the water to be ready. 30 minutes later there was still no sign of him and we greedily began drinking the water. Instantly, a sense of sanity returned that we didn’t even realize had been lost. Exhaustion will do that to you, makes it mighty difficult to think clearly.

We built a huge fire hoping that would signal him. There wasn’t really any turns to take, we couldn’t really imagine him getting lost, and began to worry that he might have had debilitating bike problems. We dragged some coals under the grill and cooked individual oatmeal packets in my metal coffee cup. It was a really sad meal, and we worried about Sean. We rolled out our beds and went to sleep, figuring we would be able to work this out tomorrow with a bit more light. No sense wandering around in the dark.

After a short spell of sleep, a tremendous wind blew through our campsite. I could hear various things we left on the table blowing towards the nearby river. I jumped up to rescue them. Momentarily after getting back in my sleeping bag and feeling that familiar, comforting warmth of the Primaloft insulation, rain started sprinkling down. I got up and started dragging myself under the picnic table. I was too tired to realize that we had the top of the tent, but Sean had the pole that supported it. We frantically began staking out the tent, shivering all the while. Through the narrow and dim beam of my headlamp I was able to find a stick that could support the pyramid shaped tent, and our home was built. We hoped Sean was able to set-up a decent shelter as well. (Later we found out that his shelter involved his bike and it fell on him periodically throughout the night) As usual, however, the rain stopped the moment we got our tent set up anyway.

We woke up the next day without a sign of Sean. Being the master map readers that we are, it took us a little while to realize that the trail actually took a turn before hitting the river, a little more than half a mile back. By the time we got there, we could see his tracks in the sand. They ended abruptly about a mile into the trail. “Sean… SEEAAANNNN?!!!� We yelled. Nothing.

We followed his tracks back to the road, and did our best sleuthing trying to find where his tracks went. We discovered absolutely nothing. It was about 1:30 when we finally decided to go back up the paved road to the trail, thinking he might have left a note. We stashed our bags behind a bush and began our search for him. Our plan was to leave a note at the various junctions he would have encountered and then we’d wait out the day at the bottom of the hill, at the last place we saw his tracks. A group of dirtbike riders came motoring up behind us. One of them peeled off his goggles and lifted up his helmet and said, “You looking for another rider?�
“Yeah..Yeah. How’d you know?� I replied.

“We saw him a good, what?� He looked around the group for verification as he continued, “four hours ago, maybe more.�

Another rider chimed in, “He decided to take the freeway, said he had flats and got separated from you two. Didn’t know what to do and said he’d meet you in Moab. Oh. And just to mention there’s supposed to be a big storm coming, maybe a day or two.�

They put back their goggles, strapped their helmets and wished us luck.

“Damn, that man left four hours ago? We weren’t even awake by the time he chose to hit the pavement.� I said, astonished.

“And he has a good portion of our food, not to mention all the cooking equipment and the other half of the tent.� Goat added.

“Well…shoot.. Let’s continue on down the Kokopelli. No sense in taking the road, just yet.� I said.
“Of course,� Goat agreed.

“ Good thing one of us wasn’t hurt, that was a sketchy sketchy maneuver to leave like that, no note, nothing. Damn his road fever� I said while shaking my head.

“Damn good thing the dirtbikers ran into us. We would have waited around all day for him� Goat said.

We loaded up our bags and continued down the Kokopelli. It was very strange riding without a trio. The trail helped lift our moods, as it was some of the most incredible riding we’d been exposed to since we began the trip. Epic singletrack and steep four-wheel drive roads absorbed our thoughts. One particularly memorable stretch of singletrack spanned along the riverside, at points tunneling through thick brush and undulating up and down with lots of little technical turns and drops. Challenging for a fully loaded Xtracycle, but we made off pretty well. I can remember watching Goat burst down an amazingly steep rock garden, filled with 12� boulders, as if he was on smooth pavement. I gingerly followed. It came as a surprise to me when I finally caught up to him and saw he was clutching his shoulder. He managed to fall on an insignificant flat turn, because of an issue unclipping his feet from the pedal. His shoulder took a good hit and it was not okay. We finished the day with a steep and likely miserable hike-a-bike for him. We set up camp under some cottonwood trees next to the river.

We built a fire and cooked the rest of our food one little cup full at a time. Our hunger spawned a bit of innovation and Goat grabbed an extra cog while I filled up some aluminum cans with dirt to set in the fire. We balanced the cog in between the cans and pushed coals underneath and grilled up the Jimmy Dean sausage to perfection, complete with cassette grill marks.

That was unfortunately the end of the Kokopelli for us since Goat’s shoulder was injured and our food supply was non-existant. We begrudgingly detoured to highway and began following the river towards Moab. There has been very few towns we’ve gone through and not been warned by somebody of an impending storm, “the big one� as we joke. The towns that didn’t warn us were usually the towns that were already blanketed in snow or drowned in rain, and they all seemed to say with disbelief and upturned palms that it is never like this at this time of the year. We faced a merciless wind most of the ride pulling behind it a powerful snow storm. As beautiful as it was, the delicate surface of me eyeballs were being attacked with sand particles and my riding was subjected to brief gusts of wind that would alter the direction I was hoping to take my bike. About ten miles out of Moab we saw a flagger stopping cars and I planned on asking her if she had seen another rider ahead of us. She was gorgeous, and it was shocking to see such a beautiful creature to be working a construction job out in the middle of nowhere. Whatever I was going to say or hoped to say pretty much turned into a pathetic slew of stuttered gibberish. I pedaled on, trying to make sense of the brief encounter, seriously wondering if she had been some strange windblown mirage.

“Goat. Did you s..� I began.

He interrupted, “Yeah.. What the heck was she doing working that job?�

“Well I doubt there are as many people who can stop traffic as well as her. I suppose she’s perfect for the job.� I replied.

We reached the edge of Moab and saw a sign that said “Bike Trail To Moab� and had an arrow pointing under the overpass. We followed it, saw that it started out as a nice paved path and quickly wound up and around and onto the very busy highway 191, with a tiny shoulder for cyclists. Semi-trucks blew past as and literally left us in their dust. I was behind Goat and was knocked off my bike by a dustdevil of incredible strength. Goat heard my cries and laughed as he watched me get worked by the tornado of wind and debris.

I saw Sean at the library and said dramatically, “Damn you Sean. You left us for dead out there. That was such a sketchy move.�

“Yeah, I’m sorry. I realized that after I left. I screwed up.� He replied sincerely and apologetically.

“Did you se..� I began.

“Yeah. The flagger. She was gorgeous.� Sean interrupted, “Why was she…�

Then it was my turn to interrupt, “I have no idea.