Thursday, May 28, 2009

Moab Mountain Biking: Gemini Bridges Trail

On my first Mountain Biking Roadtrip to Moab, Utah I pedaled 3 of the Moab area's best known trails, Gemini Bridges, Slickrock and Porcupine Rim. Each was different, each was way harder than I thought it would be.

A bike ride like Gemini Bridges requires some logistical planning due to the trailhead and trailend being at two different locations. The Gemini Bridges Trailhead is on the same road you take to get to Canyonlands National Park, with the trailhead location near the turnoff to Deadhorse Point State Park.

There were 10 of us doing this ride. We left one vehicle at the end of the trail parking lot. 10 people with 10 bikes had to fit in the other 2 vehicles, one of which was my van.

The Gemini Bridges Trail started out as a very bumpy descent down a rocky, dusty, sandy jeep road. Everyone, but me and Big Ed and Lulu had shock absorbers. I was going fast, it was jarring, it was cold, the wind made it even colder.

Then we came to what is called the 'Whoops' section, due, I guess, to the ride getting even bumpier causing you to think, Whoops, I've made a mistake going on this ride.

After what seemed a mile or more the jeep trail comes to a point where there are several trail options. We were confused about which route took us to the Gemini Bridges. At this point in time I thought these were manmade bridges, not the natural rock bridges I was soon to see.

A Jeeper with an electronic device arrived, also searching for the Gemini Bridges. Soon we were going down a steep, bumpy, short descent. And then we were there. Dozens of bikers were all over the rocks. I didn't understand where the Gemini Bridges were. Turns out I was standing on one.

The Gemini Bridges are two natural rock bridges that span Gemini Canyon. There is a narrow gap between the two arches.

Not realizing I was on one of the bridges I sat down. Then Lulu started screaming at me, "Do you realize what you are sitting on?" I rolled my bike over to where Lulu was and looked back to see that I had been sitting on a very thin piece of rock that was cantilevered way out over the chasm. I'm a bit acrophobic, my knees got queasy.

And then Daniel came careening down the trail, not realizing there was a gap between the bridges, only a loud scream to stop, from the hyper-vigilant Craig, saved Daniel from going over the edge, repeating the death of a teenager earlier in the year. I was so glad at that point that Nephew Joey had opted out of this trip. I've put my nephews in danger before, but never anything this bad.

Eventually the Jeeper showed up. Apparently there are all these Jeeper Feats that Jeepers do in the Moab zone, with one of them driving across one of the Gemini Bridges. The Jeeper's wife got out to watch, while he slowly inched the jeep to the middle of the bridge, then got out so his wife could get the picture.

By now there were dozens of bikers. And then almost like being in a herd people starting leaving the Gemini Bridges to hit the rest of the trail. The next section was another bumpy descent, this time into Goony Bird Canyon. In the canyon the temperature went way up. Goony Bird Canyon looked like Glen Canyon/Lake Powell scenery.

We were once more sharing the trails with noisy jeeps and other motorized vehicles. After awhile the canyon ended and a fairly steep ascent began. I was getting a bit worn out, but I kept on pedaling. At the summit, to the west, you could see arches in Arches National Park. And I could see the road to Moab way below me.

From that point it was a long, bumpy, fast, windy coast to the bottom. I was happy to be in a vehicle heading back to my van and then heading to Moab to go to Rio's for dinner.

If you watched the Amazing Race: Family Edition, it was from the Gemini Bridges that racers had to rappel down to the canyon floor. When that happened was when I realized the extent to which you don't see everything the racers do, as in how they got back to their RV's once they hit the canyon floor. The RV's were parked in the Gemini Bridges Trail End Parking Lot, miles away from Gemini Bridges.

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