Week 20: Our 1st Official Week on the Road!
Oh sweet travel and seeing new places! This week had a lot in store for us but first, I had my first experience working from a new place in the RV. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a little nerve racking to get started. I had forgotten to make sure that I was going to have strong service with my ATT hotspot. When I checked it, the signal was not great but it was there. When I signed into work things were moving even slower than normal but, by the time I took my first call the speed seemed normal.
On my lunch break I saw a Patreon lens clip from We're the Russos where they were doing laundry. I commented on their video with a hack that I use when doing our laundry and they were happy for the great suggestion. They said that as a thank you, they were going to be headed past where we are staying and would stop by to say hi. They had seen our posts on Instagram and saw that we were staying in Grand Junction, CO which was on their way to their next destination. We were over the moon excited to meet them. The Russos played a big part in our decision to go full time in the RV.
We got to say hi and talk about recent events in our lives and we showed them around our RV and they gave us some tips and answered some questions that we had. They are very knowledgeable and experienced in full time RVing. Please check them out at www.weretherussos.com they also have a YouTube channel and Instagram.
Tuesday started my PTO to match up with Dom. We decided to start our riding adventures at the Kokopelli trails in Fruita, CO. If you visit, you should know that the only restrooms are at the main trailhead, so go before continuing on to the lower trailheads. We rode Rustler's Loop, it starts with a treacherous climb in the high desert sun with no shade in sight. Once we reached the top I couldn't breath due to the altitude change, exertion, and sports induced asthma. So we took a short break and then continued our flat top riding with intermittent punchy climbs and fast rocky descents. This trail is rated green, it's not. This was definitely an easier blue trail. There was exposure, rocky climbs, and the trail material is loose gravel and medium sized rocks. It challenged our skills and there were climbs that we walked but over all this ended up being our second favorite trail system of our trip. About one mile before the end there is the only tree on the trail that will provide a reprieve from the scorching desert sun, here you will see wind chimes made from bike parts which is super cool. You will also find ground Hornets so watch where you sit! After this tree is a mile of sweet, hard earned downhill. We totaled 3.9 miles and 245 ft of climbing on this loop and by the time we finished it was 94° with 8% humidity. We didn't want to burn up on our first ride so we headed out.
On our way back we stopped at Gear Junction in Grand Junction (lol) to have Jake, the bike tech, try to see why my bike was sounding like a kitchen sink being thrown from one of the local cliffs. Jack is a genius and found simple solutions to my bike woes. My front brake cable had been pulled down from riding in the rack on the trailer and was rubbing my spokes. He also found that when I changed my bike from a 2 by 11 to a 1 by 11 the shop didn't properly tighten the cassette and it had been rattling ever since. We were just glad that I didn't need a new hub and wheel. Now my bike is riding better than new, you know, due to the upgrades I've made!
While we were waiting for Jake to look at my bike and fix it, we found a specialty olive oil and vinegar shop. We bought some Serrano Honey Vinegar to go with the spicy olive oil that I make for cooking and dipping bread. It is amazing.
Wednesday we went riding again, this time in Grand Junction, CO at the Lunch Loops trails. We stopped for breakfast at the Trail Head Cafe and Espresso Shop. They had great breakfast burritos and coffee. We got to see some cute lizards on the trail! The trails here, we also felt, were underrated for difficulty. We rode Kid's Meal, Big Sister, and Yes N Dee Dee. All but Big Sister were rated green with Big Sister being rated blue. All of these trails, we feel, should have been rated blue. There was no trail that we saw where you could take a beginner rider and they could successfully ride 80% of the trail. Don't get me wrong, the Lunch Loops trails are great, they are just more advanced than what they are rated for. We climbed a lot! We also walked some areas that were pretty steep, rocky and had decent exposure. Strava was not working even after several reboots of the app, our phones, and the GPS, so we don't have the mileage or elevation climbed for this ride. We estimated about 5 miles total. It was another hot day in the desert and we were once again the last car in the parking lot by the time we'd had enough. We headed home for the day to shower and rest.
