I’ll admit, I’ve always been a skeptic when it comes to mountain bike festivals. Something about hundreds of riders of varying degrees and ability levels all descending to ride the same trails seems like a recipe for disaster. However, this year the timing worked out as such that I was going to be in Fruita during the Fat Tire Festival. For those not in the know, Fruita’s Fat Tire Festival is one of the original mountain bike festivals and dates all the way back to 1995. Considering that mountain biking is still in it’s adolescence as a sport, that’s a long time.
If your on the fence, or ever get a chance to check it out, go. Yes there are a shit ton of people, but Fruita’s directional trail system does an excellent job of regulating traffic flow. I’ve long been an advocate for directional trails, and Park City could really stand to take note of what Fruita’s got going on, especially if they hope to compete with destinations like Sun Valley and Jackson Hole which both have excellent directional trail systems. While the trailheads were definitely crowded, there was little to no conflicting traffic on singletrack.
Did I mention the beer? I don’t have a lot of love lost for Colorado, but if there’s one thing I’ll concede to the state as a Utah local, it’s Colorado’s superior beer. Don’t get me wrong, Utah’s got some great breweries, but Utah’s beer laws are so terribly archaic we really don’t stand a chance.
No adventure is complete without a little adversity, which we faced plenty of courtesy of Mother Nature. Our last ride of the day Saturday we got caught in an afternoon shower, which immediately turned the trail into clay muck, rendering our bikes inoperable for the rest of the trip. A bummer for sure, but you can’t win them all. Adding additional insult to our already broken spirit, later that evening Fort Pepper was bombarded with gale force winds, rain, and hail. I was certainly glad to see the fort walls standing the next morning.
In summary, like any festival, you must go in with the right state of mind. If you’re the kind of rider that only has fun when you’re crushing Strava times, you should probably choose another weekend to visit, as well as revaluate your life. However, if you expect the crowds, roll with the punches, and keep things mellow, you’re bound to have a good time while being surrounded with a bunch of fellow bike nerds.
Fruita Fat Tire Festival Survival Guide
- Bring a PMA.
- Multiple stops to Fruita’s Hot Tomato.
- If you’re serious about riding, get there Thursday.
- Check the weather. If it’s threatening, get a hotel room*.
- Breakfast burritos.
*Fruita is a small town and as such accommodations are limited. I’ve had good experiences with the Balance Rock Hotel which has a free bike was station that came in mighty handy Sunday morning. However rooms go fast during weekends so be prepared to stay in Grand Junction. For more area info, visit Over The Edge Sports, the local Fruita bike shop.