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Mountain Biking at 18 Road

By Ann Driggers

All summer long, every time I pulled on my running shoes, I walked past my mountain bike collecting dust in the garage. I have not been out riding once this year. This has never happened before, not since I got my first bike well over a decade ago. In preparing for the Grand Canyon trip, my heavy running schedule has pushed the bike to the back of my mind, as well as to the back of the garage. Festering in the corner, my extremely nice bike (of which I am not worthy) developed a serious pout. And now, having wrapped up my running for the year, it was giving me a major guilt trip as there was no longer an excuse not to take it out. Since the weather this weekend was better than perfect for desert riding, I headed out to the 18 Road area with a few friends. The plan was to do what my friend Mike calls the ‘M’ loop. He claims that its traces the shape of an ‘M’ through the network of trails in the area. I have to confess it’s the strangest shaped ‘M’ I have ever seen. It bears so little resemblance to the letter that I am convinced that Mike calls it ‘M’ because he wants to name a trail after himself.

Naming rights aside, there is no doubt that the 'M' loop is an excellent way to spend a few hours, linking some of the best rides in the Grand Valley. Not only that, it has a great flow with a perfect beginning, middle and end. Starting out, we headed west into the desert on double track for a couple of miles, a nice warm up. Then a steady climb on Western Zip elevates the heart rate before hitting the Front Side trail. This is where the fun really begins. Smooth, swoopy single track took us across the base of the Bookcliffs. It is interjected with one tough but short climb leaving you reeling and gasping for air, and that's just from pushing the bike up. After a few miles of more ripping on the roller coaster we hit Kestle Run, a super fun trail that flows down a shallow drainage like a half pipe. Kestle Run is my favorite at 18 Road and never fails to put a big grin on my face. All the trails were in fantastic shape and surprisingly so after a long dry summer.

Giggles and grins on Kestle Run: Krissy Steele is followed by Jen Rapiejko

Grins on Kestle Run.jpg

However there is a problem with the ‘M’ loop. Having finished the first part of the 'M', in order to connect to the next section, one has to ride directly through the parking lot. And that was a problem because there was a cooler with cold beers in my car and on this particular day I was very thirsty. Even the awesome riding on Prime Cut and Chutes and Ladders could not entice me to ride past my car and continue on. Like a pin to a magnet I was drawn to that cooler. After sinking a few it’s even more difficult to go back and ride again. So in the end we did half of ‘M’, which really is an ‘A’ and since my name begins with ‘A’, that’s what I’m going to call it. And may I also suggest that the 'M' loop should now be known as the double 'A', because it really is a grade ‘A’ ride, twice over. Sorry Mike.

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