Moabites have never owned Moab for long.
That night, even in the post-ten-o'clock-news darkness, when blue-collar towns like Moab should already be sound asleep,
it was apparent to Sam and Alan that the moral title to Moab's stony splendor had officially been signed over to a new group of outsiders. And it didn't require an out-of-town detective to know that the latest
owners were fat-tire freaks.
Like so many obscure Utah outposts, Moab was founded by Mormon pioneers in the first score of years after Brigham Young led the faithful from Nauvoo,
Illinois, to the Great Basin. Young sent the new settlers out into the deserts and mountains of Ute country to set up missionary stakes that he felt would provide anchors for the long lines of the great
spiritual tent of the Mormon state of Deseret.
A hundred years later, by the middle of the twentieth century, the forces of change that flooded the Mormon community of Moab were forces,
appropriately enough, carved from Utah rock. In the 1950s, the nations richest deposit of high-quality uranium was discovered outside of Moab. Almost instantly an army of pickup trucks pulling trailers
invaded the pristine landscape, and uranium miners took over the little town and began to cut into the local terrain like crazed surgeons.
Thirty years later, in the early eighties, as
the mining boom was suffering its final death throes, it just so happened that bicycle tires were growing fatter, bicyclists were leaving highways in search of off-road trails, and two-wheel enthusiasts were
discovering the joys of another rock that Moab happened to have in abundance: red sandstone.
Not only because of Slickrock, a legendary route south of town, but also because of a thousand
miles of more obscure sandstone trails nearby, Moab became known as the place that offered the best mountain-biking experience on the entire planet. Moab, Utah, a place where nobody wanted to be in 1980,
became a place where over a million people would visit annually.