Jeanette Kopell’s favorite Moab ride is up to Dead Horse Point.
That’s why the cyclist didn’t hesitate to sign up for the Moon Shadows Moonlight Ride when it was last held, the year before last.
“The views are just incredible,” said Kopell, of Moab. “The gentleman I was riding with that year – we were cruising along and I looked down and he didn’t have any legs. He made the climb, and I was like, “You are my hero, dude.’”
Kopell is signed up for a ride in Grand Junction this weekend, so she’ll likely miss Moon Shadows. But she’ll help with registration – or certainly be there in spirit.
The Moon Shadows Moonlight Ride begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 5. The route starts at the intersection of Hwys. 191 and 313, about nine miles north of town. Cyclists should meet in the parking area. It’s approximately a 44-mile round trip out to Dead Horse Point overlook and back.
Registration, which is $55, can be done online at www.skinnytireevents.com.
This is the fourth year for the Moon Shadows ride, said Mark Griffith, founder and director of Skinny Tire Events. But it hasn’t been offered in consecutive years, mainly due to a lack of volunteers and other resources.
Griffith started the Skinny Tire Festival about 12 years ago. He added the Moab Century Tour that September and later added the Moon Shadows ride.
“The other two rides are very successful and have a good ridership,” he said. “Moon Shadows is kind of like the icing on the cake.”
Organizers describe Moon Shadows as an unforgettable sunset into moonlight cycling experience.
Moab’s geography especially makes riding at night worthwhile, Griffith said.
“We’ve got such a fantastic alien landscape here,” he said. “To experience it in different ways was our goal. When you see the canyons filled with moonlight, it is a different experience. It looks different. It feels different. That’s what it all adds up to – getting a little bit different slice of the same landscape.”
Moab is transitioning to more people riding bikes, driving 4x4s and hiking at night, he said. Some people have started to realize that exploring at night – after the heat of the day has passed – is a good idea.
So Moon Shadows also caters to that crowd.
Cyclists must begin the ride up to Dead Horse Point no later than 7 p.m. Aid stations along the route will have water and snacks.
Once at Dead Horse Point, cyclists will watch the sun set and the moon rise over a light dinner. On the menu: half a sandwich on fresh baked bread, soup or tomato bisque and a melon-based fruit salad and yogurt.
All cyclists are required to have a headlight, taillight and helmet.
But other than that, everyone is welcome. People of all skill levels and abilities should attempt the ride, Griffith said. Volunteers are able to pick people up and give them a ride the rest of the way up, if necessary.
The route is about 15 miles of rolling hills on the way up and downhill on the way back.
Organizers expect about 100 riders.
It will be worth it, Griffith said.
“When you see the moon rise up at the elevation, looking across the landscape, it’s amazing how big and vast it comes up,” Griffith said. “It’s a lot different than being down in the valley.”