Everyone can ride
Valley offers plenty of singletrack rides for beginning bikers
If you’re fairly new to mountain biking, you might be intimidated by some of the trails around our great little valley. Never fear. Trails suitable for even beginning bikers do exist: You just have to know where to find them.
When I first started biking in the valley I had no idea what to expect. I knew about the “ready position” from biking in Georgia, but big rock drops and ledges? I had no experience with those. I was fortunate to have a mentor who understood, and still does, the learning curve that comes with mountain biking on terrain like ours. We started slowly, with only two trails, and then added more as my confidence and abilities improved.
The best place to start, in my opinion, is Rustler’s Loop in Loma. Rustler’s is out at the Kokopelli Trail System and is about 3.5 miles long. Getting even experienced riders to ride here with you won’t be a problem because Rustler’s is fun for everyone. I’ve ridden it with beginners and advanced riders, and we’ve all had a blast.
What Rustler’s does is provide tips for you along the trail. As you approach a ledge, a sign gives you tips on how to ride up. When you’re heading toward a downhill section, a sign might simply say, “Get off your seat!” There also are practical tips on trail etiquette, such as allowing someone biking uphill to have the right of way. Still, a trail has to offer more than tips for it to be fun. Rustler’s has one tough jeep-road hill at the beginning and then smooths out into nice rolling singletrack for a bit. Soon you’ll see the Colorado River peeking at you from below the cliffs to your left. Rideable switchbacks, more awesome views and a roller-coaster section of downhill at the end make this trail one that will leave you smiling and ready to bike again. Beginners will be able to ride about 75 percent of the trail, maybe even more.
If you’ve done Rustler’s, and you’re ready for something different, or if Rustler’s just doesn’t sound like your type of trail, try heading to the 18 Road area to ride Prime Cut and Kessel Run.
Prime Cut is a climbing trail. Over 3 miles it takes you through short sections of whoop-de-whoos where you coast down one short hill and then coast or pedal hard up the other side. These can be a lot of fun. If you take plenty of rest breaks, Prime Cut can be an exciting, twisty trail. Still, it does climb, so be prepared to be a little winded.
When you get to the Chutes and Ladders cutoff, veer left and continue on Prime Cut. There is a short, rocky section here that you may want to walk. If you’ve got an advanced rider with you, have them demonstrate the way they ride that section. This will help you if you decide to ride it in the future.
At the end of Prime Cut, cross the gravel road and follow the signs to Kessel Run. The top of Kessel is fast and winds through the trees, so pay attention. The bottom half opens up more.
The trail shoots you downhill through a meadow filled with berms, banked turns and mile-wide grins. This is a good place to practice going a little faster and using trail features like banked turns to help you maneuver. At the end of the trail, turn left and head back up a short hill to the car.