Mountain Biking in Moab, Utah
For #mtb2k16 this year, we headed to Moab, Utah. It’s got the views and the downhills, but not quite the ups of years past. 5 days of great riding, only one minor emergency room visit, and a lot of great food and beer.
Paul flew into Denver from Portland, while Brian and I flew in from Atlanta to meet up and pick up the cheapest rental car Hertz had: a Mercedes GLA 350. No idea why this was $300 for an entire week, but no complaints! We drove the 5+ hours to Moab, UT, where we met up with Dave (drove in from Albuerqueue, NM) and Jason (Flew into Jackson). It was a bit of a logistical mess and the kind folks at the bike shop ended up staying open a little late for us. Rent your bikes from Moab Cyclery, they’ll take care of you. I was on a Specialized 6Fattie for the week which was tons of fun.
Will lives in Moab currently and came over to talk trails, drink some beers, and figure out the week. Our rental house comfortably held the 6 of us and we made good use of the original Atari, hot tub, wifi, kitchen, and 2 car (1 car and a huge pile of bikes) garage.
Day 1 - Hymasa Ahab Hymasa Jackson
First up was a ‘warmup’ with most of the crowd. We cruised from town and the views got ridiculously scenic before we even got to dirt. We climbed up the relatively new Hymasa singletrack (which replaces a 4x4 road), flew down Captaan Ahab, and then did some splitting up. Dave and I rode back up Hymasa, turned away from Captain Ahab and instead descended Jackson back down to the river. There was walking, but supposedly people ride the whole thing. I’m suspicious.
Day 2 - The Whole Enchilada
Bob drove in from Denver late the previous evening and joined up with us for day 2, and Will was able to join in as well. We took the shuttle from Moab Cyclery up to the top of The Whole Enchilada and rode the whole thing back to town. (Geyser Pass, Burro Pass, Hazard, Kokopelli, Porcupine Singletrack, Porcupine Rim) The trail lived up to it’s reputation: Lots of climates, lots of different types of scenery, lots of super fast and fun downhill, and hardly any climbing. 3000ft up, 9000ft down. We split into A and B groups, and then probably C and D as well. Most things weren’t really that tricky, but it was all pretty rough and we were all pretty worn out by the end as the rain started falling on us.
A few hours before the end, Dave managed to fall at a place where there wasn’t even really a good reason to fall, and punched a very bloody hole in is face. It cleaned up pretty well and after finishing the ride as planned we enjoyed a round of beers and then swung by the emergency room (conveniently directly across the street from our rental house!) and he ended up with a few stitches. Overnight, it snowed on the top of The Whole Enchilada and if we’d delayed riding it until later in the trip, the top would not have been reachable.
Day 3 - Slickrock
For a ‘lighter’ Day 3, we rode up to Slickrock which promptly showed us that it would not be an easy day just because it was convenient and short. All exposed rock, all bumps, and with some pretty steep sections. It’s a “Moab Classic” and “Must Do” even though it is “Just Okay” and there are “Way Better Trails”. We passed a ton of people that were horribly underprepared but were having a great time anyways (think jeans, beater bikes, and no water) and would be there all day. Once again, a few of our group turned back while the rest of us enjoyed more amazing views, no long flowly downhills, and enough roughness that we all decided to skip our planned part-2 of the day and just ride back to the house instead.
Day 4 - Mag 7
For our second shuttle run, the Moab Cyclery shuttle was full so we called up Road Runner Shuttle for a ride. They picked us up at our house and took us to the top of the Magnificent 7 (Getaway, Mustang, Bull Run, Arth’s Canyon, Gemini Bridges, Little Canyon, Gold Bar Rim, Portal). Like all shuttle runs, this one a lot more descending than climbing, but we still had some long steep climbs with most of it about 2/3 of the way through the day when it hurts and awful lot. The downhill was semi-technical and had a lot of flow, and the highlight of the day was cruising slowly down the technical Gold Bar Rim over steep rocky sections with a ~1000ft cliff a few feet to our left.
The last bit of Mag 7 is the infamous “Portal” trail which has the “Dismount now, riders just like you have died here” sign. It wasn’t too bad, but we definitely did a bit of walking. Jason turned off a bit earlier and was hiking up Portal when we next saw him, and Will was bummed to have missed the ride.
Day 5 - Pipe Dream
For the last day, we set out to ride the Pipe Dream trail as an out-and-back. It has a ‘no dab’ challenge which we were quickly eliminated from when Will’s front brake stopped working (and the rest of us are not as skilled as Will). Oh, and Bob was on the road back to Denver already, Dave was tired and turned back early, and Jason was possibly smarter than all of us and rented a Jeep for the day and drove all over the place.
This was probably the only trail we rode that is not a “Must Do” Moab trail, but it is well built and is definitely a great way to do a ride-from-town no-so-hard day.
After Pipe Dream and showers, we headed to the beach, jumped into the friged Colorado river once or twice, and moved on to Arches National Park to catch a pretty amazing Sunset.
Totals for the trip
- 5 days, 7 dudes, several burritos larger than small children
- 120.2 miles
- 14 hours, 59 minutes of saddle time
- 12,610 feet climbed.
Moab is a “classic” mountain biking destination. There are tons of places to stay, tons of places to rent nice bikes, tons of shuttles, tons of trails, and they’re building more of everything every year. If you ride mountain bikes, you owe it to yourself to visit Moab on occasion. Mag 7 and The Whole Enchilada are must do big days, and the other 3 would hold their own in any other mountain biking town. The views were pretty epic, the exposure was sketchy but not unsafe, and while we didn’t climb as much as I would have liked, my core and upper body were pretty worn out by the end of the trip from all of the technical descending. Shoot me an email if you’d like to join in next year, we’ll go somewhere new and the bar is pretty high for destinations at this point!