Friday, June 24, 2011

Gooseberry Mesa - On and Off the Bike

That poor rental car.  There was a "graded road" that we had to drive to get to the top of the mesa.  I'll assume that when one grades a road, one doesn't grade the parts that seem straight up over rocks.  After finding the road that would get us up on top of Gooseberry Mesa at a non-descript turn off in Rockville, UT.  (pop 247), the dirt road climbs 1,000 feet in a few miles on some pitches where we were questioning the ability of the little red Corolla loaded with 3 huge mountain bikes hanging from the trunk to make it. We were creeping like one of those rock crawling jeeps to keep from bottoming out the car and tearing parts off. 

* Note: Not us -- this is just an example of what people do with their off road vehicles in Utah.  Interesting passtime.  I like the idea but wish they wouldn't tear the whole place up.  It's a free country though, so go for it.

A couple of times people would come down the road past us in their huge pickups with lift packages and they would hang out the windows cheering our progress.  It was slow.  Really slow.  Picking our way over rocks in a car that really only was designed to putter along on properly paved roads in suburbia.

The little car scraped and banged and bounced it's way up and up and up and eventually arrived at a parking lot where we gave it a rest as the sickly-sweet stink of an overworked motor wafted around.

We unloaded the bikes and decided to ride to the "practice loop".  Brenna was going to try her hand at riding the petrified sand dunes, but this was a big mesa and she wisely decided she shouldn't ride some of the trails.

The practice loop, it turns out, wasn't easy.

I keep telling Brenna that guys dig chicks with bike related scrapes and bruises! Well...with those battle scars, she is Ms. USA!
After a few swoops up and down the sandstone, crashing and generally feeling like she was over her skill level, Brenna decided to let us go on and we would meet up later.  There was enough to explore using some of the easier trails and the rutted dirt road down the middle of the mesa that she would be happily occupied without being terrified the whole time. Plus, up on the mesa top, our phones had service, so we weren't out of touch if something should happen!  Having functioning phones was pretty unusual since we spent the week having to drive to Hurricane or Springdale to get a cell signal.

We did meet up again out on the North Rim trail at an overlook, after our own crashing entertainment. Oddly, women don't think guys with bike related scrapes and bruises are quite as cool as we think they are.  They just think we are 8 year old idiots...  Oh least I married the attractively bruised Ms. USA.  She is legally bound to hang out with me, even if I act like I'm 8 and ride bikes around all day.

Successfully avoiding the #1 reason why people fall off cliffs.  Posing for pictures...  The other reasons are listed in this post here.

Group photo - smile everyone!

The bands and layers in the mesa's edges would give you a weird vertigo sensation when you looked at them from a high point.  At varying times this area has been an ocean (and at one point part of the gulf of Mexico...sort of). Layers of sediment that were put down with different chemical compositions create the colors in the rock. 

Glad that Nathan joined me in getting more video than we can possibly watch.  I know the cameras are goofy, but it allows me to waste time and share our rides with people from our point of view.  Besides, we look goofy anyway, so the cameras on our heads don't impact a thing.

The elevation changes were dramatic, and worked us over pretty well.  Especially with the distinctly thinner air than we are used to at home.  I took this picture from the trail so you can see how much the trail would climb, descend, and twist around.

Riding home.

Nathan kept trying to bunny hop the cattle grate, and I kept missing the shot.  The camera wouldn't fire fast enough when he jumped, but I figured I would show this great picture of the grate.  Nathan cleared it and was just out of the shot to the right.  It would certainly be more interesting with him in the picture, but after making him do wind sprints 2-3 times to try to capture him mid jump, I guess we need to show something for his efforts.  Just imagine him there doing something X-games-awesome-super-cool in mid air in the middle of the photo...

A thunderstorm started popping lighting around us at the end of our ride, so we re-grouped and headed for home after spending about 6 hours riding.  On the way down, Nathan decided to descend the "road" we came in on by bicycle vs praying the brakes wouldn't catch fire in the Toyota.  He had more fun I'm sure, and even driving with the car in 1st gear the whole way down the road, the brakes smelled like they were hot enough to roast marshmallows over them.  Very nasty tasting marshmallows, but roasted nonetheless.

I'll save you any more of my long winded descriptions of bike riding among the rocks and ancient sand dunes, and let the video give you an idea of how cool it is to ride in places like this.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!  I'm heading to the beach and then to the lake!  It's a tough life...I know...

Gooseberry Mesa from Brad on Vimeo.

1 comment:

bikingzionutah said...

Mountain bike riding is quite demanding and requires a person to be in good physical condition, disciplined, mentally fit. But it is no different really than any other sporting activity. You must train properly if you want to improve and get better.

Gooseberry Mesa Slickrock Tour