Stroll past the Moab Bike Park on 100 West on any given day, and it’s not unusual to catch someone on a bike 10 feet in the air, doing something many wouldn’t do on the ground.
On Halloween weekend, these acrobats and their fans from around the region will gather to ride and raise funds for the popular park’s ongoing expansion and maintenance.
The 11th annual Moab Ho Down Mountain Bike and Film Festival will offer full four days for fat tire enthusiasts. From Thursday, Oct. 27, to Sunday, Oct. 30, the festival features a full schedule of events including guided rides, skills clinics, races and exhibitions.
The evening hours each day will bring everyone back into town for revelry, kicking off with a pizza party at the Coyote Shuttle Headquarters on Thursday evening. Local, national and international films will play at the movie festival at Star Hall on Friday starting at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night will tie everything together with a Ridiculous Costume Party and live music at the Moab Brewery, 686 S. Main St.
Hosted by Chile Pepper Bike Shop, the event is a great way to wind down the mountain biking season and enjoy the end of fall in Moab, festival organizer Wendy Palmer said.
“It’s really a nice time to be here, there’s something about it. The rocks are redder, the air is cool,” she said. “It’s a great small festival; it’s very Moab. It doesn’t feel like a huge event – it’s more fun and intimate.”
It’s also the only fundraiser for the Moab Bike Park, she said. The shop invested in revamping the park with help from volunteers six years ago.
“The park’s awesome because it’s very well used now, and it’s a good asset to the community,” Palmer said, noting that it attracts all ages of spectators and bikers. “Tourists use it, too. It’s a real boon for the community overall.”
In the past, extra proceeds from raffles and festival entry passes have been donated to Grand County Trail Mix, the county committee that builds and maintains most of the mountain bike trails throughout the region.
Recently, Chile Pepper has been using extra funds to expand the park, and hopes eventually to get grant funding to add a bathroom facility, Palmer said. Last year, the shop built a skill zone, where people new to the sport can work up from curb-sized jumps in a safe and controlled environment.
As dangerous as it looks, the park sees very few injuries because it allows people to progress at their own pace, said TJ Cowan of Poison Spider Bicycles. A skilled jumper himself, Cowan has helped build most of the park and is one of its most valuable and consistent supporters, according to Palmer.
“You don’t just jump off the highest cliff or something if you’re cliff jumping. You progress,” Cowan said. “You’re not thinking really so much about what could happen; you’re just more positive, thinking through in your head exactly how you’re going to do it. You actually visualize what you want to do, and then take stepping blocks to achieve what you want to do.”
A Moab resident for 20 years, Cowan has hosted jump jams over the years himself, even using his own backyard to create jump parks. He’ll be among the judges at the Pump Track Competition and Jump Jam on Sunday at the Moab Bike Park, calling out the most impressive moves for immediate cash rewards, and crowning the overall winners at the end of each event.
He’s looking forward to seeing what young locals bring to the jam, he said.
“I love watching those guys ride,” he said. “Maybe they’re not the most experienced riders there, but they get me excited. Someday, I hope they’re the ones maintaining the park.”
11th annual Moab Ho Down Mountain Bike and Film Festival benefits the Moab Bike Park
“It’s a great small festival; it’s very Moab. It doesn’t feel like a huge event – it’s more fun and intimate.”
When: Thursday, Oct. 27, through Sunday, Oct. 30
Where: Locations vary; Register at Chile Pepper Bike Shop, 702 S Main St.
Information: www.moabhodown.com; 435-259-4688