Daily Archives: March 13, 2013

DAY 178 – 03/07/2013 – Moab, UT Slickrock Bike Trails

So, we arrived at the world-famous Slickrock Trails in Moab, Utah. We set up camp across the road from the entrance.


Gorgeous campsite! Right across the road from the trailhead.

Even though it was about 40 minutes until dark, we tried out the trails, intending to ride more extensively in the coming days. Or, rather, I tried out the trails. David had already been to Moab several times before. He loved this technical riding and looked forward to introducing it to me.  He calls it riding on Velcro!


The 11 miles of Slickrock Trail routes climb up and down the petrified sand dunes, actually Navajo Sandstone. It’s not recommended for unskilled mountain bikers. The scenery is gorgeous, with the snow-covered La Sal Mountains as a backdrop.


David on the Slickrock

And I hated it. Really didn’t like it at all! To be fair, we had just driven all day to get here and were tired. We hadn’t changed into bike clothes, just put on our bike shoes and set out on the Practice loop. It was scary. I could not get up most of the hills. Going down was so nerve-racking, I hopped off the bike only to find that the metal cleats on the bottom of the shoes slipped on the rock surface. Gargh!

The formations are called “Slickrock” because horses, with their own metal shoes, did not have reliable footing. Not so for the rubber tires on bicycles and motorcycles. The rock surface is similar to sandpaper. Tires grip really well.

David is a very patient man. He was disappointed that I didn’t like one of his favorite mountain biking experiences. But, he asked me to try it again the next day, this time with my running shoes, for grip when I step off the bike. Instead of heading for the marked trails, we practiced on a big rock in the campground. And, slowly, I got the hang of it.


“Grippy” shoes helped. (even a pair of old platform pedals would have been nice)

We advanced to the Slickrock Trail. Now that I trusted the surface, it became easier. And much, much more fun! Lots of ups and downs and turns. There were white dots on the rocks to mark the trail, but you can ride your own course to navigate the hills and valleys, staying near the dots, if not exactly on them.


David was non-stop smiles!

Yes, the Moab Slickrock Trail was fun! We rode the loop one way, then turned around and rode it the other way. The next day, David went back out for more.


Moab novice Jane eyes her mark.

On The Voyage of the Tramper, we have found many wonders we’d like to visit again someday. Moab is definitely one of them now, for me and for David! Future “Moab Mountain Bike Weekend”, anyone?


David goes for the top, and makes it (of course!)

– Jane



A a perpetual student of science I find myself wondering about a fairly standard “human” thing to do.  We measure everything. Sure this is critical for science, engineering, medicine, architecture and a host of other endeavors.  But should we do it every day to Every Thing!?  Should we measure the things we do for fun?

Inches, stones, millimeters, pounds, grams, Miles, seconds, bushels, pecks, hours, degrees, angstroms, dollars, increments galore!


imagesI am not wearing a watch for this trip.  Somehow I wake up every day.  The sun seems to bring me around most often, but even foiled windows at a bright parking lot don’t keep me sleeping.  We’ve found when we leave campsites in relaxed fashion after a good breakfast and cleanup, it is almost invariably 10:00 AM by the clock in Marfa.  We are noticing the sun more, tracking the distance and time we can safely hike or pedal before sunset by “feel”.  Only for the longest or most arduous treks like into a canyon do we note the take off and midway times/points for safety.


We have a nifty borrowed device from John, a hiking GPS that can track, then display every step or ride we take, then plot it out on a topographical map.  Even play the trip back in fast motion, three minute time-lapse to show the “track”, the speeds, and the elevation profile.  It would probably even show little detours for drinks, snacks or sneeky bathroom breaks.  Then we can compare maximum speeds, means, and every detail for recreation or relocating a place.  We have used it for a few hikes and a few rides. Another friend Richard, showed us his “smart phone” app that would do the same for every training ride.  You can include a heart rate monitor and track every calorie burned.  We could track and measure every inch, every experience of this whole trip.


We don’t want to.  I am beginning to feel one of the forces that drags people down is measurement applied in unnecessary ways.  I don’t measure music, art, love or any of the natural joys.  I don’t measure a sunrise or sunset.  I don’t measure the compression felt in a ski run, or the sweeping glee of twisting on a trail.  I don’t measure my cat, nor my meals or squeals.

As a machinist I measured the thickness, diameter, length etc of parts in thousandths of an inch.  For function, parts need to fit together and be interchangeable.   A human hair is ~.003″, or about three thousandths, paper is also about that same thickness.  In the right positions we can easily feel this thickness, one page of a book slipped back can easily be felt by your fingertips.  A hair in the wrong place, like your eye, seems like a log.  But it is just these innate measurement capacities that eliminate the need for a tool to measure every thing.

We have a general idea how far we have driven at the end of a day.  Should traveling less make us feel it was not a good travel day.  Mountain biking is notoriously slow compared to road biking.  We typically spend over two hours to ride ten woods miles, including breaks and pictures.  Just because I could ride 30 miles on the road in the same time, is it wasted time?  Certainly not.  In fact, now that we are alternating hikes and rides so gloriously frequently, I want measure less and less.

See if there are areas where measurement lessens your joy and throw the bum out.  We’ve even had numerous events where trying to “get a picture or capture the moment” detracts from the actual moment.