On the road with MAAP in Moab
On the road with MAAP in Moab

Creating time to separate from the everyday gives us space to see things from a different perspective. Work. Goals. Ideas. Whatever. All these things are made better because we ride – as a bunch or solo, when we can, and for however long we can.

On the southern edge of eastern Utah in the western United States, a group of people from around the world, who’ve never met one another, came together to ride for a week in shifty weather and demanding terrain. A prehistoric ocean turned desert, arid climate and state regulated beer with a 3.2% ABV. Moab, Utah. It might as well have been Mars.

We were in the middle of nowhere, staying in a cabin outside of Moab. It was pitch black when crew began to spill in from all over – Dubai, Sydney, Seattle, Fort Collins, Orange County, New York City, Malmo, Italy, Tokyo. The energy was electric.

A little zonked from travel, we sat down together to pop open a few drinks, share a meal, and run through ride plan for trip. Meanwhile, outside, the ripping wind and falling temps signaled the onset of a storm. So we cleared our plates, filled our glasses and went to the garage to build up our bikes,

And then: Crack! Complete darkness. The power went out across the entire town. So, we were left to pull everything together by flashlight.

Day 1

The entire night, it felt like the wind treated our cabin like a punching bag.

Buggered from no sleep, we woke to a sub-zero temps and a fresh dusting of snow across the whole valley. Clearing our eyes, swapping clothes for kit, and loading our plates, we individually caught ourselves looking out the windows at Moab’s stratospheric walls and great red earth.

After inhaling more coffees than the any reasonable doctor would recommend, we layered up and set off pinning with anticipation for the day’s ride.

Colorado River West

Giant canyons. Big headwinds. A perfect first day to dust off the cobwebs.

After meeting one another for the first time the night before, we pulled together as a group and started making our way through a valley of martian-like red rock carved out by the the great Colorado River and Moab’s extreme weather.

Praising Bonsai, our resident Bike Master from Tokyo, hearing about what it’s like to ride in Sweden, and stumbling over conversions from feet to meters, miles to kilometers, fahrenheit to celsius, we swapped stories and did what we could to ignore the dusting snow spinning across the road.

Working out the kinks and testing the legs, we’d re-group, break away, and blend back together again.

Taking It All In

Only 60kms outside of town, enveloped by it all, we felt the silence of the high desert. Moab is incredible like that. Sitting at just over 1,200m and with a population of around 6,000 people (depending on who you talk to), it’s arid and isolating.

On the way back, starting to feel good, a few from the group decided to press the gas. It’s nice to see what you can do after a flight from the other side of the world – at altitude. Soon, everyone got into it.

Looking around at one another the group motioned and said, “Let’s see what we can do.” The pace sped up and the bunch took off. Tucked and locked into a nice cadence, we ripped out of the canyon. Who knows how fast we were going as our eyes blurred from wind chill. It didn’t matter. Everything was flying by. If there’s a way to beat the wind this is how.

Time For A Sake

With Day 1 in the bag, it was time unwind. Jet lagged and pretty cooked, we cracked open a drink and a smile. Beer. Wine. Sake. “How good is this?” we all said without saying a word.

With the MAAP cabin sitting underneath the La Sal mountains, we transitioned from racing below towering canyon walls to our feet up on the porch looking out at the God’s of the region, Little Tuk and Mt. Tukuhnikivatz of the La Sal mountains, rising to over 3,800m.

Through a connection from friends at Poison Spider, we hired a local chef, who also happened to be a former elite cyclist, to work his magic for the group. And just like that, dinner was served. Ken didn’t hold back, either. Enchiladas, rice, beans, buffalo that’d been braised for over 24-hours, with each bite we clawed our way back to life.

Warm and fed with kits and bodies scattered across the cabin, we sunk into the night, flicking through photos from the day.

Day 2

Still fighting off a little jet lag, we got up early, tossed on a fresh kit, and sunk right into breakfast.

The morning’s a special time of day. It’s a time of anticipation, where we look ahead towards a rough agenda and lots of opportunity. It’s a time where everything is still raw, nothing’s yet fully formed. An infinite expectation of emergence.

And when you’re with mates, it’s also a time for a soft bit of banter about who’s got the legs for the day – spirits were high for massive ride through Arches National Park.

But First, Coffee...

Rolling through town, we couldn’t resist a brew at the Love Muffin – for obvious reasons.

Arches National Park

With over 76,000 acres of protected park land shaped over millions of years by the region’s harsh climate, yeah, this place is epic.

A series of switchbacks greeted us as we entered the park, taking us up to the high desert of the Colorado Plateau. With the first climb behind us, we set our sights on Devil’s Garden, one of the highest points in the park. Waterless, windy, endlessly expansive, this place is painfully incredible.

As we pushed into the park, heads turned and eyes burst open. “What is this place?” we all wondered aloud as we went popping in and out of offshoots, entertaining higher speeds, and rotating turns in the front of the bunch – losing it over the petrified sand dunes, sky-high fins of sand and gravity defying arches.

Devil's Garden. Hell Yeah.

We rolled up to Devil’s Garden with a few of us well past zero. Low on water and with the day’s light beginning to run, the imposing reality of making it back felt all too real.

It’s hard to explain how the body can be on the edge of shutting down, and then somehow pull reserves from somewhere – potentially from Ken’s nutrient rich tamales – to give you what you need to turn off the doubt and press on.

In our case, there’s no question it had lot to do with the spirit of the group. Knowing we were all here to ride together, no demands, no expectations, no timetable. “Hey, it’s only an entire National Park we have to cross,” someone jokingly uttered. We relished in the opportunity.

To Be Continued...

This is the first of a two part series called ‘MAAP In the Field’, a committed crew of people from across the globe coming together to ride, take on imposing terrain, and create new relationships on and off the bike.

Stay tuned for part 2…

MAAP Field Trips

From local trips to global adventures, MAAP Field Trips bring committed crews of people from across the globe together to take on imposing routes and terrain that often get overlooked or ignored, share in common experiences, and create new stories with others passionate about progressing the sport of cycling.

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