The final ride day found us waking the ENTIRE crew up by 6:00 for an 8:00 roll out so we can load up on the shuttle by 8:15. Getting 17 riders up, fed and on the road by 8:00 was going to be a chore at the least, but we made it happen. Everyone was up and rolling shortly after 6.
After breakfast, we were doing quick bike rundowns as we didn't want any mechanicals on the trail. One of the new riders, Jason, had a Crank Bros. pedal that was new and ready to fall apart. We tried to tighten it up with no success, so a few of us blasted off early to get him some over-priced Moab pedals and install them before the shuttle takes off.
As I have hinted to a few times, the weather was a finicky bitch for our whole trip. It was 80+ degrees the day before we got to Moab, then in the 50's the whole time we were there and was to return to the 80's when we left. Nice. We also saw about every kind of precipitation imaginable. When we were on Amasa Back the day before, we noted how low the snow line was on the La Sal Mountains, where our ride on this day was going to take us.
Anyhow, after a somewhat scary 15 passenger van ride to the trailhead (the road was muddy, with no guard rail and a cliff on the side, with the van sliding side to side in the slop) we get out to a supremely muddy road and about 4" of snow...excuse me, fresh pow. We shouldn't be using snowboard terminology for a bike ride.
We saddle up and hit the trail.
We are riding the LPS trail (or Lower Porcupine System) which is some SWEET singletrack above the actual Porcupine Rim trail, dumping you out onto the "overlook" of the Porcupine trail (you know, where everyone gathers and freaks out how high you are above Castle Valley). About 1/2 way through the LPS trail, there is a really steep section called the Notch. Last year when we rode it, a guy slipped, fell and lost his bike, which went tumbling down the hillside. This year it was covered with snow that the sun had softened/melted and turned the whole thing into a muddy slip-and-slide for adults. Imagine hearing 17+ guys laughing, slipping and falling in the mud. Unreal fun. Jay slipped, fell in the mud and went sliding and took out the legs of Jasper. Good times.
As we get to the overlook, the snow is getting lighter, but the dirt sections of the trail are still muddy. We take a few shots of the group at the overlook and are getting ready to roll out when Howie, another trip newcomer, asks me what we can do about his brake. The front brake is pulling all the way to the bar. After Jasper and I fiddle with it for a while, we make the decision to send Howie back down the Sand Flats Road to town as Porcupine isn't the trail to have only one brake. Damn. I hate losing one of the group and I really hate sending him off on his own. I kinda feel like some sort of momma bird. Dumbass.
So, we take off and are cruising down the rim. The guys up front stop every once and a while to let the group reform. At one of these stops, I get to the front of the group when we take off. I am with Cleatus, Marr, Bobki, Nick and Jasper and we are FLYING. Hauling ass down Porcupine with reckless abandon is fun, scary and probably not a recommended activity.
When we get to the singletrack to finish the ride, we had the same group of guys at the front of the pack. At some point on the singletrack, there is a fairly technical section, with a series of rock drops and slickrock ledges. As the group rolls up to this section, a different group of riders was there eyeing the section, seeing if it was "rideable". We all go blasting through it like it was nothing. Damn, damn fun!
We finish the ride and roll back to the camp for our fabled last night dinner, which involved bacon wrapped food, which makes it AWESOME. We had bacon wrapped tenderloins as thick as a phone book and bacon wrapped scallops. As we're sitting around, two of the leaders from Bikerpelli come over and chat with us. Bikerpelli is a quasi-tour group that rides the Kokopelli trail from Fruita to Moab. Their trip was blown-apart by the weather, so they were based camped in our campground sending their riders out on day rides. They tell us they are going to have a game of bike-tag that evening in the parking lot and asked if we wanted to come.
So, fully fed and fairly drunk, we cruise over to the parking lot at the appropriate time. This little section of parking lot is mostly surrounded by a fence, so spectators are lining the sides. I am ringing my cowbell as the riders ride around trying to get their competitors to put a foot down (and thus go out). I hear someone yell my name and I look over to the other fence to see Bobki standing there with his pants off and just holding them over his package. I zip over and Bobki says he needs my cowbell. As the group starts a new game, Bobki goes streaking through the crowd, ringing the cowbell. AWESOME!
Bobki comes back, pants on and says he is going to do it again, but with someone else. We convince Greg (the crazy Aussie) to do it with him. So, both drop trow and when the next round starts, they go streaking through the group again. Bobki runs straight through, but Greg is running side to side, jumping up in the air and clicking his heels together, putting his ass in peoples' faces. People are laughing their asses off.
Finally, Bobki says he'll ride the ride sans pants if someone gets him a bike, which makes Nick shoot off like a shot to get him one. Nick returns with Cleatus' bike, Bobki drops his pants and starts playing bike tag. Of course, Cleatus didn't authorize this use and didn't notice it at first. I lean over at tell him to look at Bobki's bike. Cleatus isn't too thrilled with this turn of events. He yells at Bobki, telling him he just bought an Enduro. And there's Bob, riding around with his grapes dangling over the saddle and his bung-hole on Cleatus' white saddle.
I have to say, a perfect capper on a great trip. We were handed a batch of shitty weather and we made the best of it. We had epic rides, epic food, epic beer consumption (two, count 'em TWO 15 gallon kegs were drained by Saturday afternoon) and epic fun. I can't wait to plan for next year's trip.