Thursday, November 9, 2017

Preserving Moore.

There's this trail in our backyard.  Pretty technical, in an old-school, slow-speed, rock crawling sort of way.  It is one of our favorite trails because it requires a delicate blend of skill, finesse, and horsepower to ride well.

The trail is called Moore Fun.  I helped a tiny bit with walking the ridge, laying out the route, and building this trail way back in the late '90's.  Not positive which year exactly, other than it was a long time ago.

In the intervening years I have enjoyed riding this trail maybe a hundred times.  Probably more.  I've never, not once, cleaned every move, end to end, all on the same day.  I know very few people who have.

But I have been able to clean every move on it.  Getting to where I could say that took years.  Delayed gratification.

It's the sort of trail where you have to be in a certain frame of mind: Patient, committed, and focused.  Otherwise the wheels come off pretty quickly and you just frustrate yourself trying too hard.

We've ridden it on hardtails, full suspension, full rigid, singlespeeds, fatbikes, and plus bikes.  All sizes of wheels.  They all work just fine on Moore Fun.

Honestly, the bike matters little here.  If you like the bike you're riding, it's good enough for this trail.

This trail has never been heavily used relative to anything else around it.  Not exactly sure why that is, but I'd conjecture that most people prefer to have a little more speed and flow on their rides.  My proof for that guess is that many (most?) other people I see on this trail are usually walking.  And bleeding.  Seriously.  I've heard it referred to not as "Moore Fun" but instead as "Moore Walking".  One friend simply calls it "Uncle".

It isn't for everyone.

I've gotten to ride it three times this fall, and each of those times I've noticed that Moore Fun is changing.  Being dumbed down, sanitized.  

Several of the marquee moves now have go-arounds, or ramps, or have been butchered such that a unique, well-designed, engaging move is now a straight line with zero challenge whatsoever.

Why?  I really don't know.  By whom?  Don't know that either. 

What I do know is that we have very, very few tech trails left.  So many of the classics have been neutered, brought down to the level of the least common denominator.  And then the tiny fraction remaining is being sanitized by the least common denominator.  Or stravatards.  Or maybe on accident.

Probably ignorance is the theme tying all of the above together: They don't realize that in cheating themselves out of becoming better riders, they're cheating all of us.

Clearly this is a first world problem.  Not something that needs attention from lawmakers of any ilk, nor even from those that administer these trails.  I'm not even certain they ride bikes.

What this problem needs is for us, this community of riders, to stand up and say enough.

If you see someone sanitizing a move on *any* trail, educate them.  Maybe they don't know any better.

It comes to this:

Elevate yourself to the level of the trail.  Don't bring the trail down to your level.  Can't ride it?  No biggie -- walk it this time.  Next time, give a few of the moves a try.  The time after that, try 'em twice.  Eventually, you might put it together and experience the intense satisfaction of delayed gratification.  It is addicting, in ways that the instant kind can't be.

Moore Fun is literally one of the last places that that experience can be had, locally.

Tech trails are vanishing fast.  Please share this around while we still have a few worth saving.


Mike Curiak
Grand Junction, Colorado


  1. Agreed. Nice move on that switchback, too. What patience.

  2. Dang! That three-point switchback!

    Moore Fun was the first GJ-area trail I rode in like 2004ish. I was good enough at tech riding that I'd been nicknamed Trials Jim but that trail worked me. I went back once more a few years later, this time when the wind wasnt howling and after I'd acquired a bike with gears and full suspension but the results were similar.

    I'm gonna head to Loma/ Rabbit Valley trails this weekend, though prob skip that MF stuff. If you and Jeny are around we should meet up!

  3. Thank you Mike! Well spoken..... Moore fun is not my cup of tea but I'd never consider altering it to bring it down to my level. I just don't understand people. I remember a move on a different trail I had tried a number of times but never really bothered to session it figuring "one of these days I'll get it". Then it got completely sanitized/changed and I'll never have the satisfaction now.

