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By Jessica McWhirt

February 25, 2024–My only biking experience in Moab consists of riding through Arches National Park on the road back in 2015 and mountain biking the White Rim Trail in 2022. I have yet to do proper mountain biking in Utah, which is what Moab Rocks stages will have: Porcupine Rim, Klondike Bluffs, and Mag 7 on April 6-8.

The Stages

Stage 1 – The Porcupine Rim

According to MTB Projectthe Porcupine Rim is considered Difficult. Based on their description, “The route takes you to the edge (literally) of Castle Valley and then down a thrilling (and bone-jarring) descent to the edge of Jackass Canyon where you’ll ride sweet singletrack around and down to the Colorado River,” this is going to be a challenging trail for me.

Photo. by Tony Campono

I have a lot of weaknesses as a roadie-turned-mountain biker and one of them is very much descending. That whole body-bike separation thing is still something I can’t grasp and I know it holds me back during races.

Any distance I gain on the climb before the descent could very well be lost as I white-knuckle my way down the trail. I hope the experience I gained last year at Breck Epic transfers to this trail (and I’m hoping I’ll have a bike with 120mm travel for this because right now all’s I have is 100mm suspension).

Stage 2 – Klondike Bluffs

It looks like we’re doing Klondike Bluff Outer Loop counterclockwise plus the Intermediate Klondike Loop. It’s rated Intermediate/Difficult on MTB Projectbut this is for clockwise so, it’s really up in the air as to how challenging Stage 2 will be.

From Moab Rocks’ description, More of a modern classic, Klondike Bluffs is a singletrack wonderland full of flow, rock steps, slickrock, amazing descents, and of course, Moab’s signature red dirt,” it sounds like it’d be a really fun day of exploring. But it’ll be less exploring, more racing. It looks like there’s a few climbs I could always (hopefully) make up time for my average descending skills.

Another skill I lack is technical, which, again, to do well in mountain bike races, you need to have technical skills. I’ve been pressing wheelies and working on lifting my front wheel up to get over features. So far, I could be doing better, but we’ll see how it shapes out at the race.

Stage 3 – Mag 7

Photo by Jason Strother

The final stage is Mag 7, and it looks like we’re doing a lot of these trails in reverse from what my trusty MTB Project recommends like Arth’s Corner and Getaway—which I’m not worried about. Not at all. I don’t need to know what these trails will be like in the direction we’re going. That would make me a lot less adventurous if I cared that much about the trail direction description, right?

It looks like Arth’s Corner and Getaway will be steady climbs, which will help me—so long as my competitors lack climbing fitness.

We’re going in the same direction (downhill) on Bull Run, Great Escapeand Little Canyon as is on MTB Project (Bull Run’s one-direction only so, that makes sense) which means this could be the most challenging part of the course for me. And if what I’m seeing on MTB Project for Gold Bar Rim is what we’re racing on, then your girl is about to hit a “very difficult,” very sketch part of the course. I could lose a lot of time here if I walk my bike.

With 100mm travel, not sure if I should be hucking my bike off any of these drops.

So, with a very generalized overview of the trails based on MTB Project descriptions and comments, I am now a lot more scared of this race than before I read more about it. Still, I need the challenge. We don’t become better bikers by racing the same trails we’re familiar and comfortable with.

How I’m Going To (Try To) Prepare For Moab Rocks

I’m not sure if I’ll make it to Moab before the race in April (6-8th). It was my goal to preview all the courses before the race so I’m A.) Prepared physically and B.) Mentally prepared to get my shit rocked.

I will always be a proponent of previewing race courses. This way, you can practice sections over and over again so you go into the race with more confidence. It’s what has always helped me settle pre-race jitters and race more confidently. Going into a race course blind destroys and confidence I would have had at the starting line, especially because I’m not as skilled as I know many other racers are.

If I can’t make it to Moab, my plan is to ride challenging terrain nearby to work on my technical skills. I’ll be riding Dakota Ridge (I’ve yet to ride this one and I’ve heard it’s hard), Mount Falcon, Apex Trail (another I’ve yet to ride, I know, I know), and Elk Meadow & Bergen Peak Loop (also haven’t ridden this). February and March are some of Colorado’s snowiest months so this could be a very lofty goal to use these trails as a way to prep for Moab Rocks.

Regardless of my race results, I’m looking forward to racing in an amazing area. I’ve wanted to mountain bike in Moab for years now and haven’t made the journey out there—for some weird reason. I’m curious how riding on the slick rock will feel like since I’m so used to the mountains and foothills in Colorado.

It’ll be a good challenge for me and I hope to see more women there! Moab Rocks gave me a discount code for folks who want to join me at the starting line. Use “303ENDURO$25OFF” when you register!

#Moab #Check #Spring #Classic #Event #Perfect #Getaway #303Endurance

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