Fall Moab ‘06, Part II: Something New

11.8.2006 | 6:44 am

The Fall Moab trip has always been about tradition. The first day is for riding the Slickrock trail — the most famous mountain bike trail in the world. The second day is for riding Gold Bar Rim, the most technical trail in Moab (at least, it’s the most technical trail around the way we ride it). The third day is for riding Amassa Back.

This year, though, we changed things up a little bit.

Dug, in his pre-trip pronouncement of what we’d all be doing (which he always writes in the form of, “You’re all welcome to do whatever you want, but what I plan to do is…” format), indicated that we’d be riding Bartlett Wash as our first ride — a trail most of us had never tried before.

To help make his case, though, Dug provided this link, describing Bartlett Wash. After looking at what the ride had in store for us — an endless expanse of freeform, exquisite, rolling sandstone, nobody had any complaints about Dug’s proclamation.

There’s a reason, after all, that Dug picks the rides: Dug’s good at picking the rides. I tell you, I’ve never seen him so happily absorbed as when he’s looking at a map. He’s as good at envisioning trails he’s never ridden as I am bad at it.

So a few miles before Moab proper, we pull into a dirt parking lot. “You’d better leave your car here,” says BotchedExperiment (who, for the sake of convenience, I shall henceforth refer to simply as “Botched”). “The road gets a little rough from this point.”

That would be an understatement.

Riding in Kenny’s Jeep, we got bounced around as he navigated deep erosion trenches, big rocks, dry riverbeds and more. My car wouldn’t have made it the first 100 feet.

Then we got to the trailhead parking lot to find Rick’s Hummer already sitting there. It had been there 20 minutes. Turns out there’s an easier route (but my car still wouldn’t have made it).

Everyone quickly suited up and got their bikes ready, anxious to get going. As they did, I walked around, handing out sandwich bags with the Matisse & Jacks homemade energy bars Bob and I had made the previous night. Some people politely accepted a bag; most people declined. Nobody gets excited about energy bars. So I stuffed a couple extra bags in my jersey pocket to see if I’d get a better reaction when people were on the trail.

I now had to decide: singlespeed or geared bike for the first ride? Figuring that this was a ride without sustained climbing (and also bowing to peer pressure), I went with the single.

The Wash
A quick ride along a damp, sandy streambed brought us to Bartlett Wash. The descriptions I’ve read don’t do it justice. It’s an extraordinary expanse of beautiful sandstone mountains. There’s no marked trail (eg, painted lines on the Slickrock trail), so you just tool along, looking for interesting things to do.

Bartlett Wash is, in short, an enormous sandstone mountain bike skills park. With hardly anyone in it.

At first we contented ourselves with riding up and over stuff, as well as experiencing the indescribable pleasure of the grip sandstone has on rubber. You can climb stuff — and descend stuff — that would be pretty much impossible on any other surface.

For example, there’s a nearly-vertical wall I would never have even thought possible to climb, on any bike. Before long, though, everyone was getting a good run at the thing and rolling right up it. Check out this video of Kenny zooming up — on his singlespeed, natch.


I never managed to get the courage to try that particular move — the image of me stalling out 2/3 of the way up, then falling over backward, was too strong to overcome. For what it’s worth, I did roll down that wall, which was plenty freaky, thankyouverymuch.

Sadly, I didn’t bring my own camera on this ride, which meant I didn’t get to capture some of the most aweome moments of the day:

  • Dug nearly dies: Dropping down an extremely steep, technical basin, Dug’s rear tire lost traction as he tried to navigate an off-camber, downhill U-turn. He slid, overcorrected, re-corrected, and managed to stay upright. I’m pretty sure the penalty if he had fallen there would have been a concussion or broken bone at the very least.
  • Dug is no longer used to big suspension: Dug was riding his rigid singlespeed, while letting Tom — who had flown in from out of state — ride his big-hit Canondale Gemini (which we all call “The Pig,” because it weighs around 400lbs). Dug swapped back with Tom for a moment, though, to try a technical ledge move. But when the fork compressed six inches, Dug wasn’t ready for it and did a face-first endo right into the corner of the ledge. To me, it looked like some giant unseen hand had just swatted Dug off his bike, just for laughs. Dug was looped for several minutes, and sported a scab on his chin for the rest of the trip. To his credit, though, Dug didn’t back down even a little. I don’t know how he stays aggressive after a big fall. When I go down hard, I’m timid for a month.
  • Botched Can Fly: One of the things I like about Botched (apart from the whole working-full-time-to-cure-cancer thing) is that he takes requests. “Hey, go jump off that four-foot ledge,” you can say, and Botched will go do it. “Hey, go and drop off that wall,” you might say, figuring there’s no way he’ll do something like that, and he’ll go do it. Botched’s bike-handling skill and apparent lack of fear of anything has made me involuntarily gasp at least twenty times by now. No exaggeration. To give you an idea of what Botched looks like, here’s a shot I got of him hopping over a crevice (which was deep and wide enough for me to stand in). This photo’s out of order (ie, not from Bartlett Wash), but I want you to have a good idea of what this mild-mannered, cancer-fighting, blog-commenting guy is like when he’s on his bike (and yes, he did clean the move):
    Botched jumps the crack
  • I’m getting better at the technical stuff: I was riding down near-walls, climbing up ledges, and descending scary technical stuff the whole day. I think there are two reasons for this. First, the tricks Botched taught me have really helped; I understand how my bike works better now than I used to. And second, I think I’m stronger technically on a singlespeed, because there’s just fewer things for me to worry about. I don’t worry about my bike ghost-shifting in the middle of the move. I don’t worry about whether having my fork compress at the bottom of the move is going to shrug enough momentum to pitch me over the front. And the bike just feels more direct / immediate somehow. I’m not going to say that I’m now a fully-committed rigid singlespeeder, but I can understand why somebody might be.

