After 3 days of biking and working at the Book Cliffs, Tim, Lisa and I packed up for a day in town. Jamis had come through and sent a new rear triangle and Tim’s bike was ready. It was time to end his week long pedaling hiatus.
We settled in for a work day at the Aspen Street Coffee Shop. While we waited for our first cups of caffeine, I picked up the free local paper. At the top of page 3 was an promo for the Palisades’ Classic Bike Festival on Saturday. I brought it over to Tim and Lisa. Bike races, BBQ, winery tours, scavenger hunts and bands popped off the page. The weather looked good and we decided we shouldn’t miss it. Registration started that afternoon so we did our errands and drove a half an hour east.
Palisades is a small town 10 miles east of Grand Junction at the base of the western slope of the Rockies. Their motto is “Life Tastes Good Here” and as you drive down the highway you can see its many wineries and orchards. We hadn’t been there before and weren’t sure what to expect when we drove downtown. It was 7:oo pm and we arrived just as the opening Festival party was wrapping up at the Twisted Brick Gallery.
We walked in to register and 30 minutes later we felt like we amongst old friends. The guys of Rapid Creek Cycles showed us as much hospitality as we’d seen on our entire trip across the States. We chatted about trails and town over Jello shots and snacks. When they learned we had vans, they invited us to camp overnight in their parking lot so that we wouldn’t have to leave town that night. We took them up on their offer. Tim had registered to race in the 34 mile Grand Mesa Grinder at 7:30 am so we knew we’d need an early start. Lisa and my races started more leisurely at 10 am but breakfast needed to be cooked by 6:30 to get Tim on the trail.
It was about 11 when the rain started. By 5 am the next morning, it was obvious there would be no race. The entire valley was socked in with clouds and cold drizzle. We went to our computers to reassess. We scanned weather websites looking for sunshine in the forecast and found it 100 miles away in Moab. So at 7 am Saturday morning, we packed up again and started driving. After errands in Grand Junction, we turned south into the sun. Gradually the clouds and rain broke up and by the time we reached Moab, we were back in the 70’s.
We camped at our favorite spot at Willow Springs and then got on our bikes for a 13 mile ride out to Gemini Bridges. The sun was hot and the ride was gorgeous, climbing back into the canyons towards Canyonlands. That night we soaked in the warm night under the stars. We knew we’d made the right call.
Sunday morning was even more perfect. We cooked up an enormous Cowboy Omelet and planned our day’s ride. We decided to go back to Porcupine Rim. Tim dropped Lisa and I at the trailhead and drove the 10 miles back to town to start his ride.
Porcupine Rim was an entirely different ride than my last try 3 weeks earlier. With Lisa leading the way, the rocks seemed smaller, the steeps seemed less steep and we had a blast. Though Tim was 10 miles behind us, he still caught us ¾ of the way through the downhill and we all rode out together. The day was hot and we celebrated with ice cream malts and burgers under the shady oak at Milt’s Diner in Moab.
Tired and well fed, we said good bye to Lisa and prepared to get back on the road. Lisa was heading east again to pick up BJ from the airport in Grand Junction, while Tim and I were heading west to meet Dan and Rebecca on Gooseberry Mesa.
6 hours later, very early Monday morning, we pulled into camp. We received a big Staebler greeting under the stars and settled in for a short sleep. Next morning we woke up to the familiar view of Zion’s towers in the distance. Life is Always good on the Mesa.