While I’m a mountain girl at heart, there is a challenge to the desert that does wonders for my head and burns the hell out of my quads.
The summer I learned to mountain bike, I was taken to Moab by my best friend at the time, and he introduced me to mountain biking there in a way only he could.
Drive out from Colorado, stop in Fruita to ride Mary’s and Horsethief loop – one of the best singletrack trails EVER. Back in the car for the hour or so drive into Moab. Eat en route, park at a trailhead to ride Gold Bar Rim – one of Moab’s more challenging rides on wide slabs of slickrock, with big ledges and places to play (or crash, making your requisite offering of blood to the Moab rock gods).
Eat. Eat. Hydrate. Eat some more.
Set up camp off the side of the road somewhere. Go to bed. Wake up.
Ride Amasa Back (still my all time favorite Moab ride). Eat, hydrate, treat sunburn.
Pack gear, tools, food, and extra water. Recheck. Go to bed early so you can be ready to wake up at 5:30am and begin a one day, unsupported ride of the White Rim.
Oh – and no gears allowed – we ride hardtail singlespeeds – and yes, I think we may be a bit touched in the head.
Ride White Rim without stopping, eating GU and powerbars in the saddle, and 9 hours later get back to the car – guzzle Gatorade like its replacing your soul and collapse. Stagger back into town for some ‘real’ food to replace the mush of sport gels, bars, water, and the peanut butter sandwich in your hollow gut.
Go home, recover and plot the next visit.
No rest for the weary. While it was not surprising that my legs were drained of any and all reasonable function for a day or two – my mind was adrenalized and I had some of the best brainstorms the week that followed.
This visit, there was no White Rim – that’s on the books for a visit next month. This visit was more about that blessed challenge of conquering your fear on the rocks, the lactic acid build-up in your legs, and embracing the focus needed to get through these epic rides that empties your mind of the clutter without fail. Let your concentration lapse and chances are you’ll be adding a few shades of purple to your legs or gashing open an elbow. Instead, you live in the moment. You focus on the task at hand, not an hour up the trail, but the rock ledges to navigate RIGHT HERE.
Three or four hours later, mind emptied, legs spent, and stomach screaming for solid food, you sit down, eat the slightly smashed scone shoved into your camelback and the brainstorms start flooding in! The clutter was left behind with the top layer of epidermis on the knarly descent on the rock ledge staircase at the beginning of Amasa Back. In its place is euphoria and confidence – you just kicked your own ass! Now, there is room for your thoughts to bang around a bit and with the newfound space, and confidence in your own skin (what’s left of it), things line up and fresh perspectives sneak in around the edges.
THAT’S why I ride Moab and can’t wait to get my ass back in the seat.