(I had hoped to get this story out sooner, but the Universe conspired against me. The trip was during the last week of September.)
I’D BEEN PLANNING A TRIP TO MOAB for several months. It was complicated by the fact that I was meeting one son from San Clemente, and another son from Denver. There were grandkid visits involved, and brief pauses of family renewal. Also, Moab is not the easiest place to reach without spending my entire budget on airfare. Then, to complicate the plan even more, heavy rains that poured in the region for weeks put the red rock area in southern Utah under an almost continuous flash flood watch.
Long story short. We made it in time for the Moab Century Tour, a road ride through the red rocks of Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah, and the flash floods were deemed non-threatening to the riders.
I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that, I, aka “Mr. Prepared” was less than prepared for this ride. That is so unlike me. But here are the mistakes I made:
I didn’t train right
Here I am, a Florida resident (our humidity is typically above 80%), riding in very dry conditions, with long, steep climbs, and altitudes as high as 6000 feet. Maybe not high by Rocky Mountain standards, but still quite high for a guy who normally rides at, or below, sea level, save for a few bridges.
I didn’t adapt my bike for the terrain
I could have installed a triple chainring. But I didn’t. Or, at the very least, I could have changed out the cassette to provide some pedaling relief. But I didn’t do that either. Why? I have no excuse other than… maybe I was consumed by logistical details?
So, my route took me to Denver for a brief stay, then on to Moab by car. FYI: TSA has made some changes at US airports. You can no longer store baggage for a few hours. Thus, I had to drag my bike box and duffle around DIA for several hours until my ride arrived. I must admit, that wasn’t much fun.
The drive to Moab, was beautiful--even better than I remembered it from my 2005 trip. We took our time and enjoyed the mountainous terrain past Vail, skirting Leadville and Aspen, through Grand Junction and into southern Utah.
Sean and I arrived in Moab in mid-afternoon, and Barry, who was driving in from San Clemente, arrived within 20-minutes. (How’s that for logistical planning?) We checked-in at ride headquarters (to receive our bag o’stuff, and then made a joint decision to find the nearest watering hole, where we would enjoy a frothy beverage, and discuss ride strategy among ourselves and other friendly patrons who we met at the bar. I didn’t want to over-do the IPAs and make my ride the next day uncomfortable, so I used restraint and kept my pre-ride hydration to a minimum -- although I wasn’t in much danger of over-indulgence, because the Utah liquor laws won’t allow for anything more that 3.2 beer to be drawn from their taps.
We sat at Moab Brewery for a few hours sharing war stories with other riders and decided we needed to get a good night’s sleep to be in top form for the next day. (That wasn’t exactly a mutual decision, but the old guy prevailed.)
Back at the room we sat around talking about old times and other fun stuff, until it was getting late. That didn’t matter much, because we didn’t sleep well anyway. That’s a common problem among some cyclists. I’m sure it has something to do with pre-ride anticipation. Lying in bed, I pondered the tough ride ahead of us, but was completely surprised by the pain and suffering I was about to endure.