Moab Return

Going to Moab has always been something of a pilgrimage for me. I grew up in Salt Lake City, where Moab is only four hours away. The first time I rode the slickrock trail, as a teenager, I was hooked. All I could think about was my next Moab trip, and how I could con family or friends into going with me. As the desire to ski resorts faded, and frustration with winter grew, the desire to be in Moab was even stronger. It was paradise. 2 day trips were worth it, even sub-24 hours. Any chance to go play on the rocks, to be bask in the desert sun, I’d take it.

Then I went to Tucson for grad school. Moab was a lot further away, and colder. Plus there was so much to do in southern Arizona. So many trails to ride and discover. Moab faded from the forefront of my mind, because, as my brother said to me, sitting on his bike overlooking Starr Pass, “congratulations, you live in Moab!” Or some would argue, somewhere better than Moab.

But it still has a special place in my MTB heart. I’ve never been epic’d so hard as I have in Moab. Running out of daylight and making wrong turns on Porcupine Rim after the family Station Wagon’s alternator went out, delaying our start. Running out of water before even reaching the base of Jacob’s Ladder, having to descend Amasa Back in the heat of day and with relief only offered by the McDonald’s on the corner of Main and Kane Springs. Losing the trail and my Dad, while trying to navigate Gold Bar Rim before any dots were painted. And on and on. Oh Moab!

I’ve been back a few times over the last 10 years, but primarily it’s been to do ‘silly’ things like ride/race the Kokopelli or Grand Loop. Both of those are amazing in their own way, and have thoroughly epic’d me, but it’s not quite the same. In many ways, Moab taught me how to ride a mountain bike. It has been far too long since I went to Moab with the simple goal of: riding.

The weather on the Front Range was cold and wet. We saw our window, loaded up the sports van, and headed west. Moab here we come!

Or, Fruita first. We had enough time for a couple hour sunset ride, but only if we stopped in Fruita. It was a brilliant plan. Good camping and a new trail for me, one particularly beautiful in the evening light.

girl+sunset love 1

I’ve seen people riding this glorious piece of singletrack from the 2-track of Kokopelli before and wondered why, oh why, was I not on it?

girl+sunset love 2

The golden hour and the sky painting hour seemed to stretch on and on. Just one of those special nights. We only needed lights for the very last bits of trail back to the van. Camping was under the stars, then it was on to Moab!

We used the wonder of Eszter’s smart phone to coordinate meeting up with Mike, Lenore and Petey Spice. Amasa Back was the ride of choice. A favorite of the Morris family, and one I had not ridden in over 10 years.

Lucky for me, I had Mike to show me all the lines. I used to know a few fun ones, but he has a whole repertoire.

photo by Mike Curiak – more here

Some went smoothly.

Others were just at my limit, and resulted in adrenaline flood.

photo by Mike Curiak

Others I fumbled on. Or didn’t even attempt.

Some challenged Mike (he did get the above pictured move, though I am still not quite sure how).

He took us further out on the mesa than I think I’ve been before. And perhaps a little too far for a couple in our group, who lost the sessiony desire after many hours of proceeding 200 feet at a time.

We put some continuous pedaling to work, at last, just as a thin wall of rain gave the rock domes in front of us a shimmering fuzzy coating. The wall would cover us as we rode the new “Captain Ahab” trail back down to the creek. Mike destroyed his wheel and had to walk out. Eszter and I continued on to camp, then met the whole crew, plus Jeny, at Paradox Pizza. I was stoked to finally get to eat at Paradox Pizza!

Fred and Pete organized a shuttle ride on Mag 7, including a very competent and skilled guide. It started out mellow enough, with new singletrack that was fun, but not memorable enough to be Moab classics. Pretty soon we were nearing Gold Bar Rim and finding some good rocks to play on.

Go Petey Spice!

Go Jeny! It was fun to follow our guide (Darcy) who had no little ring and rode everything with LOTS of momentum. Completely different climbing style than mine, so fun to learn from.

I thought of previous epics on Gold Bar, but the memories were distant. I remembered lots of rock, big views, and a few fun moves.

Yeah, there were a few fun moves. I was glad to have Darcy to follow on a several I would have never tried without watching someone first.

And then there was Portal. I remember the exposure, the mandatory dismounts, and some really fun chunk at the end.

But I had no idea it was this good. Jj’s face says it all.

Darcy disappeared. For the brief minute or two I could follow his line I was alarmed at how much speed he was carrying. Wow. Jj and I rode most of it together, and Fred morphed himself into superman, cleaning sections we couldn’t.

Pete rallied for Paradox Pizza again, and I wasn’t one to complain.

Back at our ledgy campsite, we took in an evening walk, watched the sun set and listened to the birds. A beautiful evening.

In the morning we headed out north of Moab to the Sovereign area. Unfortunately we got suckered into the new “Klonzo” trailsystem, which if located anywhere else would be quite fun. But in Moab it just pales by comparison. Once on Sovereign, we realized what a mistake we had made. It’s even better than I remember it.

We set up camp in Rabbit Valley again, on our way back West. I was pretty tired, and content to sit in the camp chair and watch the evening fade. But Eszter is full of good ideas.

“Let’s go ride to the top of that hill and watch the sun set!!”


girl+sunset love 3

Pixels were killed on memory cards. Magic moments shared.

girl+sunset love 4

Fullness of life embraced.

In the morning there was still time for a quick spin. Fun was had on moto trails replete with flowers.

Moab. Better than I remember. I need to get back just to ride more often. Fruita, too.

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