Just Desert: Moab


Words and photos by Dave Anderson


“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” ― Edward Abbey

I’d been lucky enough to visit Moab as part of an extended stay, ten days added to the end of a press trip to try to justify the time spent on planes just getting there. Ten days in the desert that changed my view of this place from ‘overrated lazy bucket list addition’ to somewhere unique and worthy of another visit.

It seemed inevitable I’d need to share it on a return visit, an opportunity to ride the trails through a new set of eyes. The chance to ride the trails again this time less distracted by the beauty of the landscape that they’re part of, yet still be immersed in the sense of space.

The constant flow of shuttles heading up to deposit riders at the start of The Whole Enchilada or Porcupine Rim are testament to the quality of the riding that’s on offer here. A trail that encompasses everything from high alpine to desert singletrack as it drops to the Colorado River, and a ride it’s easy to keep repeating without ever getting bored. First time down with all the stops to take in the views, then more runs to link it all together, before finally riding it non stop top to bottom.

Enough riding to keep you busy for days, bikes slowly building a dust patina. Long rides under a hot sun that leave limbs weary, skin weathered and salt encrusted. Trails that cruise through pinyon pine and scrub, trails that follow a packed down line through desert sand, and trails that cling to canyon walls, all mixed together kilometre after perfect kilometre.

The old jeep and moto trails that put the town on the mtb map have been supplemented in recent years by more modern purpose built offerings. Captain Ahab’s is a trail built sensitively into the surrounding landscape, blending perfectly into the desert scenery that it’s built from. A new trail with an enduro focus, and exposure aplenty as it drops along the walls of side canyons. Exposure providing another angle in the mind game that plays out with each drop off and roll in.

The rock provides all the traction you need to be able to commit, to point down inclines that look too steep to be rideable. A confidence to attempt climbs and drops that would be unrideable anywhere else, the seemingly endless friction allowing more grip than seems possible.

A vast playground where the riding on offer is complemented by a landscape with its own unique attraction.

Even in the rain there is a beauty here…

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