Single-track bliss: Mountain bikers of all levels will enjoy Fruita Fat Tire Festival
This could be mountain biking heaven.
The 15th annual Fruita Fat Tire Festival has everything a mountain biker could want.
This weekend’s festival started with a VIP party Thursday night and continues through Sunday. People can register for the event through Saturday afternoon. Registration is $35, which provides free food, drinks and prizes. No registration is necessary to visit vendor booths, test out a trail and take in the atmosphere.
“It’s a good laid-back way to get out, have some fun and enjoy what we have here in the Grand Valley,” festival manager George Gatseos said.
The festival offers everything from group-led rides to demo bikes, numerous vendors, food, entertainment and yes, plenty of beer.
“There’s a lot of entertainment with our bands and it’s open to the public,” Gatseos said. “It’s a great opportunity to learn about the sport and what we have here in the Grand Valley. We are blessed to have excellent riding.”
The festival is a perfect opportunity for someone interested in trying mountain biking but who doesn’t have a bike.
Bikers can try out one of several manufacturers’ latest bikes for free by simply signing a release and turning over your driver’s license until you return the bike.
“It’s one of the best ways to try out several different bikes over the course of the weekend on the trails,” Gatseos said. “You can try before you buy.”
Trek, Specialized, Yeti and Pivot representatives will have several bikes available. Other vendors expected to participate in the festival include bicycle parts and clothing companies Shimano and DT Swiss.
“There are a wide array of bikes, mostly higher-end bikes for the enthusiast rider,” Gatseos said. “There is no entry-level bike to demo, but to experience (mountain biking) on a nice piece of equipment makes it that much better.”
There are bikes available for men and women in several sizes.
“The best way to do it is to talk to the people representing the companies and the type of riding they want to do,” Gatseos said. “The people representing the companies handle the demo out of the expo booth.”
People can take their bikes on group rides led by a volunteer expert, including local pro Ross Schnell. Group rides will be posted in the Fruita Civic Center parking lot.
There are hundreds of miles of trails available to riders.
Some of the more popular beginner trails are Rustler’s Loop in the Kokopelli Loop area near Loma and Prime Cut and Kessel Run in the 18 Road trail area north of Fruita.
“Those are not very technical,” Gatseos said. “They are adventuresome for a beginner rider, but not so hard it’s not fun. There are some swooping, fun sections with some nice views. It’s definitely enjoyable.”
Intermediate riders should enjoy Mary’s Loop, Horsethief Bench and Steve’s Loop in the Kokopelli Loop area, Joe’s Ridge and Chutes & Ladders at 18 Road and Miramonte Rim and Pet-e-kes at the Tabeguache Lunch Loop area on the way to Colorado National Monument’s east entrance.
“They’re longer, possibly more technical, but still beautiful scenery,” Gatseos said. “They’re not so hard you’re riding above your head.”
Expert riders up for any challenge can find it on Troy Built, Lion’s Loop, Moore-Fun and Mack Ridge in the Kokopelli Loop.
“(Moore-Fun) is a bit deceiving, but I enjoy that trail,” Gatseos said. “It’s more single-track, technical moves and steeper. You can ride it in conjunction with Lion’s Loop, Troy Built and Mack Ridge.”
The Lunch Loop area has several good trails, including Holy Cross, Gunny Loop and the Ribbon.
“The Ribbon is amazing,” Gatseos said. “It’s high above the Grand Valley overlooking Grand Junction. It has some smooth sections and sandstone that’s not too bad. What’s hard is if you shuttle (two vehicles at the start and end of the trail), is long downhill single-track with technical sections. If you’re not very knowledgeable in riding, you can get going fast and lose control.”
The festival will include its annual Clunker Crit race at 2 p.m. on Saturday around the Civic Center Park. Anyone can race a bike of their choice, and many riders don costumes for the crit.