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  1. #1
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    Utah Bike Trip

    Hey guys, I'm looking at a possible trip to Utah to do some riding in Moab and Hurricane. If it does happen, it will be a road trip during the last 2 weeks in September. The trails on my list are Slickrock Trail (Moab), Porcupine Rim (Moab), Gooseberry Mesa (Hurricane), Goulds Rim + JEM + Hurricane Rim (Hurricane) and if time permits I'm open to other suggestions.

    I was wondering if any of you have been and what kind of advice you might have (anything from equipment, to lodging, to travel tips, or any other experiences).

    Also, I know the views will not compare, but what trails in southern Ontario are comparable technically?

    Thanks,
    M.

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    Re: Porcupine Rim, do The Whole Enchilada. Poison Spider bike shop (and others, but that's who we used) will shuttle you up, and it is well worth it since it makes for a really long day if you have to shuttle yourself. The extra trails (Burro Pass, Hazard County etc) really add to the ride, and will take you through a whole different set of terrains and climates. I've done this twice in mid-October and while we did run into some flurries and ice at the high elevations everything was rideable, but even in late September you could run into snow or bad weather up high. We rented a house at Coyote Run on the south side of Moab on the golf course. Highly recommended.

  3. #3
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    Fruita is about an hour away from Moab so you should hit up some of the trails in that area too.

    FYI: There are a couple of trails that have dinosaur tracks in the stone that are easy and would make good rest day rides if you take any days off. I can't remember how we found them, but they were in a guide book or information packet. They're outside of town and that's all I know.

    There is also good climbing in the area.

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    What Braids said. Riding in Fruita is amazing. You're so close, it seems wrong to not plan to hit some trails there! When we went we spent more time riding in Fruita than we Did at Moab. 18rd and Loma (Fruita) are a blast. Only an hour jaunt in a rental car up Route 128.

    In Moab we did Slickrock and Porcupine Rim. Procupine Rim I could see being shuttleable, but also rideable depending on how much sustained climbing on fire roads that you want to do.

    Can't comment too much on accommodations, we went camping at Colorado River State Park in Fruita and drove everywhere with a rental van for most of the week. When we weren't there we did the Bikerpelli sports supported ride of the Kokopelli Trail.

    Buy some good quality Fruita/Moab maps. They are handy and you can link up tons of trails in both areas.
    http://www.bikerpelli.com/Kokopelli_Trail/guidebook.php

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    Amasa back is a great ride in moab also.
    +1 for Fruita
    The ribbon trail and holy cross trail in fruita are great.
    horse thief bench trail in grand junction is worth a visit.
    We rented a house between 9 of us. Well worth it and a reasonable price.
    some one else looked after finding it and booking so no more details.
    we took our own bikes and rented a couple of trucks to haul every thing around.
    Chili pepper bike shop in moab is also agreat place for shuttles and service.
    Miguels baja grill for the MOAB ( Mother Of All Buritos).

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    Fruita is not to be missed - google Zippety Do Dah, Joe's Ridge, Prime Cut - all one system just outside of town.

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    I have done all of that stuff! The first time with Sacred Rides and the second time self supported.

    Unmissable rides:

    Fruita: Zippety and the other trails in that area
    Hurricane: JEM, Gooseberry, Bear Claw
    Moab: Slickrock, Porcupine <-- do the Whole Enchilada, mindblowing

    You should also absolutely do Thunder Mountain if you possibly can.

    Okay, here are some videos for ya. Shoot me a PM if you want to ask questions.

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/16780705?byline=0&amp;portrait=0" width="400" height="225" frameborder="0"></iframe>

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/16109999?byline=0&amp;portrait=0" width="400" height="225" frameborder="0"></iframe>

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/16042225?byline=0&amp;portrait=0" width="400" height="225" frameborder="0"></iframe>

    <iframe title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/nSmGuX8UhX4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    <iframe title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/9QwLroAzsgw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    <iframe title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/6sVePjOwzHA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    <iframe title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/mfUsRfLuLcQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    <iframe title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/DaxBB1x5z10" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    <iframe title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/1BOmnCnsmBY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

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    There is not much to compare in Southern Ontario but if you can ride 3-Stage and Buckwallow you can ride this. The biggest differences are exposure, heat and the length of some of the rides (the Whole Enchilada is a full day).
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

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    I'm going to be the lone heretic here, but I'm going to say that I think Slickrock is missable. I would much rather spend the time riding in Fruita or doing the Rim AGAIN then ride Slickrock. Porc Rim is a so much fun and should not be missed! Slickrock can also be very busy and is frustrating for that reason. Poison Spider offers similar riding, better views, is less busy, and a "funner" descent but you have to deal with jeeps sometimes.

