Tag Archives: Colorado

Got Trail? Learning from COPMOBA

Fruita desert

North Fruita desert

Five hours after we put the trail tools back in the truck we finally got back from our trail building volunteer project with COPMOBA.  When I was a volunteer manager, I would measure the success of our volunteer leadership team by how late the volunteers hung around afterwards swapping stories and brainstorming new ideas.  After fixing a new trail at 18 Road in Fruita we spent at least 1 hour hanging out in the parking lot and then headed into town to grab pizza and a free beer at the Hot Tomato Cafe (a local restaurant owned by mountain bikers).  This is a very successful club with a lot to teach us.

Bike trailer used to haul trail tools, photo by Giselle Smith

Bike trailer used to haul trail tools, photo by Giselle Smith

For one, this club knows what it is about and they walk their talk.  Sustainable singletrack.  In their mission statement they are specific, they are about building and maintaining sustainable singletrack.  When we got to the parking lot on Saturday they were loading a Bob trailer with trail tools so that we could ride out to the work site.  WOAH, I thought, these guys are hard core and resourceful.  It sent a great message, as we rode our bikes out to the work site we passed recreational riders who saw the trailer hauling tools and knew what we were about.  We got a lot of thank yous during the day and a few questions from riders about how they could get involved.  Awesome!

COPMOBA receives grant from REI for Fruita trails

COPMOBA recently received funding from REI to build an interpretive mountain bike trail in Fruita

The trail we worked on was a new trail they had built with approval from the BLM (who owns the land).  As part of the 18 Road trail system they are building trails with good flow.  IMBA refers to this style as flow country trails which are designed specifically to take mountain bikers on a “singletrack joyride”.  I love this development in trail building because the trails are not prohibitively technical for beginner riders, but are fun for all levels.  We had the opportunity to fix two of the turns which had originally been built with an increasing radius and therefore would force the rider to slow down and turn in too tightly instead of being able to flow from one turn to the next.

COPMOBA Crew working on Down Uppity Trail, Photo By Giselle Smith

COPMOBA Crew working on Down Uppity Trail, Photo By Giselle Smith

The video below shows some of the trails in the 18 Road system:

COPMOBA crew working on the Lower Uppity, photo by Giselle Smith

COPMOBA crew working on the Lower Uppity, photo by Giselle Smith

Being on the trail with COPMOBA, I was reminded of proper trail etiquette.  18 Road is a busy trail system and we encountered a lot of riders.  Depending on how much we had torn up the trail, sometimes riders would need to wait till it was all clear and other times they would need to dismount and walk their bike through the section.  The COPMOBA members instructed riders to actually pick up their bikes so that they wouldn’t leave tire tracks beside the trail.  They also talked about the importance of riders sticking to the center line and not going off trail to pass or for any other reason.  It’s about sustainable singletrack.  They are going to build a trail that can handle a lot of riders, but the environment can only afford it if you can stay on that trail.

Jacob and Jay working on Down Uppity, photo by Giselle Smith

Jacob and Jay working on Down Uppity, photo by Giselle Smith

Grand Junction and Fruita are mountain bike towns.  COPMOBA sees a lot of community support and we were thanked for our time and effort by free stuff from supportive businesses.  Free beer and clothing – what a great way to recognize and retain volunteers!  I hope we can do more with COPMOBA in the future.

Sharon sporting COPMOBA shirt and hat

showing off my new shirt and hat from COPMOBA

Advertisements

39th Week in Review: A Place Like Home

This week we started at our friends’ Roger and Donna’s home in Cañon City, Colorado.  We met Roger and Donna on a Grand Canyon Trust project in Utah last month and it was great to see them again.  Roger and Donna stayed on the road for 12 years and have traveled all over the U.S. and throughout the world for volunteer projects.  It was amazing to see them putting down roots in their new home, making long term commitments and looking at business opportunities.  Talking to people who have a true vagabonding spirit about home got me thinking more about where and how and when we might want to put down roots.

