Riding the Kokopelli section

Riding the Kokopelli section of the Colorado River Front Trail. 

The advent of daylight savings time and the arrival of the Daily Sentinel’s special supplement “Ride” are two occasions to which I look forward every year. The days are getting longer and warmer. “Ride” is packed with all kinds of information about the Grand Valley’s mountain bike trails.

After a winter’s worth of being off my mountain bike, I can’t wait for the trails to dry out. This year has been challenging with all the snow and rain. Trail conditions are most vulnerable to damage in the early spring.

As the ground thaws out, it produces a sloppy gumbo on the surface. Ride a bike or horse, or walk on it, and you leave a rut or divot that when it dries produces a bumpy ride or ankle-twisting surface. Sure, it can be smoothed out, but who wants to correct a problem that is preventable. I encourage all trail users to be patient — use durable surfaces until the trails dry out.

While I was waiting for the trails to dry out, I took my bike into the shop to have it tuned up. Of course, if you are handy in that regard you can do it yourself. I’m not, so I loaded the bike into my truck bed and dropped it off at Bicycle Outfitters

Bicycle Outfitters’ manager, Chris Davis, is an old friend, and a crack wrench. Bicycle Outfitters is owned by Brad Stewart, another old friend. I bought my Santa Cruz Chameleon from Chris and Brad, and it came with a lifetime free tune up. Chris checked out the bike, replacing the brake pads and chain — two critical components of any bike.

Next, I checked my cycling shorts and jerseys to see if they are worthy of another riding season. My cycling shoes and gloves were beat up, so I replaced them. Kathy gave me a new backpack for Christmas that will work well on the trail.

It’s an Osprey pack, made in Colorado, and it has a built-in hydration system. It’s just the right size to accommodate a small first aid kit, a tool kit, a few survival items, a spare tube, hand pump and a rain jacket. Having all that gear adds weight to the pack but having it has prevented an unplanned overnighter more than a few times.

Once my bike and gear were in working order, I reviewed the potential riding options I had. Typically, the trails in the Grand Valley and near Delta dry out a little sooner then the trails around Montrose. That’s why the “Ride” publication gets my attention. Up-to-date maps are in the guide — this year’s “Ride” has an excellent map of the Colorado River Front Trails.

Eager to get cranking again, Kathy and I visited the newest section of the Colorado River Front Trail — the Kokopelli section. It connects the town of Fruita and the adjacent Colorado River State Park with the trailhead of the Kokopelli’s Trail system.

We parked at the state park and rode from there. The concrete trail passes under I-70 then turns west to parallel the freeway. Numerous riders and a few hikers were encountered, including 6 friends. I guess we weren’t the only ones who wanted to be out on a sunny March day.

The ride is virtually flat except the long hill near the Loma I-70 exit. After a few minutes of pedaling it was obvious I was overdressed, so shed my windbreaker. It felt good to crank off a few miles (we ended up riding 10 miles), a good distance to shake out the cobwebs. A nice bonus was narrow, rolly singletrack next to some of the concrete trail.

If you go: Do an internet search for Colorado River Front Trails for more information.

Bill Harris is a long-time resident of western Colorado and author of “Bicycling the Uncompahgre Plateau.”

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