Moab Rocks brings 3 days of XC and enduro mountain biking to classic trails, Oct. 10-12 |

Moab Rocks brings 3 days of XC and enduro mountain biking to classic trails, Oct. 10-12

A rider cruises through singletrack during the Moab Rocks stage race in 2014. The race returns this year from Oct. 10-12 with three stages on lesser-known Moab routes.
Special to the Daily |

Moab Rocks MTB race

What: A three-day stage race on classic Moab trails like Klondike and Porcupine Ridge, with a combination of cross-country stage racing and enduro-style downhill sections

When: Saturday to Monday, Oct. 10-12

Where: Swanny City Park, Moab

Cost: $399 for full race, $159 for individual stages

Online registration is still open for the full race and individual stages. Entry fees go to a marked route with two aid stations daily, medical/rescue support, chip timing, prizing and fundraising for Trail Mix, a local trail committee. To find out more, including detailed course maps, see the event website at

It’s that time of year again, when Colorado mountain locals head to Moab for one last taste of summer before the start of ski season. And you’d better believe mountain biking is on the schedule.

For the third year, the Moab Rocks stage race returns to Moab’s classic singletrack for three days of racing in the blessedly warm, dry heat of our neighbor to the west. But Moab Rocks isn’t your typical stage race. Every day, racers competing in the full event test their MTB mettle in two ways: A traditional cross-country route, where stamina is key, and an enduro-style downhill, where descending is the name of the game.

“For a lot of people, whether they’re seriously racing or not, Moab is a peak summery place to ride throughout the year,” said Nick Ranno, spokesman for the Moab Rocks organizer, Transrockies. “It’s a fantastic fall and spring destination. When there’s snow everywhere else, you can come ride trails.”

Ride the desert

Registration for this year’s race is still open, but organizers expect it to fill quickly in the final days before the starting gun. There are five categories: Open men and women, 40-plus women and men and 50-plus men. Prizes are split between XC and enduro winners in each category, with overall and daily winners.

The roster is capped at 200 riders, meaning this isn’t a massive event in the vein of the Firecracker 50 and Leadville 100 MTB. And that means riders have more room to enjoy the stunning scenery — and technical intricacies — of Moab’s trails.

Stage one kicks off on Porcupine Rim, a 32.9-mile ride across iconic desert ridges with a combined 4,400 feet of elevation gain. The enduro section comes near the tail end, when riders are timed on 11.4 miles of descent over 2,900 vertical feet.

The stage one route passes by the famed Slickrock Trail, but rather than stick to tourist-approved rides, it follows the double-track Porcupine Rim system to the singletrack descent. Organizers went out of their way to pick trails that other races simply skip over. After all, that’s part of the appeal.

“When you add the element of racing on a far-off trail, you spend a lot of time on terrain that most races just don’t have,” Ranno said. “Moab Rocks offers the rare opportunity to hit these trails in a whole new way, with a number plate on and the intensity of racing against the clock.”

This isn’t a cookie-cutter stage race, with predictable climbs and routes. Look at stage two on the Klondike trail: The 27.3-mile ride begins near town and soon climbs into the nearby hills, taking riders through tight switchbacks and constant elevation changes for a total of 2,800 vertical feet. The short and fast enduro section comes smack in the middle of the stage, with 550 vertical feet of descending over 2.7 miles.

The race wraps up with a 29.8-mile ride on one of Moab’s premier trail systems, Magnificent 7. It’s a fast and fun route over desert ridges, including a 9.1-mile enduro descent over 1,180 vertical feet. The system is actually seven trails (hence the name), like Bull Run, Poison Spider and Little Canyon.

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