Posted by: Jack | April 11, 2007

Epic Journey: Day 13 – Moab

I apologize for the lapse in what was a steady stream of posts about this trip. I found that as the number/quality of photos decreased, it became more difficult to write enthusiastically rather than just report each day’s events.

As the sun should have been rising, I awoke to find a heavily clouded sky and a steady, cold rain instead. Despite the less than ideal conditions, all of the riders gathered early at the Slickrock trailhead for the days ride. As is tradition, we began with a massive group photo which then led into some more selling-out to Mountain Dew.

Rolf Thompson, the event coordinator and unicyclist-extraordinaire, told us of the plan to continue the challenge competition which began in the skatepark the day before. Four divisions were created based on ability and this event was a far greater success than the previous day’s. Our small group of rider’s had little interest in competing and instead found a high vantage point from which to view many of the challenges. It really was quite a spectacle. In all directions we could spot riders performing amazing feats and then there was the hilarity of an uphill sprint race among the novice division. Keep in mind that I in no way want to discredit these riders. Despite their relative inability they were still unicycling uphill at good speeds on rough terrain, an impressive feat in itself.

While the competition continued, our small group set out to ride the Slickrock practice loop. We had grown slightly larger in number today with the addition of two riders who had arrived the night before. Seth and Jeff were friends of Kyle who is the cousin of two of the North Carolinian brothers. When I had met Seth and Jeff the night before, Seth kind of stared at me for a moment and then said, “You’re Liz’s friend right?”. I paused, considering all of the Liz’s I know. He caught onto my hesitation and supplemented his question with, “Liz from Grand Junction. We met last year.” I then made the connection. One of Anna’s best friends since childhood in Rice Lake is known to me by the name Bizzy, a long stretch from her real name Elizabeth. Apparently the alias had not stuck in Colorado. So anyway, I had indeed met Seth the previous year but at the time he had only just begun to tryout mountain unicycling and had not attended the event. The whole thing was quite coincidental, all factors considered. Then again, some character in some book or movie–I’m totally blanking on the details–once said something to the extent of, “Coincidence is merely a sign that one has not yet considered all of the facts.”

We rode for a couple hours and came to a fork in the loop of which one direction returned to the parking lot and the other went on to the main loop of the trail. With the poor weather persisting, most of our group headed for the cars with the intent of finding elsewhere to ride later in the day. I decided to keep going, knowing that if I stopped for awhile it would be a lot harder to get motivated again. I soon caught up with a small group of interesting and very skilled riders. The first of this group with whom I rode for some time was David who had taken the silver medal in last year’s world championship of downhill MUni. This festival was just one stop on his three-month tour of the states before he would return home to Austria. We were soon joined by a guy whose name I never got but he had come all the way from Denmark. Later in the day I also met Pierre from France. He had recently made a career change and as it was his first year in a new job he received only 5 “holidays” to use for the entire year. He had used up every one of them coming to this festival.

As this group reached the junction with the trail’s main loop, the cold wind and rain really began to pick up. Just before turning back, we took a short break for food and water and I was introduced to Corbin. Corbin had become quite adept at some freestyle-based maneuvers such as gliding (riding with both feet up on the frame and using the tip of one foot rubbing against the tire as the primary means of balance) along off-road trails. In discussing our unicycling-histories, it came up that he is a fairly successful (I assume) software engineer and is currently working on the OS for Apple’s upcoming iPhone. He is actually one of many riders I’ve met who work in the IT industry. Hopefully this common pairing of mutual interests can come in handy sometime in the near future.

We made pretty good time returning to the parking lot but I could definitely feel some fatigue setting into my legs. When I got back to camp I crawled into my sleeping bag and enjoyed a warm nap. By the time I woke up, the weather had passed and it was sunny and warm. That evening the entire group gathered at the Grand Center in Moab for dinner and awards for the day’s competition winners. There were many announcements about groups that are starting up their own MUni festivals and a lot of them sound really promising. However, the one I most want to attend takes place in about a month in North Carolina. But I’m not sure that I can justify the expense involved in traveling to the farthest side of the country for a weekend of riding. In another announcement the group was told that two rider’s had actually gotten engaged on the trail today. If you think it’s a bit strange to incorporate a proposal into a MUni ride, you should see the ring. But, she did say yes so he must have known that it was the right thing to do.

Once again we spent the late evening gathered around a campfire chatting about unicycling, traveling, environmental issues, etc. The morning’s ride wasn’t quite as technical as I would have liked and the weather certainly didn’t cooperate but all in all it was still a good day.

Continue to Day 14

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