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Monday, August 23, 2010

Fruita, USA ride report for August 20-23, 2010

So, yeah, its been raining out here on the desert of the western slope- a lot. I never expected to find standing water on Fruita area trails in late August. Unfortunately, my bike washer is in for an unpleasant surprise when he gets home from his training mission in the mountains.

I realize this is nothing compared to, say, the Roan Cliff Chaos mudbath, but we just don't expect to get muddy in the desert in August...

I have been able to ride each of our 4 main single track areas out here over the past few days since the clouds broke: LOMA (aka "Kokopelli), 18 Road (aka the 18 mile), Rabbit Valley and Tabeguache (aka "The Lunch Loops"). The torrents of the past week have certainly left their mark all around.

I found mud on all of my rides and saw the telltale signs of rapidly flowing water carrying red dirt and debris toward the mighty Colorado. Did I mention it has been raining in a big way?

The Kokopelli Trails felt dreamy after the rain stopped on Thursday evening- cool and dustless. The few folks I encountered out at Sunset were, to a rider, stoked to finally be able to get out and ride in the pink, orange cool evening air and I was not the only one to push the limits of the day, rolling into the Trailhead in the dark. I've been riding up Wrangler lately (in lieu of Mary's) in the name of "training". It is hard to find a good uphill slog around these here parts and that is what it's all about when you go to race at the resorts, isn't it? After the agony though, you get to be all alone way up above the river and Mary's and any of the folks you saw in the parking lot. The single track connector down to Mary's is super fun- and just as fun to ride right back up. Let me leave you with 2 words: GOAT HEADS.

The 18 road always benefits from a good rain fall- so long as enough time has been allowed for the bentonite clay to dry up. My evening ride out there this week was fast and furious looking for rice crispy mud crusts to crunch across and getting away with far too much on the Joe's Ridge hogback whoopdies. August rides past have always meant chewed up moon dust out there, but not in 20-ten baby. Aside from the fact that the outhouses stink to high heaven the camping out there looked down right bucolic (unlike the Camp Mogadishu scenario you will find in late spring).

The Western Rim has sadly seen heavy traffic during the recent monsoon. I'd like to imagine all the ruts cut off trail into the wet desert were made by over eager motoheads in town for ROCKJAM- but clearly some of these tracks belong to bicyclists (in town for ROCKJAM?!). I'd love to see this trail re-routed to stay almost entirely on the slick rock and allow the desert to regenerate. On a positive note- the sandtraps were super rideable thanks to the crazy physics of water molecules and sand particles (except for where they weren't...).

Ah, Rabbit Valley- it took awhile for me to learn to love these old moto trails, but now it is my go-to ride of choice when I have to exorcise my soul of the air-conditioned concrete bunker called "work". The rides are long- they flow and take you somewhere (the proverbial, "out back of beyond").

Anyone who has ever been here recognizes this as the first 100 yards of the Tabeguache Trail out at theLunch Loops.

Wow- one can surmise that a virtual wall of water moved down this wash not all that long ago, eh? The condition of much of the single track out there bears this out.

This is the negative nelly portion of today's post. When I ride pieces of well-engineered, water shedding trails like Prenup, Raven Ridge and, even, Pet-e-Kes it is hard to understand why there are trails out here that have 6-8 inch ditches carved out by water rushing directly down the center making them essentially into boring grunt fests.

I know that trail awesomeness is in the eye of the rider, but I just don't get the allure of the Lunch Loops. For a long time I thought if I rode them more I would learn to love them like the masses from afar...so far, I continue to see the whole area as a gravity slave's dream come true (as belied by the popularity of "shuttle" riding out there) with some amazing, albeit entirely disjointed, x-country single track thrown in for good measure. But that's just me- and, well, this is my blog post after all.

My mind's eye reels at what this must have looked like during the torrents last week-

You have to leave the bike behind to find this spot down the McDonald Creek Trail in the "cultural resource management area". Danny took this cool picture when we went to find petroglyphs on the canyon walls. The exploring is mighty - the specter of a flash flood haunting. Come on out to ride and explore, but keep your eye on the anvils in the sky!

1 comment:

  1. Yowza. A little bit of rain out there can be a good thing, but lots of rain can turn a nice evening ride into a muddy hike (from what I've heard, of course).

    I look forward to some more updates and might have a post of my own in the next few days (old British bike content ahead...).

    So Dave's out of town? I need him to write me up a quote sooner than later, and gave him a call today but I assume he's busy, so no worries.

    I wish we had rain right now actually. Starting school and having the first huge heat wave at the same time is never fun, so I haven't ridden in almost a week and a half! :-O

    Time to get on the freaking bicycle!