Sunday, October 16, 2011

TR: Fruita Mountain Biking - October 2011

This past weekend Jordan, Rachel, Grete, Emrys, Emiel, and I headed out to Fruita for one last summer hurrah before ski season (yes I know Wolf Creek was open). Fortunately, Emiel and Emrys wisely left work early and snagged the last camp spot at 18 road.
The race van makes things blurry
Photo: Emrys Hall
The rest of us were not so wise and left Boulder around 6:30. Counting our 30 minute dinner pit stop it took us 5.5 hours, we rolled in to this lovely site, and deceptively clear skies:

Night at 18 Road w/ the race van
Photo: Emrys Hall
By morning a lovely 45 degree rain was falling, no one was feeling too motivated or warm, especially Grete who had made the unfortunate decision to sleep under the stars. Somehow she was not awoken by the liquid hypothermia falling on her, fortunately Emiel woke up and was nice enough to wake her up. We eventually got rolling and by noon we were riding the Kokopelli trail network down at the Loma exit. At this point the rain had slowly to a slight drizzle, which soon ended. We rode Mary's to the Horsethief Bench Loop.

Horsethief Bench Loop, Horsethief Canyon, Colorado River
Rachel finishes up the Horsethief Bench Loop
Horsethief bench is awesome: its a combination of fast, flowly, smooth singletrack and technical sandstone ledges, blocks, drops, and rolls. It has some challenging sections that I didn't clear, but maybe could with a couple more tries, and some moves I doubt I'll ever make. Given more time I would definitely do a couple laps here.

Emiel, no doubt discussing how awesome my bike is
Rachel cruises along Mary's towards Steve's
We then continued along Mary's to Steve's Loop via Steve's cutoff. Steve's is similar to most of the Fruita riding we did: rolling and awesome. It was less technical than Horsethief, but had some mindboggling sections next to enormous cliffs. You would never fall of them, but they still gave me some butterflys. Nothing like riding five feet from a 400 foot cliff with the Colorado river below you! Another loop I wouldn't miss. Unfortunately, Steve's loop was when our bikes began to fail. My chain was the first casualty, to be followed later on in the day by Grete and Emiel's bikes.

Steve's Loop
Grete on Steve's Loop
After Steve's we started up Troy Built with the plan of riding it to Mack Ridge. I was having a great time racing Emiel up the climb when my cell phone informed me that Grete's derailleur had exploded behind us. Fortunately it was only her derailleur hanger, but of course no spare! We burned a fair amount of time failing to turn her bike into a single speed. At this point we realized that our plans were derailed and that we needed to head back and hopefully find Grete a new hanger in Fruita ASAP.

The straw that broke the camels back
o well....
After hearing rave reviews those of us with functioning bikes headed for Moore Fun on the way back. I do not like this trail. Its just not possible to ride bikes up 3 foot rock blocks and around opposing 90 degree turns. Its one of those trails that just destroys bikes: one second your disc brake rotor is smashing into a rock, the next second its your crankset loosing a couple teeth, then its your stanchion tube grinding through a large boulder. Its one of those trails I would have probably enjoyed much more a few years ago when I was all about destroying my bike. Remembering that we were after all trying to get Grete to Fruita before the bike shops close, I gave up on this silliness after about 20 minutes and turned around to ride the frontage road back. Apparently the rest of Moore Fun was similiar, we were back at the bike shop in Fruita before the rest of the crew had even made it back to the car (minus one of Emiel's pedals). I would highly recommend Mary's, Steve's, and Horsethief; Moore Fun only if you are REALLY good and enjoy bike destruction.

The Bookcliffs
More scenery
The second day we woke up at 18 Road, where we would spend the day riding, to clear skies and perfect temps. 

French Toast and our campsite at 18 Road
We started out the morning with a lap on Joe's Ridge, climbed back up the road, rode Kessel all the way down, rode Prime Cut back up, and finished off with a short climb up Frontside followed by a descent down the upper half of Zippity Do Dah. I spent one day at 18 Road back in high school, but forgot just how fun it is. All the trails provides fast and smooth singletrack, Joe's and Zippity combine this with exciting descents down some rather skinny ridges, Kessel with a couple miles of perfectly banked corners. Prime Cut provides a great reascent route. The only trail that I would not recommend is upper Kessel, its not bad, its just that everything else is much better. Joe's Ridge to Kessel incorporates the best parts of Kessel. It reminds me of skiing at a ski area: the climbs are effortless, and are followed by a couple minutes of exhilarating and fast descents. Nothing here is very technical, but riding down the ridges is fun enough that a group of mixed ability can have a good time. I would recommend this area to almost anyone.

Emiel legs are a bit tired - Top of Zippity Do Dah
Emiel pumps the rolls of Joes Ridge
Jordan braves the steeps of Zippity Do Dah
Grete at the top of Joes Ridge
Emiel and Emrys nearing the bottom of Joes Ridge
Jordan and Rachel heading up Western Zippity to Zippity Do Dah
Serengeti or Fruita? - Western Zippity
Jordan rounds an exciting corner on Zippity Do Dah
Emiel and more awesomeness - Zippity Do Dah
Zippity Do Dah
The afternoon was almost a repeat of the morning: up the road, down Joe's Ridge, down lower Kessel, upper Western Zippity, all the way down Zippity and back up to the campsite. We had planned on riding Chutes and Ladders (which I have ridden before and remember being pretty awesome), but we ran out of time. O well, next time!
The Crew + Monster Bike
If you haven't ridden in Fruita, ride it! 18 road isn't technical or tiring, but its fun, fast, and exhilarating. The Kokopelli area is a great combination of precipitous views, fast singletrack, and technical sandstone. I'd love to spend more time riding the rest of the trails at both areas.