Published on October 29th, 2014 | by Jim
Living Dangerously | Moab
I can’t wipe the Schwinn-eating grin off of my face. I haven’t smiled this much or had this much fun on a bike since… ever? Mountain biking in Moab lives up to every bit of the hype you’ve heard about the place. Staggeringly beautiful and wicked fun. Just get your bike and your body in the car and go there. Trust me. Just go. There aren’t words or photos to convey how much fun you’ll have, but I’ll try.
I haven’t really done much cycling worthy of comment for the last few weeks, thus the hiatus. But a few weeks ago my friends Doug and Scott asked if I wanted to meet them in Moab. Since Moab is one of the iconic destinations of the sport, I really had to make the pilgrimage… finally. I know, I know. “You’ve NEVER been to Moab? Really?” Again, take it from me; just go. Now. No really. Get in the car NOW.
The drive from SoCal is mercilessly long and I almost bailed out a few times before we even left the state. But that first day on Slickrock was like being in a mountain biker’s amusement park. Painted lines make it almost impossible to get lost, the traction is impossibly good (thankfully, because some of the climbs are short, but very steep) and the vistas will take your breath away. It was one of those rides where the ride time versus the actual time out there is nowhere close to each other. To rack up 10 miles, I think we rode for about an hour, but we were out there for at least 3. I would just stop sometimes and giggle out loud like a schoolgirl.
Slickrock is smooth and flowy. The Whole Enchilada Trail was anything but flowy–especially on a hardtail, but I think it may have been the best ride I’ve ever done. There are several ways to ride WET: you can do a 60-mile round trip including about 30 miles of road/gravel or you can shuttle it to the top or to the mid-point. We took the shuttle to the mid-point, as there was snow and ice higher up and our Coyote shuttle bus (actually TWO VW buses welded together–totally legit, I’m sure–YIKES! Dude, did you weld this yourself?) wasn’t up the the task of negotiating that kind of terrain.
The trail is 37 miles for the whole length, but we only got to do the lower 22 miles. Even so, we didn’t feel cheated. It was a BLAST. But I gotta tell you, bring your full suspension bike because the trail beat the living hell out of me on my Scott 29er hardtail. A guy we met on the trail–a master trail rider of a guy named Ben–said, “Man, you’re crushing on that thing. You would go so much faster on a fat bike like this one.” Trust me, the crushing was being done TO ME, not BY ME. But I still couldn’t get the smile off my face.
Our final day was on the Hymasa to Captain Ahab trail west of town. This trail-linkup is less bone-jarring that Enchilada and less flowy than Slickrock, but might just be the perfect all-around trail. You get pretty cool climbing for the first part, cool technical sections throughout and mind-alteringly terrifying exposure towards the end. There’s a sign on the last half of lower Ahab that says, “Caution! Walk your bike”
I never saw the sign or the reason that it’s there. I just rode the section, which was sufficiently technical to warrant care while dropping sideways down a series of slopping, slippery ledges before veering left and back up a short chute. What I didn’t apparently appreciate was the 1000-foot drop on my RIGHT. HOLY $@!+!!! When they showed me the picture afterward I almost peed my pants. So, pay attention when you get here.
Yes, I said WHEN you get here. You’re going to make it here. You HAVE to. Like I said before, just get in the car and start driving. NOW. You WILL NOT be disappointed. But you will kick yourself for having waited so long.