The Grand Valley boasts some of the most gnarly and thrilling enduro racing features in the world. Enthusiasts come from near and far to test their mettle against the features on the Ribbon, Gunny, Free Lunch, and Pucker Up trails in MAD Racing Colorado’s annual Grand Enduro. Don’t let the tame names fool you: each of these features will chew you up and spit you out if you’re not equal to the task — which is, of course, where all the MAD fun is.
“The Wineglass” of the Ribbon Trail
Who says you can’t hit road speeds on a mountain bike? Veteran racers of the Ribbon have been clocked at over 50 mph thanks to the wide, steep, and solid sandstone slope. What do I mean wide? Think football field. Locals refer to the Ribbon as “mountain biking gold” with technical downhills to wrack your nervous system for a lifetime. Paired with views of the entire Grand Valley, the Ribbon is one of the world’s prettiest trails ever to illicit the most foul language from your mouth.
“The Toilet Bowl” of the Ribbon Trail
The upper slope of the Ribbon dumps into a singletrack leading you to either your worst nightmare or — depending on your adventure quotient — the greatest plunge on wheels: the Toilet Bowl. MAD Grand Enduro racers have taken on this devilish decline by skillful wheeling or by getting flushed — the former far more fun for those who can make it happen. All the while, an Elizabethan-like peanut gallery goads racers to push the insanity.
“Gunny Gets Loose” of the Gunny Loop
While the Ribbon and Toilet Bowl are all about drop, the Gunny Loop is all flow. Think two miles of whitewater rafting on a bike. Just when you’ve gotten into the zen of fighting for survival over rocky trails, unforgiving curves, and relentless gravity, the trail narrows along a cliff and makes you fight to stay upright against the incline. The plus side? A gorgeous view of the Gunnison River guides the entire thrill ride, hence the name Gunny Loop. Grand Enduro racers get to skip the incline, so be sure and come back on your free time for the adrenaline shots.
Play areas on Free Lunch
Ah, just deserts! The point of this mile-long trail is to pay up so you won’t eat it. Called “menacing” and “exciting” by the locals, Free Lunch will spit you up in the air so many times you might actually qualify for a pilot’s license. Keep your eyes off the skies, however, no matter how tantalizing the view. One lapse and you might find Free Lunch eating you. That said, whether you have an appetite for spicy challenge or a sweeter descent, Free lunch offers a menu of alternate lines perfect for any skill level.
“Cathedral Drop” of Pucker Up
One wonders if the name “Cathedral” describes the holy-moly view or the prayers for mercy this drop undoubtedly inspires. While Free Lunch merely tosses riders in the air, Cathedral Drop ups the ante with two large boulders like hands in prayer, forming a tight squeeze before launching mountain bikers 15 feet to meet your maker. Cathedral Drop is one of Pucker Up’s most praised features, and theories abound as to this drop’s perfect catechism, so don’t be afraid to ask veteran riders to confess their strategies.