The Ride’s the Thing: Biking Up and Down Western Colorado
To quote Fat Bastard, “Once you’ve had fat, you never go back!” Except if you fall in love with skinny.
Fortunately, there are plenty of places to ride in western Colorado and Eastern Utah no matter your persuasion on tires.
So what are you doing right now? Get your bike and hit the road or trail for an hour, a day, a weekend or even longer. There is enough riding around to keep you busy for a long time.
FAT IS PHAT
One of the Grand Valley’s newest singletrack additions is the Sarlacc Trail — Sarlacc references the sand pit creature in “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi” — that runs along the high ridgeline of the Bookcliffs on the north edge of the Grand Valley. The trail was completed in May and connects easily with the miles of North Fruita Desert Trails at the end of 18 Road north of Fruita.
Sarlacc runs more than nine miles and while the western-most two miles are considered “easy” on a technical scale, there is a steep climb. The majority of the trail is considered “intermediate.”
Sarlacc was built for access by both mountain bikers and motorized users, and while not the most technical, it does offer tremendous views of the valley below.
To drive to the west end of Sarlacc, follow 18 Road north of Fruita to V.7 Road. Take V.7 Road west, then turn north onto V.8 Road and drive for almost three miles. There are pullouts along V.8 Road for parking.
You also can ride to Sarlacc by taking the Frontside trail from the end of 18 Road. Frontside connects with V.8 Road, which you ride for two miles to Sarlacc.
Here are a few areas not to miss while mountain biking in western Colorado and eastern Utah: (For tips, maps and advice, there are a number of local bike shop with folks more than willing to help. Also, check out copmoba.org for trail information, maps and more areas to ride.)
•18 Road/North Fruita Desert Trails — This area north of Fruita and at the end of 18 Road has miles of loops and rides from easy to difficult. Eight trails. Camping available through the Bureau of Land management. No water.
•Kokopelli Loops — There are eight main loops and trails that range from beginner to expert at this area. Rustler’s Loop is excellent for those new to mountain biking. There are even tips on signs along the trail, which also offers beautiful views of the Colorado River. No camping. No water.
•Lunch Loops/ Tabeguache Trailhead — The majority of these trails are considered difficult to very difficult. However, there is a bike park near the trailhead off Monument Road that is great for kids and families. This area so is only a few miles west of downtown Grand Junction, making it a great spot for bikers as well as trail runners.
THE SKINNY ON SKINNY
For some cyclists, if they are on a road, then they’re on their ride. Others need a designated route.
One of the easiest routes to find in the Grand Valley — no worries there are still plenty of hills — is the Palisade Fruita and Wine Byway. Start in Palisade, climb the Palisade hill (38 Road) and follow the byway signs across East Orchard Mesa (stop at a winery or two?), go down to the Colorado Riverfront Trail then weave back to Palisade. Brochure and map: palisadetourism. com/attractions/item/fruit-wine-trail.
Here are some other routes to ride in the Grand Valley area: (For tips, maps and advice, there are a number of local bike shop with folks more than willing to help. For directions and maps, sites.google.com/ site/grandjunctionroadcyclingmaps/ home is a great resource.)
•Create your own route weaving on the roads from Grand Junction to Fruita and beyond. It’s fun to explore, but mind your manners on the road.
•Take a day and ride Unaweep Canyon to Gateway. This ride begins at Whitewater and goes along Colorado Highway 141 to Gateway and back. It’s 88 miles, so plan to take your time and lots of water.
•The Reeder Mesa loop is a moderate 34-mile trip. It begins west of Whitewater from the East Creek Day Use Area parking lot and heads east on Reeder Mesa Road. Turn right on Lands End Road, left onto Divide Road, then left on Purdy Mesa Road. You loop back to Reeder Mesa Road.
•Pedal Rim Rock Drive up and over the Colorado National Monument. You can drop a car at either end of the monument, or take South Camp Road and South Broadway to make it a more than 37-mile loop. There plenty of climbing and downhill. The monument has is a $5 entrance fee cyclists.