OUT: Haggerty’s Hikes September 20, 2008

MCGINNIS CANYONS TRAIL GREAT PLACE TO TRY DISC BRAKES —  JUST BRACE YOUR HANDLEBARS

Carol Viner told me her boyfriend, Jim Maggio, was an animal. When I came back bloody, she said, “See, I told you so.”

Trying to keep up with Maggio on the Western Rim single-track bicycle trail wasn’t too bad. He’d ride out, then stop and wait, then ride again. But, like Jim said, “This is my sport. This is what I do.”

I kept up pretty well, until that one little spot where I grabbed the ultra-sensitive front disc brake and flew over the handlebars.

But, like a badge of courage, I wore my bloody scars well as we returned to Over the Edge Sports in Fruita to return the single-speed bike I’d borrowed.

I found out all about disc brakes on these new bicycles. They work, that’s for sure.

The world of bicycling has come full-circle, I guess. Jim had said, “You really need to try one of these new single-speed bikes.”

I rode one of them for years as a kid, but one-speed bicycles of yesteryear are nothing like the ones today. The one I tried had 19-inch tires that roll great and a fabulous suspension system on the front fork. It also came with disc brakes and an amazing belt drive. No more bicycle chain. It was incredibly responsive.

As one woman in the bike shop said, “There really are three speeds to these bikes. There’s standing up, sitting down and walking.”

Good point. I discovered exactly what she meant about a half-hour later as I followed Jim along a portion of Rabbit Valley Trail No. 2 on our way to the loop that constitutes the Western Rim Trail.

This trail begins inside the McDonald Creek Cultural Area, which lies within the boundaries of the Bureau of Land Management’s McGinnis Canyons National Conservation Area west of Grand Junction.

The area encompasses 122,300 acres, 75,500 of which are in the Black Ridge Wilderness. Most of the conservation area lies within Colorado’s borders, with about 5,200 acres in Utah.

To reach the McDonald Creek area from Grand Junction, follow Interstate 70 west for 29.7 miles to the Rabbit Valley exit (Exit 2). Turn left (south) at the stop sign.

Cross over the highway and a cattle guard. Stay on the main road going straight (southwest) for about three miles. At times, you’ll be in the creek bed. There are numerous ATV tracks in this multi-use area, so it’s difficult at times to follow the main road. Get a map from BLM. That’ll really help.

In three miles, you’ll find two parking areas with restrooms.

There’s a trail head entering McDonald Creek from the lower parking area. Keep going for another mile on the Rabbit Valley No. 2 Trail to access the Western Rim Trail.

Jim parked his truck here, and we rode the rest of the way.

In about a mile, you’ll come to the Colorado/Utah border. After you descend the flat area near the end of RV No. 2 Trail, stay left. When it begins a huge descent on a single-track trail, watch for a right turn at a very large and very old cedar tree. Don’t miss this turn.

The trail travels to another steep descent down to a lower bench and becomes the Western Rim Trail, where you’ll find rim rock riding at its best.

Jim told me this trail is not very technical, but it has its spots. Obviously, I found one of them.

This trail eventually hooks up with the Kokopelli Trail that traverses one bench above the Western Rim Trail, returning to RV No. 2. Jim and I rode to the spot where we could climb up that rim and connect to Kokopelli, but decided to return on the Western Bench Trail instead.

All these trails in the Kokopelli Trail System were built and supported by the local Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Association (COPMOBA), BLM, Troy Rarick and his friends at Over the Edge Sports in Fruita, and many other organizations and volunteers.

It’s also supported by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, which urges everyone to plan ahead, leave no trace, control your bicycle, never spook animals and ride on open trails only.

Not only will you find spectacular views overlooking the Colorado River here, you may also find archaeological artifacts, rocks (I got a little too up close and personal with a few of those rocks), plants and other objects of interest. 

Whether you use one of those fancy single-speed bikes or your geared mountain bike, you’ll find one of the finest rim rides around on the Western Rim Trail.

Remember, though, that no matter how many gears you have, you may want to get off and walk your bike in a couple places.

And if you have disc brakes, remember … they really grab.

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