There is something entirely obligatory about mountain biking in Moab. That is, the environment itself – the sandstone fins, the rock ledges, and the smooth waves of the ongoing redrock sea have all nearly become cliche in their over saturated appearances in every cycling magazine and website in existence. In fact, I was sorely tempted to ride elsewhere over the weekend rather than once again ride the familiar, rocky trails of mountain biking’s sacred Mecca. And yet, and not surprisingly, those hesitant feelings, and that urge to explore new terrain gave way to that iconic joy of Moab.
I may have even cracked a smile on Porcupine Rim, that old nemesis and traitor. It would seem that when I voice my dislike of that trail to other mountain bike riders there is a quick and uncomfortable hush that falls over them before they nervously laugh off my blasphemous incantation as merely the utterings of a conversationalist looking to stir the pot. But really, the truth is, there are other trails I would much rather ride than that jackhammer descent. Although I will admit, that when I rode the trail on Friday, it was the first time in my life that I made it from top to bottom without a painful crash. A moral victory, perhaps? But despite all that, I rather enjoyed the ride.
But like so much of what Moab has become, Porcupine Rim seems to me, rather obligatory.
That is not to say that I still do not gaze out off of that rim, or any of the others surrounding the town without emotion and without a feeling of smallness (of myself) and magnitude (of my surroundings). Moab is after all, still Moab.
Although I do have to ask, is there a more out of place trail for a cross-country rider than Porcupine Rim? The free-riders in their baggies and on 8 inch travel bikes seemed much more at ease gliding through the rocks and the ledges. And although none of them actually said anything, as they passed me by I was certain I could hear their thoughts – mocking, laughing – “nice spandex, dork.” Never mind my ability to out climb them, they were the kings on that trail, and they knew it. What good is climbing ability on a narrow, terrifying singletrack high above the Colorado River?
Well. The weekend was a rousing success. Despite my snarky mood right now, and my hesitation leading up to the trip. Riding with good friends in a unique and beautiful world is always worth the effort.
Even if it does feel, at times, rather obligatory.