My parents were waiting for us to arrive and camping just outside of Moab Utah on some BLM land near some of the best riding trails in the area. We took 3 days to get to Moab via Redding CA, and Reno NV. We met them at the BLM land that offers RVers a place to park their RVs for free. The spot we found had room for both our coach and my parent’s coach. The kids had plenty of room to run around and play. Alexander had a large area to set up his toys and even Ranger had a large area to roam and explore. We were surrounded by other RVers looking for a nice place to camp while riding the trails of Moab before winter sets in. With the season ending I took advantage of the year-end sales and upgraded my bike. You may remember that I have been riding a bike that John (Ashley’s dad) very graciously let me borrow for the summer. It was a great bike but I did not think that it would last under the stress of another year of hard riding. Besides Ashley got a new bike and was talking about how great it was.
You may remember that the last time we were in Moab Victoria fell in love with riding on the Slick Rock Trail. I told Victoria that if she wanted to try the full trail we would give it a shot. She has ridden the practice loop which is about 2.5 miles a couple of time. The full trail is 9.5 miles and much more difficult with much more challenging obstacles and many more hills. I told her we will practice on some of the other trails and see how she feels after a week or two of riding. We spent 2 weeks riding the trails with Grandpa Murphy. Each time we went riding we looked for more challenging trails. The kids had a blast, each day after school when I asked them what they wanted to do with the remainder of the day they would always say go riding. By the end of two weeks of riding Alexander and Victoria were shattering their best times on every trail. They would not only go over most every obstacle but they would fly over them. They loved riding and they were excelling at all aspects of it. Finally, I told Victoria she was ready but first she has to break her PR on the Slick Rock practice loop. Previously her best time was just over 30 minutes. The last time we were here Alexander was a little intimidated by the Slick Rock practice loop. This time he wanted to give it another try. I told Victoria that all four of us were going to ride together for one loop to encourage Alexander and to refresh us all with the trail. Then she could try for the new PR. We started out all together and right from the start Alexander made it over the first of the most intimidating obstacles. That was just the confidence boost he needed and it was all downhill from there. Well actually there was a lot of uphill after that but you know what I mean. The four of us made it all the way around the practice loop and more important Alexander acquired the love for Slick Rock that Victoria and I share. We are all still working on Ashley. When we got back to the car Victoria and I caught our breath, rehydrated and prepared ourselves for a new PR for Victoria. We arrived by at the car 26 minutes later shattering her previous PR by 4 minutes. The full trail attempt would be tomorrow.
I packed lots of water and lots of food. My dad came along, too. The Slick Rock trail is an extremely challenging trail with many super steep hills both up and down, big drops, and intimidating obstacles. It is rated as a double black diamond trail and is not for the faint of heart. It clearly states that it is not a ride for children. At the trailhead it says the time to complete the trail is anywhere from 2 hours to 6 hours depending on your fitness level. I have ridden this trail many times and it always is a challenge physically, so I was prepared for us to spend the day on the trail or to even turn back if Victoria decided to do so. Describing the entire nine mile ride would take pages of writing so I will be brief. Victoria and Alexander have both done some amazing physical feats in their short time on this earth so far, but this one with forever stand out. Victoria, at the age of 9, completed the entire Slick Rock trail in 2 hours and 52 minutes! The first two times I rode this on my own I was over 3 hours. She climbed hills I thought she had zero chance of getting to the top without walking. She went down obstacles that took me years to gather the courage to attempt. There is this particular obstacle that I have never attempted as it is a multi-tier drop of about 6 feet with unforgiving rock ledges surrounding it. When we rode up to this obstacle I was in front with Victoria right behind me and Grandpa in the rear. I came to a stop and told them to walk this “scary” drop. Victoria rode up to it, appraised it, made a circle to come back to it and went right down! She cleared it perfectly! I couldn’t believe what I had just seen. I had just seen my 9 year daughter ride this monster obstacle but I still walked my bike. My dad, too, said no way and walked his bike. We took two short breaks along the way. Each time Victoria ate a few oranges drank some water and was ready to keep driving on. The last ¾ of a mile is a long fairly steep climb to reach the trailhead. Victoria was definitely spent but she push all the way up the hill even passing another twenty something rider who was finishing the practice loop. He said good job as we passed and try to commiserate with us about how difficult the practice loop was. His jaw dropped when I told him that she was completely the entire ride as she passed him on the hill. When we finished Alexander and Grandma were waiting at the finish cheering her on. Alexander was so happy for his sister continuously telling her how great she did. Victoria was spent but elated and really relished in her accomplishment. Grandma asked her if she would do it again and she said probably not. Yet two days later she was planning her next run on the Slick Rock trail to improve upon her time. Below is a small excerpt from Victoria’s journal:
