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General Articles - Editorials

Only Difference Is The Number Of Wheels

Article written by Josh Nichols

Date Added: 12/16/2007

Let?s start by throwing all the stereotypes on the trail.

ATVers are those wild, rowdy environment-hating backcountry ramblers who blow exhaust in the faces of mountain bikers as they pass them on the trail, right?

And mountain bikers are yuppie, self-righteous hate-everything-fun trail users always working to get backcountry access closed off to ATVers drivers, right?
If you fall into either of these belief categories, I?m sorry to hear that.

You?re the ones I hope read on.

On the third day of a recent Moab mountain biking adventure, two buddies and I did the Poisonous Spider Trail just outside Moab. It?s considered a ?classic Moab ride? for mountain bikers, and is just as popular for ATVers.

On one steep climb, we came upon a group of four Jeeps. The people driving those Jeeps were gathered around one Jeep with a man lying beneath it, apparently trying to figure out where a drip or funny noise was coming from.

They were right in the middle of the trail, and as we got closer, I assumed the folks standing around watching would honor trail etiquette and step aside for us. They didn?t.

I got off my bike and walked around them ? a snarl taking shape on my upper right lip. I began to morph into that angry mountain biker stereotype.

?%*%^^# inconsiderate, trail hogging jerks,? I grumbled as I made my way up the trail. ?Take your beasts somewhere else.?

A mile up the trail I was still fuming, when I noticed there was a bit more bounce in my trunk ? and pedaling had all of a sudden gotten harder. Drat! My luck for the weekend had finally run out. I had a flat.

I already had my bike flipped upside down and the punctured tube was removed by the time a Jeep came creeping up the trail.

?Great, go ahead and get your kicks as you rumble by the broken-down mountain biker,? I thought, still bitter from my earlier experience.

The Jeep came to a complete stop next to me.

?Got everything you need?? the driver asked, leaning out the driver-side door and examining my situation.

?Yeah, I?m good. But thank you.?

?Are you sure? Is there anything I can do to help??

?Nope, all covered, but I really appreciate it.?

?All right, you have a good one.?

I looked at my two buddies as the Jeep drove off, ?Nice guy.?

Whoever teaches off-roaders that they?re supposed to hate mountain bikers obviously hadn?t gotten to that guy.

With my flat fixed, we continued on our way.

One buddy took off ahead of us, the other buddy lagged a bit behind. I rode for what had to have been three, four miles ? soaking up the sun and scenery on a beautiful fall ride in canyon country.

Then it hit me. The buddy that would always ride ahead would usually stop and wait for us to catch up every mile or so. But I?d been riding for a lot more than a mile. He was nowhere to be seen.

Somewhere, I missed a turn. I was lost.

And I was clueless. Considering I get turned around pulling out of the driveway, I looked for answers from my buddy who had just caught up from behind.

He looked left, he looked right.

?Yeah, I?m not sure,? he said.

We were lost in Poisonous Spider?s tangled web of trails.

We backtracked a few miles and took a turn we thought I had missed.

We pumped for quite a few more miles down that trail. Our third friend never appeared, and we were convinced we should have reached a ridge overlooking Moab by that point ? that ridge was our way out of the hilly, slick rock wilderness.

We then did what any confused, tired mountain bikers would do. We took a seat on the nearest rock, removed our helmets so we could scratch our heads, ate a granola bar, and moaned about how we wished we?d thrown a few beers in our Camelbacks.

I?d about convinced him that the only way out was the way we?d come in, which would tack about two hours onto our trip, when another Jeep pulled up.

We explained our situation, and the driver pointed behind us. ?That?s where you?re trying to get.?

Our Moab overlook, and access to a trail down, was just 200 yards away. We couldn?t believe it. Five minutes prior, we were prepared to backtrack two hours, when our way out was 200 yards away ? saved by a Jeeper.

When we finally made our way back to the parking lot, our buddy was waiting for us wearing a ?Where in the hell have you been?? look on his face.

He had waited for us on the ridge for more than an hour.

A few people in Jeeps stopped and asked if he was OK while he waited ? shaking their heads ?no? when asked if they?d seen us.

One Jeeper, feeling sorry for our waiting friend, gave him a Gatorade, and then asked, ?You hungry??

Now remember, some in the ATV community will lead you to believe that you?re supposed to snarl at mountain bikers, and some in the mountain biking community would lead you to believe that riders should do the same.

Once again, someone forgot to tell this Jeeper that.

He tossed my mountain biking friend a six-inch BLT Subway sandwich, wished him best, and headed on his way.

Final Thoughts

Josh Nichols is managing editor of the Grand Junction Free Press, and admits that one reason he got started in mountain biking instead of Jeeping was a cheap mountain bike was a lot cheaper than a cheap Jeep. Reach him at editor@gjfreepress.com.

Our Thank You's!

MOABJEEPER Magazine would like to thank Josh Nichols for allowing us to run his article.

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