The plan was to use Moab, and Milt’s Stop n’ Eat of course, as a resupply so we didn’t have to drop or carry too much water. We were to start off on Utah State Route 211, near Indian Creek, and bike northeast toward Moab, before swinging back around through Lockhart Basin on day 2, finally finishing at our car on day 3.
We began the trip with 8 miles of fast pavement to get to 137, or North Flats Road, a relatively flat and nicely-graded gravel road through an open range with no shortage of cattle gates. With the La Sals up ahead and the Abajo Mountains at our backs, the views were beyond beautiful.
Our route eventually reached Interstate 191 where we crossed onto Lisbon Valley Road, a quiet paved way heading east and then north toward the La Sals. With our lack of detailed planning, we were anticipating this road to be dirt, but we were wrong.
We climbed steadily for about 30 miles on pavement until reaching our road crossing, west of the town of La Sal. We had to ride on hwy 46 for about a mile. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t psyched about riding on this high-traffic, high-speed road with no shoulder. Needless to stay, after over 35 miles on pavement for the day, I was pleased to hit dirt once we were off the highway.
Once we hit Black Ridge Road in the foothills of the La Sals, we had a handful of fast miles before our intended camping area for the night. We decided that we should always plan for an extra 30 minutes to find the perfect campsite once we hit an area that looks good for sleeping. No matter how long of a day we’ve had or how tired we are, Neil has to walk around, throw some dirt to check the wind direction, and lay on the ground to check for the most comfortable tent or bivvy location. His incessant enthusiasm for finding the perfect campsite is gloriously relentless.
We had a small fire, enjoyed the starlight, ate some Good To-Go foods and cheese crisps, drank some beer and whisky and turned in early for a good night of rest.
We woke up with the sunrise the next morning, and the view from our tent was unrivaled.
After some hearty Granola and Oatmeal breakfasts from Good To-Go, we headed out for another ~50 mile day on the bike. We knew with the distance we gained the day before that we would make it to Moab between 11 and 11:30am, just in time for Milt’s to open for a delicious lunch. But before Milt’s we enjoyed a beautiful Jeep road weaving up and down the bushy mesa. This road turned into an extremely busy Jeep haven which we quickly buzzed through, as we descended from 6,200 ft to around 5,000 ft rather quickly. We eventually reached a powerline road which followed the interstate into Spanish Valley, and eventually had another 1,000 ft of descending into Moab.
Along the powerline road we had marked a spot of interest called Faux Falls, a man-made waterfall near Ken’s Lake reservoir that diverts water from Mill Creek via tunnel under Brimley Ridge . We decided to take the diversion up to the falls to see what it was all about, and we also wanted a gummy bear break. We had made quick time that morning with all of the descending. We didn’t make it to the swimming hole, but saw the falls from afar.
Cheeseburgers, milkshakes, and fries at Milt’s. A perfect midway stop!
We spent a couple of hours in Moab when it was all said and done. Rehydrating, resupplying, and relaxing. At around 1:30pm we made our way across town and began our ride up Kane Creek Road. On a warm spring Saturday, the road was pretty busy with Jeepers, climbers, riders, lizards and sightseers.
Making our way to Hurrah Pass was one of my favorite sections of the trip. A steady climb to the top of the canyon lead to amazing vistas and a look at the terrain ahead. We saw plenty of dirt bikers and Jeepers who were concerned about the amount of water we were carrying and the scarce ability for resupply. We were feeling pretty good at the time, and figured we would cross some water in the basin.
About a quarter of the way down the descent into Lockhart Basin I lost my front brake entirely. A handful of miles back I had noticed I was losing engagement in my brake, but didn’t think anything of it after adjusting it slightly. Once I realized I had lost all engagement, we looked further and noticed that the hydraulic fluid had leaked all over my handlebar bag and there was no salvaging the use of the brake. I must have poorly attached my bag in Moab and was pinching the brake line. It took some getting used to, but I was optimistic about riding the remaining 70 miles with the rear brake only.
With only hot and sunny weather on the horizon, we started to worry about water, and making it another 24 hours on the 2 liters we each had left. We explored a side road off the basin road to try and reach the banks of the Colorado River, but as close as we knew we were, we weren’t able to reach it. A couple of Jeepers stopped and generously offered us a few bottles to get us through. That was a sigh of relief. We continued to ride a few more hours before camp.
After reading about this road online, we anticipated it to have a few more technical sections than it did. Overall, with the exception of one significant unrideable canyon section, the entire road was fun, ledgy and flowy.
We found a beautiful campsite with vast views that was a handful of miles past the technical canyon. I would recommend this to anyone who rides this route, because we were much more isolated and saw no souls after the crux. I don’t think many Jeepers make it past that section, because the next person we saw wasn’t until around 10 miles in on the following day.
We ran into some other bikepackers around noon on Sunday. They had started their trip at the Basecamp Adventure Lodge near the bottom of Hurrah Pass, and had just got off the river from bikepack rafting to Lockhart Basin Road on the Colorado. They were heading back to Basecamp by bike to make it a full loop. Looked like a fun trip!
Once we saw the ‘Sixshooter’ we knew we were getting close to our car, but what we didn’t know was that there was a slow and sandy section between us and the road.
We made it back to the road around 3:00pm and had between 15 and 20 miles to ride back to the car. Neil got a nice PBR hand up by our climbing friends just before reaching the car.
Before we left a few days prior we had talked to our close friends Mike and Ang who were told us they’d be climbing the South Sixshooter and camping up Davis Canyon nearby. We headed to meet them, where they made us delicious homemade pizza and salad in their festive costumes, and let us sleep in their Sunraider camper. The best way to end a successful ride without having to return to reality right away. What a beautiful area. We will definitely be back for more!