Sometimes, I wish I was brave
Last spring a group of us from Colorado took a trip to Moab, Utah to do some mountain bike riding. From the Front Range of eastern Colorado, a drive to Moab takes some 5.5 to 7 hours depending on which city marks your departure point. So that the entire first day isn’t consumed by driving, many people stop in Grand Junction or Fruita to ride for a few hours before continuing the trek to Moab; which is what we did on our spring trip.
I wish I was stronger
On both ends of the Moab trip, we stopped at a trail head titled “Kokopelli Loop Trails”. While we thought it was a great warm-up day for Moab, on the homeward stop we decided that the Fruita area deserved a trip dedicated to riding the local trails. That trip happened over the Columbus Day weekend.
I wish I could feel no pain
We left the Loveland area at 7:00 am, the temperature was a frosty 18 degrees Fahrenheit, it was snowing and the roads were slick. Though the weather forecasters predicted the storm would be over before we reached Denver, it turned out we had snow and icy conditions well onto the westbound I-70 portion of the trip. An early morning accident at the Eisenhower, Johnson Tunnel rerouted us over Loveland Pass. (Note to skiers, Arapahoe Basin and Loveland Basin have both been making snow and each have one run open.)
I wish I was young
When we arrived at the Kokopelli Loop trailhead, it was 68 degrees Fahrenheit – well worth the 300ish mile trip. We began with Mary’s Loop and headed right to Horsethief Bench. There is some great video of this trail on website by Pete Fagerlin. If you watch the Horsethief Bench video, you’ll get a good idea of what the trail is like. That written, anyone that has ever shot video or even some still shots of mountain bike terrain knows the camera does not do true justice to the difficulty of any given section. To give you another perspective, below is a photo of Scott Ellis and Todd Singiser on the way back up the most technical part of this trail.
I wish I was shy
After a day of playing around on several of the trails in this area, we headed back to Fruita for some excellent food at Fiesta Guadalajara. After filling our guts and rehashing the day, it was back to the hotel to watch several of the videos on Fagerlin’s site and decide the strategy for the next couple of days.
I wish I was honest
On Sunday we popped into the two local Fruita bike shops, “Over the Edge” and “Singletracks”. Both shops were out of the waterproof maps, but we did end up asking one of the people in Singletracks what his recommendation would be. He told us he considers the best area of riding to be the area we visited the previous day. Then, he said if we wanted “rocky, ledgy and more technical” we should visit The Tabeguache Trail system outside of Grand Junction, and ride an area known by locals as “The Lunch Loop”. If we wanted smooth, flowing trails, he suggested we ride the Bookcliffs area, also known as Road 18 Trails and North Fruita Desert Area. We decided to do the tougher trails on Sunday, smooth and flowing on Monday morning before the drive back home.
I wish I was you not I
If you look at a trail map, there are three parking areas for the trail system. Start at the lower trailhead parking lot. If you go back multiple times, explore the higher parking lot areas. We started on the Tabeguache Trail and stayed primarily on that trail, finally connecting to the Gunny trail. There was definitely enough challenge here for us. I was short on photos today, but you can find video of the Gunny loop on Fagerlin’s site.
Sometimes, I wish I was smart
On the final day, we decided to hit the Bookcliff’s area and ride several of the connectors to Joe’s Ridge. After two days of riding, our legs were tired and we decided “smooth and flowing” trails sounded good. Do not assume “smooth and flowing” means mindlessly easy. No. It does not.
I wish I had power
We rode out of the lower trailhead and made our way to Chutes and Ladders. This is a fun trail with shorter, steepish climbs and equally described descents. While the entire trail system is probably smooth sometimes, we found a number of sections deeply rutted from significant rains. The three- to six-inch ruts kept you alert and picking your lines wisely. One false move on a deeply rutted section would grab your front or rear tire. Sometimes the error was recoverable, other times not.
I wish I could lead
After Chutes and Ladders, we headed to Joe’s Ridge. Just as it sounds, the trail runs along the top of a ridgeline. There is not much room for error, should you drift off of the trail. In some sections, there are only inches to spare and in other sections, one to two feet. A tumble down the side of the hill isn’t like falling off of a rocky cliff, but it would be awhile before you stopped rolling. Fagerlin has video of Joe’s Ridge and below is a still shot.
I wish I could change the world
For anyone looking for great singletrack and plenty of options for ride difficulty as well as varying terrain, I’d highly suggest the Fruita area. A couple of good resources include “Fruita Fat Tire Guidebook” and the www.latitude40maps.com “Fruita Grand Junction Colorado Trails Recreation Topo Map.” There are also single-page maps available at the trailheads, if they are in stock.
Let's start over
Let's start over
Note: The italicized sections of the blog are portions of the song “I Feel So” by Box Car Racer, heard at the beginning of the Fagerlin Horsethief Bench video. We felt motivated, and encourage others to do the same, to add our own words after:
I wish I was…
I wish I could…