Pre-Race Report: Moab Rocks 3-Day Mountain Bike Stage Race
Written by: Shannon Boffeli
This weekend cross country racing returns to Moab in a big way
with the three day Moab Rocks Mountain Bike Stage Race. In 2013 Moab Rocks will
take the place of 24 Hours of Moab as the marquee cross country event. It even
uses the same date as the now defunct 24-hour event.
Moab Rocks is like no other race ever held in the original
mountain bike mecca in southeastern Utah. Itís three days of racing offers up a
hearty mix of old and new, highlighting Moabís history as the first true MTB
destination and itís future of purpose-built singletrack and renewed commitment
to mountain biking.
Stage one is a perfect example of the duality sought by Moab
Rocks promoters. The stage starts in town and follows the path of the long-forgotten
Tour of Canyonlands (TOC) racecourse. A classic event back in the day, TOC
hosted mountain bikingís elite with names like Ned Overend and Dave Wiens
occupying the start line.
Racers will once again follow the classic TOC course, hammering
from town, out Cane Creek Road, up and over Hurrah Pass before conquering the
never-ending hike-a-bike up Jacobís Ladder. Once atop Amasa Back however riders
will be treated with some fantastic "New MoabĒ riding as they descend the
newly-completed Captain Ahab trail. A sparkling new jewel in Moabís crown,
Captain Ahab serves up several miles of tight, twisting singletrack built with
only mountain bikes in mind.
Itís the perfect stage to showcase the freshness of Moabís new
trail offerings while recognizing itís legacy in the mountain bike world.
Stage two is no different. Riders will attack the long, steady
climb up Sand Flats road, cruise past the Slickrock trailhead and charge their
way out to the Upper Porcupine Singletrack, from there itís descending down UPS
and Porcupine Rim proper. Finally finishing at the Colorado River.
The final stage takes place on the Bar M/Magnificent 7 trails
system, a fabulous collection of singletrack trails most of which have been
built in the last 3 years.
Each day offers up about 30 miles of riding finishing with a
daily gathering for racers to share stories and enjoy a few beers provided by
Competition should be top notch with several elite riders making
the trip to Utah for the late season race. Current U-23 national champion and
recent winner of the Pisgah MTB Stage Race Kerry Werner (BMC Development) will
be on hand. Heíll be going up against another young gun Russell Finsterwald
(Trek) as well as endurance specialist Drew Edsall (Kenda/Felt) and mountain
biking legend Travis Brown.
Racing begins at 9AM on Saturday and ends Monday.
Kenda/Felt rider Drew Edsall has been riding each stage of Moab
Rocks in preparation for the race. He shared some of his observations with us
Check in with MTB Race News for the most up-to-date photos,
reports, and results from Moab Rocks
MTB Race News - What do you think
about the stages?
Drew Edsall - The Stages offer a
unique and exciting set of new challenges. You have to be a great all around
racer: great fitness to get up the fireroads, and then the technical skills and
equipment to get through the tough and demanding singletrack. Also, the terrain
is beautiful in all three stages. You are surrounded by huge canyons, one of
which you hike-a-bike up. That is insane!
MTBRN - Which one will be
your favorite and why?
DE - Stage 3 is by far
my favorite. Reason being is it has a lot of fun singletrack pretty early on.
Stages 1 and 2 have a good amount of fireroad. I don't like fireroad, and in
fact HATE fireroads at times. The good part is after the fireroad you get super
technical, mind blowing singletrack and views on those stages. So I will make
due and have a blast destroying my legs on the fireroads hopefully.
But Stage 3 is different with less fireroad, which is a good
reason I like it. It has singletrack that fits my style of on/off, spiky power
efforts very well. Should make for a grueling and very fun last day in the
saddle. Stage 3 will be THE stage for me. Looking forward to it.
MTBRN - What do you think
about the Jacob's Ladder hike-a-bike on day one?
DE - Jacob's
Ladder.....it's not a ladder first of all. It's a freaking cliff! I pre-rode
this a few weeks back, looked up, and cursed a few times debating on whether
that really was what we were going up.
It is super hard with a bike on your back at race pace,
especially a bike that is set to work with the tough terrain after this. I've
got my Felt Edict 29er set up to race this. It's an XC machine and is a bit
lighter then the "perfect Moab bike". I imagine a lot of riders might
be hauling up something a bit heavier. That will be interesting to say the
But, getting to the hike some more: with one hour of
torturous fireroad prior to that, it will be interesting hiking up that with a
bike at race pace when my legs are already screaming at me. But, I'll get it
done......it's all about a new challenge!
MTBRN - What excites you
about racing your bike in Moab?
DE - Technical terrain
mixed in with plenty of fireroad to test your fitness too. You got to be a
great all-around racer to win this and let alone get through it for the
majority of racers out there. Go up fast, and then go down fast too without
destroying your equipment or your body. It should be a very interesting race to
test skills, equipment choice, and fitness all in one. Then, not to mention,
the views are spectacular.