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, 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 starts to melt, or on the other end, 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 when Moab is fully booked my girlfriends and I opt for Fruita, a very close second.
In the spring and fall, Fruita offers perfect mountain biking temperatures and we begin our Friday afternoon rides 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 climb 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, I 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. 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.
[su_box title=”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. [/su_box]
Packing into a room at the Hampton Inn in Grand Junction we walk over to the happening Bin 707 for dinner. Sitting at the bar, the restaurant comes alive as our awesomely informative bartender poured us specialty cocktails and the friendly locals seated next to us share inspirational stories and life’s lessons.
In the morning we have delicious breakfast at the SOL Cafe on Main Street in Grand Junction and then head out to ride Horse Thief Loop. After the “hike your bike” descent over large boulders to get to the trail. Hopping on our bikes we 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.
As the snow melts, I am inking in the dates to actually make that Moab trip happen, and to stay gone just a little bit longer.
[su_quote cite=”Albert Schweitzer”]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. [/su_quote]