Spring Utah / Colorado Road Trip
Our spring trip all planned out, we were watching the weather closely, as rain, and even snow was being forecasted for southern Utah. Put everything that would have to be in the back of the truck in plastic garbage bags, and wrapped the handle bars (shift and brake levers) and saddles in plastic for the long trip.
We pulled out Thursday, April 9th at 7:30am. Had to deal with the morning commute traffic, but such is life. First stop was Hurricane Components out in the Riverside part of town. They had recalled the 15mm Fork Up that I was using for Lori’s bike. It was made of aluminum, and they had replaced it with a steel version, the same as my 20mm. We pulled into their lot, ran in and made the exchange. Back in the truck, it was 500 miles to Beaver, UT. Beaver is about 3 hours north of Las Vegas, and would be a sleep stop. Weather and road conditions were good to Beaver. We checked in under graying skies and falling temps. After unloading the truck we headed out to find some dinner.
Friday morning the 275 mile push to Fruita began. Skies were cloudy and the forecast for Fruita was calling for a chance of showers that night. The drive went fine, as the amazing landscape passed by.
As we pulled into Fruita, we decided we’d better try and get in a quick ride, as the chance of rain for Saturday was almost a sure thing. We dumped everything at the motel, geared up and headed for the 18 Road trail area. We arrived at the trail head, after a few miles of wash board road, at about 4:30pm under dark grey skies. Thinking that we’d better keep this short, we climbed up Prime Cut and then shot down Kessel Run, both easy trails, but very fun. When we got to the bottom of Kessel, with big grins on our faces, we decided another lap was in order. It looked like both the rain and darkness would hold off.
After the ride we loaded up and drove back into town, stopping at the Hot Tomato Cafe for some beer and pizza. The place was jumping, and the food good as always. After dinner we headed back to the motel to get cleaned up.
Overnight it did rain pretty good, and we woke to drizzle and wet streets – riding was not going to happen today. So, we first stopped in at OTE Sports, a great bike shop. We chatted with the others that were bummed out about the weather and generally just killed some time. Next we drove over to Grand Junction, CO, only 10 minutes east of Fruita, and a larger town. We had lunch and a movie. That night we had a pretty good Mexican dinner walking distance from our Motel at the El Tapatio. Good food and good margaritas and tequila shots, and we could walk home.
Sunday we woke to damp asphalt, but clearing skies. Unfortunately, our schedule had us heading for Moab. So long for now Fruita. We stopped many times along the way for photo opps, even still the drive was only a couple of hours. The weather was looking good, and we were hoping for 3 days of riding in Moab. After checking into the Red Stone Inn, mountain biker friendly lodging, we headed over to Arches National Park for some photography. The afternoon light and dramatic skies made for some nice images.
Monday we got going and headed out to ride the Sovereign Trail System. As semi-tech slick rock / single track trail that is plenty tough. There are enough features to keep you on your toes, a couple of steep climbs and a few very short hike-a-bike sections.
Tuesday, the skies were a bit more cloudy, and the weather was calling for a chance of rain starting Wednesday, so out we went. Baby Steps Trail, a notch easier than Sovereign, was still a fun trail with both single track and slick rock.
Wednesday I was hoping to maybe try Amasa Back, or and out and back on Poison Spider, but weather was not cooperating. Tuesday night the winds started to blow in, and by Wednesday morning they were whipping up a huge dust storm. We did gear up and actually head out, opting to try an easy trail, the M.O.A.B trails north of town. I was hoping that once we got out of town, and out of the canyon the winds would be lighter – WRONG! We pulled into the parking for the trail, opened the truck doors and said, “nope!” Crazy windy. So, we headed back to town, now rained out one day in Fruita, and blown out one day in Moab. We walked around town, getting our bare skin sandblasted and had lunch and such. As if the weather gods were saying FU, that late afternoon, it started to rain, it started to rain dirt and sand. Rain mixed with gritty wet sand all over every thing. Finely the rain let up and the skies, now washed clean of sand were blue. Seems I was not the only one to want to wash the now mud, sand, and water mix off my car, as there was a line at the coin opp washes.
Thursday the plan was to take the longer scenic way back to Hurricane, UT, through Escalante, Red Canyon, and Zion. After much debate, and after checking the weather forecast and the Utah DOT website, which was “recommending” 4×4 or chains on that route, we reluctantly opted for the the 70 to the 15. This would be a back track the way we came. Even at this, we did run into snow, both on the ground and falling over the higher passes. Nothing was sticking to the road, but it still was quite a change from just a few day before on our way out.
We pulled into our motel in Hurricane, dumped off the gear and headed out to OTE Sports bike shop. This is the sister store to the one in Fruita. We chatted with Dave at the shop, and got his input on riding Goulds / JEM / Hurricane Rim the following day, as they had gotten rain / light snow the day before. Dave felt that if we didn’t get rain overnight we’d be fine.
Friday, we woke to light winds, cool temps and cloudy but clearing skies. We geared up and headed over to OTE Sports. We were we were meeting Arthur, our riding friend that had moved to Las Vegas, and two of his buddies, Ty and Steve. As we waited for them to arrive the winds slowly started to increase… Once they arrived we stared out, riding right from the shop, up the pavement for 1/4 mile and then picking up the trail. Trail conditions were great, no mud, and no dust, but that wind was really starting to come up, and would be with us for the entire 21 mile ride. We later found out that the weather service was clocking them at 40+ MPH. So, what should have been a total blast of a ride, was tempered a bit. At a few points we were actually forced off (blown over) our bikes by gusts. We got the ride in without any injuries or mechanicals, and got a few good photographs too. Arthur and his buddies couldn’t sick around, as they had to get back to Las Vegas, so off they went. Lori and I headed back to the motel, got cleaned up and then went out for some dinner.
Saturday, that was it, it was over… the 400+ mile drive back to Los Angeles. As usual, the drive went fine until we entered the eastern edge of LA, then the brake lights and stop and go traffic all the way to WLA. Quite the nice way to erase any good mojo you might have picked up traveling across the scenic SW. Welcome home.