After the quiet backwaters of Fruita, I’d expected Moab to be fairly commercial in feel, and teeming with legions of bikers (like me). So I was pleasantly surprised at how laid back it was. Sure, arriving at the very tail end of the season probably helped. But still, it had a vibe I really liked, and it’s up there in my Favourite Places Along This Ride. Probably much of this is to do with the people I fell in with, thanks to Cullen, he of the lamb chop sideburns and warm smile, who I met at the somewhat ominously titled Poison Spider bike shop.
There’s a really strong community feel here. Yoga, recycling, low impact living and the coolest thrift store I’ve seen – it’s packed with outdoor goodies. Everyone’s striving to live the lifestyle they aspire to (biking/climbing/rafting), balancing the life that brings them happiness with the nuts and bolts of making ends meet. Inevitably, much of the population migrates in the winter months to places like Colorado, or even Costa Rica. Some work in forestry, or in the bookstore, or the camping stores, or as guides.
At a party I went to, I met one guy who tracks tortoises in the Mojave Desert. Apparently shell aside, tortoises have the highest level of testosterone of any animal, pound for pound! And despite their placid manners, they’re tenacious little fighters when it comes to winning over the ladies. The males battle it out like sumo wrestlers, trying to tip each other over. If they do, there’s a technique to righting themselves again. The tortoise begins to arc one its wrinkly little arms in every greater circles, finally twisting his body like a wrester and hurling his arm like a hammer thrower, with one final dynamic movement that spins himself over. How cool is that! Made me think of the wise old Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda.