Moab is every mountain biker's must ride 

Mountain biking the destination town is a shoulder season rite of passage

Moab 2012

Moab 2012

Every mountain biker's must ride

By John French

Click to View 7 slides

It takes about 21 hours to get there and my riding posse will tell you without hesitation that it is worth the drive.

Seven guys, seven bikes, two vehicles, two beer coolers and one common goal: to ride every day for as many kilometres as possible.

In Ogden, UT we shake the rust off with a ride on a network of great single-track trails above the university.

The morning started cool but warm sun combined with a steady uphill climb leads to layer shedding within the first half hour.

The soil, the climate and the vegetation are all so different from the moist roots and tall timbers we're used to in Sea to Sky territory.

After a quick sample of Ogden's offerings we put the bikes back on the racks head out for the real prize — Slickrock.

The most popular and accessible riding area in Moab is the Slickrock Bike Trail, a managed area with trail-markers (to ensure nobody goes over a cliff and plunges 50 metres to certain death) and excellent maps.

Moab is arid and it presents riding challenges unfound in B.C. We quickly discover how pesky the thorny Utah vegetation can be. Inner tubes and thorns don't get along.

The perma smiles plastered on all our faces aren't even close to being chased away by a series of mechanical issues that keep forcing us to stop to replace flats and repair broken chains under a hot sun on a blue sky day.

At the end of the day we break open our beer cooler in the parking lot and relive the experience while pestering Roland for owning a bright lime green bike we have taken to calling "Kermit."

We visit Arches National Park after dinner and roam through it in the dark, our lights bright on a cloudless night. Looking up presents us with a brilliant display of silver dots in the sky. Occasionally an aircraft floats through Mother Nature's movie screen. The natural formations Moab is famous for prove spectacular.

Day two has us packed like school kids into a van bumping up a forest service road high above Moab to feel the thrill of a day-long descent down to the Colorado River. Known as Hazard County, the trail starts just below the snowline. The terrain is varied, ranging from grass fields to stands of aspen trees and rocky drops tight against a rock face to the left, and certain death dropping off to the right.

We stop frequently. There's scenery to drink in, fluids to replenish, photos, video, fixing flat tires, repairing broken chains, recovering from crashes and refuelling.

"Ever seen a frog fly?" I bellow at one point as Roland and "Kermit" roll at high speed over a half-metre drop with video cameras rolling. "Now you have!"

By John French


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