This is it. One last hoorah to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Netflix has officially announced this will be the Final Season of Longmire. When I took a gig for an unknown TV show six years ago, I figured “cool… I’ll hit Santa Fe for three months, make some cash, ride some new singletrack, and be on to the next…” Clueless that my kids would grow up on the set (Lucy was 3 when it began and Molly was born just after Season 3 wrapped).
Throwback to 2012 – Lucy, age 3 – making my day brighter on a set visit
Angela, prego with Molly during Season 3 in 2014
So here we are. I know that come end of June, there will be a lot of teary-eyed hugs as I wish my surrogate family one last farewell. But before the long days of shooting devour my time, energy and fitness… I had 3 days to ride my bike and get my mind right.
Mindblowing. Singletrack. Zippity. 18 Road. Fruita, Co.
Woke up at 2am. Insomnia. The thought of an 11 hour drive to Fruita the ensuing 3.5 months weighed heavily. Screw it. I’m awake. Might as well put some miles behind me. Warm up the trusty old Tacoma. Throw my last luggage in. Wake the girls. Kiss them up. Family hug. Tell Miko to watch over my angels while I’m gone. Hardest part always. Never gets easier. Luckily, they’ll be visiting in 3 weeks. But still. Facetime is no substitute for family. I miss them so much.
Mammoth > Fruita > Grand Junction > Moab > Cortez > Santa Fe = 1238 miles
The wee hours passed quickly – somber thoughts interrupted by short breaks for nature and petrol . Poof, it was 2:30p after the time change, and I was rolling into City Market in Fruita. I’d only eaten a Noosa yogurt and a couple of turkey jerky sticks. Grocery time. A pear, two bananas, raspberries, crackers, hummus, water, peanuts, and pickles should do it. Wasn’t planning on riding til the next am, but I couldn’t stay away from 18 Road. I’d ridden there a few years back, and it’s never left my “best singletrack” list.
Making my way up Western Zippity, spinning the drive out of my legs.
Did a sweet loop of Western Zippity, Zip Off, Frontside, and Zippity Do. Strava link here
. The temps were high 70’s/low 80’s. After leaving the snowy cold of Mammoth, working up a nice sweat under the beating sun was just the ticket. The trail conditions were fantastic. It’s just one gigantic velco rollercoaster out there. Even better than I remembered. After 15 miles of ups and downs, ins and outs, and feeling like a Star Wars TIE Fighter, it was time for beer.
Copper Club Brewing. Fruita, Co
I treated myself to an 18 Road IPA (and took a bottle to go) at Copper Club Brewing
. When in Rome, right? Paired it with a couple slices from Hot Tomato
(YUM!!) and I was pretty much ready for beddy bye. Back to the Balanced Rock Motel
, chatted with the fam, cought up on some UFC fight news, and dozed off while watching Gangs of New York on the laptop.
Finally got to ride the Lunch Loops #stokeyface
Got an early start. Oooh, chilly! With heater full blast, I drove 20 minutes north to Grand Junction. Only one reason to do that, right? LUNCH LOOPS!! Don’t know why, but that’s gotta be my favorite name for a trail system- and the trail names are even better. Heard so much about it. Been on my radar and bucket list for years. I’ve even driven right past the trailhead before, but never able to squeeze it in. Until now 🙂 Did. Not. Disappoint.
Climbing up Eagle’s Tail
Being a nube, I consulted MTB Project
to determine how best to enjoy area. The 12 mile loop was a fantastic blend of everything I love about mountain biking, and a departure from the perfectly manicured trails at 18 Road the day before. Nutshell: Tabeguache > Eagle’s Tail > Pet-e-Kes > Holy Cross > Prenup > Gunny Loop > Holy Bucket > Coyote Ridge > Ali Alley > Curt’s Lane. Strava link here
. Nice gradual climbs, with techy punchy bits to get the heart rate up and keep your “A-game” on point.
Memorial for Pete Larson along the Pet-e-Kes Trail
Sprinkle in some well-placed grade reversals to catch your breath. Right when you’re tiring of the slow goin and rock garden step ups, boom – fast flowy singletrack takes over, etc, etc… I’d love to come back and do the whole Tabaguache Trail, so now that’s on my list. P.S. – If you do come to this area, take the time to drive through the Colorado National Monument. You’re basically there already. Totally worth it, especially when you learn the history and what it took to build the road.
Heading towards Prenup. Would be nice to see a sign like this on Lower Rock Creek Trail, huh?
Taking a break to admire the splendor
Awesome rock features everywhere
About to drop in on one of the fastests sections of the Gunny Loop
You guessed it. Holy Bucket.
After waving bye to GJ, and thinking about how much I’d love to come back for the Grand Junction Off-Road
, it was off to Moab. Time to cross Klondike Bluffs
off the list. Another spot that’s been on the radar for quite some time, but just never got around to it. Probably because it’s 20 miles out of Moab, and Ive been too lazy to hit it when there’s so much goodness closer to town. Not this time.
Taking a minute to soak up all that Klondike Bluffs has to offer
So cool to ride in “Dinosaur Land”. I kept pretending it was pre-historic times, and my imagination mixed with endorphins and adrenaline made for a supreme experience. My own little Jurassic Park. Klondike quickly worked it’s way into my favorites. Why? The blend of singletrack and slickrock. My only gripe is that the slickrock is “too well marked”. I feel it’s a bit overpainted. Some of the best fun of slickrock riding is freeballing your own line. I know you need some markers to stay on course, but it’s a little overkill. Otherwise, this network is impeccable. Like the Lunch Loops, the climbs are totally manageable, with a few steep punchy bits here and there to keep you on check. The rest is stick icky grippy slickrock with swoopy singletrack tying it all together.
Super fast section of Little Salty to UFO ahead
I did what’s called the “Outer Loop”. About about 15 miles, with 1,400′ of mostly slickrock climbing. Bummer, my Strava failed on this one. But it goes kinda like this. Megasteps > Baby Steps > Little Salty > UFO > EKG > Dino Flow
After hitting Lunch Loops and Klondike Bluffs on the same day, I rewarded myself with a smoothie at Peace Tree
before heading off to Cortez, CO. Let’s call a spade a spade. Cortez is pretty much an armpit. I was there simply to eat and sleep, so I could go to the Disneyland of mountain biking the next day. Phil’s World.
Ready for shreddy down the famed “Rib Cage” – Phil’s World
What’s there to say about Phil’s World that hasn’t already been said? Check out my first adventure to Phil’s World
for more words and pics. Simply one of the most magical trail systems out there. Another example of a trail system that has “everything”. From rediculous fast and grippy flow, to some techy up’s and downs with rock gardens, to the highlight “Rib Cage” – there isn’t a moment where you’re not grinning. I’m still smiling just thinking about it. It was the perfect “last ride” of this quickie road trip. Strava link here
Phil’s World is known more for it’s perfectly crafted flow trails – but there’s still nice views to be had
Afterwards, I passed through Durango for a well deserved brekky. My friend Michele recommended the “Verde Breakfast” at the 35 year-old, Oscar’s Cafe
. Score!! As she called it, “So much yum”.
Then it was 4 hours of driving. Just like that, I arrived in Santa Fe. My home for the next 3.5 months. Gonna try and ride as much as I can. I’ve even got a new bike coming my way (can you say Niner RLT9 RDO?). More on that soon… But inevitably, no matter how much I try to bike commute and ride on weekends, I always lose fitness during filming. But the memories and money earned make up for it and fund future adventure. Just a few weeks until my ladies join me. Longmire Season 6, here I come.