Although the three-day event includes a warm-up ride on Friday and a recovery ride on Sunday, “Saturday is the big day,” according to event organizer Beth Logan, who along with husband Mark Griffith founded the autumn event in 2004 as a supplement to the Moab Skinny Tire Festival, the annual spring event they started in 2000.
According to Logan, participants will choose from among three different riding options on Saturday, the first being the 65-mile La Sal Mountain Loop road, which includes a section dubbed the “Big Nasty,” as it climbs 3,000 feet in elevation over just seven miles. Although a section of the La Sal Loop Road is currently closed to vehicle traffic due to construction near Oowah Lake, it will be passable to cyclists but possibly rough in spots, Logan said.
After reaching the summit near the turnoff to Warner Lake, the Loop Road riders should find smoother sailing downhill as they enjoy breathtaking views of the Castle Valley area before reaching state Route 128 and winding their way back to Moab.
The second option Saturday will start in town, go along the newly paved Moab Canyon bike path, make its way past Arches National Park and up to Dead Horse Point State Park, then back to the turnoff to Potash, then down to Potash via state Route 279 and back to town, a total distance of almost exactly 100 miles, according to Logan.
A somewhat less challenging third option, with only slight elevation changes, is to ride just the 40-mile Potash section only, Logan said, adding that it is especially suitable for less-experienced riders and those with families.
Some hard-core riders are also expected to do the Loop Road portion, followed by the Potash section for a total of 105 miles, Logan added.
“Expect cyclists to be on the roads this weekend,” she said, emphasizing that safety is a primary concern for organizers. Law enforcement officers will be monitoring traffic to ensure safety of motorists and cyclists alike. Legally, cyclists are allowed to ride two abreast unless it impedes traffic, Logan said, reminding that motorists are also required by state law to give three feet of space between their vehicle and any cyclists they pass.
“Just please remember to share the road,” Logan said.
The roads to be utilized by the tour participants include U.S. 191, State Routes 128, 279, and 313, Spanish Valley Drive, and the La Sal Mountain Loop Road. Logan said that by 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, most of the Loop Road cyclists will have completed their ride and will no longer be riding along SR 128 (adjacent to the Colorado River).
Like its popular sister event, the Moab Skinny Tire Festival held each March, the Moab Century Tour geared toward benefiting cancer patients and survivors, with a share of event proceeds going to the Moab Regional Hospital’s Cancer Treatment and Resource Center.
Many of the riders themselves are cancer survivors or are riding on behalf of those with cancer. Some 170 riders who are members of the endurance-training program known as Team in Training are expected to tackle the Loop Road section on Saturday and raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
“A lot of our riders use it as a symbol of survival,” Logan said, “We just want folks to come out, have fun, and be inspired.”
Logan said the event would not be possible without local sponsors and the 80-plus volunteers who will help stage the event.
“We’re excited for our aid station at the Geyser Pass turnoff this weekend,” said Moab Regional Hospital community relations director Jen Sadoff. “A big thank you to all of the volunteers and cyclists for all that you do to support the Moab Cancer Treatment and Resource Center at MRH!”
For more information, visit the website www.skinnytireevents.com or call Logan at 260-8889. The Aarchway Inn motel will once again serve as the event’s headquarters.