This ole' boy creaked his eyelids open on the fourth and final day of the Utah adventure. By now Matt and I had this morning pre-ride routine down pat: stumble around the luxuriously appointed Rodeway Inn room, find shoes and a shirt that doesn't smell too bad then duck out into the windy and cold (yes COLD) morning and run across the street to a conveniently located breakfast buffet. All the carbs you could eat.
I like carbs.
On tap for the last day of our vacation (alas vacation, I hardly knew ye) was the highly touted JEM trail. This beauty was named, by Bicycling Magazine, the second best trail for flow in the country. For those not familiar with the lingo, "flow" is a subjective term for having that just right combination of up and down, back and forth undulation. When done properly it can make riding a trail just about effortless. To mountain bikers its akin to the perfect wave (preach on Brother Bodie).
I like flow.
We rode JEM as a loop starting at the eastern trailhead, which meant beginning with a gradual uphill for several miles along a fireroad featuring some nice views.
Once we got to the cattle gate we knew we were about turn around and head back down. Everything I had read talked about the "motorcyle speeds" you can carry down the 6-mile downhill of JEM. Beep beep, toot toot. C'ming through folks.
The bit right after the cattle gate was a little white knuckly.
I like downhills.
Sure enough, once the downhill started it only took a few turns of the peddles before I was going fast enough it didn't matter if I peddled anymore....even in my big ring up front.
Woosh, off to the races.
It was so much fun. The rain from the day before had left the red clay/dirt soft and slightly tacky, like a velvet ribbon through the sagebrush littered desert. Occasionally some rock would pop up, to keep you on your toes, but for miles it was gently twisting, cleverly undulating smooth clay. It really made you wonder how the trail builders did it. Anyone foolish enough to think trailbuilding isn't an art form has never ridden JEM.
A little past midway through JEM connects with the Hurricane Rim Trail, so we decided to take a side excursion. Not having enough time for the whole trail, we climbed some rock stairsteppy stuff to great views of the Virgin River.
Eventually we looped back to the JEM downhill again, this time riding on to the end. No problem, 'cept between us and the car was about a half mile of this cliff line cruising.
It never got real close (depending on who you ask) to the edge, and the trail was kindly free of rocks, but there were still a couple of places that gave you da hee bees-gee bees.
As strange as it seems, this cliffhanger stuff was really close to the parking lot.
That's it, we're done. Epoch.
4 days = 77 miles, almost 9,000 ft of climbing. Zero ouchies.
One big smile.