    You have to do The Ribbon outside of Grand Junction.It's basically a one minute decent on a flat rock face that leads to some nice Fruita style riding.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgKuwC0j9EQ

    Can you imbed youtube here?

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    I think you have to ride Slickrock once. It's really unlike anything else. You might love it or hate it (I absolutely love it) but I do think it's unique and it would be weird to go to Moab and not ride it. It is best ridden early or late in the day, and absolutely not at weekends.

    If you can avoid Moab at the weekend altogether, that would be the best thing. Fruita and Hurricane at the weekends in September are fine.
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

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    Good info guys ... thanks!

    I'm also curious about the duration of these rides given average fitness and no major issues along the way.

    Hydration wise ... how much water/fluid would you start with on one of these rides?

    Pinky, I've ridden Buckwallow and loved it (less #2 and #15 because they were a lot of work). Never been to 3 Stage, but I went to Santa's Village (Porcupine Ridge) ... technically it was fine, but the flow was very poor and I took more brakes than I usually like/have to.

    Any other local trails comparable on a technical level? My typical rides are Hydrocut, Kelso, Guelph Lake, Albion Hills, Bronte Creek, Buckwallow, Hardwood Hills and Blue Mountain.

    Thanks.

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    The upper section of the Whole Enchilada is comparable to the blue runs at Blue, sort of Super-D but a lot of fun. Fruita is mostly flowy singletrack with a few technical features and exposure here and there, and one or two real ball breakers. Hurricane is a real mix, and Moab is most like the rocky parts of Buckwallow, only times 1000.

    Some of Lunch Loops in Fruita is tricky, but none of it is terrifying.

    The Whole Enchilada throws every conceivable technical challenge at you -- steep, rocky, exposure, endurance, speed, tight and twisty... and the final part of Porcupine Rim is pretty scary the first time you do it because of the exposure, but again there is really nothing you can't get off and walk.

    Ontarians I've ridden with had no problem at all in Utah or Colorado.

    Re hydration it depends on the length of the ride but I always take a full 100 Oz bladder and for the Whole Enchilada I took two of them. It's not just yourself you have to think about -- you are quite likely to run into someone who is out of water at some point. It's also crucial to look after your electrolytes or you are going to cramp horribly. I used e-Load at standard dilution and was fine.
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGiv'er
    Hey guys, I'm looking at a possible trip to Utah to do some riding in Moab and Hurricane. If it does happen, it will be a road trip during the last 2 weeks in September. The trails on my list are Slickrock Trail (Moab), Porcupine Rim (Moab), Gooseberry Mesa (Hurricane), Goulds Rim + JEM + Hurricane Rim (Hurricane) and if time permits I'm open to other suggestions.

    I was wondering if any of you have been and what kind of advice you might have (anything from equipment, to lodging, to travel tips, or any other experiences).

    Also, I know the views will not compare, but what trails in southern Ontario are comparable technically?

    Thanks,
    M.

    I'll chime in for the Hurricane/St George portion of your trip.

    The weather can still be a bit warm in the latter half of September. Of course, this year has been strange so far so who knows what late summer early fall will bring, That is our dry season and historically great riding weather.

    Gooseberry is great and you can spend two days up there doing everything. Little Creek Mesa is a lot of fun as well and is the sister mesa to Gooseberry.

    If you can work it in, that time of year is prime Thunder Mtn time up towards Bryce Canyon.

    As far as tech.. we have mild to pretty challenging, depending on your mood.
    Monte
    Lodging & Guiding for SW Utah Trails
    http://www.vrbo.com/298759
    www.UtahMountainBikingAdventures.com
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    One thing to bear in mind is that if you want to hit Fruita, Moab and Hurricane, that's a lot of driving. One year I did Vegas-Hurricane-Thunder Mountain-Moab-Vegas and last year we did Denver-Fruita-Moab-Denver. I guess you could do Vegas-Hurricane-Moab-Fruita-Denver if you could sort out the flights and car rental. We ended up in an RV which was an *excellent* solution FWIW. Camping in the desert in Moab is mindblowing, and in Fruita you can park right at the trailhead by Zippety etc.
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

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    (The last three videos in my post above are Thunder Mountain. The two best rides I've done in my life are Thunder Mountain and the Whole Enchilada, so I'd also encourage you to hit TM. The WE is a shuttle from Chili's bike store in Moab. I have video of it -- maybe I'll edit it together today).
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

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    This post inspired me to get off, or rather on, my ass, and edit together some more helmetcam. Here's the first section, 15-20% I'd guess, of the Whole Enchilada. Starts at 10,500', then a puke of a climb to 11,200', then a Super-D descent (a lot trickier than it looks) and then a gobsmacking blast through the aspens to Warner Lake. Will post some more when I do it.

