Zen On Dirt

Old and New, nostalgia and exploration

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Back sometime circa 2001, I bought the first mountain bike of my adult life. It was a Specialized Stumpjumper, a bike that I had coveted as a kid who rode…10 years prior. Soon after getting it, my boyfriend and I drove out to Moab in his parents’ RV, camped, I believe, at the Archview Campground, and did some of the classic rides. Slickrock and Poison Spider stick out in my memory as terrifying and anything but fun. Moab is sort of a shitty place to be a beginner mountain biker, or at least it was back then.

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But the redeeming feature of the trip was a ride up to Top of the World off of the Kokopelli Trail. It was a jeep road climb, and as a roadie a the time, it was a perfect level of tech that played to my fitness and lack of skills. I remember getting to the top and being amazed, even through scattered rain showers. I think that that moment was really the time that mountain biking grabbed my soul, even though I wouldn’t fully embrace it for a few more years.

So when we were planning our rides for our last week, I put Top of the World on the list, for nostalgia’s sake.

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Again, as not a Top 10 Rides in Moab type of a ride, we saw no one except a pair of jeeps the entire climb up. The 3,500ft climb was a questionable use of energy credits, but getting to the top made it all worth it.

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This time, the sun was shining, the swallows were flying, and wind was minimal. The fact that places like this exist is awesome, the fact that there’s a rough jeep road that’ll get you there in a few short miles is pretty neat too.

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We took a work day the next day complemented by a short run on the Moab Brand trails next door. I’ve committed to one big run this summer, with another in the works, and another as a pipe dream, so I’m working hard to maintain some level of running fitness during this ride binge in Moab.

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I wish I could do both at the same time, but it really does seem that I’m either entirely into running, or I’m entirely into riding. It’s definitely been all riding all the time in Moab.

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And that’s okay. The riding in Moab is better than the running. Do what the terrain asks for.

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One day, we set up an evening ride with Julie up at Deadhorse Point State Park. They’ve just recently built a fairly significant trail system, and we’d been wanting to check it out.

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Sunset was definitely the time to be up there.

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Empty trails. Amazing views.

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We headed out to the Point after our ride to watch the last of the light fade from the cliffs of Canyonlands, eating the sandwiches we’d packed for dinner. With the long days, we’re ending our rides later and later, and it always feels a little weird to me to finish a ride at nearly 9pm.

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Not that I’m complaining. I love long days.

It was Scott’s turn to choose a nostalgia ride the next day, and he opted for Barlett Wash. It was Memorial Day weekend, town was nuts, so its northerly location and lack of attention was perfect for a day where the classic trails would be covered in people.

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The slickrock at Bartletts is Entrada sandstone, which is far smoother than the Navajo sandstone that makes up the standard Slickrock in Moab. It also has an amazing amount of waves in it, that makes the riding semi-trippy.

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Scott had an old photo of him riding a little gap in two rocks and was determined to find the spot and recreate the photo from 20 years ago. When we did find it, he must have ridden it at least 20 times. Loop after loop after loop.

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He had plenty of stories of being so sad to leave Bartletts, as it was frequently his family’s last stop before heading back to SLC, and he never wanted to have to go back to school. Knowing this, I felt somewhat bad asking him how many more loops he was going to do on another section of the rock because I was getting hungry and considering going back to the car.

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I’d planned for an hour, hour and a half tops, and we’d long eclipsed both of those numbers with loops, and whoops, and exploration.

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I find it funny that I’ve ridden in Moab many times in the past, and I’d never even heard of this gem of a spot. All it did was make me wonder what else was out there…and it made me sad to know that we had one more big ride planned the next day, then a town day to rig up for departure, then we’d be done with Moab for the spring.

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Moab had grown on me. I didn’t want to leave.

 

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