When we first rolled into Moab, I’d made bold declarations of wanting to explore new places that I hadn’t seen before. Needes! The Maze! Lockhart Basin! I had grand intentions of exploration. But intentions are funny.
When I found myself invited on an other White Rim trip with some friends who were either new or I hadn’t seen or ridden with in forever, I had zero hesitation in saying, ‘I’m in!’ This three day, self-supported, water-hauling trip would bring my number of days on White Rim this spring up to 7. In a two-week time span.
No, it wasn’t new country. It wasn’t new terrain. But by this time, I’d realized that the significance of this trip to Moab had little to do with seeing new places, it was much more centered around having new experiences with the people who I hold near and dear to my heart.
I’ve long ago abandoned bike riding as a form of fitness, instead embracing it as a way to see new places. This evolution seems to be continuing, as I’ve found myself embracing bikes as a way to spend time with people. I’ve gone from the bike racer who rode solo most of the time so that I could go the right pace and do the right intervals to someone who hasn’t been on a solo ride for longer than I can remember.
It’s pretty cool. The human experience is a neat one.
We had a great little crew for this traversal of the WR. Rachel, who is a member of the list of riding buddies I had in AZ who moved, had been my link in. Also coming along were Beth, who I’d met at the start of the AZTR and told her that it was a very good idea that she’d brought her full-squish bike for the race, and Sean. All three residents in the Gunnison/Crested Butte area, which was fun because we knew all of the same people from my time there.
We loaded packs and bikes with 6-9L of water (I went with 8.5L), parked the car, and started towards Mineral Bottom road. 6L of water in the pack is heavy, and I’m pretty sure that I had the most water weight on my back starting out. I was a little jealous of the big frame bags the other three were toting with their hardtails. I was less jealous of their single-gear choice. I love single-speeds…but I’m not sure if you could convince me to take one around WR.
We made short work of the 30-some odd miles of the day. We even had time to stop for a swim break in the flooding Green River which had backed up into a wash and onto the road.
I also made short work of 3L of water…which was a bummer because I was really hoping to drink less than 2 on the starting day. But…the first day was forecasted to be the hottest, so I was hoping that water needs would go down the next two days.
Rachel showed off her Jefe-donated sleeping pad. Moral of the story: Don’t take all the bikepacking advice that an ultra-lightweight racer bikepacker gives you.
We lucked out waking up to cloudy skies. With less than 40 miles to cover, we took a leisurely morning and had many snack breaks. The raven that was hanging out at Candlestick was still there. He waddled multiple circles around us looking for handouts.
The temperatures made the pedaling downright pleasant and it was starting to look like our water supplies would hold out. Still, we decided, if we had a group supported by a vehicle camping next to us, we’d make ourselves available to be offered water to. Thru-hikers call it yogi-ing, showing up to a trailhead or campground filled with cars and food, looking forlornly at your own supplies, and hoping that someone takes pity and offers you food. Asking for food or water is against the rules. It has to be offered. Some people are amazingly good at it, and we liked our chances when a fully supported tour group pulled into the site next to us. Generally, by that campground, any excess water is happily jettisoned by groups.
We left Sean back at the campsite later that evening and wandered over to see what we could pull off. It was definitely more of a challenge than an actual need for water. We had enough that we could easily finish the next morning without too much thirst.
We returned with nothing. Nada. I was actually a little surprised, but totally understanding as each of those clients had paid $875 to have the privilege of not having to carry and ration their water. Whiskey was drank instead.
It rained that night. Which was great since three of us were in bivys. Added adventure. Or something like that.
The guides ended up being super-nice, and in the end, brought us some leftover french toast in the morning and offered to let us fill up any water that we needed. Turns out, their trucks have a 135 gallon capacity for water. That’s a shit-ton of water. We ended up taking less than three liters between the four of us, but each sip was definitely much appreciated after two days of serious water rationing.
We rolled out of Shaffers (still not jealous of the single-speeds) and back to the car. The whole time, we talked of trips for the summer. Bikepacking. High country. Summer was coming. The snow was melting.
As I start to fill in the calendar for the next few months, it’s fun to see it fill with trips based on seeing friends instead of trips based on massive adventure goals. Maybe, when people ask me what our plans for this summer are, I’ll just say, ‘We’re going to ride bikes and go adventuring with friends.’
That should just about sum it up.