Think spaghetti Western, think Clint Eastwood, think amazing desert landscape, then saddle up and head off for the distant horizon! But I am not talking about a cowboy's best friend as a means of transport, instead imagine a sleek shiny Mountain Bike, full suspension cross country steed, and you are nearer the mark.
Moab in Utah, in the good old United States, is without doubt a mountain bike mecca. Having heard 'riders' talk about Moab in hushed, awe struck tones for many years I finally took myself across the Pond and headed for the desert. Moab is a 'one horse' town in the desert, near Arches National Park, which appears to have been taken over by the mountain biking community.
Why? It's simply the best riding around, and with 100 km's of trails to go at there is enough for everyone, and then some. I was worried that my 'basic' level of riding would be insufficient to enjoy the trails, but no way! Riding all day, every day I quickly became used to the rocks, and dry trails of the desert. It is world famous for Slick Rock, the name of one of the 9 mile long loops on the outskirts of Moab town. The rock is petrified sand dunes, and it grips like a grippy thing, so although the name Slick Rock might suggest you will be sliding down it, it does in fact stick to your tyres, provided you keep your 'behind' well behind the saddle on descents.
Porcupine Rim is the other world famous ride in Moab, taking an incredible line along the 'rim' of the canyons, and companies like Rim Tours offer a guiding service if you want a shuttle to the start of the ride, and a local expert to introduce you to the area. In fact many rides in both Moab, and the other mountain bike mecca of Fruita, Colorado, are called 'rim' something or other as the most stunning lines are often along the top of the plateau, with the rivers below. For instance, Western Rim, in Fruita is fabulous with incredible views of the Colorado river. Fruita is the new challenger to Moab for the title of best mountain biking destination on the planet! The two venues are only about 80 minutes drive apart and ideal twin destinations, with Fruita the more laid back and unassuming of the two. If in Fruita do check out'Over the Edge' bike shop as the gang there are brilliant for local info on the trails and they provide an excellent service with cracking hire bikes.
But I digress, Porcupine Rim, in Moab, was mind blowing....a roller coaster of a ride with staggering views and rocky technical trails that went on for mile after mile. I don't think I have ever concentrated so much on a ride ever, but it was totalling engaging and a fantastic way to empty your head of nothing but the feeling of the elements and the terrain. The other riders, depsite my poor technique, were friendly, helpful, tolerant and smiley. It was indeed inspirational to chat to a group of women from Alaska who were at least in their late 50's. Apologies girls if you were in fact younger, but you made me think that I had a few more years of learning new tricks and skills on a bike before I had to hang up my 'full suss' friend. In fact the last I saw of you, you were kicking ass and I was eating your dirt!
Eight days of riding and it was time for a break and a bit of 'tourist action', so off I set for Arches National Park, and an afternoon of more 'awesome-ness'. A totally staggering desert rock-landscape of massive red sandstone walls, and towers, and yet again I felt like I had fallen into a 'cowboy' movie. If you make it to Moab do take time to visit the Park, it is absolutely worth the experience.
So in short, if you fancy the mountain bike ride of a lifetime, get yourself across the 'Pond', head for Fruita, Colorado, then drive another 80 minutes south to Moab, Utah, and get onto those trails. If you fly into Denver, then on the way back north, take time to ride at Gunnison, near Crested Butte, for some mega swooping dirt trails. I had the pleasure of riding with Arnold Schwarzenegger's ski instructor, Todd, who referred to the swoops as 'whoopity doo da's' which about summed it up. I wonder if he gets Arnie to 'whoopity doo da' occasionally! Lindsay :-)