San Juan Huts, Day 7

Day 7 - group on descent to Moab

Castleton TowerToday was the final day of our trip and what an experience it has been! We started the day with some nice downhill and some beautiful views into Moab. Shortly after leaving the hut, we came into view of the Fisher Towers which Ryan and Kelly had climbed a few years back. A bit further down the road, we were treated to a nice view of the unique-looking Castleton Tower.

Dino footprintWe decided to take a little detour out to an outlook to see if we could get a better view. Although the view wasn’t much, we did get to see genuine dino footprints. Almost right after the lookout, the road turned to pavement and an interesting discussion ensued. Two falling objects should fall at the same rate, regardless of mass. So why is it that the heavier you are, the faster you seem to coast downhill? This sure seems to be the case among the different riders of our group as well as when each of us took the trailers. While everyone felt that mass played a role in downhill coasting speed, we couldn’t think of the justification. mgh=1/2mv^2 would seem to apply, but the mass (“m”) cancels out, as would be theoretically expected. Was it just a psychological illusion that heavier riders coast faster? Was it just rolling resistance factors at play that hold Judy back from coasting faster? We didn’t want to ponder to hard since we were, after all, on vacation. However, the question still remains so if you know why, post your answer below!

What followed was a really long descent on pavement, and it was a blast. I finally started to get the feel for leaning into the turn and pushing on the outside pedal – it really helps in maintaining control through turns at speed. Ryan and I had some fun experiments in which Ryan would catch up so that we were coasting at the same speed. If I went into a tuck, I would start to pull away from Ryan. If he then went into a tuck, he’d catch back up. Going into a tuck doesn’t make you feel like you’re going any faster (at least not for me), and even though you know that a tuck should increase your speed, it was cool to see the effect first-hand.

Day 7 - group before ascentThe group gathered again at the bottom of the hill and Judy took another spill because she couldn’t unclip. Like the last time she fell, she was with the trailer which makes sense since there is more weight wanting to tip over. It was only a minor fall and we were soon on the move again. To our dismay, we had some fairly steep climbing ahead of us. The good thing was that it was on pavement.

I set up a tow system with Judy to give her a little assistance. Soon we passed the trailhead sign for the Kokapelli Trail. We opted to stay on the road because we didn’t know how technical the Kokapelli Trail was; with the trailers in tow, we really didn’t want to have to do any technical riding.

The group after doing the world's lamest downhillSo we continued on the main road. It looked like our climb was finally over and we’d get to go downhill. Unfortunately, the section ahead was the world’s lamest downhill. It sure looked like it was downhill, but there was way too much pedaling involved. Later, a bit further down the road, we could look back and see that it was just an optical illusion; the section that we thought was downhill was actually pretty flat.

A bit further ahead we reached the start of a genuine downhill. We coasted down for a while and soon hit the turnoff for Sand Flats Road, not exactly the best named road if you’re on a mountain bike.

Sunflowers along Sand Flats RoadWe rode by some nice scenery on Sand Flats Road, including a section with a bunch of sunflowers along the sides of the road. Soon, we came upon the red and orange rocks and unique sandstone formations that Moab is known for. It was much hotter, but still bearable, and the riding was much more fun than the dirt roads we’d been riding. So fun in fact that Brian blew out his tire on one of the rockier descents. It was probably a pinch flat, but he couldn’t tell for sure as his inner tube was basically a big glob of Slime.

Ryan on Sand Flats RoadThe landscape soon opened up and we were greeted with expansive views of red rock canyons and the valley below. Most everyone liked this section because we could just coast along while enjoying the awesome views. We came upon the renowned Porcupine Rim trail which would have been a blast to ride, but not with the trailers. Oh well, that will have to be for a future trip.

We continued our descent, the next major landmark being the famous Slickrock Trail. When we reached the parking lot for the Slickrock Trail, a quick poll was taken to see if anyone wanted to ride the 3-mile Practice Loop. It was mainly for Rob and Dave because the rest of us had already ridden it before. Rob declined (we were all kind of tired and it was pretty hot by now), but Dave decided to do a quick toot around the very beginning part.

Final odometer readingIt wasn’t much further before we arrived at the Apache Motel. We got in at 2:36 PM and the final reading on my odometer was 205.21 miles. Wow, what a ride!

The group after the ride at the Apache MotelWe unpacked and then headed back to our motel room where we watched Kerri Walsh and Misty May squeak out a victory against Elaine Youngs and Rachel Wacholder (women’s AVP beach volleyball for those who don’t know) while taking turns with the shower. We decided to hit Buck’s Grillhouse for dinner. Ryan, Judy, and I had been there before and it was pretty good. The restaurant was supposed to open at 5:00 which would work out perfectly after we returned the B.O.B. to Poison Spider.

Upon arriving at Buck’s Grillhouse, we found out that they don’t actually open until 5:30. We didn’t want to wait so we went to the Sunset Grill instead. Ryan, Judy, and I had gone to the Sunset Grill during our previous trip to Moab, and they were memorable because of the delicious smoked salmon appetizer. It’s also pretty neat because the restaurant is situated at the top of big hill with a nice view down into Moab.

The group after dinner at the Sunset GrillAfter riding 205 miles and eating “hut food” for the last week, our appetites were primed for some real food. Everybody with the exception of Judy got the prime rib and it was delicious! As an added reward, I got the chocolate mousse cake (delectable!) and Dave got a fruit cobbler.

Brian and Rob were set to drive back that night because Rob had to make a 4:00 AM flight to Finland on Monday (blech!). They took off while the rest of us headed back to the motel to sleep before heading back home the next morning.

All in all, this was an awesome trip and a fantastic group to do it with. Everyone had a great time we all have a bunch of wonderful memories that won’t soon be forgotten. Of course, if you do forget, well, that’s what these trip reports and the gazillion pictures are for. ;-)

Cumulative miles: 205.21
Daily miles: 37.7
Mechanicals: Brian flat tire
Casualties: Judy fall while unclipping

[Go to pics.]

2 Responses to “San Juan Huts, Day 7”

Nice post. Great pictures too. My friends and I are planning on doing this trip in August. We now have a good idea of what to expect. Thanks for sharing.

Ditto what the last guy said. I’m going with a group in June. Looks like you guys had a good time. Thanks for putting this up.

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