When Ryan and I met, it was on a group trip to Moab, Utah. That was 2002. We fell hard for the bleak and beautiful moonscape, returning every year with new friends, excited to share with them our new discovery of the mountain bike mecca.
The last time we were there was around 2014, about the time enduro racing started, taking us to new lands and new landscapes. Enduro found its way to Moab in the theme of The Whole Enchilada, a race down from the peaks of the Las Sals to the the end of the jeep track portion of the Porcupine Rim trail. We tried it three times in the last 7 years. The first time, Ryan was injured so I raced it with a friend of ours who took his race plate. The next year, it snowed like a banshee the day before the race and we had to literally slide on our asses down the steep switchbacks at the top. The next year it snowed again and the race was moved to the next day and we had to go home. It was some kind of curse. We hadn't been back since.
Jump ahead 3 years and The Whole Enchilada race was back on our calendar. It was earlier than it's ever been, mid September, so things were looking good until about Fruita, Colorado where we drove through a desert storm of epic proportions. Once in Moab, the rain was torrential, but we were still 3 days out from race day so we weren't too concerned. Stuff dries within hours in that part of the country.
We made it to our campsite near the Slick Rock trail head. The skies were clearing but we could see another wave of rain coming on the western horizon. With not much daylight left, we decided to pass the time and scramble up the slickrock behind our campsite. What we saw dropped our jaws. SNOW in the mountains where were were to start the race!!! We could not believe it. The curse was back!
The next two days were spent riding the lower trails but then we heard the start of the race was dry so we self-shuttled up to it and sure enough, the dirt was bone dry. I wouldn't have believed it after seeing the dollup of new powder just two days prior.
So race day was clear and crisp with just a hint of fall in the air. Pockets of aspens were turning and the rains had forced the fragrance of the junipers and sage into the air and the true, rich colors of the high desert were revealed.
Both of us managed to get on the podium of that race but that was just icing on the cake. Camping under a canopy of stars and gazing upon 360 degree horizon all day were really what we took back with us.
Moab is a special place for us and we'll never tire of returning to her.