Mountain biking future is bright in Rifle |

Mountain biking future is bright in Rifle

Local mountain bike organization grows and brings big plans for enthusiasts in the area

This weekend as part of Rifle’s Western Adventure Weekend, Rifle Area Mountain Bike Organization will host the Roan Cliff Chaos mountain bike race 8 a.m. Saturday on Hubbard Mesa.

This weekend as part of Rifle’s Western Adventure Weekend, Rifle Area Mountain Bike Organization will host the Roan Cliff Chaos mountain bike race 8 a.m. Saturday on Hubbard Mesa.

Organizers said the race goes back several years, with RAMBO taking over a few years ago.

“Three years ago the city approached RAMBO with the idea of having a mountain bike race during Western Adventure Weekend,” RAMBO President Erik Villasenor said.

“We were really excited about doing that.”

Villasenor said locals and the recreation department had run the race before and they approached them and asked if they could use the name.

With the help of race organizer MAD Racing the last two years the Roan Cliff Chaos was revived.

“This is the first year RAMBO is running the race on its own, without a professional event organizer,” Villasenor said. “We are learning as we go.”

Western Adventure Weekend

It’s our fourth year celebrating everything great about outdoor adventures in Rifle. Spend the weekend in downtown Rifle with kid-sized adventures, vendors, live music, and visiting our great local businesses.

Parts of 3rd Street and East Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic for the entire day. Entrance to the block party is free and open to all.


Friday, Noon, 2:30, 5, 7:30 p.m., – John Wayne Film Festival: The Cowboys at the Brenden Rifle

Friday, 6 p.m. – Kick-off Concert: Bucksteinat The Ute Theater

Saturday, 8 a.m. – Roan Cliff Chaos, Hubbard Mesa

Saturday, 10 a.m. – Downtown Block Party starts – Local vendors and Avid4 Adventures (kids rock climbing wall, paddle pool, bike course)

Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m – Live Music (line up TBA)

Saturday, Noon, 2:30, 5, 7:30 p.m., – John Wayne Film Festival: The Searchers at the Brenden Rifle

Saturday, 2:30 – A Band Called Alexis

Saturday, noon-4 p.m. – Beer and wine sales tent

Saturday 6 p.m. – 5Point Film Festival at The Ute Theater

Sunday, Noon, 2:30, 5, 7:30 p.m., – John Wayne Film Festival: Rio Bravo at the Brenden Rifle

Villasenor said this year is going to be a standard cross-country mountain bike race with a fixed course.

“We will provide food, swag and prizes. We’ve had some local sponsors which have been awesome,” RAMBO vice president Alison Birkenfeld said.

“We are really grateful that the city of Rifle have donated money to put the race on.”

Racers will have options: 9.5 mile/one lap for beginners, 19 miles/two laps for intermediates, and a 28.5/3 laps advanced course.

“The course is going to be set out on Hubbard Mesa, those are the local trails we ride right now,” Villasenor said.

“The mesa is an open HOV area, the only one in the state. It’s kind of like our backyard jewel,” he added.

Villasenor said last year they had 32 racers, and are hoping for that and more. “Between 40 and 50 would be really nice,” Villasenor said.

“We are trying to make it on fleek. I want everyone to come out and get a T-shirt, get stickers and have a donut,” Birkenfeld said.

Birkenfeld said people can register online at or at 7 a.m. Saturday before the race begins.

“While the race is happening out there (Hubbard Mesa), we want people to enjoy the festivities that are going on downtown,” Villasenor said.


This is also the first year proceeds from the event will go directly to building new trails in the Rifle area.

“The hottest news right now is we are working with Mike Pritchard, executive director of Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association, the Economic Development Corporation, the city of Rifle, and the BLM to get a nonmotorized trail system put in at Rifle Arch,” Villasenor said.

The system would incorporate mountain biking and hiking on BLM land north of Rifle.

“Right now Rifle doesn’t have a legit nonmotorized trail system. The plan is in the works, and very close to being finalized,” Villasenor said.

Birkenfeld believes there will be a tag-along syndrome if you bring people to a small town like Rifle and give them something fun to do.

“In my opinion I think it just drives commerce. As soon as you get people out here wanting to camp or bike, they’re going to want and need more than we have right now,” Birkenfeld said.

“It will bring more businesses like coffee, outdoor clothing and bike shops. It opens up opportunities.”

Birkenfeld moved to Rifle 25 years ago, then moved upvalley to Glenwood for several years, and moved back to Rifle because it’s more affordable.

Through a friend she was introduced to the Rifle mountain bike scene.

“The environment lends itself to so many other alternatives. When you look at the landscape and wonder why aren’t we hiking this and why aren’t we biking this in a safer environment,” Birkenfeld said.

She thinks this could become a stop for all the people that pass through on their way to Fruita to ride.

“The cool thing is we are about to become a little vein of the main artery, that goes all the way from the Front Range to Moab,” Birkenfeld said.

“You won’t have to go all the way to Fruita anymore — stop in Rifle and ride.”

Rifle Economic Development Corp. Assistant Director Katie Mackley fully supports of the project as a great economical development.

“We know that a big part of attracting business, attracting people to this area is place-making and community-building, and we know that trails are a way to do that,” Mackley said.

“We love RAMBO, we love the concept of building this world class trail system. We know it’s going to bring not only tourism to the area, but also people are going to identify the area as a great place to start a business.”

Villasenor said they’re hoping to have shovels in the dirt by late spring or early summer, and shooting for phase one to include anywhere from 5 to 10 miles.

Officials don’t have an exact number because it will be mostly be volunteer working with a professional trail builder on the new trails.

“It’s hard to say exactly when, but they have 30 miles laid out that will go in over a course of time,” Villasenor said. “The way we are looking at it is a 10-year project; it’s a huge project. I did not realize the amount of work that goes into building trails until going through this process.”

RAMBO has been working with the city of Rifle and BLM for two years so far on the project.

“It’s a big and exciting project for us right now, not only for RAMBO, but the city in general, because it is kind of lacking in nonmotorized recreation, honestly,” Villasenor said.

“It fits everyone’s goals of some healthy alternatives to recreating, hiking and mountain biking, that’s another reason I’m excited about it, being part of that process to help everybody.”


Villasenor said that the organization began in 2012 as a Facebook group created by Aaron Mattix and roughly 10 local riders who had been riding in the area for a while.

“They mostly rode in Rifle, but they kind of rode everywhere in Western Colorado,” Villasenor said.

“Since then it has progressed into a formal group; we’ve organized ourselves with a board and we have partnered with Katie (Mackley) and the Rifle Economic Development Corporation, who are acting as our fiscal agent so we can start taking in money and making it more official,” Villasenor said.

With 500 members on the Facebook group and 50 active members, RAMBO is growing.

“Each month brings something new. It’s an all volunteer group so we kind of just chip away at it,” Villasenor said.

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