Mountain Biking in Moab
Ever since I first learned to ride a bike when I was 5 years old, I've been a huge fan. In grade school, I got into freestyle, BMX and even did a bit of racing. After college, I re-invested myself in biking and started riding to work. Soon after, I got into mountain biking and have loved it ever since. When it's summertime in Colorado, I prefer to be on a bike, riding singletracks with the sweet smell of the Rockies in the air.
Moab is the Mecca of mountain biking. It was with much anticipation that I began a journey there last weekend with my good friend Matt Good. Matt was going for the music, while I was primarily interested in the singletrack. We left Denver on Wednesday evening and stayed the night in Grand Junction. On Thursday, we stopped at a bike shop in Fruita, got some recommendations and headed for Utah.
Our first trail was Klondike Bluffs to Baby Steps. The trail began with dirt and quickly shifted to riding on bumpy slickrock. At the top, we hiked into Arches National Park and enjoyed some spectacular views. From the top of Klondike Bluffs, we hit Baby Steps and cruised along a red singletrack for most of the afternoon.
Our first ride in Moab took us almost 4 hours and we only covered 15 miles. With smiles on our faces, we enjoyed some cold beers and hopped in the car to head to the first night of Desert Rocks. The 4-day concert was held at Area BFE about 10 miles south of Moab. It was a very cool venue with a couple thousand music fans camping along the cliffs. It was definitely easy-living as far as camping goes. Bands played until dawn each night and you could hear it no matter where you slept.
We pitched our tents as darkness was closing in and walked down to the main stage to enjoy some late night entertainment.
The next day, we woke up, enjoyed Matt's famous breakfast burritos and headed into Moab to catch a shuttle to Porcupine Rim Trail. It took an hour to get to the Hazard County Trailhead, but soon after we were zooming down the mountain. The UPS and LPS singletracks near the beginning of the trail were some of the most fun and scenic trails I've ever ridden.
Once we hit Porcupine Rim Trail, I put the pedal to the metal and didn't stop to wait for Matt for a couple hours. Finally, I stopped to make sure he was OK. 30 minutes later, I got a text message from him saying he had a flat, his spare was bad, and he was walking out. Luckily, I had an extra tube and rode back to help him out. I was pretty impressed by iPhone could send/receive text messages out in the middle of nowhere. The Porcupine Rim ride took us 4.5 hours and we tracked 26.75 miles. The several points in the trail with "death on the right" were truly epic.
After another night of great music under the stars, I woke up Saturday and headed for the most famous trail in Moab: Slickrock. Matt declined to join me as he was sore from the previous two days. Up to this point, the rides had been pretty easy. Granted, they were long and we were both super-tired after finishing, but I rarely dropped down into my lower chain ring (in front). I was riding my full-suspension with disc brakes while Matt was riding his Homegrown Hardtail.
Slickrock was even cooler (and harder) than I thought it would be. There were several "hills" that were super-steep and really hard to pedal up. It was possible to pedal up them, but you had to really crank. I found that standing up helped a lot. The scary part of riding these hills was if you didn't make it, there's a good chance you'd crash all the way back to the bottom. I'm proud to say I made it up all but 4 hills and got away with only a minor injury.
The remainder of Saturday was spent listening to good music and enjoying the vibe of Desert Rocks. By this time, most people had arrived and smiling faces were everywhere. Sunday, we took the day off from riding, enjoyed more music, took an afternoon nap and watched another beautiful sunset.
Monday, we packed up and rode Sovereign Singletrack just before noon. We did the relatively easy Garden Mesa 10-mile loop. When we turned off the road onto the singletrack, I heard a crash behind me and looked back to see Matt in the midst of an over-the-handlebars wipeout. Me: "How did that happen?" Matt: "I don't know, but I think I tore my fingernail off."
2 and 1/2 hours later, we were back at the car, packing up to leave Moab. I've never had so much fun riding my bike. The camping and concert was exceptional too. If you ever get a chance to visit Moab for riding or Desert Rocks, I highly recommend it.
All my pictures from this weekend can be found in my Moab and Desert Rocks set on Flickr. In addition, I tracked all our rides using iWander and uploaded them to EveryTrail. You can see the precise routes, times, etc. by clicking on the links below.