A Mountain Biker’s First Time In Moab

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Last year I made the (very) long journey from Manchester over to Utah in the States (via three flights) to get my first ever experience of riding in Moab. And what an unforgettable trip it was.

For a lot of riders all over the world, Moab has always been something of a mecca for mountain biking. Well, as far back as I can remember anyway.

Moab utah road highway
Moab, Utah. Photo: Jens Staudt.

Growing up in Australia, I can recall thumbing through pages of my favourite Aussie mountain bike magazines, reading stories about the infamous slick-rock trails, and seeing photos of those distinctive red-rock formations around Castle Valley. All the wind, rain and snow that’s lashed away at the soft sandstone over the millennia has created incredible natural structures that make for captivating photography. And that distinctive environment has become home for even more distinctive trails – trails that have lured riders from every part of the planet to come experience for themselves.

Up until last year though, I’d never been. Even more sacrilegious, was that I’d actually been to Utah several times over the past 6-7 years, where I was within just a 4-hour drive of Moab. Trouble was, those short ‘n’ sweet work trips meant I’d never made it beyond Park City – admittedly a terrific riding destination in its own right. Still, it wasn’t Moab. And I knew I had to scratch that itch at some point in my life.

The exciting news that landed in my inbox early last year was an invitation from Pivot Cycles. The crew from Pivot were planning to host a bike launch for the new Trail 429 and the Firebird 29, and they wanted one of us to come along. The location was Moab. Needless to say, the office desk chair was left behind spinning as I went dancing out of the building.

pivot cycles trail 429 chris cocalis moab utah
Chris Cocalis says Moab is his favourite place in the world to ride. Now I know why. Photo: Jens Staudt.

Turns out Pivot’s CEO, Chris Cocalis, absolutely loves Moab. In fact, he told me that Moab was his favourite place in the world to ride, and he now makes an annual pilgrimage for work, choosing early summer and Moab as the platform to release new Pivot models. The chunky, brutal riding environment makes for ideal conditions for testing suspension and tyres, while also testing your handling skills and upper body strength. The riding here delivers a workout unlike anything my puny body has previously been subjected to.

For the launch, I took along a camera to document the experience of my first time in this little piece of MTB heaven. I’ve split the videos into a 3-part series, which you can watch below as you like:

If you’d like to know a bit more about the bikes we were riding on the launch, then you can check out the Pivot Trail 429 First Ride here, and the the Pivot Firebird 29 review here.

And if you want a little more to sate your Moab-appetite, then enjoy a wee photo gallery courtesy of Jens Staudt – a very talented chap from Germany who did a bang-up job carrying all of his photo gear during some pretty warm days out under the hot Utah sun. If you like the shots (they’re all Jens’ photos), then you definitely want to have a look at Jens’ Instagram feed.

moab utah poison spider van uplight shuttle
We had shuttles provided by Poison Spider Bicycles in Moab, Utah. These vans can take just a *few* bikes.
pivot trail 429
Day 1 was spent on the (then) new 120mm travel Trail 429.
pivot trail 429 tube
We’d be needing a few of these…
pivot trail 429 chris cocalis
Moab is warm. But not as hot as Phoenix where Chris Cocalis hails from. Can you tell?
food bacon breakfast sausage
Moab Camp Chef catered for the launch. I’m bloody glad he did too.
food breakfast bacon eggs
Fuel for a very tough day of riding.
pivot trail 429 car uplift shuttle
Just a few bikes eh?
pivot trail 429 map moab utah
Mag 7 had our name all over it on Day 1 of the launch.
pivot trail 429 moab utah
Serious bicycle discussions.
pivot trail 429 moab utah
This is a no e-bike club.
pivot trail 429 moab utah
A mellow start to the day’s riding. Just look at that red dust!
pivot trail 429 moab utah
Following the yellow (singletrack) road.
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It wouldn’t be a bike launch without some Grade-A Faffage™.
moab utah flower
Pretty desert flowers.
cactus moab utah
Spiky AF flowers.
pivot trail 429 moab utah
The naturally carved sandstone is everywhere you look.
pivot trail 429 moab utah dakine bum bag fanny pack hydration
A hot day’s riding called for a water bottle + hydration pack.
pivot trail 429 moab utah sun hot
Jim Norman from Fox Racing Shox, taking a break from being head faffing assistant.
pivot trail 429 moab utah
How the heck does it even get like that??
pivot trail 429 moab utah
These trails are one way to get your suspension and tyre pressures dialled very quickly.
chris cocalis pivot trail 429 moab utah
Chris Cocalis spotting the line through the boulders.
pivot trail 429 moab utah puncture
Some of us could do with some work on both their lines AND their tyre pressures…
pivot trail 429 moab utah
When you’re focussed on the trail, it’s easy to forget where you’re riding.
pivot trail 429 moab utah
If you don’t like rocks, then maybe best to put this destination to one side.
pivot trail 429 moab utah
Huge views overlooking Castle Valley.
pivot trail 429 moab utah
It’s all a bit breathtaking. And somewhat distracting whenever you look up and around from the handlebars.
pivot trail 429 moab utah wil
Day 2 we went high up in the La Sal mountain range to ride Hazard County.
pivot trail 429 moab utah
We made our way through the UPS and LPS networks on our way to the famed Porcupine Rim.
pivot trail 429 moab utah
Some decided to fly there instead. Like Kevin, the showoff…
pivot trail 429 moab utah wil
Forever GoPro’ing. As much as a crash video would have been great for the ‘gram, Jens rode this one cleanly like the champ he is. Photo: Rachel Byus.
pivot trail 429 moab utah
pivot trail 429 moab utah
Bicycle learnings. It was work after all.
food turkey
More goodness from Moab Camp Chef. That turkey had been in the Sous Vide for many, many hours before it landed on our plate.
pivot trail 429 moab utah
The first, but not the last time.

After a couple of days riding on some of the most incredible trails, in one of the most mind-expanding environments I’ve ridden in, I honestly cannot wait until next time. Moab has a reputation for a reason – it is truly one-of-a-kind. And for anyone out there who hasn’t been and has the opportunity to go at some point in their life, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

In fact, let me know when you’re going – I might join you.


Wil’s flights & accommodation for this trip were covered by Pivot Cycles.

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