What Gage Learned from Riding Porcupine Rim


Adventure Calls

I was on vacation with my family in Moab, UT when I unwittingly decided to do one of the most challenging things thus far in my life.  

I want to start this story by noting I had some previous mountain biking experience in Ohio but am by no means a skilled rider. My brother, on the other hand, is a very experienced and accomplished rider who regularly goes to trails all over the country. 

Earlier in the week, we rode another trail in Dead Horse Point State Park. It was fun and not too challenging. This trail built up my confidence. I was ready to attempt a more difficult trail.  

It Would Be Fun, They Said

My brother rode a different trail, Porcupine Rim, earlier in the week. He completed it in about an hour. This seemed like a good step-up in difficultly for me and I asked him if he thought I could handle it. He replied with a yes. On a side note, Porcupine Rim is considered one of the most technical and dangerous rides in Moab, Utah. It is 14.7 miles long and is marked with a black diamond for its difficulty. The trail begins at an altitude of 6,803’ feet. Mountain bikers from all over the world are attracted to this trail.

I woke up the day of the ride still sore from the previous day. My brother said it would be a good idea if I use my dad’s bike instead of my own since his bike was a “top of the line” mountain bike built for trails like Porcupine Rim. As we were being shuttled up the mountain to the trailhead, I began to realize I was in over my head. We were going up the mountain on a road used only for 4X4 vehicles. The ride up seemed even too treacherous for my personal tastes. 

Once we were dropped off, my brother, noting my apprehension, said if I thought the trail was too difficult, we could exit at any point and call to get picked up. I set my doubts aside, knowing I had an out, and began the ride down.  The trail was much more difficult than I could have imagined! On top of that, my dad’s bike was set up for his height and weight and not my own. This caused the bike to not perform the way it should.

The Point of No Return

After multiple crashes and losing all faith in my riding ability, I asked my brother if we could quit the trail early and be picked up. He called for an early pick-up, and then checked the trail map to take us to the next exit.  To his surprise we were miles passed the early exits and at a point of no return.  I had to complete the trail. 

Knowing I couldn’t bow out early, my brother made some adjustments for me on my dad’s bike and we continued the ride. I am not sure if it was the adjustments he made to the bike or the fact that I knew there was no turning back, but the rest of the ride went significantly better. I did not crash again and actually began enjoying myself and taking in the amazing scenery. It took us (me) approximately 3.5 hours to complete the trail compared to the 1 hour it took my brother earlier in the week. 

My body felt like I had been involved in a serious car crash for the rest of the week, and needless to say, I did not do any more mountain biking in Moab.  

My Key Takeaways from Riding Porcupine Rim:

  • There are levels of difficulty that you cannot appreciate until after you experience them. Your ego could cause you to be overconfident in your ability based on what you have done before. Often things are not incrementally more difficult and that can make it challenging to judge how you will perform. 
  • Be humble or be humbled. 
  • Using “top of the line” equipment can’t make up for the lack of skill or experience needed to succeed at something. 
  • You will likely be surprised at what you can do when there is no alternative but to complete the task at hand. Your mind often finds an excuse for you to quit if quitting is an option.   
  •  Bonus: Always pack snacks because you never know when you will need a boost of energy.  

Let me know your thoughts or any questions you may have gpaul@westernreservecm.com 

Below is a video of a rider much more skilled than myself on the trail.


Gage Paul, CFP®, RICP®, EA
Gage Paul, CFP®, RICP®, EA

Gage Paul is a financial planner at Western Reserve Capital Management. He works with the firm’s clients to create sustainable financial plans and investment strategies.

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