Skinny Tire participants take in great scenery, and help raise money for programs like Moab Regional Hospital's infusion room, where cancer patients receive local treatment. [Courtesy photo]

While Moab has long been recognized as a mountain biking mecca, people don’t always realize the area is also great for road cycling, which is part of the reason why Mark Griffith founded Skinny Tire Events 16 years ago.

Griffith wanted to combine the idea of riding on paved roads amidst beautiful scenery, with fundraising for cancer survivorship, research programs and treatment resources. The organization has raised nearly $6 million over the years.

“I lost my older brother to cancer,” Griffith said. “I was looking for a way to heal; I wanted to make a difference.”

Skinny Tire’s primary and favorite beneficiary is Moab Regional Hospital’s infusion room, where cancer patients can receive treatments locally.

Skinny Tire Events offers two cycling events each year – the Moab Century Tour in the fall, and the Skinny Tire Festival coming up from Saturday, March 12, through Tuesday, March 15. Participants can choose from various options – a ride on Saturday only, all four days, or any combination thereof. All rides begin at the Aarchway Inn, 1551 N. U.S. Highway 191.

Day one takes cyclists to Dead Horse Point State Park; Sunday participants ride along the Colorado River corridor; and Monday’s “signature ride” treats riders to the majestic scenery of Arches National Park. March 15 is a wind-down day, with an easier ride along the River Portal, on state Route 279, which is also known as Potash Road. Lunch is provided on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Sharri Casler, of Denver, brought a mountain bike with her the first year she rode in the Skinny Tire Festival. The experience inspired her to buy a road bike.

“I love the Skinny Bike Festival,” Casler said. “It’s such an extraordinary event. I am so moved by it. I’ve come more often than I’ve missed, since 2003.

“I love the camaraderie, sense of purpose and the spectacular scenery.”

While the rides are geared toward cyclists with some experience, a lot of entry-level bicyclists, and sometimes families with kids attend the well-supported event, Griffith said.

“There are aid stations throughout the route with water and snacks so people can stop and take a break to fuel their exercise,” Griffith said. “There’s also support vehicles that roam the site constantly. You can take a break if you don’t want to ride a steep hill.”

There are even ham radio operators whom people can call if they need assistance, or just want to avoid a particular steep climb.

Casler said she always signs up for all four days, even if she can’t make each day.

“It’s well worth it, to have the option to ride every single ride,” she said. “I don’t want to miss riding in Arches. “It’s worth every penny.”

When people sign up, they indicate where they want a portion of the registration fee to go. Often, cyclists from out of town raise money for their own hometown programs, Griffith said.

“We use the event as a medium,” he said.

Participants can create their own fundraising page on Skinny Tire’s website at Others raise money by having fundraising dinners or other events prior to the festival, Griffith said.

Beneficiaries have included the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, and hospital programs in Vail Valley, and Montrose, Colorado.

The four-day event also includes social activities in the afternoons and evenings and opportunities to sign up for massages at the Aarchway Inn.

Due to another, larger event scheduled for the following weekend, the Canyonlands Half Marathon and Five Mile Run and the Skinny Tire Festival are scheduled for the same weekend. For that reason, both events are offering discounted registration fees so people can do both.

“We are coordinating so we’re not doing the same route on the same day,” Griffith said. “So you can run the half marathon on Saturday, and cycle with us on another day.”

Roads will not be closed to traffic for this event, so motorists are asked to be aware of cyclists and maintain a distance of at least three feet when passing.

Skinny Tire Festival celebrates road cycling in Moab

“I love the camaraderie, sense of purpose and the spectacular scenery.”

When: Saturday, March 12, to Tuesday, March 15

Where: Dead Horse Point State Park, Arches National Park and the Colorado River corridor

Cost: Various fees/events

For more information, call 435-260-8889 or 435-260-2334, or go to