Moab was already on the cycling world’s map when Skinny Tire Events launched its first road cycling ride in 2004.
Back then, however, few visitors knew that there was more to the area than the Slickrock Trail or other premier mountain biking destinations in the area, according to Skinny Tire Events founder Mark Griffith.
“At the time, road cycling was just kind of an anomaly in Moab because it’s just so associated with mountain biking,” Griffith said.
Since then, he said, events like this weekend’s Moab Century Tour ride have become a right of passage for cyclists who want to crack the 100-mile mark in the span of a single day.
The tour’s flagship ride, which begins on Saturday, Sept. 19, at 7 a.m., takes participants through the Colorado Plateau’s phenomenal red rock landscapes to Dead Horse Point State Park’s overlook, and then circles back for a mellow ride along Potash Road.
“That’s just a fabulous carrot to dangle right out there in front of yourself,” Griffith said.
As a shorter alternative, cyclists can opt for a 60-mile ride to Dead Horse Point and back, or they can join a 40-mile ride along the Colorado River on Potash Road.
“You can get a great social spin without a lot of climbing and enjoy it that way,” he said. “It’s a great, fun ride for those with youngsters.”
With a team of volunteer ham radio operators at their service, cyclists can stop at aid stations along the route and ask service vehicles for rides up steep inclines that may be a bit too much for them.
The aim of the shuttle service is to ensure that participants can comfortably ride at their own skill levels, while enjoying the ride, Griffith said.
“They can look at our vehicles more as shuttles,” he said. “Some people just don’t want to do all of those miles … (With the ham radio operators) you have an opportunity to say, ‘Can you get a vehicle here to give me a ride to the top of the hill?’”
After cyclists return to the Aarchway Inn on Saturday afternoon, local bike designer and builder Pierre Chastain of Blaze Bicycles will serve as a special guest speaker. Donnie and The Blackhats will be performing live music at the Aarchway during registration on Friday and from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and Red Cliffs Lodge will be catering an after-ride lunch at the Aarchway’s courtyard.
On the day after the event, many cyclists typically like to wind down with a “recovery ride,” and Griffith said that local residents can expect to see more bikes on roads around town. Skinny Tire appreciates residents who share the road with cyclists, he said, and it asks its participants to show their host community the same courtesy.
For many participants, the Century Tour rides mark their introduction to Moab, and once they catch what Griffith calls “canyon country fever,” they keep coming back for other events.
“It’s a cultivating event for us,” he said. “It gives people a quick taste of the Moab area and what it’s like to road cycle here.”
Although the Moab Century Tour doesn’t serve as Skinny Tire Events’ flagship fundraiser, Griffith said the group still encourages cyclists to donate money to the cause of their choice.
In the past, anywhere from 20 to 40 riders have teamed up to raise money for the National Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, while others have donated to local and regional cancer treatment programs.
“If you have a local program or your own hospital program, or one that we lift, you can use this to make a difference right now in the fight against cancer,” he said. “… It’s such a positive energy to put toward something.”
Skinny Tire event coordinator Beth Logan said that registration for the event will remain open until 8 p.m. on Friday, and she welcomes anyone who is interested in joining the tour to sign up now.
“This is a great way to get out and enjoy the beauty of Moab, with great support, food and water,” she said.
Skinny Tire Events’ Moab Century Tour brings cyclists to town this weekend
“It’s a cultivating event for us … It gives people a quick taste of the Moab area and what it’s like to road cycle here.”
When: Saturday, Sept. 19; rider check-in begins at 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18
Where: All rides begin at the Aarchway Inn, 1551 N. U.S. Highway 191
Cost: Varies; Local riders are welcome to register through Sept. 18.
For more information, go towww.skinnytireevents.com/page.cfm?pageid=20054.