I started out by climbing the very beginning of the trail, and I never had felt so happy. I was riding with my grandfather and my dad. I rode the part that was on the practice loop and the big trail. I did that almost every day. Normally, I would turn right to do the practice trail, but today was different; I turned left to do the big trail. I noticed that it was like doing the end of the practice trail backward. Dad told me to do the fun downhill slowly. I almost accidently did the entire practice trail backward. Dad told me to turn left to get on to the big loop. There were two people at the beginning of the big trail. We passed them, and went up and over a hill. We looked back, and saw that we had passed and dropped them like a bad habit. I was having fun and enjoying this new trail, when Dad told me to stop and let him go ahead. It was a sharp turn with steep downhill after it. This obstacle could really get into your head. Dad told me that it would be safer if I did not do that obstacle. I did it anyway. I went down it and looked back. I saw that Grandpa was walking his bike down the obstacle. Dad said he had only done that thing twice. So far, I was enjoying this trail. Soon, I came up to a hill that I did not ride up or down. I had to ride across it. I did this without even stopping. The hill was just steep enough that a pedal strike was more than possible. There was cactus below, so falling would not be fun. I cleared that without a pedal strike, and without falling. Sometime after that, I had to go down a large drop. The drop was about one and a half feet. I went down it, and Dad said that he only successfully cleared obstacle a few times before. I tried to go up the next hill, but I did not make it. The next hill I only made it part way, I tried once, but I had taken the wrong path. I tried again but I ran into a tree! We went down a hill. At the bottom of the hill, there was a motor vehicle trail that crosses the trail. I rode down the hill and crossed the deep sand that I call a sand trap. I was really enjoying this. I like the trails that were full of hills, and Slickrock was just that. I went up and down many hills. This trail was shaped like a lollipop, and I went up a hill and got off ‘the stick of the lollipop.’ I passed a guy who was making a fake phone call as an excuse for me passing him. You could tell he was making a fake phone call was because he was not talking. He was gasping for breath. We rode for a little while, talking and riding. We were bike riding through a slightly sloped area, and I was following the white lines that marked the trail. I saw that the trail was going up a really steep hill. Luckily, the trail that we followed did not go up that hill. We followed the trail that were following and came up to a rock that provided some shade. We stopped there, and had a few oranges. We resumed riding, and I could not help but notice everything was so much larger than the same things in the practice loop: the uphill, the downhill, the sand traps, the drops, and the bumps. I was starting to enjoy this trail more and more by the moment. I rode a few more miles, and I tried to go up a hill. It was too bumpy, and I was too exhausted to go up it. Dad went up it, but Grandpa and I did not make it. Dad told me earlier that in this trail, there was a rock that was narrow and bumpy, and to both sides were large drop-offs. It was called the ‘dinosaur’s backbone.’ I asked Dad if this was the dinosaur’s backbone. Dad said it was not the dinosaur’s backbone. I wanted to do that again, but I decided not to do so. I walked my bike up this hill. I got up the hill, got on my bike, and continued riding. I rode past a zip line. There were many people riding the zip line. I rode up a small hill, and Dad asked me to look at him and smile. He wanted to take my picture. I did what he told me to, but any second longer, and I would have ridden my bike off of a cliff! He took my picture. I returned my gaze to the trail. I could see a man up ahead. Dad told me to go to him. I pulled my face covering up and went to that man. It turned out that he stepped off the trail to take pictures of the beautiful scenery in the canyon next to the trail. I turned my bike around, and continued on the trail. I rode on the rock, and came up to a hill that I had to go down. It would be a short, bumpy ride down the hill. Dad walked his bike down, and so did Grandpa. I repositioned my bike in a way that I could ride down this hill. I rode down the bumpy hill into a sand trap. Despite the deep sand, I made it across to get on to the rock. About a mile later, I came across the dinosaur backbone. It was not what I imagined. The rock was dark grey, steep, and bumpy. It was too bumpy for me to ride. Grandpa and Dad also walked their bikes up it. When we got to the top, I hopped on my bike and passed the couple that was riding their bikes along with us during the dinosaur backbone. Dad got way ahead of me, so I sped up and caught up to him. I was now already heading for the parking lot of Slickrock! I rode back to the parking lot. I rode all of the way to the ‘stick of the lollipop.’ Everything from there I had already done. I was just doing that a different way. What was downhill was now uphill. There was so much downhill going the opposite way. Now, I could not go up most of what I went down going the other way. But I got back to the parking lot with a big smile on my face. I was so happy and proud. Dad was also proud of me. He said I had done it in less than three hours. What an accomplishment!