Fruita Continues to Grow as Mountain Biking Hub

David Philipps of Denver rides along the Horsethief Bench Trail on the westside of Fruita, Colo., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2004. The Horsethief Bench Trail opened in 1997 and is accessed from the Kokopelli Trailhead. Photo By Christian Murdock/The Gazette


Five trails built in two years and more in the planning stages — this mountain biking paradise created by mountain bikers isn’t settling in the desert dust.

The last time I visited, MoJoe’s wasn’t a trail. The route in the Book Cliffs/18 Road area just north of town extends Joe’s Ridge to the south and features the characteristics that put this farming town on the mountain biking map. The trail flows through the desert terrain with banked turns, jumps and roller-coaster excitement.

“We wanted more kick, more features,” said Mary Monholland, who grew up in Moab, Utah, and started working in bike shops when she was 14. When I caught up with her she was working in Fruita at Over the Edge Sports with her husband, Landon Monholland.

Three other routes in the North Fruita Desert Trail System that were built inbetween my visits were Pump, Berms and Rollers (PBR), Down Uppity and Zip Off. Zip Off connects Western Zippity to Zippity Doo Da, allowing riders to avoid a jeep road. Down Uppity provides another north-south option, and PBR is a fast, downhill-only trail built with banked turns, dips and jumps.

Fruita Continues to Grow as Mountain Biking Hub

A mountain biker races through the rolling turns on Joe’s Ridge in the Bookcliffs/18 Road area north of Fruita. Photo Credit: Christian Murdock

“Love the screaming part where you can fly and not worry about hitting something and wrecking,” said Dylan Scott of Colorado Springs. “There wasn’t anything that came up at you really fast. You could fly through it.”

The Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association picked up work to complete the Edge Loop trail in the Book Cliffs.

The transformation of a dying farming town into a mountain biking mecca started in the mid-1990s when Over the Edge Sports founder Troy Rarick saw the area’s potential. He opened Over the Edge Sports on April 23, 1995, and began building trails.

The town, 15 miles from the Utah border on Interstate 70, held its first Fat Tire Festival a year later. The rest, as they say, is history.

Today, more than 100,000 ride Fruita each year. The variety of terrain brings riders back.

Fruita Continues to Grow as Mountain Biking Hub

Jay Wright of Boulder looks out over the Colorado River as he takes a break along the Horsethief Bench Trail Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2004. The trail offers some of the best river canyon views in the area and is rideable throughout the year. Photo Credit: Christian Murdock

The Kokopelli Trail System, 4 miles west of Fruita, features singletrack over rocky terrain with views of the Colorado River below. Mary’s Loop is a must ride, and Moore Fun is a rush for a skilled rider.

The Rabbit Valley area feels much like Moab. The Holy Grail is a beautiful route with technical single track that winds back and forth along the border. A view of the valley below awaits riders on top.

The Book Cliffs/18 Road area or the North Fruita Desert Trail System offers fast and rolling trails such as MoJoe’s and PBR.

Minutes away on the west side of Grand Junction is the Lunch Loop Trail System, a maze of trails that offers steep climbing over rock features and technical downhill. Its riding is similar to that found in Palmer Park in Colorado Springs (another must-ride system of trails).

Mountain biking has pumped new blood into the town. Retailers, including a brew pub, coffee shop and restaurants, join Over the Edge Sports along Aspen Street. Vehicles carrying bicycles fill the parking spaces. More restaurants, stores and hotels sit on the other side of the interstate.

Colorado Springs resident Jon Severson first visited Fruita in 1997, when his motor home broke down there during a spring break trip to Moab. The inconvenience quickly turned into a fun discovery. Severson has made a trip back each year — for the riding and the people.

“The little town has really adopted biking as its own,” he said. “I’ve never driven past Fruita since to go mountain biking.”

Fruita Continues to Grow as Mountain Biking Hub

A mountain biker races through the rolling turns on Joe’s Ridge in the Bookcliffs/18 Road area north of Fruit. Photo Credit: Christian Murdock


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