How many local newspapers do you know that have a Bike section on their website? Welcome to Grand Junction.
It's hard to keep up with all the bike events in the area, but there's no question about the growing impact of cycling in the valley. Events, races and rides are scheduled most of the year, including the Fruita Fat Tire Festival and Colorado Mesa University Mav Classic Criterium (April), 18 Hours of Fruita and Rose Hill Rally (May), Tour of the Valley (August), Grand Junction Off-Road (September), and Tour of the Moon (October).
Our manager, Michelle, cycles and can give you detailed information and maps for trails and roads here. Also, bike shops in Grand Junction, Fruita and Palisade can help you find the trails/biking experience you want that fits your abilities.
Just a short downhill from Echo Canyon Retreat, the Lunch Loop trailhead offers beginner trails, intermediate challenges, a BMX skills area and expert runs, with names like Window Maker Hill and Pucker Up.
The trails behind the house are part of the course for The Grand Junction Off-Road pro bike race that debuts on Labor Day 2013. You can see a portion of the Andy's Loop section from our balcony.
*Water Tower Hill (locally known as The Secret Sauce) is an easy loop off South Camp Road that is rideable from the house by riders of all levels, with branches of trail that offer more aerobic or technical challenge. This is not an “official” trail area, but it’s widely used by local bikers, runners and dog walkers. See our map for this and other local trails.
Kokopelli Loops trailhead is easy to find at Exit 15 off I-70 west of Fruita. We like *Mary’s Loop and *Horsethief Bench for a longer, intermediate-difficulty ride. *Rustler’s Loop is more for relative beginners but gives a intermediates plenty of fun.
18 Road/Fruita Desert Trails take some more driving into the desert north of Fruita, but are rewarding for all levels. On some days the parking lot there is as busy as the more accessible Lunch Loop. We love *Prime Cut up and Kessel’s Run down. We’ve never seen anyone of any level finish this ride without a huge grin. Vegetarian Loop is also very doable.
Highline Lake State Park may not impress you as a body of water, but small lakes for camping, boating and fishing are treasured in the high desert. The singletrack trails around the lake are pretty sweet for riders still building their skills. An 18-hour race is held there the first weekend in May, turning a track that seems relatively benign by day into a different animal.
The terrain that makes this a mountain bike kingdom limits the roadie options a bit, but it also opens up rides you can't find anywhere else.
With the east entrance to the Monument right outside our door, you'd be remiss not to take this ride if you're a fit and competent cyclist. You don't have to be an animal, but you should be comfortable climbing a steep a 2700 ft. grade that winds over about two miles to the top and taking a similar downhill at the other end.
The full ride is a 38-mile loop from the house. I've seen people on mountain bikes do it but I'd want a road bike under me. Entrance fee and front and back lights required for the several short tunnels.
A local cyclist has mapped most of the best road routes in the valley, so we won't recap them here except to say you can find: paved trails along the river; impossible-to-get-lost-on section road combos in ranch country northwest of town; and roads through the orchards to the east.
In addition to Rim Rock Drive over the Monument, for longer rides, we recommend:
*Little Park Road— another bear uphill with a 2840 ft. climb, but really sweet on the return, which loops through Glade Park and hooks up with the east end of the Monument ride. About a 30-mile loop from the house.*Orchard Mesa/Palisade Loop. When we want to do a longer day ride, this is a favorite. The map shows it as 38 miles from Eagle Rim Park. Riding from our house and picking up the river trail to Eagle Rim adds about 12 miles.
We take the Orchard Mesa loop on the way out, have lunch and a beer or two at Palisade Brewery and then follow the flatter route back home. (Remember, the last 3 miles back on Monument Road are modestly uphill.)
Even without a map, it’s hard to get lost or lose track of distance once you realize the valley is laid out in an alpha-numeric grid. And again, feel free to ask Michelle about any of these rides.
The city has marked bike lanes running north-south and east west along residential streets. Unfortunately, it doesn't make it easy to find the routes on a map.
If you prefer being off-street entirely, there's a network of connected trails for bikes and pedestrians along the Colorado Riverfront between Palisade and Fruita. See here for maps of individual sections.
With so many great shops in the valley, we're reluctant to pick only one or two, so we've tried to characterize some the stores closest by the house. These shops will be good sources for repairs and information.
Brown Cycles. Downtown on Main. Can a shop be eccentric and family-oriented? This one is and it offers rentals.
Grassroots Cycles. Downtown on Colorado. Very trail and mountain bike focused.
Bicycle Outfitters. Downtown on North First. About an even mix of road and trail stuff. Another local fave.
The Bike Shop. On North Avenue by the University. Probably the largest selection of everything.
Ruby Canyon Cycles. Downtown on Main. More nice guys devoted to MTN and road cycling.
LTR Sports. Patterson Road near the Mall. A little more racing oriented. They have a rental stand where you can use their tools and do your own service.
Palisade and Fruita
Rapid Creek Cycles. If you're interested in riding the east end of the valley around Palisade.
Over the Edge Sports. The original in Fruita. A must-visit.
Single Tracks Bike Shop. If you want a MTN bike rental in the Fruita area, this is the place.