  4. Couldn't agree with you more! We have maybe a dozen hard moves on trails in Santa Fe, and year after year, we lose one after another to this foolishness. Try harder, or just f*!$ing walk! PS Jen and I "rode" Moore Fun together in 2000 or 2001 (can't remember which), so it's at least 16 and probably 17 years old.

  5. Hear Hear!
    I love me some Moore fun. Always. On good days, and bad. On all of the bikes. Low end of day light, blazing hot spring, all of it.
    Even chasing the occasional Silverback as he creeps up and over all of the rough stuff.

    Something rattles around in my head about buying big tall soft tires, creeper gearing, and plenty of squish- make your self at home. If it's easier and you're having fun? Well run it. It might make things easier, but only for you.
    Putting in cheater step downs, re-routes, and such?
    Well that makes the trail easier for everyone. Those actions speak for everyone.

    But what cheater rock stacking rider is reading this site?


  6. we must de-sanitize our local trails all the time (pull out rollovers, put logovers back, block off cut throughs) here in the east... my theory for around here is that it seems to happen most when #crossiscoming and those dudes try to beat the local stava records on cross bikes. but there are apparently plenty of people who think that they must bring the hard trails down to a level they can ride.

    i do find it ironic that (locally) most people seem to keep riding bigger and bigger bikes on trails that keep getting easier and easier...

    good post.

  7. Thanks for the excellent post.

    I've cleaned it start to finish, west-to-east, on my hardtail singlespeed four years ago with 29x2.0 tires. It was the third time I had ever ridden it. Moore Fun stimulated my mind and body like none other, and it provided me with an amazing sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. On that day, late afternoon in the beautiful amber light, I was feeling strong, but it took everything I had. I loved it. I've tried to ride it a couple of times since then when I wasn't as up on my game, and I left disappointed, as though I was trying to replicate a magic moment that had passed. My problem was that I was fixated on comparing the present to the past, rather than simply enjoying the moment.

    I ride and race all sorts of bikes too (without e-assist). Even though I like to track my rides on Strava and go fast, I am always disappointed when features change, and pointless cheater lines emerge. I have volunteered with COPMOBA when I can (was under-employed at the time, assisting with the Mack Ridge extension) but mainly invest my spare time building and maintaining the local trails near where I live in Carbondale, CO. My local Red Hill is a technical wonderland too, and one of the main reasons I've stuck around here.

    I think part of the reason, aside from those possibilities you've mentioned for why users modify the trail, is because there is actually "wear" that is occurring in a subtle way every day. You and I both cause it, even if we're not skidding things up intentionally. This trail user-caused transformation, even with the best intentions, means yesterday's trail is not what tomorrow's trail will be. It's hard to freeze the "perfect" environment in time when you're using it, especially when a lot of other riders are using it too. When you ride it frequently, you adapt with those numerous micro-changes, sometimes not even really noticing them. But the trail changes, possibly even getting harder in some places and easier in others. If your doppelgänger self showed up one day or a year later, not having evolved in realtime with those trail changes as YOU did, that alternate version of your self might think "this trail has gotten damaged or worn out" or "that key line - MY line - got ruined and THIS is the new line". You might desire to "fix" the trail, returning it back to the condition you preferred, or simply accept it and adapt. But another trail user's "magic moment" may have occurred on a different day, maybe even before you ever got there, maybe after, and they want to preserve it their way too.

    It's a tough thing to manage. Public lands being used by the public, with a population that is ever growing. There's no doubt about it - change will occur, as frustrating as it seems. I agree with your sentiments though. It would be nice to preserve those few remaining technical trails as they are, or were, initially envisioned, and not transforming them into something that resembles everywhere else.

    Maybe it starts with a sign at the trailhead explaining how "we" prefer things to be in this particular place. Who gets to be the "we" in this case - the designer? The builder? The local? The volunteers? It would require that a trail user be patient enough to read the sign, and those that are "sanitizing" the trails are clearly lacking that virtue, as well as a sense of respect. But if that is occurring because some users are "uninformed", maybe something as simple as a sign would help. I have to force myself to think optimistically about how long that sign would resist vandalism.

