cycling utah March 1999

Canyonlands Fat Tire Festival as popular as ever

By Ron Lindley

The town of Moab was alive and pedaling during the 14th annual Canyonlands Fat Tire Festival which took place Oct. 13-17. From the DemoExpo in the City Park to the Castle Valley overlook on Porcupine Rim, people could be found riding their mountain bikes and having a great time.

The atmosphere was lively and conducive to fun but at the same time relaxed; no one seemed to be in too much of a hurry. This was due in part to the fact that the festival's events were scheduled to give participants time to enjoy their Moab vacation without having to rush about.

Lots of bicycle industry folks were on hand and they were all getting in on the fun as well. Local motels, bike shops, souvenir shops, restaurants, bars and many other businesses were pleased as they were kept busy by the influx of cyclists in town for the festival. Long gone are the days when Moab got overcrowded during the Fat Tire Festival; the town has grown and can now handle the crowds with ease.

The weather for the festival was great, with the exception of a stormy Friday, the entire week was awesome. Daytime temperatures ranged in the mid 60s to 70 degrees for the most part and the nights were crisp but comfortable. The Friday storm forced 2 of 5 scheduled rides to be cancelled, but the 3 remaining rides were successful. The only downside to the Friday storm was that it resulted in some folks deciding not to come to Moab for the weekend which, unfortunately for them, ended up being perfect weatherwise. It's rare that a storm lasts for more than one day in this dry, desert climate.

Without question the best thing about the Canyonlands Fat Tire Festival, year in and year out, is the quality of the people who attend it. The Fat Tire Festival seems to magically enable total strangers to quickly and easily develop friendships with their fellow participants. Whether they're there for the first time or the tenth time, they all have something in common: a love for riding their bikes. (They also love to have fun after they've peeled off their lycra and hit the town.) Over 1000 Mountain bikers from at least 7 foreign countries and 31 states and the District of Columbia were in town during the event. This is truly an international event promoting peace and goodwill to all who attend via the common thread of cycling.

The festival featured the DemoExpo opening in the Moab City Park. Participants could test out the latest from the likes of Bell Sports, Patagonia, Answer/Manitou, Cannondale, Titus, Bolle, Mavic, Ultimate Direction, EvCool, Yakima, Marin, Zeal Optics and Camelback.

Daily guided rides are the heart of the festival's schedule and were all well attended.

The Canoe/Bike Adventure tours were a total success and often sold out. Bruce Keeler from Red River Canoe Company conducted the tours and plans on accommodating more participants for the Canoe/Bike Adventure in 1999.

There was an incredibly entertaining version of the festival's Outdoor Apparel Fashion Show. This year's fashion show was produced by the crew at Rim Cyclery and was arguably the most entertaining 45 minutes of the entire week. Forget everything you know about fashion shows 'cause this one was fresh.

Marin Mt. Bikes and Poison Spider Bicycles teamed up to sponsor the annual Fat Tire Festival Go-Cart Race and Moab Cyclery hosted a free barbeque and trials demonstration that attracted hundreds.

Rim Tours hosted their annual Pancake Breakfast in the Park. A light rain had a dampening effect on the Super D Time Trial competition. Of the nearly 50 riders signed up to compete, only 12 actually raced. Too bad, the rain stopped just before the first rider went and the moisture actually made the 7-mile course better than it had been all week.

The biggest casualty was the first annual Bicycle Chariot Race. The mud was just too gooey at the chariot race course for the not-yet-perfected chariot-to-bike linkage. Chariot builder Brad Sorenson was concerned that someone could get injured with the less than perfect conditions and promised that the 3 totally cool looking chariots would be 100% ready for next year, rain or shine.

The inaugural "Anything Goes Talent Show" hosted by the Moab Brewery, the Parade of Mountain Bikes down Moab's Main Street, formal guided tours, the perennial Slick Rock Poker Run, the finale for the local Moab BMX series and the Fat Tire Festival's Mt. Bike BMX Race are just a few of the other popular events of the festival.

The grand finale of the 1998 Canyonlands Fat Tire Festival was the Mt. Bikers Ball at the Moab Elk's Lodge. Utah's own Uinta Brewing Co. sponsored the event and their product was in plentiful supply during the Ball. Merlin Metalworks was co-sponsor of the party and provided a beautiful titanium frame which was awarded to the winner of the "Best Costume" contest. The costume judges chose a very clever "Kokapelli" costume to receive the coveted frame. The winner was so excited that she nearly broke her flute. Over 100 other first rate merchandise prizes were awarded or raffled during the evening.

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