RAT News

Ridgway Area Trails


September 9, 2013
Building and Riding the New RAT System
Biking around Ridgway gets more exciting all the time. The weekend of August 23-25, 25+ COPMOBA/RAT volunteers and some BLM staff put the finishing touches on about 2.5 miles of endo-pumping, new single track.  We started the project in July and, having finished the first loop of a multi-loop, stacked system, will continue the week of October 14th with help from the Southwest Conservation Corps and BLM-lead RAT volunteers.  COPMOBA has hired a Youth Corps crew for 5 days and, with any luck, BLM will fund them for a second week.   We plan to put volunteers on the ground with Youth Corps at least a couple of days during those two weeks and will get more info out about work days once we finalize the plans.  Ultimately (probably the summer of 2015) we'll have 21 miles of superb single-track with the world's most spectacular views.
Meanwhile, the new loop integrates perfectly with the existing system and adds some really fun wrinkles to the local experience.  Incorporating several sweeping, sculpted, inflow turns, rock bridges and log jumps, The 'Hood trail contours along a southwest-facing mountainside, featuring eye-popping, close-up, panoramic vistas of the Quick read more or view full article Sneffels Formation and the rest of the Northern San Juan Range.   Dropping about 280 feet from a peak elevation of about 7800, the trail funnels riders through pinon, juniper and scrub oak, dumping them out at the entrance to an even more precipitous roller-coaster descent known as Disneyland, which rocks another 700 vertical feet on down the mountain to County Road 10. 
I've had more pure, instant, fun mountain biking the past month or so than I've had since my salad days of swooping down off the Sheep Hills to the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday Night Rides with the Laguna Canyon Rads back about 1989 or '90.  Seems like a long-time ago.  Come to think of it, that was a long-time ago.  In any case, after almost 25 years of building and riding trails - about 19 years doing it the right way with COPMOBA - this RAT project has re-energized me, and the entire Ridgway community, in a very big way.
Last Sunday, September 7th, I pulled my Jamis Dragon off the wall of my garage at 1:30pm.  After a ten-minute warm-up on Ouray County Roads 5 and 12, I hit the single track along the east edge of Ridgway Reservoir State Park and began a long gradual climb.  I found some of the Park trails and jeep road leading to the top of the RAT network badly rutted and, in some places, nearly washed out from the recent, torrential, almost incessant monsoon rains.  In sharp contrast, the COPMOBA/RAT built trails drain like a charm, have held up great and actually packed down to a hard, tight, buffed, super-fast and ultra-fun race-track.  All the way from the top, down through The Hood and out Disneyland the dirt just screams at you to let off the brake, sit back, bear down and rip-it. So that's what I did.  YeeHaa!!
After dropping out of the RAT, I crossed back over U.S. 550 at County Road 10, caught the Uncompahgre River Trail and headed back south toward Ridgway.  Less than a mile north of town I zipped off the River Trail into Weaver Park and whipped out another 3 miles on clean, hard-packed single track. After climbing through River Sage up to the crest of Boot Hill, I finished with another twisting, swooping descent through Eagle Alley, rolling south along the west bank of the River and on back to my garage.  It's hard-surface the last 3/4 of a mile, so I had nothing to do but stare at the Uncompahgre River, Mt. Sneffels and the Cimarron Range all the way home. What a drag.  To cap it off, I sipped a mocha at Cimarron Books and Coffee on State Highway 62 as the owner - eccentric, velo-friendly Eric Palumbo - shared some of his always-entertaining insights about life's most trivial yet acutely amusing minutiae.  
What a gas.  I got back home at about 3:30, after coffee and a 16-mile ride, including 10 miles or so of awesome single track.   I hate putting my bike on the car and, living in Ridgway, I don't even have to think about it.  I just ride.  And smile.  If you haven't checked it out yet, get on down to Ridgway for some real small-town thrills on the new RAT trails.  If you can't make it down to The Hood, at least go out and have a great ride somewhere else.
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Posted by Rod Fitzhugh
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