As the sun was setting on 2021, my good friends Greg and Nikki – people who constantly seek out adventures – invited me on one more trip before cold winter conditions reared their ugly head. In a year that contained a lot of personal firsts, they asked if I wanted to ride the White Rim Road in Moab. This was my first year of backpacking, so most routes were still unfamiliar to me and almost every trail is as exciting as the next. The only thing I knew about the White Rim was that it’s located in Moab – an area that always yields stunning photos. In a world that feels pre-apocalyptic, sometimes a weekend bike ride, with a focus on the shutter button, helps to reset my appreciation for life. Saying goodbye to the shitshow that was 2021, this ride was a time to reflect on what a struggle the year was for me, individually (and for everyone else), and how bikes and photography contributed to keeping me afloat mentally.
Our friends at Topo Designs have a new video series called Beyond Familiar. In this episode, Sarah Sturm takes L. and Sarah Wakeen into the Moab backcountry on a bikepacking trip. Check out photos and more at the Topo Designs Blog and tune in tomorrow, Friday at 12pm MT on the Topo Instagram for a live event.
It’s not long after we’ve packed all eight of our bikes and a weeks worth of gear to be loaded in the Western Slope Rides shuttle van in Moab, Utah, that Robert Warren, our driver, has us all rapt and pinned to our seats.
Bikepacking and climbing. In Moab. The latest 36 Hours in Kitsbow showcases two different sports in an amazing backdrop that is Canyon Country.
You Could Be Bowling
Words and photos by Spencer Dillon
The trip from Salt Lake to Moab isn’t particularly onerous. Just a few hours rolling through coal country, a glimpse of Green River, and the amiable descent into canyon country. But sandstone seems a stronger attractant than US 191 can handle.
On a Thursday afternoon, two lanes of brake-tapping traffic crawl south on 191 for miles towards Arches, well beyond even the boundary of Moab proper. 191 connects Moab with I-70, and, despite its designation as a state route, boasts better pavement than much of Salt Lake. It is the sort of perfect road that only tourists can create, widening out into two lanes just as the going gets scenic so that gawkers may slow down to adequately gawp. It is new and immaculate because the tourist dollars it transports pay those maintenance costs and more. On most days, it is 31 miles of bottleneck – the carotid artery for family minivans, overlanders and $7000-mountain-bike-on-the-roof people coming from all points north, east and west. Everyone wants to go see Delicate Arch and ride the Whole Enchilada.
One of our favorite trails in Moab gets special treatment from Canyon and their new Spectral.
Greg’s Lone Wulf Blaze Bicycles Bikepacking Rig!
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley
Greg Turner the store manager at Bike Fiend and Pierre from Blaze Bicycles really wanted to turn heads at the 2017 NAHBS and by collaborating with local Moab artist Salley Hodges on this bike, I’m pretty sure they did! I personally wasn’t at the 2017 NAHBS, but how could this paint not turn heads!?!
Blazing Trails and Ripping Hardtails with Blaze Bicycles!
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley
Pierre Chastain, the owner and fabricator at Blaze Bicycles, has been building bikes for over 10 years now. I’m not sure if this makes him a veteran or a rookie in this day and age, but I’m leaning towards veteran. Pierre knows what he likes, he also knows what he is good at, and this is how I know he has his shit together. Pierre started building bikes in Venice, California but has since moved to Moab, Utah where he lives and works today. When he first arrived in Utah, he partnered with Chris Hill at Moab Classic Bike. This was the beginning of what would become the Blaze Bicycles empire – I’m not sure it’s an empire, but it sure sounds good! Today Pierre is the sole owner of the bike shop, now branded Bike Fiend, where they concentrate heavily on getting people on these beautiful bikes made in the town they love.
A fun fact about Blaze Bicycles before I continue: Firemen love Blaze Bicycles.
Bike Fiend Moab: Where the Locals get Their Fix!
