By Brice Minnigh
The Fourth Annual Moab Ho-Down Bike Festival will begin this Friday, October 30, in a weekend of racing, group shuttles and parties that will usher out another mountain biking season in Moab, Utah.
The festival is known for its demanding races on technical Moab singletrack, and this year's festivities will feature more racing than ever before, with DH and Super D events in addition to the perennially popular Dirt Jump Jam. And while costume parties and movie screenings will punctuate the two-wheeled action, the organizers say it's the racing that really makes the festival special.
"We've finally brought mountain bike racing back to Moab," says Tracy Reed, who has co-organized the event for the past three years along with husband Ryon Reed. "Other than 24-hour races, there haven't been any other types of mountain bike races in several years, and we're bringing back true mountain bike racing to Moab.
"Each year, we've grown the festival with more events, and this has helped bring people in from out-of-town—places like Salt Lake City, Durango and Flagstaff," says Reed, co-owner of Moab's Chile Pepper Bike Shop, the festival's title sponsor. "I think we'll see a lot of people roll into town this weekend."
So far, the Super D race has received the highest number of registrants, with riders eager to shred the challenging 6.5-mile course through some of Moab's most celebrated singletrack. Under the permit the organizers obtained for the race, the event is capped at 100 riders in order to minimize the potential impact on the trails. Following the race, the Bureau of Land Management will examine the course to assess the impact and determine whether the event could be expanded to include more racers next year.
The Super D race will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, November 1, and the Porcupine Rim trail and LPS trail will be closed from 1-3 p.m. The cost of the race, which includes the pass to the overall festival, is $70.
For its part, the DH race will be run along a course that has not been used in an official downhill race in over a decade. Pro riders are expected to complete the course in less than three minutes. As with the Super D race, the cost of the DH event is $70 and includes the festival pass.
For those wishing to enter both the Super D and DH races, a dual-race pass is being offered for $110, which includes entry to both races as well as all the other festival activities.
In addition to the races, there will be a dirt jump jam on Saturday, October 31, at 3 p.m. Riders will be able to take a few practice runs before being judged on their performance over the course of several runs each. The first-place finisher will win a new Giant STP dirt-jump frame.
The festival will kick off with a screening of NWD 10: Dust & Bones at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 30. There also will be a group shuttle ride on Saturday at 9 a.m., and a Halloween costume party with live music will be held at 8 p.m. the same night. All of these activities are included in the $33 cost of the basic festival pass.
While filled with activities, the weekend is primarily designed to give those involved with the Moab mountain biking industry the chance to just let their hair down at the end of a long season.
"It's basically a way for people here in Moab to wind down the season after everyone has worked so hard all season," says Reed.
Online registration will close at midnight on Wednesday, October 28, but participants will be able to register at the Chile Pepper Bike Shop from 8 a.m. on Thursday, October 29 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 31.
For more information, go to: moabhodown.chilebikes.com