Dual sport riding in Moab - Feature Review - Dirt Rider Magazine

MOTO ADVENTURINGLEE KLANCHER: story AND PHOTOSMoab is one of those areas everyone should ride in his or her lifetime. The scenery is spectacular, the light sublime, the air clear and the sky the bluest in the world (at least I think so). The trails are crisscrossed with rock slabs, loose rock and rock walls. Once you realize momentum is your friend and learn that knobbies have a surprising amount of traction on rock, you'll find you can hop, climb and cross piles of rock that look absolutely impossible. Dave Pearson of Atom Tours took me on a half-day tour up Kane Creek Canyon, through Pritchett Canyon and down Kane Creek Rim Trail. The ride opened with a splash down Kane Creek. The creek is a mix of rock and sand, with rocks ranging from fist- to head-sized. The water was six inches deep at the most, and the creek wound through groves of aspens turning bright yellow in the late fall. Red canyon walls rose up out of the creek, and the wet run was the start of a gorgeous morning ride.Kane Creek Canyon Trail crossed the creek dozens of times as it wound through the canyon. The trail was mostly sand and had a few sections that crawled higher up the canyon wall. It was two-track on the canyon wall--often the best line was only a foot or two from a long drop into the canyon (gulp).After a bit of gravel-road running, we cut back south on Pritchett Canyon Trail. Pearson hesitated a bit at the entrance, trying to convince the group to take Hunter Canyon Trail. What we didn't know at the time was Pritchett is one of the gnarliest routes near Moab. Most of the trail is easy, requiring no more than C-level skills to navigate, but a couple of rocky climbs make this a legitimate challenge. One of those was a four-foot rock face followed by a tricky rock traverse to the top. Most of our group made it.The toughest section was a long, rocky climb made more difficult by powdery sand in between the rocks, meaning traction was always a battle. At the crest of the incline, a 10-foot-tall boulder stood between us and the top. Tour guide Dave was the sole rider to clean that section--and only three riders attempted it. If you aren't comfortable, Pearson will ride your bike over the obstacle without making you feel like a spode. He also whips up a decent chicken Caesar salad. So before you get old and decrepit, get your butt out to Moab and hop some rocks.Tour leader David Pearson scales the most difficult ascent found on Pritchett Canyon Trail near Moab, Utah.Ride the World: Kane CREEK Rim Trail, Pritchett Canyon Trail
Where: Atom Tours, 888/403-3444, atommotorcycles.com
LOCATION: Southwest of Moab, Utah
RIDING SEASON: Tours offered in winter and fall
COST: $650 for two-day tour
Tour Includes: Guide service, fuel, all accommodations, two breakfasts, two lunches
Average Mileage: 50 miles per day
local brews: Eddie McStiff's Canyon Cream Ale, Moab Brewery Black Raven Oatmeal Stout
while you are there: Mountain bike, jeep and ATV tours, rock climb, Canyonlands National Park, ghost towns, hike, camp
CRITTERS: Mule deer, coyotes and bighorn sheep are fairly common; river otters, bobcats, mountain lions and rattlesnakes are in the area but rarely seen
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: The Center CafeMoab is one of the few places I know where you can spend the day riding some of the best off-road trails on the planet and the night eating a five-star meal. One of the finest local eateries is the Center Cafe, a delightful little restaurant that features such dishes as Maine Lump Meat Crab Cakes and Grilled Black Angus Tenderloin. The place is far from cheap--expect to drop $50-plus per person with drinks and dessert--but the food is well worth it for fans of fine cuisine. As a bonus, the owner is an occasional dirt biker. Don't expect to eat in your smelly jersey, however. This is Moab, meaning casual clothing is expected, but you might want to at least take a shower before venturing into this elegant eatery.Prime season is fall and spring, as Moab gets very warm in the summer. If you do a summer ride, start early in the morning before the noontime heat cooks you.Moab is a mecca for mountain bikers, and Slickrock Trail is one of the best-known mountain biking trails in America. A white stripe of paint on the Navajo sandstone marks the 12.7-mile loop. The trail requires killer quads to scale the sheer cliffs, but the traction afforded by Slickrock's distinctive rounded rock formations is out of this world. If your legs let you down, intense descents keep even slightly out-of-shape mountain bikers (such as yours truly) entertained. The ride takes about three hours if you are in shape and four to five if you are walking ascents and resting frequently.Slickrock Trail is situated in the Sand Flats Recreation Area. A day pass is required to enter the park. (It's $5 for a three-day pass if you enter in a private vehicle and $2 if you enter on a bike). Camping in the area--another highly recommended Moab experience--is only $8 per night, per car, for one to four people.PRODUCT OF THE MONTHMSR Pak Jak
One of the great tricks of riding all day is dealing with temperature changes. Particularly in the desert, the morning tends to be cool, and it warms up to jersey weather by midday. MSR has a slick solution with the Pak Jak, a lightweight nylon shell that provides good wind protection and can be packed into a small 12x9-inch packet. I wore the jacket in Moab in October. Early-morning temps were in the 50s, and the Pak Jak was perfect for moderate trail riding. The sun warmed things up by about 10:30, and the jacket was shed for a jersey. To pack the jacket, you stuff it into its own pocket. Construction is reasonably sturdy--MSR recently went to triple-layer nylon to improve the jacket life. Still, the zipper is light and a bit flimsy. Also, there is only one pocket and it has a mesh lining, so I wouldn't trust it with keys or other sharp objects. The neck closure is snug and secure. The sizing seems to run a bit small, and a chest protector will not fit under the jacket. Overall, this light jacket is very good at keeping the wind off on cool mornings and is a lot easier to pack than a full-on enduro jacket. Available in black or blue, the Pak Jak retails for $87.95. MSR also sells a Gore-Tex version in flashier colors for $199.95.