  8. I worked on Moore Fun during Trail Crew leader training (long time ago). (just the bit close to the trailhead) That day, we were actually making a section (early in the ride) more difficult thereby letting the rider know right away the skill level needed to ride the rest of the trail. I learned alot, since am mainly a hiker. I sure don't expect a "14er" trail to be made easier for me, I have to scope it out and be in condition and prepared for it. Same thing with nearby Crag Crest. It is what it is, that's the point: the experience. Therefore, am all in favor of a technical trail staying technical; it was originally built that way.

  9. Good article Mike. I too enjoy the uber technical trails of that area and agree mostly with what you say here. I see the same thing happening on some of our trails here in Moab. I do think the reason why it's happening differs a bit from your theory. My theory is that many of the advanced riders on these trails could ride the original line(s), they just choose not to as they're trying to go as fast as possible chasing Strava times or friends in front of them. It doesn't make it right, but it's not all beginner riders who are doing this. The whole Enduro scene with the joke of "french lines" & cutting corners is a real threat in this scenario as it's always faster to go straight through a corner or up and over-vs- around. Sometimes it's harder, sometimes easier, but nearly always faster. Many of our trails have developed braided A & B lines which is another conversation, but I guess my point is that not all cheater lines were developed by folks who couldn't ride the original. They just chose not to.

  10. Mike,
    I appreciate you posting this. I worked at IMBA when that trail came about, Bob is a friend and that name was an emotional tribute to all he did for mountain biking through his career. He liked the irony.
    I am still in the trails "business" now some thirty years later, working with an advocacy non-profit in northern Utah. Just last week I walked a trail with a concerned trail user that badly wants to make one of the major trails we have recently built "more fun". So I get to appreciate the irony too. This particular trail was designed and built by Joey Klein of IMBA Trail Solutions, and is easily one of the most sophisticated pieces of design I have ever seen in term of water management and sustainability. It's also about as grin-inducing as anything I have ever ridden. It isn't however as flowy as some of the other trails nearby, as it requires a different skill set to ride it cleanly and well. I am very much in support of your statement, "Elevate yourself to the level of the trail.  Don't bring the trail down to your level.  Can't ride it?  No biggie -- walk it this time.  Next time, give a few of the moves a try.  The time after that, try 'em twice.  Eventually, you might put it together and experience the intense satisfaction of delayed gratification.  It is addicting, in ways that the instant kind can't be." Let em be and grow to be a better rider in the process. Clearly there is more than one definition of fun.

  11. Mike,

    Long time reader, first time commenter, local rider. Thank you for publishing this post and video. It inspired my friend and I to get out and ride Moore Fun for the first time in many many months. We’ve each probably ridden the trail 25 times, but this discussion helped us see it with new eyes today.

    I’ll be honest, we are guilty of going fast, chasing Strava, looking for fast lines. We are good technical riders but rarely stop to session things more than once or twice, lest it disrupt the flow, bro. But after reading your post & watching the video, we talked about it and set out to session, working on moves that we may get occasionally but not consistently, trying to divine the intended line and find the paths that allow our bikes to pass through obstacles (not around them) with grace. It was enlightening, and just epically good fun.

    Again with the honesty; I’ve always dismissed the Closet Switchback as just silly and contrived, never even attempting it, and have always jumped over the rock to cut it (I do NOT blaze through the dirt creating an erosion trough, in my defense). But after seeing it done, and then approaching it with the right mindset, the proper line is an incredible and unique move that is so satisfying to nail after many attempts, and truly isn’t out of reach for all-but-the-best riders. It can be done!

    Like I say, we are good technical riders. No other trail locally could have provided us with the challenge and satisfaction that we got out of Moore Fun this morning. I wouldn’t want every trail to be that way, but I am thankful we have this one, and definitely want it preserved as it is intended. I liked it before, but I realize that I’ve cheated myself out of some of the enjoyment on previous rides.

    So I guess count me in as at least one person you’ve convinced!