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/22499213?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0"></iframe>
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

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    Thanks guys ... I'm starting to get all antsy now! It looks like it should be some good times.

    Pinky ... finally got the time to sit thru those vids ... very nice! Are you the one filming? What kind of camera are you using? I think I may have to invest in one.

    The exposure on JEM seems quite intense, or is it just the camera making it look that way? From what I've seen I think I will stick to my original 4 trails, but I will definitely try adding Zippity-Do-Da and Thunder Mountain.

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    There is about a mile of exposure on JEM. It is pretty much what it looks like on the video. It's about a 30-50 foot cliff into a riverbed but the riding is not very technical. I am terrified of heights and it definitely gave me sweaty palms, and I had to slow down, but I didn't end up walking any of it.

    The exposure on Porcupine Rim is much more radical. It's a 600' drop to the Colorado river and the riding is more technical -- MUCH more technical in places. I have a friend who rode all of it except one section, but it was completely beyond me.

    Yeah, I shot all that stuff. Some of it was shot using a Vio POV 1 but I now use a Contour HD which is much better for this kind of thing. A spare battery and lots of memory cards area must and you have to remember to dump off everything to a laptop and recharge everything at the end of the day, but it's really worth it to be able to remember the rides properly.
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

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    I saw your question about duration above.

    JEM, Bearclaw, Zippity, all about 1-2 hours. You can do loops of Kessel, Prime Cut etc once you have done Zippity, to make a full day of it, stopping at the vehicle to rehydrate.

    Gooseberry, LIttle Creek - 2-3 hours

    Slickrock - 4 hours or more if someone bonks. You will drink a LOT of water, 100oz minimum as it is absolutely relentless cardio.

    Thunder Mountain -- about 3 hours, maybe a bit more

    Whole Enchilada -- This is about a five hour ride if nothing goes wrong, but given the nature of the ride the chances that someone (not necessarily you or anyone in your party) will crash, have a serious technical, get lost, get ill or run out of water are pretty high. We ran into pretty much all of the above, mostly trying to help other folks, but then my friend's suspension snapped thirteen miles from home (TWE will do that to your bike if you ride it fast!) and we had to figure out how to get him riding again. So it turned into a eight-hour marathon for us -- we got the shuttle at 8.30am and rolled in just as it was getting dark. And trust me you do NOT want to be attempting the last leg of Porc Rim in the dark. So you really have to treat TWE with respect, take as many supplies as you can, and leave as early as you can. Hopefully you will get home early with water in your pack, but don't bank on it!

    The good thing about TWE is that there are plenty of riders on it and you get to know them as you descend, since you'll keep passing each other and saying hi. If you run into trouble, unless you're the last group on the trail, someone will probably stop and try to help you.
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

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    [QUOTE=pinkheadedbug]There is about a mile of exposure on JEM. It is pretty much what it looks like on the video. It's about a 30-50 foot cliff into a riverbed but the riding is not very technical. I am terrified of heights and it definitely gave me sweaty palms, and I had to slow down, but I didn't end up walking any of it.

    that would be too much exposure for me
    I would be walking a good part of that.



    [QUOTE=pinkheadedbug]The exposure on Porcupine Rim is much more radical. It's a 600' drop to the Colorado river and the riding is more technical -- MUCH more technical in places. I have a friend who rode all of it except one section, but it was completely beyond me.

    had to walk sections of this when we were down there,
    there were a few in our group that pretty much rode everything or at least attempted it.


    nice vids and good tunes
    watching your vids and the ones Philshep has posted makes me think I need one of those cameras but then people would see how much stuff I can't clean,

  21. #21
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    watching your vids and the ones Philshep has posted makes me think I need one of those cameras but then people would see how much stuff I can't clean


    That's what editing is for!
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

  22. #22
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    If you do TWE or part of and finish at the parking lot at the end of porcupine it's about a 10k road ride back to town.
    good idea to take your rental vehicles and park them at the end of the trail and get a ride back to town to where you're taking the shuttle to the start.
    chances are it will be late in the day and you probably won't care for a road ride.
    it will cut into your beer time at the Moab brewery.

