White Rim by Moonlight

| September 14, 2011

The 100 mile White Rim loop down in Canyonlands National Park in Southern Utah is one of my all time favorite bike rides. There is nothing all that hard about it (aside from the mileage) and I love the way it just keeps unrolling in front of you, even though towards the end, you might wish there was a shortcut or two.

I’ve done it about six times as a day-ride and once as a multiday car-supported camping outing, but when Brad Barlage suggested that we do it under a full moon, it seemed like an excellent idea. All went according to plan except the full moon was obscured by clouds. And there was some rain and lightning. And a large part of the road was washed out. And there was a LOT of loose sand due to the lack of vehicle traffic. But aside from those details, and lots of mosquitoes and being completely dark, it was excellent. We weren’t bothered by the pesky scenery until sunrise and I’ve never seen so many bats, toads and Kangaroo Mice in my life.  Fascinating, really.

This is about as close to moonlight as it got, and it didn't last long.

We rode counterclockwise (down Horsethief) and the section from Potato Bottom to the end of Hardscrabble was closed to vehicles due to flood damage. It was impressive. Upheaval Canyon barfed vast amounts of mud and water down onto the road and completely erased it for large portions.

This only lasted for the few miles when the mosquitoes were at their worst.

You don't get bogged down looking at the scenery, so you can keep riding. :)

When the sun finally came up, Brad popped a wheelie of joy at the sight of Monster Tower and Washer Woman.

Mile infinity with only a few more to go.

Overall, it was a great outing and fun (?) to do so much night riding.  Brad used his Jedi force and Black Diamond Sprinter headlamps, while I used a BD Storm headlamp and a Nite Rider MiNewt 350 which threw out an impressive amount of light and lasted all night.  We did it in about 14 hours with 11 hours of moving, which is hardly a record but not too bad considering the circumstances.
Help support StraightChuter.com and light up the night with a Black Diamond Storm Headlamp from Backcountry.com. Click on the photo below…

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Category: Trip Reports

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (5)

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  1. Adam Allegro says:

    Dude, this is awesome. I would kill to go on a ride like this. I would probably piss whoever was with me off as I stopped every 15 minutes to set up for photos, but this is really cool. Really neat post!

  2. Smokey says:

    How big was your bag of mushrooms?

  3. Andrew says:

    Smokey – apparently not big enough as I’m already thinking of repeating the ride next month, although probably not by moonlight.

  4. Jamie says:

    Andrew- Have you ever attempted (or considered) doing White Rim twice in a day? Seems like just the right length such that is would be a real challenge to sneak the second lap in under 24 hours. Plus, as you have shown, it isn’t so technical that you couldn’t ride long stretches with only a headlamp (and not a fancy 900 lumen bike light, etc).

  5. Andrew says:

    Ohhhh – ouch! I have only considered White Rim twice in a day in my wildest dreams, and even then it hurt. It may be possible, but not by me and my butt.

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