It was probably fitting then that our next stop was Grand Junction, Colorado.  Jay has a lot of great memories of Grand Junction from coming here to visit his grandparents and spend time with his parent’s friends, Pat and Cindy Kennedy.  Jay’s grandparents have since passed away, but Pat and Cindy were good friends of theirs and welcomed us into their home like family.  This was Jay’s chance to show me that Grand Junction could be our future home.  Pat and Cindy have been happy and very involved here and helped Jay sell me on it.  Pat even treated us to a tour by bike of the Riverfront Trail System that he was instrumental in building.

colorado national monument

Only a short drive (or longer bike ride) from Pat & Cindy's house is the stunning landscape of Colorado National Monument

Grand Junction and its neighbor Fruita are towns developed by bicyclists for bicyclists.  I can see why Jay is enthralled.  The area has definitely peaked my interest and I hope we can come back in different seasons and spend more time here.  Today we head east into the mountains to spend a few days in Avon, Colorado near Vail.

Hours volunteered: 12 hours (combined) rerouting and fixing mountain bike trails in the North Fruita Desert with COPMOBA

States: 1 – Colorado – Grand Junction, Fruita, Avon

Budget: Under – thanks to hospitality from Roger and Donna and Pat and Cindy we have kept our costs low this week even with some bike and car expenses

People Visited: Roger Ratcliff and Donna Young, Pat and Cindy Kennedy

Nights under the stars: 0 

Best meal: Roger and Donna introduced us to vegan organic cooking, we particularly enjoyed the stirfry meal.

Pat and Cindy welcomed us with their home cooking as well.  One of our favorite meals was french toast and bacon.

The Hot Tomato Cafe in Fruita also deserves a shout out for excellent pizza and an extremely fun atmosphere!  We got to hang out there on the Saturday before Halloween and see all of the costumed revelers as well as an amusing costumed CRIT race.

Best beer:  Kannah Creek Strong Ale; though we look forward to visiting the Palisade Brewery later today and we hear they have a better selection of brews

Longmont Area Trails: Heil Ranch and Walker Ranch

Heil Ranch

Heil Ranch

Heil Ranch

This area consists of an out and back and a couple loops as well as a connector trail to Hall Ranch.  The Wapiti trail is the out and back.  It’s very fast and flowing with rock gardens that can, and there for should be ridden at very high speed.  Some of the turns are banked and have huge rock walls that build them up, giving a nice gentle turn radius.  This trail has been built for heavy use with a lot of rock armoring and other machine built stuff.  This thing reminds of an even more buffed out Rocky Ridge trail in Flagstaff, AZ.

trail at Heil Ranch

photo by Kiki Holl that shows some of the rock work on the trail

After reading some silly reviews of this trail I feel like I have to clarify further. There are no big ledges, slabs or narrow choke points or slow going sections. For those who are accustom to rocks it’s not even moderately rocky.  What this trail is, is crazy big ring spinning out in the downhill direction kind of fast.  I occasionally down shifted and used my brakes to check speed since it’s multi-use and a popular trail.  Meeting other trail users head on at 25-30 mph is far from ideal.

It’s also a good climb since you can just stay in the middle chain ring and crank up it surprisingly fast.  There is a great overlook at the top facing out towards Hall Ranch. Hall Ranch sounds like a lot of fun.  I am thinking it would be great to start at the bottom of Wipiti and ride out to Hall Ranch and back for a big mileage day.

overlook at Heil Ranch

photo by Kiki Holl of overlook

I also rode the Wild Turkey Trail to add a little more mileage since the miles just fly by out there.  I would not hit this trail system right after a big rain or snow melt, but it’s all well armored and should dry out fast.  On the whole Heil Ranch its a good place for a 1-3 hour ride and after that you can head to Hall Ranch. I missed Hall Ranch so we still need to go ride that one at some point.

Walker Ranch

Walker Ranch Loop

Sharon here, I’m going to step in and add my perspective on Walker Ranch, which I rode with Jay a few days before he rode Heil Ranch.  When I say that I rode the entire 7 mile loop, I really mean that my bike and I traversed the entire loop.  Sometimes I was on my bike pedaling, sometimes I was next to my bike pushing it, and for one very challenging section I was actually carrying my bike (as was Jay).  Walker Ranch has a good variety of terrain with tight switchbacks down and up the mountain, a smooth sandy portion along the river, and open mountain meadows that afford incredible views.

View of river from Walker Ranch loop

View of river from Walker Ranch loop

This video below from a local rider named Lindsay does a great job of showing what the trail is like:

Overall this ride really challenged both my technical riding skills and my fitness.  Like most rides in Colorado you are pedaling at a high elevation, taking in less of the oxygen you desperately need to propel you and your bike up these pitches.  As a beginner rider I focused on small goals and celebrating each accomplishment along the way.  I was particularly proud that at the end of the ride I just kept pushing a small gear and made it up the last long (but not steep) uphill stretch to the parking lot.  The views were awesome and we had beautiful weather, but I would prefer to do this loop again as a hike and take my bike to Heil Ranch or Hall Ranch instead.

