Moab 2002 with Church of the Knobby Tyre

Saturday April 13th through Sunday April 21st

These pages have been updated in February 2010, with the text expanded somewhat.

This trip was so fundamental for me, I could not let it whither in the sad state that it was.

This was my first MTB road trip, which Thom, MrMike and Winston of COKT invited me along to. It was risky on their part as I'd only been riding with them since late in the fall of 2001. I know at least one person who we road-tripped out of from Austin in the company of, who upon meeting me the morning of the 13th thought to themselves "Who the hell is this fat guy and why is he coming along on my vacation?"

Thankfully, by the end of the week this person had no reservations, and in time became one of my absolutely dearest friends and who shared the above thought with me years after the fact!

This trip was a turnpoint for me, cycling wise. I went from someone who was basically an Enthusiast to someone who is a Complete Friggin Obsessive Nut Job as far as mountain biking goes. Thanks gang!

Going into this trip I was still in my XC-MTB phase as I was when we moved from Maryland to Texas. I was still riding my Cannondale hard-tail MTB with the "plush" two inches of fork travel, and the frame supported using as wide a tire as 2.1 inches easily. For those who don't understand this is a joke, in the context of heading to Moab.

At this point I still believe that 3-4" ( that's inch ) rock and log obstacles were big obstacles. While a friend nick-named Huckleberry had introduced me to some of the back-trails in my home territory and I did enjoy them, I was not wholly converted to technical mountain biking as of yet.

Moab, as I had been advised, could be rough and bumpy. Most people would go there and immediately change to a full-suspension bicycle with larger tires to better accomodate the very rock-based trail tread. The rock is also largely sandstone based (for those who don't understand, think 80-grit sandpaper bonded to the planet), so it provides pretty much ideal traction for mountain bikes ... as long as you are rubber-side down! Add to the fact that you can go for long stretches pointed downhill (after climbing long upward-pointed stretches) and the terrain can become dramatically unforgiving of bike and body. Even at this time it was common to see people on long-travel mountain bikes, sporting 4 or more inches of wheel movement, and huge 2.3 inch wide tires or more - the better to accomodate the rough rock-based terrain.

My bike was never intended to handle more than 2.1 inch tires really, but on the advice of Thom I got 2.25 inch tires to take (Geax Sedona). The front tire wasn't a big problem, the fork handled it easily, but the rear was a different problem altogether. With the wheel true and straight to perfection I had just a few millimeters of clearance on either side of the chainstays, and marginally more on the seat stays. This functioned, but because of the jack-hammering punishment I was giving the bike every day I ended up spending an hour or so truing my rear wheel EVERY DAY after dinner so it wouldn't rub the frame too much during the next day's ride!

While central Texas had dropped the acorn of technical riding to my fertile grounds, Moab added the growth-food and nurtured this into a strong sapling of love for technical mountain biking. This, combined with the incredibly fun payback from miles of climbing that you got miles of descending, all placed in the austere and serene setting that is the geography of the Grande Valley. I found myself willingly and irrevokably hooked.

Uphill. Downhill. Cross hill. Roots. Rocks. Climbing ledges. Descending drops. Obstacles. Natural stone diving boards. Artificial bridges and skinnies. A completely huge broadening of my cycling horizons had happened I craved more!

For me, the only ride that I did not suffer on was the first one on Klondike Bluffs. Starting the second day heading up Sand Flats Road to Porcupine Rim I went into, and stayed inside, what I call exertion debt the entire time. It was literally force of will and a test of desire and motivation merely to get out of bed in the moring and get moving. By the end of the week I was thankful that I needed to sit in a car for two days as I literally did not think I could pedal any more!

Thanks COKT for a great trip. Thanks Glen for putting up with the new slowpoke.

Thanks Honey for sending me on this first trip, I'm not sure you bargained for what you got from this.

-Bear, February, 2010.


Gallery Index

Click on the thumbnail image to go to the page with the image index for that day.
Once in the gallery, click on any thumb-nail image to view the full-size image,
and use the Next and Prev buttons (or the left/right arrows on your keyboard) to navigate through the images.

April 13th and 14th
Travel days
Austin TX to Moab via Gallup NM
with first ride at Klondike Bluffs
15 miles (give or take) out and back

April 17th
Porcupine Rim - Negro Bill Canyon - Jackass Canyon
32 miles or so (?), great big loop from town

April 15th
Behind the Rocks - Prostitute Butte - Pritchett Canyon
20-couple miles, point-2-point

April 18th
Slickrock
15 to 20 miles or so (?), out and back from town

April 16th
Gemeni Bridges - Pritchett Canyon
15 miles or so (?), point-2-point

April 19th
Hurrah Pass - Jackson Hole - Jacob's Ladder - Amasa Back
20 miles or so, loop from the parking lot


Technical Notes

GPS tracks ( recorded with a Garmin 3+ GPSr ) are present for all rides, both as a GPS Interchange (GPX) file and as an Google Earth File.

Note that the original tracks did NOT include elevation data, I have added that by application of the tool TopoFusion so that I could provide ride profiles. The topo maps that I have linked in were also made within TopoFusion.

Fair warning about image quality - all photos taken with an old cheap-o digicam with next to no capacity, only 640x480 size images, and bad pinhole effect so don't expect a lot. Any images you run into that are larger were made by stitching those images together and running through image processing software.

Any image editing that has been done, and image editing done for this updated site, with Paint.NET - a really well done and nice application for Microsoft Windows. It's free for use but if you like it then please contribute (I have!).

Some FOSS code was used to help put this together, their authors deserve recognition.
The LightBox image display script by Lokesh Dhakar is used for the virtual pop-up images, thanks Lokesh!