When you’re with a big group of guys on a big ride, the ride post-mortem can be every bit as important as the ride itself. This was particularly true for some of the guys on this trip, many of which currently hate their jobs (I’m one of the lucky ones; I recently switched to the best job at the best company I’ve ever worked for). Everyone was tossing around a football, some were having a beer or two (or three), and a couple of dopes were smoking stinky cigars. I made it clear to anyone smoking that I didn’t care for the second-hand smoke. Sorry, I just don’t get the cigar thing. Now, a nice pipe while wearing a deerstalker cap, that at least makes sense. Especially when sitting in a remote parking lot in Moab after doing a big ol’ mountain bike ride.

By now, people were hungry. Again, I offered up the home-baked energy bars. This time, people tried them.

And then, they devoured them.

It turns out that these Matisse & Jack’s Bake-at-Home Energy Bars are the best-tasting energy food, ever. Especially the chocolate chip ones. I’d suggest, in fact, that the Matisse & Jack’s folks shouldn’t call them “energy bars,” because we all know that energy bars are hard to chew, taste dry, and are generally unappealing. These should be called “energy cookies” or “energy brownies” or something like that. ‘Cuz these things taste like dessert. I’m a fan. And they held up just fine in my jersey pocket over a three-hour ride, so they’re trail-ready. Sixteen thumbs up: eight people tried ‘em, and we all liked ‘em.

Tomorrow: Gold Bar Rim (with lotsa pics and video) and the Best Restaraunt in Moab. Yeah, I know I was going to get to those today, but things are hectic at work; I’m lucky to get this much written.


  1. Comment by Jsun | 11.8.2006 | 8:44 am

    I that that dug was tuff – he had to ride the LOTOJA without pre-toughening the leather

    crack jumpin and wise crackin’ , botched you are cool

    hardcore doods

  2. Comment by barry1021 | 11.8.2006 | 9:22 am

    GREAT picture of Botched-that is really cool. Almost makes me want to try MTB. Almost, cuz I really don’t want to die just yet.


  3. Comment by Tayfuryagci | 11.8.2006 | 9:46 am

    Flying-with-MTB-curing-cancer-doctor thing REALLY outshines my slacks-off-all-day-rides occasionally-med-student thing. Cool d00d.

  4. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 11.8.2006 | 10:01 am

    Thanks for the props, but I think Fatty deserves the credit for the dynamic and dramatic photo. As soon as he took that pic, he said it was a good one. It’s weird, because as I think about how to get across that crack and up the other side, I don’t think of my body being in that position.

  5. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 11.8.2006 | 11:17 am

    Oh, and as for the road leading to Bartlett, I have only this to say: just because the wrong way is the better way, that doesn’t make it the right way, thus Maddox, dug, et al. went the wrong way.

  6. Comment by joe | 11.8.2006 | 11:35 am

    hey fatty –
    to embed youtube and Google Video, go install one of the plugins from here
    like WPVideo

    then you can use a new [video] tag to specify the video URL.

  7. Comment by Adam | 11.8.2006 | 11:59 am

    I see some repeats from prior posts! What gives?? This paragraph has been used before:
    For example, there’s a nearly-vertical wall I would never have even thought possible to climb, on any bike. Before long, though, everyone was getting a good run at the thing and rolling right up it. Check out this video of Kenny zooming up — on his singlespeed, natch (I haven’t figured out how to embed YouTube videos with this new WordPress blogging software; I’ll get that soon, though, I hope.).

    Where is the fresh material?

  8. Comment by sportcrazy | 11.8.2006 | 12:45 pm

    Hey fatty, I wrote up how to embed the videos for ya. Consider it payment for the entertainment :)


  9. Comment by KatieA | 11.8.2006 | 2:57 pm

    I’m very impressed that you rode DOWN the vertical Fatty. I am the world’s biggest wuss and am always the one taking all the photos and videos “for the record”, which is a convenient excuse to get out of killing myself. :)

    And stop mentioning the energy bars. I WANT SOME and I can’t get them. You’re mean.

  10. Comment by barry1021 | 11.8.2006 | 5:26 pm

    Botched said It’s weird, …… I don’t think of my body being in that position.