Sharon carrying bike on Walker Ranch Loop

Some trail is just not safe for anyone to ride, such as these rock steps along a cliff at Walker Ranch

 

Note: Two of the pictures from Heil Ranch were taken by Kiki Holl a few days after Jay rode the trail.  Kiki is a friend of ours from Virginia that just moved to Colorado and is a great rider and photographer.

38th Week in Review: A wonderful land of beer, bikes and snow

snow on the car in Fort Collins

snow on the car in Fort Collins

Before we get into the week that was, I have to make note of the specialness of this day.  Today we are celebrating being exactly 1 year away from getting married.  I was calling this our -1 year anniversary, but Jay said that phrase does not make any sense because you can’t celebrate the anniversary of something that hasn’t happened yet.  He didn’t think “ground zero” was an appropriate reference either, so now I will just say the longer phrase that we are getting married 1 year from today.  Yay!

Live bat presentation at the Wildlife Experience

Live bat presentation at the Wildlife Experience

So anyways, we have spent the week (and will spend the rest of the month) in Colorado.  Colorado is one of those states that I have always thought that I would want to move to, but I could never decide where exactly.  We have visited several cities and towns along the Front Range and I think Fort Collins and Longmont are my favorites, but I’m not completely sold on either one.  This week we’ll get to explore what they call the Western Slope, so maybe we’ll have a new favorite place by the end of the month.

buds for boobies poster

Only in Colorado....

What is clear after this week is that Colorado is a mecca for microbreweries and for outdoor recreation.  We can not keep up with all there is to taste and do.  Jay is working on a very extensive brewery review that will be up soon.

Hours volunteered: 14 hours (combined) building stone steps on a climbing access trail in Garden of the Gods for Make a Difference Day

States: 1 – Colorado – Denver, Arvada, Fort Collins, Boulder, Longmont, Nederland, Colorado Springs, Parker, Canon City

Budget: over – we splurged on a hotel in Fort Collins since it was set to snow the night we visited.  We also joined CouchSurfing this week and look forward to tapping into that network in the future.

People Visited: Wendy and Jim Pearson, Shannon, Sarah, Sam, and Savannah Myers, Roger Ratcliff and Donna Young

Nights under the stars: 1 – free campground near Nederland, CO

Best meal:  We were treated to many amazing meals at Jay’s cousin Shannon’s house, particular stand outs were a breakfast casserole with lots of bacon and teriyaki salmon.

Two other shout outs go to Yak and Yeti in Arvada for delicious Indian food and Fort Collins Brewery for their bacon wrapped pretzel.

Best beer:  This is ridiculously hard this week because we have visited 10 breweries.  A few standouts include:  the Chai Milk Stout at Yak and Yeti, the Common Ground coffee infused amber ale at Fort Collins, the Home Plate Stout at New Belgium, and the Sawtooth Ale on cask at Left Hand.

Breweries we visited this week: Wild Mountain Brewery and Smokehouse in Nederland, Yak & Yeti in Arvada, Left Hand and Oskar Blues in Longmont, Trinity and Phantom Canyon in Colorado Springs, New Belgium, Odell, & Fort Collins in Fort Collins, and Upslope in Boulder

Photo Review: Colorado, Birds, Bugs, and Fall Colors

We have been in Colorado for a week and a half now and have gotten to see some of the beautiful geography it is known for.  Here are just a few photos from Fruita and Heil Ranch (near Lyons).

Fruita desert

North Fruita desert

spider in North Fruita desert

spider in North Fruita desert

Moth on flower in North Fruita desert

Moth on flower in North Fruita desert

Colorado River near Dotsero

Colorado River near Dotsero

Bird near the Colorado River near Dotsero

Bird near the Colorado River near Dotsero

View from Colorado River near Dotsero

View from Colorado River near Dotsero

Heil Ranch

Heil Ranch

bird at Heil Ranch

bird at Heil Ranch

autumn leaves at Heil Ranch

autumn leaves at Heil Ranch

neon green lichen

neon green lichen

fall colors

fall colors