Go Play: Grand Junction Off-Road trails not to miss
WHAT: Grand Junction Off-Road races
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, Aug. 29-31
WHERE: Start and finish in downtown Grand Junction
The second annual Grand Junction Off-Road is set for Labor Day weekend, Friday through Sunday, Aug. 29-31, with amateurs and professional mountain bikers racing for more than $20,000 in prizes and cash. Before the racing starts, test your skills by riding parts of the 15-, 30-, and 40-mile courses which head through Grand Junction’s Lunch Loops area.
All Grand Junction Off-Road riders will venture on a part of Gunny Loop for 1.1 miles.
The actual Gunny Loop is around eight to 11 miles, depending on where you start and which trail connections are added. For a quick loop, start at Little Park Trailhead a few miles up Little Park Road. Head right on the trail at the fork a little ways from the trailhead.
The trail descends and has punchy climbs; it’s a reminder that you’re in a high desert climate with rocks that knock you around if you’re not paying attention. After less than half a mile, you will come to a fork; you can head left for a short loop and head back to the trailhead or continue on Gunny Loop by heading right for 1.2 miles. After riding more trail, another fork in the road forces you left to hit Gunnector, a quick way to catch the trailhead again, or you can head right.
If you must, continue right for another 2.9 miles. You will pop onto Little Park Road, cross it, and the trail continues to meet up with Holy Bucket, Clunker and Bunker. You can then find your way back by hitting Ali-Alley, Raven Ridge, Curt’s Lane, and heading back up Tabaguache Trail. You can take Andy’s Loop back to the trailhead or Eagle’s Wing.
Don’t feel like climbing? Take two cars and shuttle the ride.
While the 30-mile racers get to enjoy this trail going down and up, the suggested route is taking the trail down and looping around by a jeep trail.
To get to this long downhill section, start from Twist-N-Shout, a 1.7-mile trail. Butterknife, 6.7 miles long, is a locals’ favorite and is a great way to test your skills going down.
Please note: The trail descends, but doesn’t provide you with enough push to get through some of the technical sections.
Cyclists in the 30-mile race ride back up Butterknife, but it’s more often suggested to head right at the end of the trail and take Windmill Hill (the jeep track) back up. The climb out is not technical, but it’s a grunt to get up (especially if you over-hydrate). Remember to pack water, a snack and enjoy the views.
This 2.9-mile trail is ridden by all three race groups. It is considered more difficult to very difficult for its steep climbs, extreme exposure and rocky terrain. It is best ridden after heading down Ribbon Trail or from the trailhead off Little Park Road. Even though Andy’s is the last few miles of trail for racers, it reminds them the pain isn’t over just yet.
If riding from Little Park Road, the trailhead starts less than a half-mile after a parking area 2.4 miles up the road.
Once you hit the trail head, it will send you down to No Thoroughfare Canyon. Be sure to enjoy the trail as it traverses through multi-colored rock and soil before suffering on one of two tough climbs.
The first climb is a bench cut along the side of a gully. It pops you out to the top, exposing you to more technical descent. The second hill is another grunt and comes up fast, connecting riders to Eagle’s Tail. Finish on Tabaguache or connect to other trails, like heading back up Pet-E-Kes or the Tabaguache Trail itself.
These are just a small portion of what Grand Junction Off-Road racers will taste on Labor Day Weekend. To find more information on the Grand Junction Off-Road, visit http://www.epicrides.com.
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