Chasing Summer in Fruita, Colorado

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Chasing Summer in Fruita, Colorado

The most common phrase one might hear by an Aspen local is that they came for the winter and stayed for the summer. My story is a bit different, I came here to heal my broken heart and stayed because I found my man, got married, and had children.

Although passionate about skiing, since I was barely walking before my father shoved me on sticks and put me in ski school in Vermont, I am not a mountain die-hard explorer, preferring the exploration of unbeaten city paths rather than heading out on backcountry trails where my survival skills and directionally challenged brain get in my way of enjoying the experience. I’m also all about chasing summer until the snow forces me to put my mountain bike away.

As soon as the snow dusts our mountain tops, I start planning my escape, taking off to the most accessible and cheapest destination where the snow isn’t, which is Moab. But last weekend Moab was fully booked and so my girlfriends and I opted for Fruita, a very close second.

With perfect mountain biking temperatures in the high 50’s we began our Friday afternoon ride by looping the trails off of 18 Road, beginning with Prime Cut which snaked its way toward the foothills and through golden fields that felt as if out of Africa, without roaming Gazelles and Giraffes. From Prime Cut we climbed up Chutes and Ladders, which I loved less for it’s technical terrain. Struggling to break through my mind blockages stemming from a fall that stills hurts from last summer, wished I could get into a flow but it didn’t happen until we switched over to Down Uppity and on to Joe’s Ridge, and as the sun began to set my mind released allowing me to let go and get what I came there for – complete relaxation and the feeling of total freedom.

Chutes & Ladders From the Mountain Biking Project
From the lower parking lot, head up Prime Cut (the common ascent for many trails around here). Prime Cut is one-way uphill, and is generally very easy except for a couple rocks near the top. Once at the top, Chutes & Ladders heads straight through the intersection and climbs some remarkably steep but mercifully short hills. Most people are anaerobic in no time and end up having to walk a bit of the climbs. The dirt is very sticky though, so with decent technique, it all comes down to having the necessary leg and lung power. The downhills are steep too, but the trail is in excellent shape (no ruts or washouts) and should be rideable by anyone who goes this far. After a series of ups and downs (chutes and ladders, that is) for about a half mile, you’ll head out of the hills and down the gentle open slope. The trail changes character and becomes very fast and flowy. There are few surprises and you can really open it up through here.

That night we packed into a room at the Hampton Inn in Grand Junction and walked over to the happening Bin 707 for dinner. Sitting at the bar, the restaurant came alive as our awesomely informative bartender poured us specialty cocktails and the friendly locals seated next to us shared inspirational stories and life’s lessons.

The next morning we had a delicious breakfast at the SOL Cafe on Main Street in Grand Junction and then headed out to ride Horse Thief Loop. After the “hike your bike” descent over large boulders to get to the flowy trail we hopped on our bikes and began to cruise fast doing our best to ignore the longing feeling to continue heading south after the ride instead of heading back home to get back into the kitchen and assume our roles as responsible adults.

But this past weekend was just a teaser for what’s to come, and as I write about our weekend I am inking in the dates to actually make that Moab trip happen, and to stay gone just a little bit longer.

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. Albert Schweitzer

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