The Fruita Walkabout; Night One

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Book Cliffs in Fruita

Friday began my Walkabout of Fruita. Walkabout is a term I’m using loosely as a walkabout is defined in the Aborigine culture as a young boy’s physical and spiritual awakening into manhood. My adventure into manhood unfortunately may have many years to go.

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Dinosaur in Fruita

The Mad Scientist called Thursday afternoon to say he was out for the weekend. He has been suffering from iron lung for the past month and all of the narcotics the MD’s had doled out to him had done no good in making the poor guy feel better.

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Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon

Friday, I finally got out of the home office around 1:30pm and made the 4 hour drive across the State. I-70 was eye candy of the mountainous kind the entire trip but Glenwood Canyon has got to be one of the most beautiful interstate drives I’ve done…followed closely by the stunning I-26 between Mars Hill, North Carolina and Tennessee.

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part of the Book Cliffs

I arrived in Fruita around 5pm with the skies thickening with ominous clouds and an occasional splatter of rain but an ever hopeful heart of getting a ride in. Rain doesn’t scare me. “Bring it,” I say, but I’ve experienced some of the clay mud in Denver and Fruita is supposed to be chalk full of the stuff that is rumored to suck you in and never let you out if you got stuck in a downpour.

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the shop that started it all

I stopped by Over the Edge Sports as part of the tourist thing to do when you’re in the area. They spoke of fear of the wet stuff as I talked of camping near the Book Cliffs, the most feared place to be if a squall does hit due to its overabundance of the clay dirt. I took my chances though and headed north. Small patches of rain hit the car on my drive but I kept an optimistic heart and found my campsite for the next two nights. Just as I finished setting up camp and had my gear ready for a night ride…a fearsome wind gust blew up and turned my shade tent into a few bits of scrap metal.

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climb up Western Zippity

Cursing the winds…I shoved the ruins into a notch between two scrub trees and went for a ride. I had recently heard mixed reviews of the Book Cliffs area’s riding but ever since I started riding back in ‘99(mountain bikes that is), Zippity Do Dah was supposed to be the ridge to test your speed and fortitude upon. I couldn’t pass it up. The weather was starting to hold with a slight breeze and with temps in the high 60’s and just the slightest bit of moisture on the ground the trails were perfect.

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Looking to the East from Prime Cut at the end of my ride

I ended up riding to the top of Kessel Run, starting just ¼ mile from my campsite and going down..Within ½ mile of this downhill slalom I tore my rear tire on a sharp edged rock and spewed Stan’s all over the trail. Somewhere along the way, perhaps being too anxious to get my weekend start, I lost all my mechanical ability. I fumbled to get my rear wheel apart and back together again and as I did I knocked my disc brake pads loose. 15 minutes later, yeah, an eternity of riding time, I was rolling up and down the wandering course and just as I hit Western Zippity, I’ll be damned if I didn’t have a flat again.

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Frontside

I screamed obscenities at the trail gods like a little girl who has been up to long and fed way to much junk food. I think I might have even cried a little…it would have truly been an awakening moment of my nature for you and I am so glad no one was with me to notice. I was stressing myself out over the silliest of things and it may have been an influence of the weather which was being contrary to all that Fruita is. It is a desert after all, where sun and no shade should be in great abundance.

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Looking to the west from Frontside

Finally fumbling my rear wheel together for the second time I made way across Western Zippity to Frontside where I got dropped into a wash and rode 200 yards before realizing something was off. I turned around and just about missed my entry into the wash, catching it out of the corner of my eye. I saw another steep wash crawl up the eastern wall of the wash I was in and decided to chance it. It turned out to be my exit climb up Frontside.

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in the wash on Frontside

Finally I reached the top of Zippity Do Dah. Maybe I epitomized this trail to much through my years of hearing about it. I had built it into the mighty roller coaster ride of a lifetime. I had imagined a ridge hanging thousands of feet above the valley below with a ribbon thin slice of singletrack sliding across its spine. What I got was good but not that good. The flow for which this trail has been hailed for wasn’t there but it has a couple of good rollers and few steep drop ins but nothing I would ever consider extreme.

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Zippity Do Dah

After rolling off Zippity do Dah I tied back in to the Kessel connector and worked my way over 18 Road to Prime Cut and began a cool swooping climb back to the campground and my campsite.

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Sunset over one of the Prime Cut Ponds

I was mentally spent but the Kokopelli Loops more than made up for it on Saturday. Only 14 miles but 2,865 ft of accumulated climbing.

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Camp

….to be continued

2 comments:

  Karlos

June 9, 2009 at 11:54 AM

Good stuff so far!

  Ko

June 10, 2009 at 6:43 PM

Awesome photos!!!