Day 55: White Rim Trail Day 2
Tuesday 29th September
I woke early to do some yoga as the sun rose, and the other guys were up and packing as Ed got up. We had a good chat with them in the morning, and they had us laughing with their tales of their first weeks on the road.
They were three friends from Philadelphia also heading to Argentina, and had given themselves six months to get there on their Suzuki V-stroms. Pat had initially planned to do the ride solo, with Tim and Matt joining at a later date. Poor Matt was having quite the time as he only had 2 months of riding experience before setting off, and had done quite the job at systematically destroying his bike. His friends wondered if it would even make it to Argentina, but I had faith. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and he’d already got this far. They weren’t actually riding the rest of the trail and went back the way they’d came, leaving us to finish packing up before getting back on the trail.
What then ensued was a brilliant ride full of incredible rock formations, stunning views, unbearably hot sun and progressively harder terrain.
The first half of the trail was fairly easy riding, taking us around the rim and then in to huge open expanses, with rocky sections and packed sand and dirt.
However it was when we got to a steep sandy uphill section that we had our first proper challenge. Ed went straight for it but messed up the line, and came crashing down in to the sand. He was overheating and his patience levels were at an all time low, so he wasn’t too amused when he discovered that he’d broken off his carb and that his top box was hanging on for dear life. I decided to have a go myself and managed to get up in one go, kind of, but it certainly wasn’t pretty or graceful. Legs were flailing and at point I went heading off in the wrong direction, but I got up it nonetheless.
I then started ferrying all of Ed’s belongings to the top of the hill, while he set to work fixing his bike. He got it going but a second attempt saw him crashing again, rather spectacularly, and he seemed like he’d finally had enough.
Concerned that he was going to do even more damage I suggested that he walked it up, as I really didn’t fancy getting stuck in the middle of no-where. We hadn’t seen a single vehicle go past all day, only a group of mountain bikers who would have been of little help. We were having a break at the top of the hill when another couple of riders turned up. Both were on proper dirt bikes, and I was left rather pleased with my attempt when I saw both of them struggle with it and stop halfway. Turned out I wasn’t so bad after all!
The stunning scenery continued as did the sand, and the sun was now blisteringly hot. We did our best to stay hydrated with little regular sips, but we had to be careful not to use up all of our supplies as there’s no water out on the trail. The sand was also quite hard to ride in in places, but we did pretty well considering our distinct lack of power, and I only came off once.
The next technical section we came across was Murphy’s Hogback. It was really steep and rocky but I got up it at a really good pace, but that had a rather unfortunate side effect. I was left so pumped up and over confident after the climb that I didn’t take heed of the warnings about a steep and rocky descent from a group of riders at the top, and went hurtling down the other side way too fast, forgot that I had a front brake, slammed on the rear brake causing the wheel to lock up, and instantly crashed.
I’d never crashed in front of an audience before, but having no shame I just gave them a wave. Ed was quick to assure the watching crowd by saying ‘Don’t worry, she does this all the time!’ and as I hadn’t heard him say that I further assured them by shouting ‘I crash all the time!’ I don’t know if that left them bemused and assured or rather concerned to be honest. Ed quickly came down to take photos and videos, and then helped me to get the bike up. It really was steep and I’d also banged my wrist so was struggling to do it on my own. I always wear full protective gear but as it was so excruciatingly hot I’d rolled up my cuffs, exposing my wrists. I’d managed to cut the only exposed part of my skin, and was left with a small reminder that you should never have ANY skin exposed. I waited until we’d ridden (or in my case flown down with pure luck) down a steep section of steps and got on to some flat ground before looking at my cut, which was small but deep and required some super glue to keep it together and clean. I felt fine until I kept opening it up to get a photo, and both of us felt a bit queasy after that!
I took it easy after that, trying my best not to open up the wound, and fortunately there weren’t really any more hard technical sections, just sand, sand and you guessed it, more sand. Oh and some downhill rocky stuff.
At one point we came around a corner and were greeted with a beautiful green oasis. It really was something else when you’ve been cooking all day in black motorcycle gear. I spent the next half an hour daydreaming about going for a swim, but knew that if I did that I wouldn’t be getting back on the bike again that day.
What I really loved about the trail was that when you thought that you’d seen the best scenery and view you could possibly see, another bigger and better one would appear. It was endless amazement and awe on my part, and sometimes I just couldn’t believe my eyes. It was beautiful.
One warning that had stuck in my mind from the riders at the top of Murphy’s Hogback, was the fact that there was some ‘baby powder’ towards the end of the trail. I won’t say I was dreading it but it certainly kept popping in to my head, and I knew as soon as we reached it that it was going to be interesting.
I’d never seen anything like it. It was super fine, super deep, and a super pain in the arse. I soon discovered that it was easier to ride in once you got your feet on to the foot pegs, but that was easier said than done. And once we’d finally got our way out of it and thought we were on the home straight, another stretch appeared, followed by another.
I was already overheating before we got to that bit but that really finished me off. I must admit though that despite being an overheating horrible mess it was quite a laugh, wobbling our way through and hoping for the best. (Screen shot below, hence the bad quality!)
I was pleased once we’d made our way out of it though, mainly because it was getting late and we were starting to lose light. I didn’t fancy get stranded out there in the middle of no-where, especially as we only had a litre of water left between us and I could have downed that in one go.
It was a shame it was getting late as the ride out was one of the best parts of the trail. The area was so grand and beautiful, and was a fitting end to a brilliant ride.
We climbed up lots of switchbacks with fantastic views, and it felt so surreal once we’d got up and out on to level ground. It felt like I’d just left a magical hidden Kingdom behind, and I actually thought to myself, ‘Did that even just happen?’
Fortunately (or should I say unfortunately?!) I knew it had, because I had the dirt, cuts and bruises to prove it.