Moab is Mecca for mountain bike riders and the holy grail is "Slickrock bike trail". I have had this on the "attempt to do" list for many years. And now with a nearly worn out bike and recently recovered from my "endo", I was on my way to give it a try. A steep two mile climb on paved roads led to the park entrance and the start of the trail.
It is recommended for first timers to do the 2 mile practice loop before embarking on the 10 mile actual trail. And plan on the entire ride taking 2-4 hours. That's a long time for such a short distance! However, my fears were somewhat allayed the day before by chatting with someone about the route, as he told me it was "manageable". From someone who has done less mountain biking that me, it was reasssuring.
The practice loop is nearly as hard as the real deal. Straight out of the box, you need to use techniques specific for descending short steep rock faces, navigating deeply grooved channels at the base of the face, and instantly transitioning into a hard pedal to get up the face on the other side. The good news is - once your comfortable with the techniques to use, it's a matter of repeating it several hundred times, or so it seemed.
One thing immediately obvious about the Slickrock trail (besides the unbelievable vistas)- the pitch of the descent gets steeper as you progress down the face. Very unsetlling at first! So with my butt nearly touching the back tire and my chest hitting the bike seat, down the face I go, pull up the front wheel at the bottom and then with my butt still hanging off the back, start pedaling madly to get up the other side.
After two miles of the practice loop and 8 miles of the trail, I was exhausted. A rest in a shady spot and some food helped matters, but those last two miles took a lot of concentration. When I finally reached the sign that pointed to the exit, I was thrilled -first to know I had done it and second to know that after 3 hours of some very, very challenging cycling, I could at long last take a deep breath and relax.
Tomorrow's going to be a rest day!