Growing on ‘the Slope’

New homes are going up fast around here, just a few miles west of the Grand Mesa.

I’m hoping the transportation infrastructure continues to improve at least as quickly so we can pedal around this growing Western Slope community even more than we do already.

Did you see that Grand Junction actually turned up on this New York Times list of places to visit this year?

The attractions haven’t exactly been well-kept secrets for a while anyhow, so think about heading our way if you get the chance. The Smiths have been here long enough now that we can point you to some good places to hike, bicycle, eat, and drink beer and wine. Just leave a comment below and ask!

If you drive, be careful and have fun. If you’re coming for the cycling, be careful and have fun.

This area has a lot going for it, including a new Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan, but we have plenty of room for improvement, too.

Pedal on, my friends.

B.J.

Bicycling Dave is a thorn magnet

When the weather is nice, my neighbor likes to ride his bicycle several miles to a Safeway store for morning coffee and a doughnut.

I can relate. Some of the best bike rides involve coffee and, for me, maybe a muffin or a scone since I try to avoid the glazed or chocolate delights I used to love.

The route my neighbor takes (let’s call him Dave) is mostly along a paved trail in a state park by the Colorado River. Even though it’s paved, there’s always a fair chance you’ll encounter the dreaded goat’s head thorn.

Dave seems to attract them. He is a thorn magnet. I’ve been on rides when I felt similarly attractive.

Image by M. H. from Pixabay

My own approach for years has been to ride on Continental Gatorskin tires, which typically cost ~$50-60 U.S. but are tough enough to last me a couple of thousand miles on the road. I think I’ve had two flats with Gatorskins in the past 20 or so years while experiencing numerous thorn flats and other fails using other tires.

Mrs. Smith and I both have new Gatorskins on our road bikes.

Of course, there are other solutions:

Fixing flats is kind of a pain, but knowing how to do it comes in handy.

I’m with @bikeshopgirl.com (in convo below with @bikesnobnyc) that not everyone needs to do it.

Not everyone can, but I think everyone can plan.

Pedal on, my friends.

B.J.

Utah mountain memories

Highlights from a recent getaway, in no particular order:

  • Startling some young deer and two sandhill cranes as we pedaled along a gravelly trail.
  • Being followed in the forest by a wild mink.
  • Staying upright in the river on my first fly-fishing wade.
  • The sound of a meteor exploding somewhere in the upper atmosphere.
  • Hiking mountain trails with Mrs. Smith and our 5-year-old granddaughter.

Carry on, my friends.

B.J.

Nobody “falls off” a bicycle

Enough of this nonsense about Joe Biden falling off a bicycle.

Nobody falls off a bicycle unless said bicycle was stationary and remained upright after the person who was on top of it somehow ended up on the ground or pavement or garage floor or wherever the bicycle remains stationary.

If a bicycle is moving and rider and bicycle suddenly both end up on the ground or pavement … or whatever, the cyclist has crashed.

As an experienced bicycle operator who has crashed a number of times – and in the process broken multiple ribs and one pelvis, incurred at least one minor concussion, and experienced countless bloodied knees and elbows – I can testify that in none of those mishaps did my bicycle remain upright.

I have never fallen off of my bike, even when I was new to those so-called “clipless” pedals and slowed down and forgot – as everyone does, sooner or later – to unclip.

I crashed. Joe Biden crashed. I watched the video and his bicycle clearly ended up on the pavement with him.

If you’ve never crashed while riding your bicycle, you need to get out more. If you’ve fallen off a stationary bike, I don’t know what to say.

Pedal on, my friends. Pedal on.

B.J.

P.S. Yes, as a professional writer and editor, I think words are important. Editors get paid for being those people who distinguish between falling and crashing. Being a pain in the ass is one of the benefits.

Pedaling to Palisade

When you’re pedaling around in a new place, it can be hard to avoid recalling something Ernest Hemingway wrote about bicycling.

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.

Ernest Hemingway, White, William, ed (1967). By-Line, Ernest Hemingway: Selected Articles and Dispatches of Four Decades by Ernest Hemingway. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. p. 364.

In our case, the place is not entirely new, but pedaling our way from Grand Junction to Palisade for coffee on Saturday morning revealed more than our multiple drives in recent years to vineyards and wine tastings.

For any of the hill-shy among us, the route we took involved none of the sweaty climbing Hemingway had in mind. One slight, short incline – barely a bump in the road – got our attention on the way to Palisade and we didn’t even notice it on the way home later. 

Contours or no contours, exploring a place by bicycle gives you a chance to see and feel your new environment up close, with time to absorb some of the truth about it.

We rode the scenic river trail from near Corn Lake to where it intersects with D 1/2 Road, then turned north onto a quiet 33 1/2 Road, then east on E 1/4 Road, then north, then east a few more times until we were almost 10 miles from home in front of the pleasant Slice O Life Bakery for pastries and coffee.

Don’t get me started on how the roads are named around here. I may get used to it, but I don’t really care when I’m on a bicycle. You discover that you don’t have to remember to go either east or west on North, then take a right or left on 34 3/10 Road (or was it 36 1/4?), then angle northeast on Front to where it merges with G and the name changes.

You can stay on the trail until it ends at a bend in the road, keep the Book Cliffs in front of you until you’ve crossed the canal, then take the next right at the old red-trimmed house on the corner.

The Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway signs are helpful, too.

Pedal on.

B.J.