After a day of swooping around on Mars, I was curious to see what else the guides would throw our way. Turns out we were to visit Venus on the third day of our journey through the myriad worlds of Moab.
Like slick rock, the Sovereign trail is but a few miles from town, but that’s where the similarities end. The trail winds up, down, and across a huge mesa. Unlike its red-faced sandstone cousins, this gargantuan land peninsula is tinted with an oxidized green, like a giant molten blob of patina'd bronze. I didn't know what to make of the green soil- I had never seen anything like it. This oddly colored rock is just another example of how varied and diverse the life and land of this place is. Every ride is a geology lesson and a ultra-high def episode of a discovery channel documentary all rolled into one. Then again, falling on a Juniper tree after wiping out on some crazy rocks is as close-up as you can get.
Our guide today was a hard man known as Steve. Steve had ridden these trails for quite a while, and while he was slow to warm up, could rip through downhill singletrack with far more finesse than I could. As we drove to the trailhead he told us about life around Moab and how he came to call it home; not many people here were born and raised in Moab- each person we’ve met here has their own story- with Moab being the current stop of their journeys. I guess we all have that in common at the moment.
I’ll be honest: riding up that mesa was a bit of a chore. Three days into our trip, we were still getting acclimated to the altitude and terrain. The sovereign trail was a world apart from slick rock: generally tight singletrack littered with loose rocks and technical uphill sections. It definitely left its mark on yours truly…
After toiling uphill across loose rocks left by dirt bikes (the lazy' man’s mountain bike…), we would be rewarded by tight, steep singletrack that switched back across the mesa. The surface was much looser than slick rock, and I may have been guilty of riding the breaks down it, as I was really not in the mood to fly off the side of a cliff.
After an hour and a half of ups and downs we reached the top of the mesa: a cliff face with the gorgeous La Sal mountains in the background. The are the ultimate compliment to the varied Moab Terrain. You’re in the middle of an arid desert canyon land, and off in the distance are snowcapped mountains, gracefully kissing a sky so blue that it would give Bob Ross a wet dream.
As we made our way down the Mesa, Steve corralled us through a dried up, rocky half-pipe of a riverbed (I believe if was called Terry’s Tunnel). This riverbed was full of ledges and rocky outcrops that you had to traverse. The techie bits were fun to try and figure out: correct gearing, a good line, and some fast twitch muscle fibers got you over the rocks and ledges, but any misstep and you had the chance of a one night stand with the ground…
As we stepped off of the green mesa we were met with sandy red singletrack and a few flat wash sections. For the record, deep, loose sand is a royal pain on a mountain bike- I reassured myself that riding in sand would come in handy at the next cx race.
One of the last sections we traversed was a giant, wide open stretch of sandstone. i was told it used to be a seabed, and it’s pretty apparent. it stretched far out- a vast, dehydrated sea bed, littered with junipers and small desert flora.
we finished up our ride on some non-technical jeep roads, riding back to the van and cooling down. We had another great day of unforgettable riding under our belts. As I sat there devouring a sandwich in the shade, the La Sal Mountains sat on the horizon. This trip was the mountain bike equivalent of a seven-course tasting menu at Le Bernardin- I had no idea what the next course would be- couldn’t wait to find out.