Sharon and I are huge fans of the American Southwest and have been to Moab more than a few times. I was pretty excited when I heard there was a new trail in town and just about lost it when I saw the video that Tyson Swasey released about "Captain Ahab".
Tyson Swasey on Captain Ahab
This trail is approximately 4.3 miles in length dropping a total of about 1000ft in elevation (not counting the various up and downs). It officially opened on March the 31st and is accessed from Amasa Back and signed. Captain Ahab has the distinction of being the first BLM sanctioned advanced trail in Moab (the Bureau of Land Management
is one of the agencies responsible for administering lands in the area).
As the video shows Captain Ahab is a classic new-school Moab trail being about views, contours, rock-benched singletrack and exquisite route-finding. As a trail builder and a rider I was probably even more stoked about the building part of the video than the riding; giggling like a kid when I saw the trail crew pry out 600 pound sandstone rocks. I knew I had to find out more about Captain Ahab so caught up with Tyson who gave me a run-down on how the trail came to be.
First and foremost, Tyson is 26 years old, grew up in Moab and works at Poison Spider Bicycles, a well-known local shop. Tyson was quick to point out that this was a team effort involving a tremendous amount of help from the Moab Trail Mix organization
; a volunteer mountain bike advocacy and trail work organization sponsored by the local county government.
Tyson Swasey (photo by Mike Curiak - used with permission
Kyle Mears and Tyson Swasey
Tyson's story started around January 2012 when he and his good friend Nick Badovinac hiked out the route of what would become Captain Ahab; walking a series of shelfs below Amasa Back. One of the prime issues with Moab trails is resolving issues arising from wildlife and archaeological impacts. Tyson and Nick addressed those issues by route selection that not only emphasized rolling terrain but avoided sensitive wildlife and archaelogical hotspots (with the aid of BLM maps).
The two then brought their route to TrailMix. With the help of tireless work from volunteers like Geoff and Sandy Freethey who head up advocacy and administration efforts, this group has won the trust of local governments while still retaining local cred and mountainbiking savvy. TrailMix promptly voted to adopt and support Tyson and Nick's route.Tyson Swasey, Brian Luger on Captain Ahab - left is the trail before; right is the trail after
The next step was then to bring the route plan to the BLM. The saying that all politics is local most definitely applies to mountain biking especially when an agency like the BLM has so many responsibilities to so many user groups. Fortunately mountain bikers of Moab have Katie Stevens of the BLM to thank for helping steer the process of environmental, wildlife, archaelogical and other approvals so that construction of Captain Ahab was approved in December 2012.
A cold snowy start to winter then further delayed the start of construction. On January 20, 2013 work started. As stated earlier this was truly a team effort but particular credit must go to Brian Luger (a Trailmix employee and mountainbiker), Tyson, Geoff, Sandy as well as the army of volunteers who put in over 280+ volunteer hours of work over the next two months to clear the route and prepare the trail. Highlights included hauling in a 60 pound come-along with a 1/2" steel-braided cable to haul and place boulders & sandstone slabs. Just one of the many rock steps on Captain Ahab
For more information about some other trails that add to Moab's new singletrack check out our writeup from last year (Part 1 here
and Part 2 here
For some maps check out the Trail Mix's map page here