In the May 2017 issue of National Geographic, Moab topped the list of the 20 best mountain biking towns in America and was touted as a “mandatory pilgrimage for any mountain biker.”
This is not an exaggeration. Each year, thousands of tourists and locals alike ride the area’s network of trails. This weekend, Chile Pepper Bike Shop will host the 13th annual Moab Ho Down Mountain Bike Festival on Oct. 25-28 to celebrate this rugged adrenaline rush of a sport.
The event started “as a party to celebrate the end of the fall season,” said Chile Pepper Bike Shop General Manager Chad Wilson. “Now, it has morphed into a four-day mountain bike festival.”
The event covers a lot of ground. Events include a “Townie Tour” poker run, group rides, an e-bike demo, movie night, Enduro race, costume party and a “Jump Jam.”
“Every event is really fun,” Wilson said. “Not one is to be missed. And 100 percent of the profits of the weekend go back to the bike park and Trail Mix.”
Two festival events are catered specifically toward women.
The Ladies Emergency Trailside Clinic, happening on Thursday, Oct. 25, teaches bike repair and maintenance. On Sunday, Oct. 28, women can attend the SheJumps Girls Biking Clinic with a group ride following the course.
These events aim to “engage more women in the sport and help give them the confidence and knowledge that they need,” said Chile Pepper Bike Shop owner Tracy Bentley. “There are a lot of amazing women out there who are mountain biking and are very talented riders.”
No experience is necessary for these events.
Rim Tours will be guiding group rides on both Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26-27, taking riders to Navajo Rocks and Mag 7, respectively.
Mountain bikers should meet at 9 a.m. at Chile Pepper Bike Shop for a shuttle to the trailhead. If you crave a bit more intensity, you can sign up for the Enduro race on Saturday morning, which will take place on the Amasa Back trail system.
“Amasa Back is a fast, and at times rough, trail to descend on,” Bentley said. “Captain Ahab is a technical single track descent that does have a few punchy climbs that will test a rider’s endurance. It is a mix of sandstone, some ledge drops, and at times is a fairly technical trail.”
Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers in the men’s and women’s open/pro levels. Gear prizes will be awarded to expert, sport and junior level finishers.
Riders can show off their sweet bike skills during the Jump Jam on Sunday, where riders get paid for “sick jumps.”
These might include “back flips, front flips, truck drivers, can-can no footers, [and] ‘Supermans,’” Bentley said. Additionally, every female participant will receive a prize.
“Moab ladies can shred,” Wilson said.
After hitting the trails all day, Chile Pepper Bike Shop keeps the festival going with heaps of evening excitement.
On Friday night at Star Hall, there will be a movie night starting at 7 p.m. The feature film will be “Gamble,” which “bring[s] some of downhill mountain biking’s most talented and charismatic riders together … on tracks tailored for madness,” Wilson said.
Viewers will also have the rare chance to preview homemade bike films submitted by local enthusiasts.
“Kind of like any movie, it’s something you probably can’t do and fun to watch … fantasy riding for most of us,” Wilson said.
On Saturday night, anyone 21 or over can join the festival by donning a costume and heading to the Moab Brewery.
“People in Moab take their costume parties very seriously,” Bentley said. “It is awesome to see.”
This event, right in time for Halloween, will be set to the tunes of iLL Beats Radio and Sidney Frost “who know how to rock a party,” Wilson said. “They have been deejaying for years. The place will be bumping and the dance floor packed.”
No matter where you are in your mountain bike adventures, whether you are an expert biker, are just starting out or dream of hopping on a mountain bike in the near future, the Moab Ho Down has an event to experience.
Mountain biking “is one of the best ways to get outside, take in the view and stay in shape,” Bentley said. “It instills a sense of freedom. Remember that feeling you had when you first learned to ride a bike? It’s just like that.”
Chile Pepper Bike Shop hosts the thirteenth annual Moab Ho Down Mountain Bike Festival
When: October 25-28
Where: Various locations
Cost: Depends on event participation
“Every event is really fun … not one is to be missed. And 100 percent of the profits of the weekend go back to the bike park and Trail Mix.”