HOW HARD IS THE RIDE?
Tough question to answer. The vast majority of the trail looks like this on a scale of 1-10:
Technical skill – 6 (how well you can navigate tricky trail)
Strength – 7 (how much pedaling power you can generate)
Endurance – 8 (how long you can sustain that power)
Note that these are averages, not peak difficulties. There are some very technical pieces but are short enough to walk. Without respectable technical ability you'll find yourself walking quite a bit, especially on day one.
This is real mountain biking and is not a beginner trail! You should be comfortable riding narrow singletrack while playing slalom with large "babyhead" rocks in your path, and also good at negotiating 6-15" ledges & steps.
This is the toughest event we run. The trail itself isn't terribly demanding, doing it in 3 days is. It will be a very intense experience! It's definitely an accomplishment you'll be proud of but please don't kid yourself into thinking it'll be an easy spin. If you've trained you'll have a blast. If you haven't, you'll suffer. If you don't know the difference this event isn't for you.
WHAT KIND OF SHAPE DO I NEED TO BE IN?
Expect to be in the saddle an average of 6+ hours per day. You'll receive a training guide that will help you prepare & know what to expect.
The #1 comment we hear from riders is, "if I knew it was this hard I would have trained." So here it is - This will be hard, you need to train. Don't attempt this off-the-couch, you'll suffer.
I'M A SOLID ROAD RIDER, IS THAT ENOUGH?
Road riding skills are great for training but they don't necessarily transfer to MTB unless you have experience there too. It's a different skillset that gives you a big edge in efficiency - E.G. how well you can roll steps, aggressive turns, braking & acceleration plus overall balance in tricky terrain. Experience here pays off big time in the desert.
The trail has caught plenty of experienced roadies off-guard. This is real mountain biking and if you don't have a solid technical base it'll slow you down quite a bit, especially on day 1. Yes, of course you can walk the tech parts but that's no fun.
As an experienced road rider you've already got a solid foundation in training. We recommend building on that with 10-20 hours of pre-season technical rides. This will make a huge difference on the tech sections of the trail and your overall efficiency across 150 mi.
IS THERE A CERTAIN PACE TO THE RIDE?
Not really. There's a loose start in the AM after discussing the trail for the day. People typically fall into groups of 2-8 based on riding abilities & conversational topics. Some hammer, some yammer. There's no structure from us about pace with the exception that you'll need to pass the lunch stop by a certain cut-off time. Cut-off times are generous, we rarely have to use them.
DO YOU HAVE GUIDES ON THE TRAIL?
This is not a guided tour. If you're expecting a sushi chef, hotels rooms, numerous bike guides, or a large staff catering to your needs, this is not your trip! Our focus is to provide the logistical support necessary for you to ride the trail in style. That includes terrific meals, water, facilities, shuttles where necessary, a beautiful campsite, a warm campfire, nightly rubdowns & showers and anything else we can do within our resources to ensure a fun & safe trip.
You will need to be entirely self-supported while on the trail between camp & sag stops. We do have a shuttle van available each day but it does not travel the trail itself, just the support points (approx 20 miles between each point). Your job is to spin pedals until you reach those points and handle all your personal needs while off-trail. And remember that we are prepared to handle virtually any emergency & ensure safety of our riders should that need arise.
HOW'S THE FOOD?
Awe-inspiring. Lunch is lite to keep you feeling strong on the bike. Breakfast & dinner are huge & varied. All-you-can-eat chips, salsa & guacamole are available as soon as you reach camp each day. All meals are served with meat "on the side," so if you're a vegetarian you won't be punished with mac & cheese for three nites. Dairy-free & gluten-free are both possible but if you require a custom menu this trip probably isn't for you.
WHAT'S THE CAMPING SCENE?
Primitive camping – technically we're car-camping but camps are minimalist. There'll be a big kitchen for group meals, snacks, a campfire, a hand wash area, pit privies available on numerous occasions daily, a lunch & water stop at each day's halfway point (called "sag stops"), and lots of tent space that nite. Camp showers are available for a quick rinse. Our last nite has full facilities including a pool, hot tub & big clean bathrooms with showers & infinite hot water!
We also have an excellent team of travelling massage therapists, so grab a good sports massage in camp if you'd like.
WHAT CAMPING GEAR WILL I NEED?
A bike & riding gear, tent, sleeping bag, clothes & personal items are really all you need, you'll receive a detailed gear list once registered. Each rider is allowed one large duffel bag to be shuttled from camp to camp. Bring what you need to be comfortable but it ALL has to fit into one duffel bag. The one exception to this rule is a folding camp chair.
WHAT'S THE WEATHER LIKE?
Expect weather to be in the 70's - 80's during the day. Nites are cool, usually dipping below 50 after dark. You can expect to be riding in shorts & short-sleeved jerseys, some like to carry a windbreaker on day three due to altitude. At nite jeans, thick fleece & maybe some polypro long underwear if you're cold blooded & a hat are the most common sight. Weather's about as predictable as a herd of cats so plan for contingencies. We've seen 100 degree days, we've seen snow.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE WEATHER IS REALLY BAD?
We've canceled one trip in 17 years so far, that's a pretty good track record. Still, understand the possibility for extreme conditions does exist and we have an obligation to do what's right for the safety of our riders as well as being good environmental stewards.
That means if the conditions are really bad and we don't feel it's safe or wise to be on-trail then the event will be rerouted or cancelled. And if that happens we'll attempt to make alternate plans based on conditions in the area but keep in mind there are very few options for moving a group of 100 around in the field.
WHAT'S YOUR CANCELLATION POLICY?
You may cancel by (see itinerary for current dates) for a full refund minus a $40 processing fee or a partial credit for late cancels. Trip spots are not transferable to other riders or events. Credits are applicable towards the following year only and may only be used by you.
WHERE DO I FLY INTO FOR THIS EVENT?
You want to arrive in Grand Junction, CO. Grab a cab & plan to stay the nite before the start in Fruita, CO. Don't rent a car, you won't need it - you can bike across this town in about 2 minutes. Expect to be back in Fruita the following Sunday by 1pm & can easily make a 3pm flight out.
CAN I SHIP MY BIKE TO FRUITA OR RENT A QUALITY BIKE THERE?
Yes, lots of options for both. About 50% ship their bike, others rent something locally. The rentals are nice rigs purpose-built for the local terrain. The simplest shipping solution we've found is BikeFlights.com.
We give a FULL breakdown of all your options & the associated logistics in the trip materials you'll receive once registered.
WHY DON'T YOU SUPPLY ENERGY BARS ON THE TRAIL?
We supply all your meals EXCEPT your on-trail food. Some people like Power Bars, some like LaraBars, some like pork chops. Seriously, there's no way to make this politically feasible so we don't even try.
Seriously, we once had a guy who preferred beef jerky & marshmallows.
WHAT ARE THE BEST TIRES FOR THE TRAIL?
There's a great discussion about this every year among the gearheads, the consensus seems to be larger volume (2.1" – 2.4") meaty treads to deal with loose rock & sand. Tubeless systems with sealant do well and are the overwhelming standard.
The undisputed most-popular tire is the Maxxis Ardent 2.3. Our registered rider info kit dedicates 2 pages to this stuff if you like getting technical.
DO CELL PHONES WORK ON THE TRAIL? WHAT ABOUT 2-WAY RADIOS?
Cell access is limited - there is good reception for most of day 1, then pretty much nothing til Moab. 2-Way radios are usually only effective for a mile or two regardless of advertised range.
Still want more? Check out our facebook page, lots of veteran riders there.