Local mountain bikers head west for beer, trails | VailDaily.com

Local mountain bikers head west for beer, trails

Steve LynnVail CO, Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail Daily Rob Clarke stands with his bike Wednesday near his office in Eagle.

FRUITA – Lonnie Clarke and some friends plan to go to Fruita’s Fat Tire Festival this weekend to drink beer – oh yeah, and mountain bike. Clarke has gone to the Fruita Fat Tire Festival with his brother Rob Clarke and friends for years, but mountain biking is secondary for Clarke. “I go to have a good time, drink beer and look at the ladies,” said Clarke, Eagle resident.

Whatever their motivation, Eagle County residents like the Clarkes agree that heading west to the high desert to ride is a great way to begin the off-season. Locals are heading to Fruita and Moab, Utah this weekend, forgoing the mud season for singletrack, slickrock and suds. Vail resident Erik Swartz is heading to Moab with seven others. No one in the group has conditioned legs for aggressive pedaling after the ski season so they plan not to “charge it,” he said.

For Swartz, springtime in the Rockies means mountain biking – not skiing. “People talk about going to Arapahoe Basin, but once Vail closes, I’m done,” Swartz said. The Clarke brothers and a few other friends are heading to the Fruita Fat Tire Festival, held from Thursday night through Sunday. Eagle resident Rob Clarke prefers Fruita to Moab because fewer people ride in Fruita. Clarke has stopped and waited in lines of mountain bikers several times on the slickrock trail in Moab, he said. He likes the narrow trails – singletrack – in Fruita that Moab lacks, he said. Clarke also enjoys kicking back with a beer and watching bands perform in the park with his friends, he said. “We’ll take a cooler full of Guinness and a couple bottles of Tequila and we’re off,” he said. Also attending the festival, Eagle resident Kurt Lucas goes to Fruita even during the ski season, he said. Lucas likes Fruita’s fast rolling hills with short climbs and downhills with some rocky, technical sections.

Much of the riding in Eagle County involves long, strenuous climbs, he said. He plans to ride about 15 miles per day – and don’t forget the beer, he said. Troy Rarick, owner of Over the Edge Sports in Fruita, founded the festival, now in its 12th year. The festivities include two free concerts, a New Belgium Brewing Company beer tent, sales representatives promoting products and about 300 miles of trails near Fruita, he said. People from 40 states and six foreign countries have registered, though it’s not required, he said. Rarick expects a couple thousand people to attend the festival this weekend, but riders can avoid the crowds, if they like. “You go out to ride and it’s like, ‘Where is everybody?'”For more information on the Fruita Fat Tire Festival, visit http://www.fruitamountainbike.com/Sports Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or slynn@vaildaily.com.

Support Local Journalism