Zen On Dirt

Two weeks in Moab: GO!

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Just the thought of the place makes me happy. After six weeks spent there in the spring, I knew we were going to be back. There’s no place quite like it, endless wild-ness surrounding a town that really has everything we needed. Good internet, easy recycling access, and free camping (for now) in all directions. And the riding and running…it’s just so vast. Plus, it’s an area that’s big enough to support the level of recreation placed on it (for now), so there are seemingly minimal conflicts between bikes/motos/jeeps/hikers (for now).

There’s also a part of me that is realizing that the more other-worldly a place seems, the more I love it. The giant red walls of Moab, the rocky and desolate summits of Colorado, the giant deserts and prickly plant life of Tucson with the saguaro familes – if it doesn’t seem normal to most, I feel perfectly at home.

By the time we’d finished our Colorado errands, we had just over two weeks before I had a play date at the Grand Canyon. We had every intention of making the most of it…without blowing my legs out completely. Recovery is for people who can’t think of anything fun to do…right?

Acting on a tip and GPX file from Tom, we aimed for the Sidewinder trail in Montrose. We were promised exceptional riding and easy camping. img_7039

Transfer days are always a little stressful, especially when we don’t know exactly where we’re going or what we’ll find. The clearance on the Scamp/minivan combo in dismal at best, so we’re often not able to get into spaces that even a low-clearance car can…so we always have to take camping suggestions with a grain of salt.


Lucky for us, Tom was dead on both for amazeball-ness of the trail and on the ease of camping. It was easy, quiet, and we were pretty excited to have a new spot on our radar for our trans-Colorado drives that tend to happen at least twice a year.

We cruised on to Fruita in the morning, opting for a night of paid camping at 18 Road because Scott had only ridden one trail there…on a recumbent many years ago. There’s something silly fun about 18 Road…and now they paved the road out there, getting rid of those heinous washboards that always made me feel like my kidneys were going to fall out.


We went for a lovely evening ride, opting to keep it short in the name of trying not to show up to Moab tired.


When we woke to to the pitter patter of rain at night and clouds in the morning doing little to help the saturated ground to dry, we hi-tailed it to the coffee shop in Fruita for some Internet time and then on to Moab.

While our old spot was taken, we set the Scamp up at an equally awesome outpost, this one with even better views.


The first order of business was an evening ride with Julie and Dave. In the process, we learned a far more graceful way to loop the Sovereign trail from camp. The many advantages of riding with locals… We completed the evening with a fire and s’mores.


With only an afternoon to ride the following day, we cruised up for an evening lap of Navajo Rocks.


Outerbike was going on, and we’d heard storied of packed trails in the mornings. I’m pretty sure that by the time we made it out to pedal, most participants were back at camp/at their hotels drinking beer and eating dinner. We’re pretty good at the extremely late dinners/no real dinners in exchange for sunset rides and deserted trails.


I was determined to get some of my Bucket List items off of the list during this two week trip. One was to link up Willow Springs Road to Arches National Park, and then back on the bikepath. We detoured to check out some arches off of Salt Creek Road because, well, it was a weekend day and we were determined to spend as much time outside as possible.


There may have been a little bit of scrambing involved while the bikes were ditched in the bushes. Bike shoes are great for scrambing…especially when the metal cleat slides along sandstone.


We stopped by Outerbike on our way back to see the Salsa booth and to ride their new Woodsmoke. If I were an n+1 bike type of person, I would totes get one of these for my quiver.

dsc05717The Courthouse Wash hike didn’t get placed on our Bucket List until Kurt told us about it earlier in the summer. Kurt seems to enjoy similar types of outside travel to us, so when he recommends something, it’s generally worth checking it. Or at least when patience for BS is high.


In our 14 mile traversal of Arches National Park, we saw exactly four people if you don’t count the cars driving over the bridge on the main road that we went under. Maybe it had something to do with the massive amount of willow-whacking that was involved. Totes worth it in the end, and we hitchhiked back to the start with two gals who were trying to nurse an old Toyota truck with a leaking radiator across the country. They were hoping that by giving us a ride, it would increase their road Karma and they could get to California. I hope they made it!


Jefe and Rachel were in town for Outerbike. We rallied for a night ride with them out at the Klonzo trails. As it turns out, slickrock that seems excessively marked during the day is barely followable by headlamp. Someone needs to go out there with reflective paint…that would be rad.


Back in April, I’d somehow convinced Kaitlyn that we should do a full-moon rim to rim run in the Big Ditch in the fall. We’d set a mid-October date, and I set about trying to get back into running shape. We headed out for a loop of Pipeline, Barney Rubble, Hidden Canyon, and Moab Rim, Scott on wheels, me on foot. Mostly new trail for both of us. Aside from the fact that I felt completely out of running form and my feet got mad at me, it went well.


Scott even offered to go get the car so that I wouldn’t have to close the loop on pavement. I refused for about the first half mile of paved running…then I sent him to go get the car. Pavement, what a joke.


Tired the next day, we headed over to Barlett Wash. If you’re too tired to ride anywhere exceptionally far, might as well ride somewhere exceptionally pretty. I pretty much found myself a rock to sit on while Scott rode in laps around the slickrock features. He’s easily entertained.


