Dude, riding in the desert just isn't like riding elsewhere. Here area a few keys to getting maximum fun and getting out alive. Live by these 6 tips and you'll make it out of anything alive.
- Bring as much water as you can carry
- Beware the weather
- Pay Attention
- Know your limitations
- Carry tools and know how to use them
- The desert is alive
1 Bring as much water as you can carry
You need at least two large water bottles or a large Camelbak bladder in spring and fall.
In summer, temps often exceed 100F (38C) with very little shade. Start riding at sunrise and bring at least 100 Ounces of water more if at all possible! I recommend two full Camelbak bladder! It's absolutely insane to try riding mid-day in the summer - Im talking nasty, heat stroke, blood congealing death.
Bring some form of food in all seasons. I recommend:
- sports bars
- dried fruit
- beef jerky (especially if you've killed and dried the animal yourself!)
2 Beware the weather
Desert weather is tough to predict and vicious. Storms often mean flash floods and lightning - either one can ruin your whole life. I've tried crouching on the ground getting hammered with rain, thunder and lightning - believe me, you don't want to try it. Use the forecasts and keep your eyes and ears open to signs of a storm. Carry a rain jacket in spring/summer/fall and a fleece in colder months. Always know where you are and how to get out quickest. You must be willing to "bail" on a ride - live to ride another day. In the spring and fall (and especially the winter) storms can bring hail, snow and occasionally Santa Claus. Be prepared (bring warm clothing, fire starting materials, mistletoe belt buckle).
3 Pay Attention
Pay attention to the maps, trail markers and your over all orientation (that's North, South, etc, dude). Know the route and directions before you start. Remember, maps are great but no substitute for common sense. Sometimes, idiots steal trail markets - don't be an idiot.
If you lose the trail:
1 Backtrack. You were once on it and should be able to find it again (the correct way out)
2 Spiral outwards looking for signs of other riders, trail, or Jeeps
3 NEVER try to descent off trail into a canyon or do anything to reduce your visibility to potential rescuers - they are very good at what they do if they know roughly where you are and you don't hide all clues.
4 Know your limitations
Know your limitations and those of others in your group. Probably better to hurt some feelings than visit the hospital or worse. Moab trails are NOT for beginners. Besides, Moab offers piles of fun for non-riders: hiking in any number of sports (including the biking trails), watching kids skate, BMX , or in the fashion district, cruisin' the strip, sipping espresso, hanging out.
5 Carry tools and know how to use them
Mountain biking is really hard on bikes. If you ask me, it's amazing they work at all! Simply put, shit breaks (often) At the very least, I recommend you carry:
- multi-tool (or allen key set and chain tool)
- spoke wrench (but only use as required)
- tire levers
- spare tubes (and patch kit)
- duct tape
- toilet paper (ever see someone wearing only one sock?)
- sunscreen flashlight
- something reflective
- money and identification
6 The desert is alive
Okay, you and I both know that the desert really is alive. So, do us both a favour and act like a nice boy/girl (if you're not sure, look between your legs - if your'e still not sure, I just can't help you) and leave the flora and fauna as you found them. This means:
- Never ride off the trail - This is absolutely brutal on the fragile desert environment. Curring through the "crust" (microbiotic blackish layer which holds it all together) does decades of damage. Without the crust the desert truly is dead and yes, every little bit does count. Stay on the trail and everyone gets out alive.
- Rocks are your friends - The rocks that make Moab traction unbelievable are also pretty sensitive to erosion. Try not to skid your tires (they don't like it either) or ride over any mosses or lichens (bluey-green looking patches on slickrock). Never ride through puddles on slickrock as they are the only water source some animals get - they don't mess with your beer.
- Petroglyphs - were made by someone else a long time ago. Let's keep it that way. Touching them (or messing with them in any other way) doesn't make them any more magical, but it does ruin them for everyone else. If you have some urge to scratch your name or picture somewhere, go get a tattoo or a scetch pad. PLEASE leave things the way you found them.
- Lizards, snakes, rabbits, mice, antelope, elk, bear, cougar and sasquatch - are all pretty to watch in their natural habitat but DON'T mess with them. The mice and rabbits aren't all that good at defending themselves but look out if the bear, cougar or sasquach find out you've been shaken' them down!
- If you need to leave the trail for a "situation" - (pee, crap, hand-release), step only on rocks or in a wash and bury it or pack it out. On ya, don't do any "numbers" near a water source or me and the bear and the cougar are coming over to your house to pee in your sink.