Moab Mountain Bike Novice Skills Camp May 3-7th, 2011

This year’s Novice Moab mountain bike camp gave new meaning to the words “adventure” and “logistics management”.  Last year at this time I was five months pregnant.  This year I have a very energetic little boy named Emmett.  He came with me to Moab, along with my mom and a car load of cycling gear and baby supplies.  My mom, Ginny, graciously volunteered to be the nanny for the week.  Without her this camp would have never happened.  But it did and we had a fantastic week of riding, weather and good food.

We had six participants in our novice camp this year.  Everyone arrived on Tuesday afternoon to the Tierra del Sol condos off Hwy 191.  We had riders from Washington, San Francisco, Colorado and Iowa.  Great group of people!  Bobby, our Rim Tours guide and mechanic worked on the bikes to get them ready for the first ride while everyone else drank wine and enjoyed appetizers under the warm afternoon Moab sun.  After a yummy dinner and a short meeting to go over the schedule for the upcoming week, it was off to bed.

We woke to a gorgeous sunny day!  What a relief because up until today the weather had been unstable with a lot of rain and even snow up in the La Sals.  After a big breakfast of French Toast we drove downtown and started our day at City Park.  We spent the morning doing skills and drills on the grass and rock features in the park.  It’s a great place to learn and review the core concepts of mountain biking.

My mom brought Emmett to the park for lunch.  I’m still breast feeding so it was great to get to nurse him before heading out on the trails.  After lunch we drove north to the Bar M trail.  This is a fairly easy ride and makes for a good introduction to Moab riding.  Plus it gives everyone a chance to practice the skills we learned in the morning on an actual trail. 

Once we returned to the condos, each guest, including my mom, was treated to a relaxing massage and then late afternoon appetizers.  Dinner  was a yummy Dutch Oven lasagna with chocolate brownies for dessert.  Definitely not a week to try and lose weight.  Matt Hebbard, co-owner of Rim Tours, gave us a trailside bike maintenance talk while dinner was cooking.  And then it was off to bed. 

Our second day started at City Park, with a quick review of yesterday’s skills, and then an introduction to the more advanced techniques necessary for riding safely in Moab.  We had another yummy lunch with Emmett and my mom before driving out to Klondike Bluffs.

Klondike Bluffs is a good intermediate ride and offers a little of everything; slickrock, sand, ledges, drop-offs, and amazing views.  We stopped at anything technical and spent time explaining, demonstrating, and then practicing the challenging moves.   Took videos of everyone trying various things.  Watching video of yourself riding is one of the best ways to learn.  The ride back to the trailhead was all downhill and generated a lot of laughs and big smiles.  The day was a success.

Another delicious dinner, this time prepared by Kirstin, the other co-owner of Rim Tours.  It was Mexican night with slow roasted pork, black beans, guacamole, salsa, and salad.  Tonight was movie night!  I showed everyone the “Off Road to Athens” movie to give them a better perspective on what I used to do for a living.


Today was our first full today of riding and a chance to really fine tune the skills we had worked on all week.  We took our group to a ride called Blue Buffalo.  It’s a great trail to work on slickrock skills; riding up and down steep ramps and learning how to launch off ledges of all sizes.  There was something for everyone.  And we had lots of sunshine and no wind.  Yippee!  By the end of the day everyone was mentally and physically exhausted.  We stopped ½ mile from the van and scrambled up the slickrock to a beautiful petroglyph and pictograph panel high above the valley floor.  Years ago there was a blue buffalo painted on the rock, also known as a pictograph, and also the name of our ride.  Unfortunately vandals destroyed the painting and you can only see a very faint outline of where the buffalo used to be.  Many of the other petroglyphs were still in good condition and made for some great pictures. 

Another afternoon of massage and a much needed soak in the hot tub.  We always have a special “dress-up” night for our last dinner of the camp.  With everyone in their finest we enjoyed grilled salmon, orzo, veggie kabobs, and a big salad.  Dessert was a sinful chocolate fondue.  We spent the evening watching videos from the previous three days, sharing stories, dranking lots of wine, and having some good laughs.  Hard to believe this was our last night already.

Our final day of riding took us up to the Intrepid Trail at Dead Horse Point State Park.  9 miles of fun mellow singletrack winding around the rim overlooking the White Rim Trail and the Colorado River.  The views were stunning to say the least.  There were a few technical sections on the trail, but otherwise it was fast and fun and a great way to end the camp.  We had lunch on the trail and then walked up to the official “dead horse point” overlook by the visitor center for more pictures. 

After a relaxing drive home we said goodbye to everyone as they met their spouses and friends at various places in Moab.  Camp was over.   It was a huge success with everyone making big improvements in their skills and confidence.  It was a relief to be done, but also hard to say goodbye to such great people.  I think my mom was the most excited to be done.  Taking care of Emmett for a solid week wore her out!  We head home tomorrow and then in two weeks we’ll do it all again!

Until then…