Fruita, Colorado – October 5, 2013

The overnight low here was 29 degrees so I lounged around a bit waiting for the weather to warm up. I drove to the Kokopelli trailhead, which is about 5 miles west of town. I started with a trail called “Rustler’s Loop” which is one of the easier rides in the area. It was about 45 degrees when I started riding. I hadn’t gone far before I shed my outer layer……climbing makes you sweat! Even though the high today only reached 55 degrees I was quite comfortable riding in a short sleeved jersey. The trail wound around a mesa high above the Colorado River. At times the trail followed the cliff edge and the views of the river were spectacular. The first part of the trail was mainly climbing but it ended with a nice downhill back to the parking lot. Next I headed up Mary’s Loop until I reached the descent to Horsethief Bench. They refer to the descent as a “portage” because for almost all riders you must carry your bike down. It is rideable by a few people though as there are YouTube videos that support this. I made it about half way down and a nice young man with a plastic flower attached to the top of his helmet offered to carry my bike the rest of the way. There is no other way to get to Horsethief Bench, so I’ll have to carry my bike back up the same route. It is a difficult trail just to walk down, especially wearing bike cleats. The trail starts right up against the cliff and then works its way towards the Colorado River. Once again there were wonderful views of the river as the trail followed the edge of the bench. The map marked one section as a “techy area” and for good reason. There were lots of ledges which would’ve been difficult to go down but we were expected to go up them. Needless to say, I ended up walking some areas. There was a woman riding with a small dog in her backpack. Part of the time she’d put the dog down and it would run along the trail behind the bike. Most of the time it was content to just ride along in her pack. She said she’d taken the dog along for three years now and it had only jumped out once. Climbing back up the portage area was harder than coming down. It made me wish I had a carbon frame mountain bike. I continued on Mary’s Loop until I reached the intersection of Wrangler Trail and took that back to my car. I drove back to Fruita and had a late lunch and then drove out to Highline Lake State Park. The annual 18 Hours of Fruita endurance race is held here every year. The single track trail is a fun loop around the lake. I called it a day after that and went back to the motel, showered and then went back to the Hot Tomato Cafe for dinner. I bought a cool Hot Tomato cycling jersey and socks, a t-shirt and some pint glasses. I stopped at the Copper Kettle Brewery for a beer before returning to my motel.

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