    I have a similar feeling about my body when I look in the mirror Botched. I see myself as 6′1 ” 175 lb with sandy hair and a six pack. Oh well.


  11. Comment by fatty | 11.8.2006 | 6:50 pm

    jsun – dug is tough. and he has a noble heart, which he vainly tries to conceal beneath a gruff exterior. or maybe he’s just a churl.

    barry – thanks. more cool pics coming tomorrow. you should try mtb. anyone who loves biking but limits him/herself to just road or mountain doesn’t know what s/he’s missing. which is a shame.

    tayfur – botched is a renaissance man. and he has a noble heart.

    botched – that’s the beauty of digital, i guess. just keep snapping away, since all the photos are free (sorry, kenny!). eventually you’re bound to get a good shot.

    joe – thanks, that’s good advice. i’ll go get one of those plugins.

    adam – please believe me when i say that i have no idea what you’re talking about. still, it’s important that i satisfy each and every fat cyclist customer, so i’m going to give you a no-questions-asked refund for the full purchase price, apart from a nominal restocking fee of $15. I accept Paypal.

    sportcrazy – just followed your advice, and now the video is embedded. thanks very much!

    katieA – you’ll have to talk to the Matisse & Jacks folks about getting some of those energy brownies yourself. maybe they’re ready to go international.

  12. Comment by Dad2BJM | 11.8.2006 | 9:01 pm

    Beer in UT?? I did not even know that was allowed?? Or, did you slip over into CO.

    Thanks Fatty for the wonderful website – everytime I read your website at lunch, I end up embarrassing myself by laughing out loud, and then trying to explain it to all those around me.

    You have inspired me to work on my goal of getting back on a bike.


  13. Comment by JET(not a nickname) | 11.8.2006 | 9:16 pm

    I used to MTB, but after taking a nasty tumble involving unconciousness and lots of blood, I have since limited myself to staying on the road. Which is sad because I’ve never biked out in the mountains, it’s only been logging trails and stuff around the midwest here. Maybe I’ll end up on a bike out there someday, in fact I know I probably would jump at the chance. Anyhow, I figure it is just safer for me out on the road, with thousands of pounds of steel crusing around me, and glass on the road side, and unexpected animals jumping out in front of you on a 45mph downhill…I guess it’s really not that much safer. Now I’m scared to go back on my bike…

    Anyhow, good story so far FC, look forward to the rest of it. Keep the pictures coming, the one of Botched is fantastic. This post is getting too long, I’ll stop now.

  14. Comment by Lins - Australia | 11.8.2006 | 10:07 pm


    You can order the Matisse & Jacks Energy Bar mix online

  15. Comment by Nanget | 11.9.2006 | 1:12 am

    Every group ride needs a guy like botched. The video makes me almost want to go out and buy a mountain bike.
    Look forward to the next installment

  16. Comment by Tayfuryagci | 11.9.2006 | 5:43 am

    BTW I just saw the video and man, that guy’s climbing a wall!

  17. Comment by bikemike | 11.9.2006 | 9:35 am

    living in flat florida, i’m somewhat jealous. that being said, i think there should be a random review of fatty’s cool friends and who may or may not be the coolest (you guys knew this was coming) and maybe us flunkys in the peanut gallery voting. ( sounds like botched is way up there) just a (trouble making) thought.

  18. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 11.9.2006 | 9:39 am

    Well other than being a renaissance, having an noble hear, and doing *very* well financially, among Fatty’s friends I am a newcomer, and interloper, and mostly tolerated because they want to see me wreck spectacularly on one those stunts.

  19. Comment by Tayfuryagci | 11.9.2006 | 10:13 am

    Let’s hope they’ll call an ambulance after they peer pressure you into jumping off a 40 meter cliff! :D

  20. Comment by dug | 11.9.2006 | 10:27 am

    tay, we will definitely call the ambulance, but it takes a few minutes, because we have to stop laughing, put the camera down, and finish eating whatever we’re eating at the moment.

  21. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 11.9.2006 | 10:28 am

    I think I set a personal record for the number of errors in one of my post. Wow, I count two ommitted words and one ommitted letter plus some iffy sentence construction. . .

  22. Comment by Al Maviva | 11.9.2006 | 10:33 am

    Barry, funny, but I picture you with a six pack as well… Sierra Nevada, to be precise.

    Nice stuff boys. I’ve recently broken out my old MTB and slung a few upgrades on it, largely as a result of reading about all the fun y’all seem to have, as well as the fun my roadracing buddies are having MTB racing. Yes, crossover culture. Pretty weird, huh? A couple of them – the fat ones oddly enough – seem to be better on the MTB than on the road bike. Wassup with that? Not like they’ll be a threat on the Worlds scene, they do tend to crash a lot more than the full-time MTB’ers. It has to be said that compared to skinny dudes on Colnagos, oaks, maples and fir trees don’t do a very good job of getting out of the way when you elbow them.

    As for me on the MTB? I stink unless I stop paying attention to what I’m doing, and in that case, I stink a little less.

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