TRIPS: Nothing like it in the world
Thanks to my wife, who surprised me with all of the coordination for this surprise birthday trip! Like Durango, what do you say about Moab that has not already been said? Although much of the high-desert terrain is reminiscent of Glade Run rides in Farmington, N.M., (see the Road Apple Rally), the scenery is unmatched by any ride in the world. Of course, the Slickrock Trail was everything I had anticipated all of these years; clearly the most unique terrain en masse I’ve been on.
However, what made this trip phenomenal was a relatively new bike tour company called Sol Fun. Aside from New Zealand, this was the only time I’d ever used a tour guide to get to know the trails quickly, and it was worth every penny. It wasn’t just about the riding (although my guide Heidi Rentz was a phenomenal athlete and a terrific person overall), but recommendations for the scenic-route drive route from Grand Junction’s airport, accommodations, massage therapists and eateries were all right on target. The bike provided was also perfect for these rides, and convinced me that a Kona Dawg can compensate for poor riding even better than my Prophet already does.
I did a two day tour, which Heidi nicely laid out to both warm me up and see if I’d actually survive Slickrock. Day one was a morning ride at Dead Horse Point State Park (above photo by Heidi), which at one time – long ago – appears to have been a peninsula into the ocean. More recently – still long ago – tourist guides say it was used as a natural corral for wild horses since the sheer cliffs on three sides to the Colorado River below would challenge the resolve of any stallion, I suppose. The afternoon was the Bartlett Wash (right) just north of Moab, and was a great Slickrock primer with tremendous views.
Day two, of course, was the Slickrock Trail, which was completely incredible. Because so much has already been said about this trail, I’ll allow the curious to explore. However, I’ll mention that Heidi was kind enough to talk Acme Bike Shuttle owner and "best downhiller in Moab" Kyle Mears into showing us how to REALLY ride the first 2.5 miles of the trail. A very encouraging young lady, she did a pretty convincing job of allowing us to believe she was actually tired too as we took on the remaining eight miles (apparently there is some debate regarding the distance).
One of the best features of these tours, especially when showing up sans pals, is meeting other riders in the group. We actually only had one other rider each day, but both were terrific. On Day one we had Colin, a 16(and ½)-year-old downhiller from New Hampshire who was ecstatic just to have people to talk to about mountain biking. Day two brought 21-year-old Joe from London, who really just hammered the trail although he hadn’t ridden for two years (not a lot of trails in London). Joe and his dad Roger had also been riding the day before with Sol Fun co-owner Allen Poertner as part of a whirlwind tour of the U.S. for Joe’s 21st birthday.
After the ride, we all had a tremendous dinner at the Desert Bistro (Heidi, Kyle, Allen and Pat Poertner – very genuine people and avid cyclists/guides, Roger, Joe and me) and they even remembered my birthday.
The Adventure Inn; family owned, light continental breakfast, wireless, across the street from the renowned Poison Spider Bicycles and practically next door to the massage therapist. Oh, there’s a Redbox $1 video rental across the street and you can easily walk back to motel from downtown if your overload with liquid-based carbs.
Here are the facts (and recommendations from Sol Fun):
> Food & Beverage: The Moab Brewery (great beer an great, moderately priced food); Pasta Jays (great, covered outdoor dining, moderately priced – try the dinner salad with gorgonzola and the Alfredo Williams); Desert Bistro (beautiful outdoor, evening dining, higher-end price range, terrific menu items include elk, antelope, seafood, duck and rabbit).
> Thrift Store: For the best price in town for the gear you forgot, visit the Wabisabi Thriftique at 411 Locust Lane.
> Massage: Check out Felix Tatarovich Massage on the north end of town, just a few doors down from the Adventure Inn.
Almost forgot: Either get to Moab early or get out after a ride to see Arches National Monument just two miles north of Moab – you won’t be disappointed! The first photo below is the "Delicate Arch," which is beautiful to hike to for sunset, and the second is known as "Park Avenue" (no, I didn’t steal their photo; I actually only looked at their website as I wrote this) .