The next day, we had a brilliant idea of riding from camp to 7-Mile rim and Uranium Arch, then cutting over to Navajo Rocks, then 7-Up to Mag 7, and then down Gemini Bridges from Shadow Canyon.

‘Do I need a light?’ I asked as we were rigging.

‘It’s 1pm. No.’


Of course, nothing in Moab actually goes as quickly as you think it will. And there’s always sand at the most inopportune times. And then someone (ahem, me) might have dropped their camera and not noticed it for a mile leading to an up-hill backtrack.

Long story short,  I got the friendly reminder to always ride with a light, because when the sun goes down, it gets real dark real quick.


Sometimes it’s nice to get rid of Scott to go do my own thing, so when Pete wanted to go ride, I bid them happy Boy Ride and took off running. Given that we were headed in the same general direction, they caught me as soon as things started to go downhill.


I made it out to the overlook, and pondered running farther, but I knew I wanted to have good legs for the next few days.


Because Alexis and Denny were coming! And so were Probe and Blanca, forever optimistic pups. We love visits from Alexis and Denny because they always bring plenty of Vihno Verde and beer.


Back in the Spring, I wrote something about the plans for the summer being ‘Ride bikes in cool places with good friends.’ I think we nailed it.


We went for what turned out to be longer than planned lap around the Klondike Trails, with several new-to-us trails in the link-up. Moab really does have a ridiculous amount of riding to be had.


Given that the next day was a Saturday, we decided to go for the full Moab experience. Slickrock practice loop, up Sand Flats Road to LPS, LPS and Porcupine Rim, and then on to Milt’s for burgers and malts.

Wow. Just wow. Sometimes  feel like I have to check in with mountain bike culture to see how badly I’ve been left behind. I clearly have not kept up with fashion trends, brah-speak, and the tendency to race down a trail without stopping to enjoy the view.

And you know what? I’m okay with that.


I’d say that the general consensus the following morning was Tired. We started calling ourselves the Exaggerated Groans Club, as each time we started going again or had to power up a hill, noises of complaint could be heard.


We kept it short and in the backyard, which allowed us plenty of time to relax afterwards before Alexis and Denny had to head back to Logan. What a fantastic long weekend.


Back the day before the Ouray 50 this summer, while watching the 100-mile runners futz and get ready to start, I sat down next to a random woman on a bench and started talking to her. As it turned out, it was Melissa from Moab, who I’d been instructed to get ahold of in the spring to go running. Being intimidated, I hadn’t. And now, as luck would have it, I was talking to her. She firmly schooled everyone at Ouray, and I was looking forward to getting a chance to go running with her in Moab.


She and YoDeanHill took us on one of their backyard loops. There was scrambling, and fin running, and butt sliding. It was one of the best mornings of Moabing that I’ve ever done. There are people who’ve lived in an area forever and still don’t know anything outside of their routine (this was exceptionally prevalent in Montana during the CDT), and then there are people who take the time to explore all sorts of little nooks and crannies near their home. We were pretty lucky to get to follow along.


Pete wanted to ride that night and had offered to cook us dinner afterwards. We all brought lights with the hope that we’d only have to do the final few miles in the dark. img_7520

That’s a pretty good joke right? Scott, Pete, and Ez go for an evening ride with the hope of getting back at a reasonable hour…it brought flashbacks from the 24-Hours in Moab back in 2009 of riding in the sand in the dark and feeling completely out of control.


The next day, we did nothing. Well, we worked, and we ate, and we even pulled Scott’s bike out of the van to ride over to the bathrooms, but we needed a break. We’d almost made it two weeks without a day off.


I talked Melissa into another run the following morning. She had afternoon work, so we had to go early. As in, set an alarm early. Get out of the Scamp before the sun breaks the horizon early. The days are getting short! I guess in the end it was good. We were done in time for me to get an honest morning of work in.


And that was after digging out the last of the potatoes from Melissa’s garden. They were soon made into Cheesy Potatoes and Veggies and Breakfast Burritos. Someday, I’ll settle down and have a garden of my own. There’s a part of me looking forward to it…but that time is not yet.


Scott wanted to ride a lap of Bar M on the way home that evening. So we did. Our time was running out. We were saying our goodbyes.


With travel plans decided on for movement towards the Big Ditch, we had one more day to spend among the red rocks. In the interest of energy and my legs, we went wandering on some lesser known trails in the area that were labeled Beginner. We found giant slickrock playgrounds that were devoid of humans, sandy trails, and big views into corners of the area that I didn’t even know existed.


I was heartbroken at the thought of leaving. Sitting around camp that night, we played our ‘Gun is to your head, you have to setting down in one spot year-round. Tucson or xxxx?’ game. With every other place, except for sometimes Salida, Tucson wins. But this time, watching the last of the light fade on the La Sals and the purple hues lighting up the western horizon fade to black, we could make as strong of a case for Moab as we could for the Sonoran Desert. And thats saying a lot.

For now, we’ll keep being nomads. We’ll keep seeing friends as often and in as amazing of places as possible.  And, most likely, we’ll continue the Spring and Fall pilgrimages to Moab and enjoy every day that we have there.


One thought on “Two weeks in Moab: GO!

  1. Glad you had fun Ez. I was in Moab for the same two weeks! Great minds I guess. 😉 I saw a few Scampers and thought of you guys. Such great riding!

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