Normally, one ride a day is enough to satiate my riding needs, but that changes on trips to Colorado’s Grand Valley.
For the uninitiated, the Grand Valley is an oft-overlooked cycling jewel on Colorado’s Western Slope that includes mountain bike rides like Grand Junction’s Lunch Loops, the 18 Road trails north of Fruita, the Kokopelli system south of Fruita, and Rabbit Valley further west. If you prefer road riding, spin up and through nearby Colorado National Monument. The butter-smooth tarmac and stunning red rock vistas make this one of the top tours in the state.
But with temperatures hovering in the 80s and trails in perfect shape, it was all mountain biking all the time during a trip in early May. Our crew set camp at the free, first-come-first-served 18 Road sites, before heading into the surrounding Bookcliffs network to ride. Everything was smooth and fast, including a new addition called PBR, short for Pumps, Berms, and Rollers.
Morning brought another 18 Road session followed by a 30-minute drive to the Lunch Loops. A destination in itself, you’ll find several days worth of fun in this spider web of trails on Grand Junction’s southern edge, but if you have just one day, shuttle to the top of the Ribbon Trail, then connect it with a romp of the Gunny Loop trail. The Ribbon includes several football-field sized expanses of smooth, fast slickrock. Gunny Loop features a section of twisty, fast downhill that left our crew laughing out loud.
We spent our final day circumnavigating Fruita’s classic Kokopelli loops, also in great shape right now (no dust, plenty tacky). Mary’s Loop opened up the legs. Then we dropped into Horsethief Bench to test technical acumen on this 3.7-mile roller coaster.
More time on Mary’s, a quick rip around Handcuffs, and the stair-steppy slog up and over Lion’s Loop closed out the day. We could have doubled up with a trip to Rabbit Valley, but sadly, it was time to go home. —Jason Sumner