“It has nice views!” Why we bike boring trails.

“Well that trail has great views,” I tell people.  “Honestly, it’s one of the most spectacular views I’ve seen,” I say.  “But the trail? Oh a large portion of the trail sucks.” I won’t mention what specific trail I’m referring to, but it involves steep climbing on single track through the woods at about 11,000ft and then involves some (to me) unpleasantly exposed sections of trail. Then it gets fun for the last few miles.

But if I don’t really enjoy this trail, then why do I ride it? Because it has amazing views and even more impressive wildflowers. We all have those trails, right? Haven’t you ever just ridden a trail not because it’s interesting and fun to ride, but because of its other good qualities?

The view from Indian Point on the Grand Mesa
The view from Indian Point on the Grand Mesa

Take the Flowing Park/Indian Point loop on the Grand Mesa near Grand Junction, for example. The trail itself isn’t a favorite of mine.  This year we even tried just an out-and-back on one side of the trail to see if that was more fun than the loop–it wasn’t. It’s a single track, boring, mostly-flat trail.  Occasionally riders get to go through a little copse of aspens, and that’s nice, but mostly you’re just pedaling (almost constantly) in a meadow with lava rock strewn about just to keep you on your toes. There aren’t many interesting “rock features,” just random boulders left on the trail.

So why ride it? I don’t find this trail fun or entertaining in any way (ok, maybe there are one or two moments of coasting that are fun).  Yet every year I find myself up there because:

1. The views are great.  Views of the valley below, of endless meadows, of wildlife if you’re lucky.

2. Wildflowers.  The meadows are full of them; this time of year pink, purple, orange and white wildflowers fill these fields and make it hard to actually keep your eyes on the trail (the boring, never-ending trail).

3. The temperatures. When it’s hot we all head for the hills; sometimes making it all the way to Steamboat, Salida, or even Crested Butte is difficult, so we have to make do with what we have. When it’s 100 degrees by noon in the valley, I’ll go bike on the Mesa where it’s 75.

4. This:apres

Because really, this lake view, this ability to sit without roasting at 2 in the afternoon in July, is worth riding even a bad trail.

Your Turn: Do you have a favorite “bad” trail? One that you ride because it has the best views, the best temperatures, or the least amount of people? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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