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley
Moab Classic Bike was started by Chris Hill back in 2012. It began by selling refurbished bikes to Moab residents and certified dirtbag adrenalin junkies like himself. Later, Pierre Chastain, the man behind Blaze Bicycles, would come on board to refine and reimagine the way the bike shop worked and what they would sell, eventually making Moab Classic Bike more of the bike shop it is today. In 2016 Moab Classic Bike would become Bike Fiend, Pierre would take full ownership, concentrating on Blaze Bicycles and the Bikepacking community at large, all while keeping the “dirtbag” vibes alive!
… in Moab on the new TR wheels.
Flashing back a few weeks, when our troop of mountain bikers had our plans of riding Moab’s trails thwarted by the annual Easter Jeep Safari.
While I was in Green River, a few Moab locals had fled the city to escape what they described as endless “bro and jeep” parties, traffic, and in general, a complete implosion of all the local digs. Bummed out, I quickly sussed out our options, before deciding on Klondike Bluffs.
One of the things I’ve learned while spending time on the road is going with your gut. When I found out Easter Jeep Safari conflicted with our time in Utah, I knew we’d have to find camping outside of Moab. A few locals told me that town was mobbed, forcing them to seek refuge in Green River while people from all over the United States arrived in the Jeep mecca to drive the trails and show-off on Potato Salad Hill. I was bummed out, since I had been looking forward to this trip for some time, but figured something new and hopefully better would arise.
That’s when it happened, in a serendipitous way, as it often does. At the Green River Rock and Mineral Festival, we were mistakenly lead to a zone called Klondike Bluffs to rock hound with the group. Turns out, our group was supposed to be rockhounding nearby, but not at the bluffs specifically. While there, I noted what appeared to be an extensive trail network nestled in the rocky outcroppings and rolling hills. This zone backs up against Arches National Park, so it had views as well. Not Moab views, but views nonetheless. There was also free dispersed camping and a pit toilet. We were there on a Saturday morning and it was packed, with mountain bikers of all sorts from families to guys with pads and full face helmets. It seemed that I found our zone.
For being one of the most famous trails in Moab, and even the United States, who would have thought this video would shed new light on it? Nicely done, fellas!
… not enough for a gallery, but they’ve gotta see the light of the display! Enjoy more below.
It’s time to pack up, clean up and drive up to Salt Lake City for NAHBS. Thanks for sharing your ripping trails with us, Moab.
… we’re staying shreddy! Follow along on Instagram.
It doesn’t matter where you go in the American West, you’ll always hear the sayings “if you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes” and “you’ll have four seasons in one ride here!” In Moab that definitely holds true this time of year.
NAHBS is around the corner and a few weeks ago, a text thread circulated from a handful of builders asking if we’d be interested in riding mountain bikes in Moab before the three days of tradeshow engulfed our lives. Of course, I was into that idea, as it never takes too much convincing to ride awesome trails. Rough plans were made and on Sunday morning, we began our journey out to Moab.
After battling 65mph winds on the highway, we were a bit tired from the drive and the following morning, we needed to gather some local reconnaissance on the local trail conditions. I rode Captain Ahab three years ago with SRAM and really wanted to ride it again, but this time on a hardtail. Porcupine was also on our agenda, although a trip to Poison Spider made us change our agenda. The snow and rain had caused a bit of mud to form on that iconic trail, making it off-limits. Coming to Moab and not being able to ride Porcupine is a bummer, but there are plenty of dry trails to ride.
Ahab is named after the rock formation in the background, which looks like a whale.
We grabbed breakfast, kitted up, found a parking spot and took off to ride. Ahab is a blast and the climb up HyMasa is plenty scenic. As per the introduction to this story, we encountered 30mph gusts, snow, hail, sleet and baking hot sunshine, all within the 9-mile loop.
With a good amount of time to kill and our adjacency to some amazing geologic formations, we ended the day soaking in the sunset driving through Arches National Park…