On the Road: Monumental ride | AspenTimes.com

On the Road: Monumental ride

I’ve long been a fan of the mountain biking trails around Grand Junction and Fruita, but since I’m generally more of a fat-tire rider, I’d managed to miss a truly classic road ride in the area – until last weekend.

After years of hearing about the loop through Colorado National Monument, I finally accepted a buddy’s offer to ride it on Sunday. And I’m still having trouble wiping the smile off my face.

You can do this ride in different ways and with different start and end points. You can enter the monument and do your hill-climbing near Grand Junction or near Fruita, but the essence of the ride is the same either way: a steep, 2,000-foot climb out of the Grand Valley to the top of the sandstone mesa that forms the monument, a winding 15 or so mesa-top miles with mind-blowing views of the canyons and spires below, and then a screaming (especially when you’re passing through the tunnels) descent back to the valley floor.

You can connect the dots on the valley floor at the beginning of the ride or at the end, and that’s not bad riding either – predominantly flat, with a few zigzags among rural subdivisions and old farms.

It’s a classic Colorado ride of somewhere between 30 and 35 miles, and now I know why so many friends and acquaintances go back every year to ride the monument.

It’s especially good when the temperatures are in the mid-70s. You can see all the way to the Flat Tops, you bump into an old acquaintance along the way (OK, he passed us) and you finish it all with a hearty salad and a pale ale at the Rockslide Brewery in Grand Junction.

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