Planet Moab

The famous (and rather dangerous) slickrock bike trail is a great place for some R&R after the stress of trials.

Doesn’t it seem like the surface of a strange planet? Planet Moab.

This 14 mile trail is a series of dashes painted onto the rocks. I rode this trail many times in the early 90’s. And it was fun to be back. Not because these 200 million year old, fossilized & weathered sand dunes had changed much in 15 years, but I have.

I’m kind of weathered now too.

Moab is such a different planet. Mountain bikes, motorcycles, and 4×4’s ply their way through the alien landscape.

Click on the picture, and try to find the human beings in here, this gives you an idea of the stunning scale of slickrock.

Early spring and late fall are the perfect times to ride this trail. Unlike the madness of summer heat & crowds, it’s very quiet, and you can feel awfully alone.

It’s a good thing for athletes who train in groups to feel alone sometimes. To be just your breathing and pounding heart, to be the only sound in the desolation.

What did the movie Jurassic park say? “life will find a way”. This tiny pocket of water in the desert rock often has visible little shrimp swimming in it.

None on this day though. But there are there, waiting.

They repaint this trail several times a year, and in these final weeks of the season, it was quite faint in places. Waaaay out in the farthest reaches of the trail. I got stuck in one of the optional loops, and could not find the main trail spur again.

I wasted a good hour till I found it.

I had left the parking lot with plenty of time to ride the trail. But after my detour, it was some miles to the trailhead as the sun went down. I don’t want to sound too dramatic about this, but Slickrock can kill you multiple ways in broad daylight.

I walked the last few miles back to the trailhead, as it became too dark & dangerous to ride. I was deeply thankful for the full moon & the phone in my pocket.

I had this pagan desire to howl with thanks to the moon, when I arrived back to my car.

The lesson? One might be a very experienced mountain biker, or hiker, or whatever, but Mother Nature demands respect beyond just strong legs. We are so insulated in our lives from danger, we forget it’s out there.

Maybe that is why so many people love mountain biking, because the experience is often unpredictable, and very often teaching about ourselves when things go wrong.

Yes, I thought about RZ when I was out there in the dark, Jess too. We had been hiking earlier that day.

I can’t wait to go back to Moab this spring, with the whole family (and my riding buddy Evan, who has an excellent sense of direction) a little wiser to what mother nature can do to the unconcerned. I have not been that scared in a long time.


It’s fascinating to watch kids learn by imitating their parents, and watching RZ trying to pick up bowling balls was hilarious. The only thing funnier was that Jess & I are such terrible bowlers, the only thing worth imitating was laughter.

But on a serious note, I think a lot about what kind of “foundational” sports I will introduce her to, before she is old enough to pick her own favorites, and before she really knows if she is “crazy competitive” like her parents.

I am thinking about hockey, dance, or the martial arts. Weight bearing sports with lateral strength components, + bonuses like hockey gets you the team stuff, dance gets you art-athlete intersections, and martial arts are really important for young people in so many ways.

Yes, she will have inlines as well. In fact, thanks to my dear friend Kate, she already has a pair waiting.

any advice? Thoughts from experienced parents? Any “sports-parent traps” I need to be careful to avoid?