Moab Century Tour – 2011 Richard & Pam Oliver
While more famed as a mountain biking Mecca, Moab is now also billing itself as the "new landscape in road cycling." This year’s edition of the 3-day Moab Century Tour, 16-18 September, included a "warm-up" ride at 3 pm on Friday, plus a Sunday morning yoga stretch session followed by a "recovery" ride at 10 am. The main events on Saturday included over 900 riders on new bike routes described as “Canyons, Mountains, or River” with rides of 100, 65 and 40 miles.
Actually, gnarly riders had plenty of choices: there were two different 100 mile routes and also two different 65 mile routes, plus the relatively easy 40 mile river ride. The real killer route was the metric century La Sal Loop, which included a 7 mile stretch called the "big nasty" with 3,000 feet of climbing (5,250 feet of overall elevation gain and topping out at 8,350 feet)! The century route went to Dead Horse Point and back, and then added the river route to reach 100 miles.
While 100 plus degree weather was prevalent in late August, this mid September ride was positioned to take advantage of cooler mornings; however, we actually awoke to see the early riders leaving in drizzling rain and temps in the mid 50's!
Being neither gnarly nor ducks, we departed at 8:45 to dry skies (but wished we had brought along our arm and leg warmers for the first hour) and opted for the "social ride" with the 40 mile out and back along the scenic Colorado River, over-shadowed by the picturesque high canyon walls. To make it to a half-century, we then posted an additional leg past Arches National Park on a newly paved bikeway.
The Archway Inn, on the north end of Moab, was the start and end point for all rides, and also the location for the impressive post-ride party, which included a tasty southwest fare buffet, beer from the Moab Microbrewery, and a rock band. The Aarchway Inn also provided free hot breakfasts, and reduced rates for riders: $99 per night vice the regular rate of $139. Plus, their large hot tub was quite enjoyable!
The entry fee of $75 provided a commemorative t-shirt, numerous well-supported aid stations and roving sag wagons, and the post-party lunch with live entertainment. It also benefitted cancer survivorship programs and research, and with previous rides, has helped bring into reality the Moab Cancer Treatment and Resource Center.
We very much enjoyed the Moab Century Tour and kibitzing with riders from far and wide. It was well planned and executed, and high kudos accrue to the organizers. The next similar road bike event is the Moab Skinny Tire Festival, scheduled for 10-13 March, 2012.