Thursday we took a break from riding to see the Colorado National Monument. We were able to get in with our National Parks Pass that we got at Yellowstone last year and drove the road around the Monument while stopping frequently for some amazing pictures of the awe inspiring views. We even stopped at the visitors center and picked up a new adventure hat for Dom. On the mountain the jeep threw a check engine light. We plugged in the OBD scanner and checked the code, faulty DEF system. The jeep said that it will not start in 200 miles. We knew this needed to be checked out before we went much further. The light went out once we reached the bottom of the mountain so we figured maybe it was the altitude and vowed to keep an eye on it.
On our way back into town we stopped at another bike shop, Over the Edge and picked up some much needed short sleeve biking shirts to protect our shoulders from the blistering high desert sun. We also got to talk to the staff who were able to recommend another system and some more loops on the Kokopelli trails that we might enjoy.
Friday we decided to take the advice of the locals and check out the trails at 18 road in Fruita, CO. They were so right! These trails were exactly what we had been looking for. We started our ride with a climb up Prime Cut, swooped down Kessel Run, jaunted up the tail end of Zippity, took a short break for snacks and trooped back up the service road for one more trip down Kessel Run. These trails were the most accurately rated trails that we had ridden. Prime Cut is a solid blue trail with some rock gardens, punchy climbs, short down hill rewards, and a few spots of cool shade from small desert trees/bushes. Kessel Run is rated green but it is more of an easy blue, this is another trail that your beginner rider will likely not make it down without walking many spots due to steep hills and tech. Kessel Run sports amazingly carved burms (sometimes with an ill placed rock which adds a technical upgrade), tight turns, and potential views of wildlife, rushing downhill for 2.5 miles and ending in a steep climb up the tail end of Zippity to get back to the trail head. That part of Zippity looks intimidating but, try it. Climbing it is more doable than it looks! We finished the day again being the last car in the parking lot, I guess the locals know better than to ride in 102° with 3% humidity. But we are used to riding in Texas where the temperatures are just as high but you also have to deal with higher humidity. In total we rode 9.13 miles and climbed 892 ft.
Once we were done riding, we stopped at the OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) Trails also on 18 road in the BLM land. We tested out the climbing and descending power of the diesel jeep. It was pretty impressive and we got some more great shots.
On Saturday we planned a day with the Adventure Pups. We drove to Grand Mesa to check out the trails at County Line, the Old Grand Mesa Downhill Trail, and Powderhorn downhill park. We walked the puppies on the overlook trail in the County Line trail system to stretch their legs. They haven't wanted to walk at the campground because it is all gravel and their tiny feet have trouble navigating the rocks. It was a beautiful day and on top of the mesa it was 30° cooler than in the valley, 68° versus 98°. While on our drive the check engine light came back. We were again at a higher elevation but decided to call the local dealership to have them take a look at it. We were able to make an appointment for Monday morning.
Sunday we wanted to go back to Grand Mesa to ride but due to the car issue we stayed close and gave 18 road another shot. This time we wanted to check out PBR, pumps, bumps, and rollers. But first we had to earn it. We started on the service road this time to warm up then headed across the top of Prime Cut to PBR. We were not disappointed. This trail was even more fun than Kessel Run but also more work. The roller were more like small gaps with two small jumps tight together. You can definitely roll them but you have to watch your speed, too fast and you better be committed to that jump! Once we reached the bottom of PBR it was time to climb Prime Cut. We took a break at the top at one of the empty campsites. We got to sit at a picnic table and have some snacks and water and rest before smashing down Kessel Run for a final hoorah before we left for the day. We rode 6.17 miles and climbed 823 ft on this ride. The weather was better with times of overcast mixed into the blazing sun. It still got to 106° with 11% humidity by the time we ended our ride. Bring and use your sunscreen! We didn't encounter any bugs, except a few flies but the sun was no joke. We headed home satisfied and exhausted.
We rode a lot more than we have in a long time this week. We also climbed a lot and did it all in the actual desert. These were completely new experiences for us, it was a true adventure. We are so happy that we had the opportunity to make this trip. We have one more week in CO and then we will see where we end up after that. Plans change fast now and we have to be flexible enough to bend and change with them. See you next week!