I have some bad news for those of you who didn’t make it to Moab last
weekend: this had to be the premiere MUNI event in the world for 2003. It
was incredible! What a place. 3000 cheers for Rolf Thompson and all the
other volunteers who put this together. Your hard work really paid off with
a great festival.
If pictures are worth a thousand words, these links should total out at
55,000 word equivalents:
We woke up at 4:45am Friday morning and flew to Salt Lake City by 9:15. We
picked up a rental van plus Carl and Kris at a nearby motel. By chance, Dan
Heaton, Dylan Wallinger & John Childs stayed at the same place after a 16
hour marathon through 3 snowstorms, so we caravanned the 4+ hours to Moab.
That afternoon, we played on the slickrock, marveling at the amazing
sticking power our tires had. It seemed that there was no angle that would
make the tire slip. It was great meeting so many people too. For dinner,
Rolf had reserved the whole back room of the local Chinese restaurant and
about 50 of us enjoyed a fun meal. While most people camped at the beautiful
campsites Rolf had snagged, we decided to rent a cottage with John Foss and
Nick Brazzi, wanting to avoid flying with both unicycles and camping gear.
The place turned out to be great, and I heartily recommend the Desert
Gardens, right in town: www.moabutahlodging.com
Saturday morning we were up early buying food and preparing for the much
anticipated Slickrock Trail. We started riding with maybe 40 people a little
after 9. We ended up splitting into three groups, one doing the full loop
clockwise, another counter-clockwise, and a third playing around on the
Practice Loop which isn’t as long. The ride took 6 hours as expected - 12
miles with 2000’ of climbing. We called it 12 “Moab Miles” as the continual
up and down on solid rock seemed to take much longer here than on trails we
are used to. The scenery was stupendous, the weather perfect, and the
riding…superlative! I just couldn’t believe the angles that were possible,
both up and down. You should’ve seen one of the spots Kris rode down - it
appeared physically impossible, but wasn’t! I think the ideal unicycle for
this terrain would be a 24x3 tire with 180mm cranks for extra leverage. A
brake is very handy. One strange thing on this trail is that it is shared
with not only bikes, but ATVs, jeeps and dirtbikes. It was weird seeing
jeeps and SUVs way out there on steep terrain. But I guess it’s no stranger
than a huge group of unicyclists. MANY photo stops were had, much water was
drunk, John Childs set a CSR (Cliff-side Retrieval) record (his unicycle,
but retrieval by Scot Cooper), Tom Holub tacoed his wheel and repaired it
enough to ride - and also bent a crank, Keith Frankie sprained his ankle in
a crash, but fun was had by all. An truly incredible ride. For me the
highlight was riding with my son Beau - he seemed to get stronger as the day
went on, and in the end I couldn’t even keep up with him. If he’s like this
at 11…I guess I’m doomed.
When we arrived back at the campground around 3:30, the games were just
getting started. Rolf and a large team of helpers had setup many courses on
the Fins ‘n’ Things slickrock trail. They stuck tape markers to show the
courses: idling in a small circle, Obstacle, high jump (min # of hops), long
jump, timed uphill, timed downhill, trials and the amazing Ultimate Wheel
Challenge. The UW challenge and the obstacle course were VERY difficult!
Brian Hansen blew everyone away by completing the whole UW course. Fun was
had by all until 6:30 when it was time to head off to dinner. Actually we
left a little early to take a shower, have a beer, soak in the hottub, etc.
Dinner was at a funny place, the Chuckwagon, a western-style cowboy place.
We had opted out of the cowboy show which was just as well. After dinner, we
had a long awards ceremony. There were so many great prizes donated by
Unicycle.com and many others, that it took hours to give them out. Rolf was
a great host and in the end every single person got something. Thanks Dylan
for donating the Canadian smoked salmon and maple syrup that I scored.
Sunday morning we started a little later, setting up car shuttles and then
driving up to Sand Flats, the start of the famous Porcupine Rim Trail. This
ride goes up 1200’ in 4 miles to a fantastic viewpoint, then heads down 10
more miles to the Colorado River. Only the last mile or two is singletrack,
but the rest has fun rocky sections and is never ever boring. A number of
people went out the 4 miles to the viewpoint then headed back, but over a
dozen completed the whole ride. There were tons of bikers out, the weather
was again perfect, Ed snapped his crank, Beau crashed on his head and
knocked himself out, we watched some OUCH bike crashes, but all in all, this
was another fantastic ride. The singletrack section at the end was
beautiful, traversing high above the river, eventually dropping us down to
the cars with lots of exciting sections. Just as on Saturday, Beau finished
the day stronger than he started, and stronger than most everyone else.
It took a while to shuttle all the people around as some were heading
straight home, some were staying and some were packing for an early start
the next day. But by 7:30 or 8 a group of 15 of us settled down in the Moab
Brewery for a great dinner. I was really kicking myself for not planning to
stay an extra day or two, but I can’t really complain. Our two vans left
Monday morning at 5am and 8am to get people to their various flights from
Salt Lake City. I drove the early “dawn patrol” van and it was so smooth
(only 3 hr 40 min) that we had a chance to see a little of Salt Lake City
before our flight. We toured the Capitol Building, Brigham Young’s Beehive
House, and the Mormon Tabernacle. It was a perfect day and the fact that our
flight ended up being cancelled didn’t even bum us out as we made it home
almost as quickly by flying to San Francisco instead of San Jose. We even
had time for lunch with John and Carl at the airport.
If you didn’t come - take any chance you get to ride these trails and visit
See you next year,
PS THANKS FOR EVERYTHING ROLF! I’ll send you your seat in the mail.
PPS Ok, what you really wanted to know about Utah: “Can you get good beer?”
The answer is yes, but you have to do it at a State Liquor store or a
restaurant that has done their shopping at a State Liquor store. Or a
brewpub. Be prepared to show your ID, even if you’re an old man like me (it