After the moon rises over the La Sal mountains, the night sky is well lit. Road cyclists are invited to take in the sweet sage of the desert as they make their way to the Earth’s edge overlooking the Colorado River two thousand feet below.
“As the sun sets and the moon is up above, it should be an awe-inspiring feeling,” said Beth Logan of Skinny Tire Events.
The Moonshadows in Moab is a 44-mile scenic bike ride to Dead Horse State Park and back.
The ride begins at 6 p.m. at the junction of Hwy 191 and State Route 313, which leads to the state park, as well as the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. The ride to the state park is a 2700-foot elevation gain.
“It’s a great, low-key, fun ride,” Logan said.
A light dinner will be served between 7 and 9 p.m. at the Moonshadows Cafe overlooking the Dead Horse Point.
“To be at the Dead Horse Point overlook, and to see the canyons fill with moonlight is iconic,” said Mark Griffith, Skinny Tire Events founder.
Dead Horse State Park’s views of the Colorado River, canyons and the La Sal Mountains are familiar, having been used in several movies such as the opening of “Mission Impossible: 2”, the climatic ending of “Thelma and Louise”, and soon to be featured in this summer’s release of “The Lone Ranger.”
The 59-percent illuminated moon should be high and bright for the descending ride.
“For regular participants at the Skinny Tire Festival, you know this route as one of the ‘Festival Favorites’, with its breathtaking views, generous bike lane and almost no cars besides our support vehicles,” Griffith said.
Lights are required on either the helmet or bicycle for the return ride.
Logan said the night ride is made even more fun with glow sticks adhered to bikes, or riders sporting glow-in-the dark necklaces and bracelets.
“You see the bikes with the headlights, then the people with glow in the dark necklaces and bracelets,” Logan said. “They begin to look like aliens.”
While riders can set their own pace, they need to begin the route no later than 7 p.m.
Organizers are asking riders to plan their trip well, as they finish their ride at the junction of Hwy 191 and State Route 313 no later than 10 p.m.
For those who desire more bicycling, a recovery ride begins at 10 a.m., Sunday, May 19 at the Aarchway Inn.
Skinnytire Events hosts three annual rides: Skinnytire Festival, Moonshadows and the Moab Century Tour.
The first of the year, the Skinnytire Festival held in March, has a variety of rides in the Moab-area. The final event of the year, the Moab Century Tour, has two routes: one metric, the other by mile.
The metric route has a 5,350-foot elevation gain over the La Sal Mountains. The mile route has a 3100-foot elevation gain and goes through the Moab Canyon to Dead Horse State Park, as well as an additional ride on Hwy 279 through the river portal.