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Pre-Race Report: Moab Rocks 3-Day Mountain Bike Stage Race

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |November 13, 2013 2:24 AM
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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 Moab Brewery.

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 below.

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'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 least.

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'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. 


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