BY: JIM MOORE
I’ve ridden Moab’s renowned Slickrock Trail, plus some others in the area. And I can attest to the fact that the mountain-bike riding there is world-class; the grippy rock redefines the laws of physics, and the scenery is mesmerizing.
But on this trip I decided to take a look from the other angle: How’s the road riding?
Well, while you’ll be vastly outnumbered by your fat-tire cousins, you can get in some tasty road time around Moab.
The clerk at Chile Pepper Bikes, where I rented my wheels, gave me three suggestions for good riding. Well, she was right on; besides my on-the-road experiences, that fact was reinforced by a mechanic at Poison Spider Bikes who told me, “The interesting thing about Moab is that it’s great for road riding if you’re visiting, because there’s three great rides. But if you live here … there’s three great rides.”
I hit portions of them all, and they’re good riding. The road surfaces aren’t outstanding, and the altitude makes the air thin; but the views are the treat. Here are the big three:
Just outside town, Potash Road takes you through The Portal, where towering red-rock walls close in on the Colorado River before opening up to a picturesque canyon. Sunset throws a warm orange glow on one wall, contrasted by dark shadows on the other. The road goes roughly 16 miles before turning to dirt, following the river for miles of tranquil out-and-back riding.
In the other direction, Highway 128 heads upriver toward Castle Valley; this is one end of the La Sal Mountain Loop, which features a fierce climb from red-rock river canyon up into alpine vistas. In 62 miles you’ll climb more than 5,400 feet, rising to well above 8,000 feet elevation. Locals prefer to ride this counter-clockwise.
Construction is just finishing up on an in-town bike-path section that will connect Moab to the dedicated bike trail that takes you right past the Arches National Park entrance and all the way to the turnoff for Canyonlands National Park, nine miles north of town. From there, you get a wide bike lane along the highway all the way into the park.
To read the whole story, visit here: http://www.oregonlive.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2012/10/for_cyclists_moab_is_great_for.html
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