Monday, October 22, 2007

Fuita, CO

Road Trip:
Thursday afternoon Tony, Jamie and I left town to go down to Fruita, CO for a long weekend of mountain biking. We would meet up with the rest of the group, Steve, Adam, Sam, Trent, Brad P., Ryan, Keith, Jon, and Jeff later that night.
We were so excited about the trip that we forgot to watch the gas gage in Jamie's 4 Runner and realized about 40 miles out of Fruita that the gas light was on and had probably been on for a while. Not knowing if there were any towns with a gas station before Fruita, we tried to keep our minds off the situation by playing "name that tune" on Tony's ipod. It turns out, Jamie pretty much knows every song ever produced. (For future reference, Loma, CO has one gas station which is like 50 miles off the highway and doesn't stay open past 9pm. )

After 4.5 hours on the road and one tank of gas, we rolled into town (literally). We stayed in Grand Junction and were fortunate enough to have a hotel w/ a gas station right in the parking lot. This would be important for the pre-ride diet coke runs since the Holiday Inn is a Pepsi joint. I like the fact that several of the guys are addicted to diet coke as much as I am. Brad, a pro-mtb racer, drinks the sweet nectar too. It doesn't seem to slow Brad down. So it's official for me....I have no plans to stop drinking it.

One morning I stopped into the gas station to buy a few Salted Nut Rolls and a Pay Day bar (these are great for riding cuz they don't melt and taste good even when 5 years old. Just ask Brad). The heavy set lady behind the counter who must have been like 60 years old, began to tell me about the advantages of the protein bar version of Pay Day and all the specs about how many grams of protein, total calories etc...I knew were in for a good weekend. Even the gas station lady seemed like she got out on the bike every now and then.

The Group:

Day 1:

We kicked it off with a ride on Mary's Loop and several of the surrounding loops. With the Alpha male established and the rest of the pecking order in line, we were off. Some of the terrain was technical and the trails were full of big rocks and drops. I'm pretty sure I shaved at least a few grams off my rims and pedals from hitting so many rocks. I was amazed that we only had 1 flat the entire ride. Steve managed to blow his rear tire (tubeless) off the rim which sounded like a shot gun. My ears are still ringing. Maybe it's time to tell Steve he can run 35 PSI instead of 50. Ironic that the one guy in the group who refuses to ride w/ a spare tube or CO2 cartridge, would be the only guy who flated the entire trip. It's a good thing Steve is such a nice guy.

The best pizza in the world (or at least in Fruita) is at the Hot Tomato. They sell pizza by the slice and it's damn good. So good, in fact, we ate there both days for lunch.

After lunch, we visited the local shop - Over the Edge Sports, and fixed Steve's tire. Fruita seems slow to accept the tubeless-Stans movement and gave us a little push back about getting the shop floor dirty. The guys at the shop gave us directions to the next trail head and we set out for a short ride before dark. Fruita is big on fractions. The street signs often read "17 1/2 road" or "18 3/4 road". It gave me a headache doing the math to try and find 18th street.

About 30 min into the ride, we met up with 2 locals, Andy and Noah. They were total opposites. Andy was on a rigid SS, with a Mary bar, and BMX pedals. He had tattoos everywhere, wore cut off church pants, a full button down shirt, and vans high-top skate shoes. Noah, was on a 36 lb downhill bike with a backpack. An odd couple but they showed us the goods. We followed them down Zippity which was fast single track with some exposed sections and a roller coaster type ending which consited of a tight left hand turn which dropped down a steep, loose, rutted section. It only lasted a few seconds but it was a cool sensation full of adrenaline. The ride was so good that we forgot to stop for pictures.

After the ride, the two locals offered to take us out to Rabbit Valley the next morning. It would end up costing us $50 in beer as payment but well worth it.

Day 2:
We met Andy and Noah at 10am in town and followed them out to Rabbit Valley. This ride had it all, some rock moves, sand, fast single track, and a section of whoop dee doos that had endo potential. Sam managed to do an uphill endo and sheed first blood of the trip. I'm amazed at how well Sam has picked up mountain biking. Coming from a road bike and a soccer background, he obviously has the legs and lungs for mountain biking but the technical skills usually take years of riding to develop. Sam is a natural. We rode for a couple of hours and showed the locals how to clean a few technical moves. Jamie pulled off the move of the trip when he cleared a steep rock section that the locals didn't even bother to try (The same move that caused Keith to brake this thumb). And he did it on a single speed. (Does that mean Jamie gets to name that move?).

Me, Steve, Jamie, Tony (Noah and Jon in the background)

After lunch again at the Hot Tomato, we broke up into groups. Some called it a day and caught a flick in town, Me, Tony, Trent, Jon and Jeff, went back out to Zippity to ride it in the day light. While Jamie, Brad and Ryan took off to ride "The Edge". With a storm threatening, we weren't sure we would see Jamie, Brad and Ryan again and immediatley decided who would get Jamie's bike when he died. The Edge is a 3-7 hour ride (3 is the fastest time according to the guide book) w/ some exposed areas, a downclimb down a waterfall, and several washes that, according to the locals, have caused people to ditch their bikes and hike out during storms. I knew the pace was going to be ridiculous trying to keep up with those 3 on the Edge ride. It was after 3pm, a storm was rolling in and Brad and Jamie seemed motivated to sneak this ride in before they lost their window of opportunity. I was sure we were going to need to send Search & Rescue out to find them.

I was happy to end the day on Zippity. It is like nothing we have here in Utah and I wanted to ride it one more time (at a slower pace). I grabbed my ipod and settled into a nice pace and just enjoyed the ride.

Jon, Trent, Me

Later that night, as the group went to eat, we got the call from Jamie that they had made it back to the car. At first I was glad I wasn't with them, but something about the epic journey made me a little bummed I missed it. Stories of hurricane head winds, hail, big exposure, amazing views, something about an extra climb, two broken chains, and a race up a long jeep road climb. It sounded like a suffer fest but with some great rewards.

I have a feeling the core group will make it back to Fruita soon.


Sam said...

Thanks for the kind words! I will have to give you an extra $20. That was a great time

Jon said...

Loved the post Rick. Thanks for putting it together.

tibiker said...

I've been anxiously awaiting the report since Sunday. Thanks Rick.
BTW, the only thing missing on that epic ride was the rest of the "posse" to share it with. The stories and the experience are better when there are more people that get to share it. Next time maybe. What a great weekend. Can't wait to go back.

Jonathan said...


Thanks for the pics and ride report. I am bummed I missed this one...but will be there next time for sure!