Wherever I May Roam: Traveling to Moab via Salida, Fruita

As we travel the west and embrace the nomadic lifestyle, Metallica’s “Wherever I May Roam” is the theme song for this summer:

“But I’ll take my time anywhere
I’m free to speak my mind anywhere
And I’ll never mind anywhere”

Salida, Colorado

While Salida has historically been known simply as the launch point for the Monarch Crest shuttle run, recent trail developments by the Salida Mountain Trails organization are transforming the Salida region from a one hit wonder into a true mountain bike destination.

For instance, you can literally ride to the Arkansas Hills Trail System from downtown. Just head across the F Street Bridge, hang a right to follow the tracks until the obvious crossing to pick up the Frontside singletrack.

View of Salida while climbing up the Frontside Trail.

Unlike some easily-accessible trail systems, Arkansas Hills isn’t like riding a golf course in the mountains. While some of the lower trails are easy, if you climb up to the higher trails be prepared for a real technical treat! The 3.2-mile (one way, best ridden as a 6.4 mile out-and-back) North Backbone Trail is a rolling technical playground with serious exposure.

If you’re ready to descend back into town, there are a number of different options including the rowdy Unkle Nazty trail. If you decide to take on the naztiness, be sure to bring some suspension… and as much of it as possible! There were rocky sections that I rode up to, and couldn’t see a line until I walked down them and studied them for a few minutes.

Taking a break from riding the Jamis Dakar 650b down a nazty switchback on Unkle Nazty.

Thanks to the low elevation, the local weather patterns, and the fact that this entire mountainside faces south, Arkansas Hills stays rideable 12 months a year (with maybe just a couple days off to dry out).

Add in even more trail developments at Methodist Mountain, the Rainbow Trail, and Bear Creek, and I’d recommend putting Salida on your list for a mountain bike trip sometime soon!

“Anywhere I roam
Where I lay my head is home

(And the earth becomes my throne)”

Traveling to Fruita

From Salida we headed toward Fruita, planning to camp out in the desert that night. I was supposed to pick up a bunch of stickers from Jeff when we met up in Boulder, but somehow both of us managed to forget before we parted ways. However, we would eventually be traveling the same stretch of highway between Grand Junction and Montrose.

Since I’m really wanting to spread some Singletracks sticker love as I travel through Cali, Jeff set up a little geocache drop of stickers for me to find:

Despite not being able to get the GPS coordinates to work, between his description of the place and the photo he emailed over I was successfully able to locate them:

So if you want a sticker, be sure to come out to the California group ride or track me down at a random trail during my journey! Also, for those who attend the group ride at Soquel Demonstration Forest in Santa Cruz on Saturday I’ll also be handing out free Singletracks membership codes. Sweet!

While filling up at a gas station in Montrose, I looked at the bike rack and realized that something was seriously wrong. The bikes had been bouncing around a lot more than normal, and as I looked at them I realized they were hanging way too low. After some investigation, I discovered that the weight of the bikes on the rack had bent my slightly rusty bumper and it was hanging down at a dangerous angle! With thousands of dollars of bikes on the back, the last thing I wanted was to have the entire assembly come flying off the car, so I got creative and decided to stabilize and reinforce it a bit:

Bikes looking a lot better, bumper still hanging down.

“Roamer, wanderer
Nomad, vagabond
Call me what you will”

Fruita, Colorado

While in Fruita I just had to ride the 18 Road Trail System since it is on our list of the top 10 trails in the world. I asked mtbikerchick for some trail recommendations, and I wasn’t disapointed! I climbed Prime Cut several times over the course of the day, and descended Kessel Run, PBR, and Zippety Do Dah. This was my first time ever riding legitimate desert trails, and despite getting an early 6 am start I was pouring sweat before the end of my ride.

Zippety Do Dah.

After riding here, I can see why Fruita’s slogan is “Keep singletrack single.” Out here in the desert, it is so easy to pick an alternate line and shortcut a turn or a hard spot. Since there is so little precipitation, your tire marks remain, and others think, “hey, there are tracks there, it must be ok to ride.” Before you know it, a new trail is formed. At points in the trail system, there were so many tracks going every which way that I had some difficulty figuring out which trail was the original track. Thankfully, those spots were relatively few and far between.

Early morning ride on Kessel Run. The Jamis Dakar 650b made easy work of this bermy descent, but I was really wishing I had a bike with the name “Millenium Falcon.”

Despite riding for close to three hours, I don’t think I pedaled even half the trails at 18 Road–not to mention the other famous Fruita trails like Horsethief Bench.I can’t wait until I can plan a week-long Fruita vacation!

“And my ties are severed clean
Less I have the more I gain
Off the beaten path I reign”

Driving to Moab

The trusty Toyota T-100 in transit.

While texting back and forth with Maddslacker about Moab, he recommended taking the scenic route down from I-70 by driving along Hwy 128. 128 basically runs through the middle of nowhere, but follows the beautiful Green River and the edge of Arches National Park. It’s not a highway that you’re going to be able to fly down, as the tight turns and the incredible views will encourage you to slow down and soak in the experience.

Amazing views along Hwy 128.

After two days of traveling and riding, we finally made it from Bailey, Colorado to mountain bike mecca: Moab! Stay tuned for some Moab ride reports… coming soon!

“Carved upon my stone
My body lies, but still I roam,
Yeah yeah!”

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