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    Totally agree about parking at the trailhead. We dropped the RV there in the morning and the cold beers were waiting for us when we got back. Gave a few away to the people we encountered on the way down, had a little party in the parking lot.

    Thanks for the kick in the ass to get my TWE footage edited: here's part 2 from Warner Lake to Kokopelli via Hazard County, including some of the best singletrack I've ever ridden, through aspens and gambrel oak.

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/22524874?byline=0&amp;portrait=0" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0"></iframe>
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

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    Much appreciated guys ... useful stuff ... don't be shy posting more info if you have it.

    Pinky ... thanks for all the details and the videos. Since your trip was quite recent and is probably still fresh in memory, I have a couple more questions for you: If you were to go and do it all over again now, what would you do different/better? Were there things that in retrospect should have been obvious, but you didn't think about them prior to the trip?

    The trip will be 2 guys by car with the bikes on a trailer hitch rack. We're planning on renting cabins at whatever local RV resorts are available. Is mid September a busy time and should we reserve spots in advance? Any other travel advice given our trip plan above? Any theft or safety issues that you might know about? Wheather-wise I understand that time of the year is one of the best ... agree/disagree? Is riding during the afternoon not a good idea that season? If I think of any other silly questions I'll post them.

    Thanks.

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    Mid-Sept is prime Moab season and you will do well to book. The heat will depend on your altitude (you can easily get snow in the mountains at that time of year) but as long as you have water you should be fine.

    Are you taking your own rack? The rental racks are dreadful. We tried to use one on the RV but gave up.

    With two guys I would seriously consider RVing it. The cost is about the same as motels but you have complete freedom to do whatever you want and you don't have the hassle of loading in and out of different places every day or two. You can always park overnight in a Walmart parking lot (the one in Grand Junction is particularly nice!) but you can usually find a spot at one of the first-come first-served places in the desert. Sitting outside with a beer watching the stars after a big ride is just fantastic. The bikes are also a lot safer in the RV than on a bike rack.

    I've done both and the RV was waaaay more fun.

    Safety issues - it's mostly common sense and having all the tools and spares you need. We had to rebuild suspension on one bike on the trail, and I had to totally retension a wheel. We also had a Maxle fail on us. Utah is very, very hard on bikes and although Moab has lots of bike stores, Hurrican and Fruita/GJ are much more limited.

    Strongly strongly recommend getting known-good GPS trails of everything. Even a GPS track which is three years out of date can seriously **** you up. We narrowly averted a disaster at Lunch Loops when we realized a trail had been rerouted from what was shown on our GPS.

    It is really worth riding with locals in some places. For example, we rode Moore Fun/Mary's Loop the wrong direction and it was totally miserable. If we'd ridden it the other way apparently it would have been a lot of fun.

    Slickrock is more fun the 'easy' way. We rode it the hard way the second time and it didn't have anywhere near the same flow.

    Give yourselves some rest days, especially after The Whole Enchilada. We rode every day but ended getting up sick as a result -- our bodies were just too stressed.

    If you do the RV thing it is worth sending one of you out a day early to get it all set up. Otherwise you waste your first day sorting out all the paperwork as the RV places only deal with pick ups in the afternoons (unless you really really bully them).

    Bikes -- fly Air Canada if you can and if you don't, make sure you are aware of the airline charges. DO NOT try to ship your bikes by UPS -- we did that with a bike on the way back and it was every kind of disaster you can imagine.
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

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    And here's Part 3 of the Whole Enchilada.

    This is the Upper Porcupine Singletrack (UPS) and Lower Porcupine Singletrack (LPS) section. It is a mix of sandy singletrack and technical slickrock. By this point in the ride you are really starting to feel it, and we deliberately slowed down because we knew how demanding the last section would be (we'd ridden it before). There's a ton of exposure as you wind along the canyon rim and although none of it is obviously life-threatening, I scared the pants off myself by washing out my front wheel on one of the cliff sections.

    This section dumps you out at a spectacular lookout, but there's still another 13 miles of trail ahead of you, and none of it is anything you want to ride tired.

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/22622772?byline=0&amp;portrait=0" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0"></iframe>
    Last edited by pinkheadedbug; 04-19-2011 at 02:38 PM.
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

  27. #27
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    Pffft... RV schmarRV!

