Posts Tagged ‘Fruita’
Posted on June 18, 2010 - by Nadia
Day 13: June 16
Montrose to Fruita
Intent on flying through this next section of the trip, I took advantage of an early tail wind and wide shoulder and flew along Hwy 50 as it bisects the Umcompahgre Valley, following that river’s rush to join the Gunnison and then the Colorado. The tailwind became a quartering breeze that stiffened, forcing me to fight for control on the downhills, but still helpful on the ups. That changed as high wind advisories went out and I struggled to make the final 10 miles or so to Fruita. Stayed at the James M. Robb Colorado River State Campground, an over-sanitized place full of rafting families having a good time and huge, deluxe RVs. Cost $16. The wind came up and stayed up most of the night; a fitful sleep.
Towering red cliffs to the south, forested mesas and alkaline flats to the north, Fruita is working hard to earn a name as THE place to mountain bike if you’re done with the Moab scene. The local maps show plenty to do, plus wide open BLM and USFS lands if you prefer to freelance your day rides.
The hardest part of getting to Fruita was navigating Grand Junction. At 48,000 it has a smaller population than Casper but it felt much, much larger. Thanks to Michelle, the post mistress at the Whitewater post office, I dodged the network of I-80 and state highways and got onto the Colorado River bike path.
I worked hard to get to the tiny town of Whitewater, only to discover it’s not much more than a post office. But I needed a rest and had some stuff to mail, so that’s where I went. Wind was howling. Michelle, a super enthusiastic veteran of the postal service, gave me an iced tea, let me use the bathroom and told me how to navigate Grand Junction.
Grand Junction is sandwiched between remarkable red rock canyons, similar to Moab or the Grand Canyon, on one side of the valley, and white alkaline rises on the other side, similar to Rock Springs. The city seems to be reclaiming its industrial waterfront and the bike path and riparian restoration efforts are at the heart of that. I recrossed the river on Hwy 6, on a hunch, and followed a highway toward Fruita. This turns out to be a popular and very scenic road bikers’ route
By now, the wind was knocking me sideways.I had to stop and lie in the lee of a roadside electrical box, just waiting the gusts out and hoping rain would hurry and quench the winds. It did, briefly, and I road like crazy, trying to beat a return of the wind.
I rode through increasingly amazing scenery – the red cliffs pushing higher, to 1500 feet, even as they got closer to the highway. The houses got increasingly mansion like, with gated communities and vineyards, very fancy. Increasingly astonished at the scenery, I was stunned to arrive at the gateway to the Colorado Monument National Park. I could have camped there, but did not have legs for a four-mile climb. It looked gorgeous. Fruita was just below the gate a couple of miles and I beat a hasty retreat to a campground there. The wind rose again and I just called the day quits. There’s no use fighting a gale. The next day the paper reported trees through houses and several tumbled travel trailers. Very Casperish conditions.