Everyone can ride

Valley offers plenty of singletrack rides for beginning bikers

Kessel Run is a great place for beginning mountain bike riders to practice going a little faster and using trail features such as banked turns to help you maneuver. Kessel run is one of several great trails for beginning mountain bike riders to hone their craft.


Rustler’s Loop

If you go: Take water and your camera. The trail should be ridden clockwise, so once you head through the cattle gate, close it behind you, start up the trail and turn left.

How to get there: Take Interstate 70 west to the Loma exit. Turn left and then turn right as if you are heading to the weigh station. Turn left on a gravel road marked “Kokopelli Trails.” You’ll see a large parking area soon on the left. You can park here, but it means you’ll have a stiff climb on the way back to your car after the ride. If you’re still working on getting in shape, turn left just past the parking area and head over the hill. There are several parking areas on this side. Rustler’s starts at the end of the gravel road through the red cattle gate.

Prime Cut and Kessel Run

If you go: Take water, a snack and your camera. The desert views are impressive and, if it’s really clear, you might even see the San Juans in the distance.

How to get there: Take I-70 West to Fruita, exit and turn right. Turn right again and head through town. Turn left on N. Maple Street. This will turn into 17 1/2 Road. After about 3.5 miles, you’ll turn right on N 3/10 road. This is just before a sharp left curve. Follow N 3/10 until it dead-ends at 18 Road. Turn left on 18 Road. 18 Road will soon turn to gravel. Head all the way down, about six miles, until you reach a big parking area on the left with a pavilion and bathrooms. Park here. Prime Cut starts right across the road from the parking lot.

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.

Daily Sentinel online advertising coordinator Julie Norman can’t do enough mountain biking and backpacking on her weekends. Email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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