Where Eagles Dare // Moab, Utah
Gnarly Routes: Where Eagles Dare Tour
Location-: Grand Junction, CO, and Moab, UT
Date- April 26-30, 2018
Our latest Gnarly Routes ride is officially over and done! Instead of dodging the mesquite bushes in Texas, or crossing rivers in Costa Rica, we took to the incredible terrain of Grand Junction, CO, and Moab, UT! The last three days of riding consisted of a wild variety of soil and rock for us to test our limits. It was literally like playing a virtual moto video game on your bike. Just choose a creative line and find the flow from one obstacle to the next. The trails had so much diversity it was like riding on different planets. We began with vertigo-inducing skinnies and minute-long wide-open hill climbs and ended with chunky slick rock ledges and water-filled slot canyons. We covered it all!
The name of this ride arose from the combination of a gnarly slickrock trail in Moab and our Misfit fiend barista that fueled our stoke on the way to scout our routes. “Where Eagles Dare” seemed fitting as these trails push normal boundaries and build your confidence the more you ride there.
We started riding inside Grand Junction, CO. Everyone flew in and we got set up in the house we were staying in for the night and the bikes squared away to everyone's preference. The stay was located right on the Colorado River, so it was all but mandatory to take a plunge in the cold river to wake up and get acclimated. We had dinner at a brewery downtown and came back to hang around a campfire that night.
The morning came pretty quick as everyone was excited to get going for Day 1. We had a relaxed start and jam up breakfast at the house before heading to the trailhead. This place is truly unique and unlike any other riding spot, I have ever been. Endless lines and splits make this a transcendental ride, as you often tend to take to the path less traveled just to see where it may lead. Sometimes that turn would lead you straight up a hill to a place with little to no room to turn around, and other times it would pop you out onto the flowiest ridge run you could imagine.
A lot of the established trails had a hardpack bottom that offered good traction, however, if you were to take a new line or slide out of the main groove, the sides were moon dust loam that offered no hold at all. Any loss of momentum and you were bound to make a second attempt.
Our 3 guests were all capable riders with racing backgrounds. This made for a really fun group as they all feed off of each other. If the first two made it up a hill the third was for sure going to give it a shot! We all warmed up on some fairly easy trail and gradually progressed to more difficult bits. Not long into the ride, I was confident with our group's ability and we headed to Skinny Ridge! This trail lives up to its name, as the exposed ridgeline doesn't offer much room for mistakes. A narrow climb up with a slight twist at the end gets your heart pounding and feels like it may just jump out of your chest! Once on top, the feeling of vertigo sets in as you can only do your best to keep looking forward when there are massive downslopes on either side! The guys did it with no problem and even though they were taken out of their comfort zone, they said it was an absolute blast!! Here is a video from when Cole and I scouted the area earlier that week, and I rode the ridge aboard my KTM 1090R Adventure!!
We continued on searching for more fun lines and hill climbs throughout the day. Some of the descents were just as fun as the climbs. The loose crumbly ground made for ski-like conditions. You could just lean the bike and drift into loamy berms with no fear. Everyone was really stoked on their bikes and how well they handled. A slight rear brake adjustment on one was the only thing that needed attention.
After making our way back to the truck for lunch and a refill, we decided to explore in the opposite direction. We had scouted some of this previously, but everyone was game to ride and choose the line as we went. I was super happy we decided to go out for a free ride as we found some Crusty Demon wall rides and snaking gulches that were an excellent way to top off the day!
We finished the day with high fives and trembling nerves. A quick bike load and we headed West toward Utah. In less than 2 hours we were at our next destination, and getting settled into our house in Moab. Our new spot was ideal for our home base for the next couple days.
Day 2 would be completely different from our first! All of our bikes are street legal so we connected some public jeep roads to the first slick rock trail we intended to ride. Immediately we switched from skatey dry and dusty roads to full grip sandstone! Not only is the grip absolutely ridiculous on these rocks, but we all had the Kenda Ibex rear tires that offer a trials compound and soft carcass that molded to everything on the trail. Two of our riders chose to run the new Rekluse Radius CX clutch, and they really enjoyed it in all the gnarly trail spots!
The trail we were on was multi-directional but technical enough to keep our pace at a gingerly creep and trail traffic wasn’t a problem at all. We passed some side by sides and jeeps that were moving at a snail's pace and I chuckled in my helmet thinking to myself how much more fun I was having on two wheels.
The views were unreal with all the red rock surrounding us and the Colorado River in the backdrop. It is so cool that there is so much riding available to motorsports available in this area. I wish more places would adopt this mentality as it offers such an awesome way to get outside and see what these places have to offer.
Today was much more demanding than yesterday. Lots of technical moves and ledges made you work for it and the ground wouldn’t be as forgiving if you decided to make a visit. The guys were working hard and as we stopped to take a snack break, I peeled off the trail and told the group I had to stop to take a shit. Little did they know I had a surprise for our guest, and sponsor Lance Smith, the owner of XC Gear. I reappeared in a shark suit, (a reference to XC Gear’s Mako 360 and sharkbite) and made for a ton of laughs and had some fun riding wheelies and smashing sand berms in the costume!
The afternoon we switched it up some and rode more motorcycle-specific singletrack. Some tight switchbacks and loose rocks were a fun change. We put in a full day and I was impressed with how well our group was riding. When we finished up we went back to town to for dinner and cold brews. Utah law only allows 3.2% draft beer, so stick with the bottled if you desire normal effects.
Our final day of riding continued to offer more different riding! We stayed on the motorcycle only trails and linked up some amazing slick red rock formations to some techy slot canyons. The slick rock was more smooth than the previous day and had a bit more flow. Some of the connecting bits of trail consisted of sand washes and sections of whoops that made you aware of your pushup program at home. We surfed through some sand dunes and navigated our way through some canyons filled with water. It was nice to get our tires in some wet dirt again and it felt good to splash through some water as it helped cool us down.
All in all this may be the most diverse tour on our schedule! It was a great time showing these guys some of our favorite trails in the area. I can’t wait to come back and continue to show others this place! For now, its time to clean up and prepare for the next! Thanks, Colorado and Utah for your goodness!!
Ride. Explore. Live.