5 Tips for Preparing to Ride a New Trail

Every year mountain bikers travel from all over to come ride the trails in Fruita and Grand Junction.  Some of these riders have been coming for years and are familiar with all of our local trails.  Others are coming here for the first time.  Whether you’re planning a trip to Western Colorado to bike, or you’re like me and planning a trip somewhere else, like Sedona or Sun Valley, here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing to ride a new trail, or a trail you aren’t familiar with.

1.  Always carry a map with you. 

If you can, download one online from Singletracks, or buy a paper map from our store.  Your other option is to get to town and find a local bike shop or recreation store like REI.  They have all kinds of trail maps for the areas you’ll be riding.  When we were in Park City, we stopped at Jan’s, a local recreation store, and donated $5 to the local bike trail organization.  In return we got a great map of several different trail systems in the area.

Often, when we’re riding at Lunch Loop in the spring and fall, we’ll see riders heading towards us with slightly confused looks on their faces.  “Is this Pet-Y-Kes?  Or Eagle’s Tail? How do I get to Gunny Loop?” They’ll often ask.  We’ve started keeping extra Lunch Loop maps in our backpacks to hand out on the trail.

2.  Try to watch some videos or check out trail descriptions and photos on Singletracks before you go. 

If you’re from the East Coast and you’re coming out to Fruita to bike for the first time, you’re going to encounter trails that are vastly different from your own.  You can at least prepare yourself for them a little bit by reading about the area trails first.

When we were researching our trip to Lake Tahoe last year, we made sure to read up on the Flume Trail and the Rim Trail before going so we’d have a little bit of an idea what to expect.

3.  Take extra supplies. 

Sometimes a trail can surprise you.  In Park City when we rode the “Big Dog Loop” out in the Glenwild area, we were definitely surprised by the amount of climbing we had to do.  I was glad to have completely filled my hydration bladder and thrown in an extra snack.  If you’re in our area and riding the Western Rim trail in Rabbit Valley, it can be easy to get turned around or lost.  If that’s the case, you’ll want to make sure to have plenty of water, especially if you aren’t used to our arid environment.

4. Talk to the locals. 

While you’re in that bike shop getting a map, ask the folks there what they like to ride.  We did that in Jackson, Wyoming, and the guy directed us to a great “local” trail (not a super touristy one) and even marked it on our map.  We did this again when we were in Durango for the first time, and that’s how we found out about the entire Telegraph Trail System!

5.  Use your phone! 

I use my iPhone to find new bike shops when we’re headed to a new town, to locate trail heads, and to track mileage, elevation, etc. on bike rides.  This is also good to have if something goes wrong.  Let’s hope it doesn’t, but you never know!

Here’s hoping you find some awesome places to ride during the winter months!

Your Turn: How do YOU prepare to ride a new trail?

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