AH Descending Ophir Pass

Trans America Trail: Ouray to Moab

Originally Published in my column for RoadRUNNER Magazine on: 8/14/2014 as Trans America Trail: Ouray to Moab

Ouray to Moab

Just loading the bike this morning is a bit challenging. My foot continues to swell, but once forced into the boot, it is a little more bearable. After missing portions of the Alpine Loop, I am determined to make it up to Luke. My plan is to get us to Moab tonight and catch up with my friend Zack who runs the Rustic Inn. Tomorrow we will head out on Potash Road, one of my favorites in the U.S. While it is not technically on the Trans-America Trail, it is worth the detour.

Trans America Trail: Ouray to MoabWe begin our morning excursion briefly on pavement, exiting Ouray on the Million-Dollar Highway. Soon, however, we are back on the trail heading towards Ophir Pass, one of the most scenic and, at times, intimidating passes in Colorado. Getting to the summit goes smoothly enough, but the descent is another story. After some fun photos at the top, we begin to head down toward the town of Ophir. It quickly becomes apparent that my rear brakes have no interest in rubbing up alongside some muddy brake rotors. Fortunately, my front brakes are not so high brow, but descending just shy of 12,000 feet with only front brakes is slightly less fun than I assume the approaching storm is about to be. Once we are safely down the pass, it is clear my rear brakes are seized. The pads appear okay, but the brakes are not moving. As the rain turns to crushed ice falling from the sky, we have two choices: stop and make cocktails out of the free ice or search for parts and press on.

We pass into Rico, CO, a town when I have visited in the past was little more than a ghost town. Now there is a small community putting together a real town, complete with some shops and even a motel. We decide to grab a bite at Que Rico while we call around for parts. Luke gets a chance to work his command of the Spanish language with the owner, and I politely add to the conversation with an occasional “gracias.”

Trans America Trail: Ouray to MoabSadly, no one in nearby Durango has any KLR Brake parts in stock. With no rear brakes, a heavy bike, and a throbbing foot, we look for the most direct, but still interesting, paved route toward parts. By sheer coincidence this turns out to be Arrowhead Motor Sports in Moab. Cruising from Route 145 over to 491 we hook up with Fred, who gets me the parts that I need as well as a few other items for good measure.

Upon arriving we learn that Zack has comped our room but has left for the night. The Rustic Inn was the last place that my dad and I rode and stayed together before he died. It is bittersweet to be returning, but Zack’s kindness touches me deeply.

Trans America Trail: Ouray to MoabLuke and I walk down to the Moab Brewery for dinner. Safety first! I am hoping I will feel each step less on the way back to the motel than I do on the way to the restaurant. Our meals are unremarkable, but the service and beers are great. As I hoped, the walk home is slightly easier, but it doesn’t stop me from grabbing a jumbo bottle of Advil from the local grocery store on the way back to the motel.

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