Author, Cheri Felix rides Fruita
I’m a lot of things. I’m a good planner. I’m a good trip leader. And I’m fun to ride with. One thing I am not is super flexible. Or easy- going. When I make a plan to go to Fruita to ride my mountain bike, I expect it to happen. About this time last year, my girlfriends and I were supposed to go to Fruita but the weather looked super iffy so we started scouting for other locales. I went to the Accuweather and NOAA websites more times than I can count and eventually we decided that we’d go to Pueblo. I should say that making this decision was a bit like going through the five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance (thank you Elizabeth Kubler-Ross). It’s so hard to NOT go to Fruita.
So off we went to Pueblo with our bikes and a cooler packed with beer and tequila. Once in Pueblo, we went straight to Vance’s Bicycle World and met Vance who is super friendly and extremely knowledgeable. He helped build a lot of trails on the South Shore so he knows what he’s talking about. My best advice is to always go to the local bike shop and talk trails and buy something if you can to support the shop. From there we went to straight to the trailhead (5 minute drive) (after getting a wee lost due to excessive chatting) and following local advice (possible car theft), we parked in the State Park ($7.00). With maps in our packs, off we went, exploring and learning as we went. I can look at a map all day but until my tires roll on the dirt, I haven’t got a clue. I’m the girl who pretended she saw her babies in the ultrasounds…
We rolled fairly easy the first day, just trying to get our bearings. The trails were great. Flowy and super single in some spots. Lots of cacti on the sides of the trail kept us focused. The second day, we wanted a bit more “community” so we parked at the Red Gate (no fee). It’s a great starting point because you can stay on the single track trails or you can fall right into the slot canyons where you’ll find more challenging rocks to ride and people-made ramps to drop off from. For me, it’s the slot canyons that make me smile. I love the flowy single track but I like to see how far a lowered seat post and shin guards can get me. Keyhole, Skull Canyon, and Dead Dog and Lower Dog are all worth your time. We also rode up Stonehenge (another canyon) which provided the cardio I wanted.
The longer (less technical) rides that hug the periphery of the park are not to be missed. You can ride Voodoo, Outer Limits, Inner Limits, Pedro’s Point and still have some energy for the slot canyons. A cool surprise was the Driftwood trail. Just like it sounds, the trail is surrounded by driftwood with some nice logs to roll over. Don’t miss it.
Pueblo is not Fruita. It’s Pueblo. It’s a great place to put a lot of miles on your bike and get that feeling that you did when you were a kid; like you could ride all day or at least until you got called into dinner. Don’t miss Solar Roast Coffee which (you guessed it) uses solar power to roast their coffee and they get their veggies from their own veggie gardens. Also, The Daily Grind had great espresso and amazing breakfast burritos. I’m still thinking about that burrito. Pueblo doesn’t seem to have the same mountain bike culture as Fruita or Moab but that might change (hint hint Pueblo). Then again, I’m not super hip. I might have missed a trailhead party invite. Either way, Pueblo is a great place to ride, a great place to drink some beer and a great place to sip some yummy espresso.
Hints: Be careful of the cacti. Be sure to bring a patch (for sidewall tears from shale). Bring a tiny roll of duct tape for cacti encounters and possible patching options. Bring a map! And take lots of water (as usual). The Southern Colorado Trail Builders site is packed with good to know before you go information.