MOAB is for Mountain (Or Awful) Biking

IMG_7210before i begin, it is necessary to explain the title. moab has excellent mountain biking and a plethora of trails winding in and out of the brillant red canyons, pastel-colored hills, and the la sal mountains. the place is gorgeous. …it’s just that mountain biking and i are not yet familiarized with each other’s ticks and grooves. in other words, one day i’ll try again and (hopefully) have blazing tales of success and thrill- but here’s what happened this time:

our incredible hosts gave us a handy pocket-sized book designed to lead even the most befuddled of visitors to the prime mountain biking areas. we, being among the most befuddled, managed to get wildly lost when instructed to “bear right at the fork.” was is this fork? or was it the fork back there? we were never entirely sure, so after luis’ literal translation of how the road should lead “up” to a parking area, we found the nearest lump, drove atop it, and parked the car. step one: semi-success.

after warming our frozen fingers several times, we finally managed to dislodge the two bicycles from the rack (i have a fear of flying bicycles in traffic, so i tied them securely, believe you me). i then set to the task of lowering the seat one of of the bicycles. my options included the following: a hand-me-down solid trek bike designed to be a hybrid (meaning skinny tires, but with a certain level of grip and stability-ish) or a loaner mountain bike from a friend of ours who warned that the brakes weren’t exactly in top-notch form. he did not exaggerate. with a death grip on both back and front brake, you could expect to stop eventually- assuming you don’t hit the pothole/puddle/cliff before that moment.

after examining the seat posts carefully, i chose the latter bike. i might die from lack of stopping, but i least i’ll be able to start moving in the first place.

and then we were off…to somewhere. we decided to give this “mountain biking thing” an inaugural whirl by first heading down the steep and rocky hill that we had just surfaced in the car moments before. the way down was okay, the way up was not. turns out, a seasoned jogger (as i’d like to think of myself) does not magically become a wildly awesome mountain biker simply by tapping the pedal. i was cranking and getting nowhere very slowly. when i finally meandered my way to the top, panting all the while, we began to seriously face the reality that this may be more than we bargained for. step two: questionable success.

but we opted to go for it. after all, we were in moab and that place is famous for mountain biking (plus we had hiked the previous day and were going to rock climb the next day, so this was part of the trifecta). the second go-round was better; we started down the other side of the hill and had a merry time dodging various rock-shaped obstacles and avoiding sand traps…all the while still technically riding on the road, mind you. step three: personal success.

and after twenty minutes or so, we came upon it- the trailhead we had been searching for all along. apparently the best way for us to find something is to stop looking for it and just start going. feeling ready, we hopped back onto our unsteady steeds and jostled past the marker, only to find a trail of ice and snow and snow-covered ice as far as we could see. step four: so-close-and-yet-so-far to a success.


so as any good people do, we turned back, returned to the car, and ate a well-deserved lunch on a nearby bluff. step five: definitely a success.

all in all, not too shabby. sure, we never actually got on a trail this time, but i have high hopes for the future. like most things, it takes time…and in this case, better bikes and a sense of direction as well. so basically i highly recommend moab for all mountain biking lovers because if i had such a time on just a backcountry road, just imagine how great the planned routes must be.

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