Monday, June 4, 2012


...goes the sound of the bar being raised.

I had the incredible good fortune to be towed around a sizeable chunk of SW Utah by Doom and Vlad as they completed what they'd dubbed the Charlie Fowler Tower Tour. Our wheels carried us over and through Hurrah Pass, Lathrop Canyon, Shafer Trail, Mineral Bottom, Taylor Canyon, Elephant Hill. Our hulls were lapped by three days worth of wind waves from the Green and Colorado Rivers. Shoe soles trod upon the desiccated red dirt and ancient petrified dunes of Island in the Sky, Red Lake Canyon, the Grabens, and the Needles.

Already that would make a once in a lifetime trip for most. But this is Doom and Vlad's backyard, and those places were familiar from previous 'splorations. Inspired for decades by Charlie Fowler's vision, they chose to include ascents of a handful of iconic desert towers including Psycho, Castleton, Predator, Washer Woman, Monster, and Moses.

And they freaking killed it.

One anecdote to illuminate how motivated they were: As we pedaled out of Moab late on a scorching desert afternoon, I went to the front, thinking I'd tow them along and save them a few calories en route to Predator Tower. 'Click, click, click' went the sound of me grabbing gear after gear as the speed increased and we motored along toward Kane Springs. "Whah?" was the sound of me wondering how I'd wound out all of my gears yet not distanced myself from them: Surely they were tired? "Gulp" went the sound of my pride as they, on their 150# bikes laden with boats, climbing racks, camping gear, and god knows what else, pulled through and dropped me.

This was day 1 for me, day 5 for them, and they'd been up for better than 12 hours already, climbing Castleton Tower at dawn then easily unwinding the 40+ miles into Moab for lunch. These were men on a mission.

That pace and level of drive were evident every waking moment of the next 9 days out. They freaking killed it.

Despite that, the overall vibe was easygoing around camp at night, where they scarcely mentioned all that they'd achieved thus far, only spoke with respect and anticipation of what was planned for the next day. And they did it in the time honored tradition of self-effacing goofballs everywhere.

I'll not share route details nor much else about the trip--the thunder is theirs and I hope they wield it!

My "coverage" of their tour is decidedly thin. When riding I couldn't get far enough ahead of them to creatively set up no matter how hard I pushed, when paddling the wind kept us all beat down to a sand-encrusted pulp, and the climbing was worlds beyond my acrophobic league. I was gripped on the approaches, unable to bring a viewfinder to my eye for fear of falling off the crust of the planet. I tried daily, but largely failed.

Still, I've attempted to transmit some of their lighthearted-yet-driven trip vibe into this compilation. The random quotes therein were our lifeblood every day. I included them intending to jostle memories, now and in the future, as some small recompense to Doom and Vlad for sharing so much with me. I hope that you enjoy it too.

Below are a handful of pics of my Snoots in tower tour trim.  6L water bladder inside the frame pack was key--not possible to have too much of that, here, at this time of year, which is why I also had a 3L bladder on my back and a 20oz bottle on the bike.

Proto Revelate drybag harness kept my dry goods dry on the river, dust-free on the rides, and never had to be transferred to/from another bag in the transitions.  Great piece of kit.

Preproduction Surly 29+ tire up front was smooshy cooshy on hardpack and gave heaps of float in the sand we encountered constantly.  Wish I could have fit one out back.