It was nice to escape the desert during fall break and go to the desert. Seriously though, a change of scenery was nice. Moab holds all the things which I miss while in the city of Albuquerque: Silent nights, bright starry skies, and miles of robust trail.
I basically grew up in Moab. My family bought a house down there when I was in the 5th grade. It was the perfect retreat during the cold springs and falls in the mountains. Sometimes my sister and I would get to bring friends on our weekend trips. Mostly though, this was family time.
I have the fondest memories of Klondike Bluffs, the trails where I learned how to ride the technical slickrock Moab is famous for. I remember pushing the limits of my old Giant hardtail to the point where I would lose my derailer more often than not. I remember the struggle our family encountered when trying to get my younger sister out the door and onto a bike. The temper tantrums would end once she realized riding bikes was the only option. Post ride she would always say, “that was pretty fun.” We would bring this statement up during the next temper tantrum but to no avail. My sister Sabina doesn’t mountain bike anymore but she owes her title of “the outdoorsy girl” in the CU Pi Phi chapter (which is a relative statement) to these forced family excursions- or what we used to call “forced family fun.”
I love Moab and I love sharing it with new people. That is what made me so excited about fall break with the University of New Mexico Ski Team, getting to share my second home with my teammates, mostly from Norway of course, like any good ski team. So, what happens when you take three Norwegians to Moab for the first time? They shred so hard, that’s what happens.
Meet Julie Spets and Kornelius Grov both from Trondheim, Norway. Prior to the trip, both had never mountain biked before.
Johan Eirik Meland (our third Norwegian) has some experience on a bike. He boasts this with glossy red Converse high tops, I <3 bikes socks, and copious amount of padding. Little does he know, this actually makes it look like he doesn’t bike. Johan purchased a mountain bike just weeks before our Moab trip. In Moab, he completed his 3rd and 4th rides ever. Here is the progression of Johan’s mountain bike career:
Ride 1: Rides with Alpine team in Albuquerque. Slowest rider on trail due to him snapchatting the entire ride.
Ride 2: Two-hour ride with Nordic team in Albuquerque. Goes guns blazing around a corner, sees trail disappear before him, squeezes his brakes like a fart in yoga class. Instead of going over the drop on his bike, Johan goes over the drop while simultaneously going over his handlebars, which most certainly added a few more feet to the drop.
Note: Between Ride 2 and 3, he buys an incredible amount of padding. He now looks like a three year old ready to try rollerblading for the first time.
Ride 3: Johan rides the entire Slickrock loop in Moab, hardly gets off bike.
Ride 4: To be discussed
For those who mountain bike or even road ride- imagine your first couple rides ever. It was probably a mellow trail ride or an hour town loop. We didn't give those kinds of opportunities to anyone. Julie, Kornelius, and Johan rode 45 km’s of technical Moab riding in 4.5 hours- without padded bike shorts, which I feel is important to note.
I’ve been mountain biking my entire life, much of it in Moab. I have spent hours upon those trails. What I’ve learned is even the best mountain bikers struggle with the technical riding.
Kornelius was dropping me on a rental bike with flat pedals and tennis shoes while I was cursing under my breath. When asked if she wanted to turn around and make the ride shorter, Julie smiled and said, “No thank you.” Johan was tight on my wheel and did show weakness saying, "maybe we should slow down a little." I didn't. He didn't either.
Around that same point, our coach proposed an option of splitting into a slower and faster group. We all looked around confused. Who was in the slower group? My girlfriend Brenna later revealed to me, “I realized I might be in the slow group.” Brenna is a Utah State Champion in mountain biking. So, who belonged in the slow group? The idea was scrapped because the answer was nobody.
The bikes are now in storage, with winter soon approaching. We are skiers, though there are already whisperings. Whisperings of Slickrock, suntans, and the Quesadilla Mobilla. By the end of March, these whisperings will be more like howls.