The Scene

Making Memories | Trail Riding In Moab

20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did.  -Mark Twain

We all become busy with our day-to-day lives; wrapped up in the proverbial rat race, and too pinned to stop and have some fun. It’s easy to forget that we need to be spontaneous sometimes. And as I sat at my desk on a mundane Monday one week ago, typing away and editing photos, my phone went off. It was a text message from my friend, and former racing buddy, Cameron Brewer that read, “Going to Moab next Thursday to Sunday with Justin Dawes. You in?” Before I could even think about it, or ask my wife, I replied and began making plans for a riding trip that I’ve always wanted to do.

Moab is located in southeastern Utah and is home to some of the most picturesque trail riding and camping this side of the Mississippi. The terrain ranges from super technical rocky trails to rolling sand dunes to smooth rolling rock marked by nothing but paint strips. It’s a dirt bike rider’s play ground. After making the long 10 hour drive out, I arrived to our small cabin—all the tent campgrounds were full—late on the first night, ate some dinner, and went to bed.

The next morning brought a post card day—although with a little wind—and we headed to Slickrock for what was to be the first Moab experience for Cameron and I. Dawes—who had been to Moab multiple times—was our unofficial tour guide, and he had our two days of riding planned out to the T. Our first day consisted of some unforgettable terrain around the Slickrock bike and jeep trails, which were unlike anything I’ve ever ridden. The rock was marked with nothing more than painted dashes and burnt rubber from the countless rock crawlers and jeeps that frequent the park, and the views were epic. The raddest part of the whole day, though, was the fact that we could pretty much ride our dirt bikes anywhere mountain bikes could, and the mountain bikers, hikers, and jeepers were all happy to see us, as we were all there to enjoy the great outdoors and picturesque views of Moab.

On that first day, we easily put in 70 miles, stopping only once to refuel our bikes at base camp. It was a day filled with tons of good times. The most fun, though, was each time we bet each other to try a sketchy line—with myself being the test dummy most of the time—nine times out of 10, I didn’t make it, but it’s not a good day of trail riding if you don’t draw at least a little blood. My biggest nemesis was a climb called The Escalator, which looked much tamer at the bottom than it did after cresting the first blind rise. It was at that point that I encountered a hot tub sized water pool and my spirited attempted went south quickly. Cameron and Dawes just sat at the bottom laughing uncontrollably while I slipped and fell countless times. I never made it to the top, and while muscling my bike back down the hill, I decided it was better to live to ride another day than try to be a hero and ruin my bike or body entirely. “Now you know why we didn’t want to try it,” Dawes said between hearty laughs as I pulled up next to them after finally getting back down the hill.

On our second day, Dawes planned to take us to a trail lovingly named Golden Spike. A rather famous trail for 4x4 jeepers, the halfway point of Golden Spike features the Golden Crack, a 10-foot deep crack that spans roughly five feet. On a dirt bike, it’s easy to jump across, but in a 4x4, it becomes a rather daunting task. Right before we hit the Golden Crack, I suddenly felt my rear tire go flat. And after stopping to break out the tools to repair it, the three of us quickly discovered that we had everything needed to fix a flat tire—spare tube included—except a pump and wrench large enough to remove the rear axle. The result: I had to ride nearly 15 miles over some of the most technical terrain in Moab, and across the Golden Crack, before we could find someone to borrow tools from. After fixing the flat, the rest of the ride went flawlessly, and we wound our way back to the trucks through incredible views, extremely fun trails, and challenging lines. All told, we rode even more miles than we did the first day, and all three of us could barely walk, let alone load up our bikes, when we reached the parking lot.

I don’t often make last-minute plans to get out of town on a random weekend. Family functions and work often get in the way. But for some reason, everything worked out this time and I’m so glad it did. Moab was an unforgettable experience, and all three of us are already making plans to return next year to conquer more trails, burn more gas, and create memories that will last a lifetime. It was time well spent and a great way to live life to the fullest.

By Brendan Lutes

Photos by Lutes and Justin Dawes