Western Odyssey – Moab Day One

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This was it, finally making the mountain biker’s pilgrimage to the legendary Moab, Utah. This is the stuff of fat tire childhood fantasies, the realization of which have been too long a time in coming. From Pulp Traction, to Mountain Bike Action, to that Yo MTV! Sports segment where they do aggressive inline on the slick rock, this is one of the places that I grew up dreaming of.

Josh and I woke up late after a gnarly, slow, storm riddled drive from Fruita to just-outside of Moab along the Colorado River the night before. After missing the supposedly gorgeous drive into canyon country due to darkness, this was my first look at the beauty that is the Moab / Canyonlands / Arches area.

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drive into Moab

First stop on the agenda was the legendary Poison Spider cyclery to secure both a shuttle to the top of the Whole Enchilada and a rental dual sus bike for my companion for the next day.

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Poison Spider’s famous mural

I was excited to see the legendary shop, but I have to admit I came away pretty darn disappointed. What was likely once a “real” bike shop is now a tourist attraction complete with the associated charm. While the staff was super helpful and kind, there are no bikes for sale beyond the rental fleet and most of the shop’s floor is taken up with their own branded merchandise. Want a downhill jersey with their logo? How about a key chain?  Camelbak? Pint glass? Booty shorts? etc.

Here and there you could see a glimmer of culture: stickers on a trash can, an old jersey on the wall in the office, but whatever spark was once there that made this one of the most famous bike shops in the world was not visible to my eye.

Very happy to report that the next check box on my hit list however, did not disappoint at all. We hit the world famous Slickrock Trail during the heat of the day, can’t say how hot, but hotter-than-hell sounds about right, and got right down to business…

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Josh Culbertson on the Slickrock

As it’s hard barren rock, the trail markings consist of painted white dashes on the rock itself. Along with the bike trail is one for motorcycles as well as 4×4’s. For the most part the moto trail and the bike trail are the same, although at certain technical features the paths diverge with the mechanized homies directed to the less gnarly of the routes.

After a few hours out there, you start to learn the way the land formations break, and muster up the nerves to start treading farther and farther off track, free styling your way rather than being a slave to the dash. This is where it really starts to get fun, as there are an infinite number of lines to choose and connect.

By far though, the biggest thrill was just knowing that we were treading in the tracks of giants. (Yes, I’m a huge fucking dork) Just about every serious mtb’er, pro and amateur, alike will one day find themselves on these rocks. Johnny T, Ned, Juli Furtado, my friends Paul and Dave from work, etc. It’s just plain cool to realize all of the riders who have come before. It’s a historic trail, and really is a unique and special experience.

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After the mid-day desert sun had finished baking our brains for a few hours, we did the only sensible thing and went swimming.

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the van outside the community pool

Their being a distinct lack of swimming holes, and the Colorado River being silty as all get out, we made tracks for the local pool. I don’t have any photos, but mention it simply for an excuse to recommend spending the 9 bucks for an all day pass if you’re out that way camping. Indoor and outdoor pools, a water slide, two diving boards, a lazy river, a gym, and a hot shower. All yours for only nine dollars.

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After that, nothing left to do but eat a road dog’s feast and prepare for the next day when we would tackle the big one: The Whole Enchilada!

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true player way – hot polish from Everetts (MPLS), mac-n-cheese, baked beans

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