Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day 1 – Moab Utah

Moab is one of those small towns that looks like it would be so much fun to live in. In a downtown that is one long street, there are 5 bike shops, a bunch of adventure tour outfitters, tons of cool little shops and of course, the Moab Brewery.

The funny thing about visiting towns like this when you’re on vacation is that while you’re on vacation, it really is an awesome little town. It’s only when you think of how hard it would be to actually earn a living there that you really begin to realize the sacrifice people must make to follow their dreams.

Other than tourism and its associated industries; retail, restaurants and hospitality, there really is no industry there. Every one we talked to from Jim the owner of RoadRunner shuttles, to our server for dinner seemed to be working at least two and sometimes three and four jobs.

Oh well, the fact of the matter was we WERE on vacation and for us, riding our bikes down main street Saturday morning in search of a place for breakfast followed by having someone at a local bike shop point us in the direction of Slickrock were our only goals that morning.

We decided on the Jailhouse Café for breakfast which I assume was once a jailhouse, but to be honest I was more focused on finding coffee and food than I was on the historical significance of where we ate. Turns out it was a great breakfast and although a little more costly than your local Denny’s, definitely delivered an amazing cup of coffee.

Once our appetites were sated and the caffeine-o-meter showed full, we moved on to our next task….find someone to point us towards Slickrock. We rolled down the street and decided to pull into Chili Pepper Bike Shop. The fact that it was right next to the brewery had absolutely nothing to do with our choice I assure you.

The young lady at Chili Pepper’s was awesome. She greeted us as we walked in the door, spent quite a bit of time with us helping us pick out a ride and offering tons of suggestions and options and showed us on the full size wall map where the best routes would be. It wasn’t until we told her that we were heading out right now, at noon with the weather over 100 degrees that she started to look at us like we might be retarded.

With her words of “make sure you have at least 100 ounces of water with you” in our ears, we headed out in search of what is arguably the most famous mountain bike area in the world. The first part of the ride is through town and then up a road past the city dump and into the park. Even though the road is paved, the heat and the uphill already had me wondering what I had gotten myself into.

This sign only reinforced my misgivings. Did I really want to ride in a place called Hell's Revenge?

Soon enough though, we rounded the corner and the entirety of the Slickrock park spread before us. It was like looking at a masterpiece painted by God himself. For as far as you could see it was red rocks, plateaus, and blue sky.

As we pedaled through the amazing scenery the sheer size and magnitude of the area was humbling. The thought of a bunch of pioneers crossing this in a wooden wagon pulled by oxen with metal clad wheels and not on a multi-geared, suspended, rubber tire clad bicycle was impressive indeed.
The fact that it’s called Slickrock at all is a misnomer. Never have I ridden anywhere that traction was so perfect and grip so inspiring. When the trail turned steep, I just had to stand and pedal never fearing the slippage of the rear tire.

Eventually though, we wound back around to the beginning and seeing as I had indeed gone through almost my full 100 ounces of water we decided to head back to town, get Jerry a new rear tire and pay a visit to the Moab Brewery. (if you’re ever there, the derailleur ale is a must)

Once the pitcher was empty, we picked up Jer’s bike with the fancy new rear tire and decided to explore the town by bike. We followed the river trail as far as we could then cut back through town and headed out in search of the Colorado River.

Turns out it was pretty easy to find a 50 yard wide river in a desert valley and once we did, I convinced Jer and Chris that since we were there we pretty much had to go for a swim. We found a boat launch took off our shoes and shirts and I immediately dove in headfirst….only to realize I wasn’t wearing my contacts but my brand new prescription sunglasses….well, at least I was wearing them when I dove in….

After the swim, we headed back to the motel, spent some quality time with the jaccuzzi and a couple more micro-brews and discussed our dinner options. We settled on a place in the middle of town called Eddie McStiff’s which claimed to have the largest selection of beers in Moab….oh yeah, they had food too…. afterall, it had been hot out today and we needed to replenish our fluids….and tomorrow promised to be another warm one.

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