Sunday, December 9, 2007

Canyonlands Fat Tire Festival: circa 1988. First Road Trip

"Halloween of 1986 saw the first unofficial Canyonlands Fat Tire Festival, put on by Rim Cyclery. It was an organic, spontaneous event that grew over the years to legend status. This was a time for the industry “hotshots”, racers, and the “regular folk” to get together, ride hard, relax, and have a good time. There are too many stories from the festival days to recount here, and most of them are better told over a campfire or in the backroom after a long day of riding."

Copied from the website here:

Yep, been there, still got the T-shirt. I had wondered if Kevin (see last post: Lines on a Map)and I had been there for the first one, but we missed that by a couple of years. Still, I remember Moab as a VERY sleepy little town with one, maybe two bike shops, but I think Rim Cyclery was it. There were a few restaraunts, no fast food that I recall, and not much else. But, the rocks were there, no doubt.

We rolled into town in the afternoon and stayed at the Bowen Motel, still there I think. Not much else to do as evening approached, we drug the motel room chairs out onto the sidewalk and watched the town roll up for the night. Later we amused ourselves by swatting flies off the ceiling. High times I tell ya.

The next day, we rode over to the Rim bike shop. The vibe was awesome as all over town, mtn bikers were riding by on all kinds of cool bikes. It felt so amazing to be part of that atmosphere. We were so stoked; The red cliffs, the cold air, the whirr of freewheels and buzz of knobbies. I still remember that feeling. We were less jaded then, no doubt.

Wow, Rim Cyclery was a candy store for sure. We saw more cool bikes parked outside than we could believe. Hand made Ritcheys, Potts, Fishers, Goats, Ibis's (Ibii?), Fats, and all the other more common stuff that we could afford was just everywhere. We registered for the festival and picked the rides we had to try. The land of Oz at the end of the yellow brick road for sure, and we were among the tribe in the Emerald city.

Some of it we were going to do on our own. the Slickrock Trail was one of them. We looked at the distance for the full loop (10 miles or so), figured we could knock that off before lunch and then get something else in that afternoon. Silly us. It was a hoot of a ride. I could not believe how far you could lean over the bars and pedal without losing handlebars into the belly button stuff. And the ledge descents were just as amazing with rubber stripes worn into the crotch of our riding shorts from buzzing the rear tire. I still can hardly believe we rode that on rigid bikes. Slickrock is deceptively bumpy. It looks smooth, but it is not really. But hey, that was the way it was, no other options. Fat 2.2 Hardpack IIs aired down and that was that, elbows and knees provided the rest.

10 miles later, we were totally thrashed. We had cleaned the whole trail as far as I recall. There would be crowds of folks at the top of some of the tougher climbs just watching everyone try to ride them. My Schwinn Paramountain with its silly long chainstays and pretty light build was a monster on that rock and I cleared it all to the hoots of the crowd. At least, that is the way I remember it;). Either way it went, we had gained an appreciation for the riding here. It was sweet and sassy and the sassy part had kicked our butts. We felt like we had gone to the gym and done squats and bench presses more than a bike ride....totally anarobic. We barely had enough energy to eat a huge pizza and ride over to the Rim bike shop to take in the atmosphere.

I remember one led ride where the local giving the tour was amazing, riding in Teva-type sandals and worn out tires that had been sewn back together to get a bit more use out of them. He was such a good rider. We held up the California end of things and rode the techy stuff well, but that was where Kevin and I had cut our teeth, riding rough trails, exploring, etc. Shoot, now most 16 year old riders can clean our clocks with doubles and 10' drops to flat but back then, we were pretty good and we rode it for all we could. I remember there was a guy...he even had his own poster (which I have at home IIRC)...can't remember the name, but he rode a very high end bike, some hand made aluminum thing and just did the most insane bowl rides and OMG roll-overs into steep drops on the slickrock trail. We were not THAT good, just to set the record straight. Todd something? Hmmm.

We went to the Halloween party. Wow that was an interesting look at the Tribe. There were some children of the earth types there that had some...ahhh.. interesting costumes on.

It all seems so long ago. I have been to Moab several times since then either for biking or 4wheeling and it has grown so much, I hardly know it from that week in 1988. But I bet you all remember your first road trip and that was mine.

I wish I could find pics of that trip. Got 'em somewhere, I think. So far, no luck on the pics and my memory is pretty sketchy for a lot of it. I do remember I was there. The T-shirt proves that.

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