    This is how a proper 2-man MTB road trip is done:





    On R-compounds no less!



    In all seriousness, while I understand the advantages and appeal to taking an RV, it ain't for everyone. There are some good roads around there that scream for something a little more nimble.

    To expand on the airline comment... If travelling Air Canada with bikes make sure all flights are operated by AC and not code shared United - they WILL rape you. As an alternative, decent rental bikes are available, but will need to be booked in advance. Personally I'd always rather have my own though.

    In the couple of trips my crew has done down there we've had very few mechanical issues, but one year we had a ton of flats for some reason. Make sure you are well supplied.

    Moab town is at 4000'. All the riding you will do is above that, sometimes significantly (TWE!). Coming from ON, I find this really hurts me for the first couple of days, particularly when I'm riding with guys who live in CO that live at 5000' and ride at ~12000' on a weekly basis.
    Last edited by jduffett; 04-20-2011 at 05:54 AM.

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    Yep, the altitude can be a killer for flatlanders like us. Humbling.

    We lost a rider to altitude sickness a couple of years ago so it is something to watch out for. We were riding Bryan Head which starts at about 10,000' (TWE gets up to 11,200'). Like TWE it starts with a climb. One of our party started going green at the top and could hardly make it down. We drove to Moab and in the middle of lunch he fainted into his soup (I caught his head on the way down). We had to take him to the hospital and that was pretty much the end of his trip. (He had a bug already but the altitude finished him off).
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

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    PS Driving an RV is plenty exciting on those twisty little roads, like the back way from Fruita to Moab...
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

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    PPS the Brian Head / Bunker Creek trail is well worth thinking about if you can fit it in. It's between Hurricane and Moab, more or less.

    You start at 9000', then it's a grind of a climb up to 11,300', then there's an absolute balls-to-the-wall 6000' descent to Panguitch lake. It's like a mini Whole Enchilada, except not so rocky. Here's the helmetcam (the descent starts at about 4'00 if you want to skip the climb).

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/4202870?byline=0&amp;portrait=0" width="640" height="486" frameborder="0"></iframe>
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by jduffett
    Pffft... RV schmarRV!

    This is how a proper 2-man MTB road trip is done ...
    Hey jduffett, that's pretty close to what we have in mind, but we'll actually have the bikes on a rack (hitch mounted). You guys are hard core!

    We will likely rent a cabin at one of the local campgrounds and one of the concerns was leaving the bikes in there while exploring the town, or the parks that do not allow bikes. I imagine it should not be any worse than anywhere else, but since a lot of people go biking there, the place may have a bigger target on it than elsewhere.

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    We almost stayed at one of the RV places in Moab but it was too sketchy even for us. We did stay at one of the motels in a previous trip and it was fine, but boring.
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkheadedbug
    We almost stayed at one of the RV places in Moab but it was too sketchy even for us.
    Hmmm ... sketchy in which way? Do you remember which RV place, or are they all about the same?

    We were thinking a cabin rental would be closer to nature and will also keep the cost down (but not if we pay the price with our bikes).

  34. #34
    Out there
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    Sketchy in the full-of-lowlife way.

    Moab is as much a jeep and dirtbike town as it is an MTB town and there is definitely a redneck component there who are not necessarily the greatest neighbors. I'm sure most of them are totally fine but we just got a bad feeling about some of the characters who were mooching around.

    It just seems a shame to stay in one of those places where everyone is crammed together next to the highway when there are places like Arches National Park close by that are some of the most beautiful places on God's green earth to camp out under the stars.

    Arches at dawn is just amazing by the way.
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

  35. #35
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    Dang! ... I actually prefer taking a tent and camping, but I thought a cabin would provide more security if we were to leave the bikes for a stretch of time.

    Do campgrounds like Arches NP have any secure areas to lock up bikes?

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkheadedbug
    It just seems a shame to stay in one of those places where everyone is crammed together next to the highway when there are places like Arches National Park close by that are some of the most beautiful places on God's green earth to camp out under the stars.
    This X999999999999999999999999. Sleeping out in the middle of the desert is something everyone should do.

  37. #37
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    Rent a mini van, safer for the bikes. Or even better, an SUV.

  38. #38
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    The campsites at Arches and elsewhere in the desert are hyper-minimal. A fire pit and a picnic table if you're really lucky. Nowhere to lock a bike. The minivan, RV or SUV is a better idea.
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

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