June 3 — 8, 2019
Willing to Move
Reudi’s chilly mornings and warm afternoons were terrific, but we were ready—and willing!—to move beyond the norm. So, we dropped down into Fruita, Colorado, just west of Grand Junction.
We hadn’t had water or electric hook-ups for several days, so we decided to continue the trend and head into the West Fruita Desert. A Ranger at the James M Robb State Park in Fruita let us know about a free dump/fill station at the Fruita Welcome Center, so we handled our business before moving miles from the nearest services.
Then, we literally reached the end of the road.
Before us lay a broad, washboard-ridden gravel service road that snaked into the distant hills. Behind us towed an RV that was several hundred pounds heavier than ideal, due to its newly-full freshwater tank—one that was necessary to survive any amount of time in this desert.
Driving over this section was a painful lesson in patience as we crept along at only a couple of miles per hour, hoping we weren’t shaking all of our belongings loose in the process. The girls continuously asked, “can I get out and run faster?”
The Mother of All—Free!—Camping Spots
We thought it was going to take a couple of hours to reach our as-yet-unknown destination, but the road eventually smoothed out after a couple of miles, which allowed for faster—but certainly not fast—driving.
Eventually, we landed a killer spot in the middle of nowhere with sweeping views of majestic red rocks surrounding us, along with the valley below, and very close to the 18 Road group of mountain bike trails. Jackpot!
We spent the next couple of frosty mornings riding some of the best MTB trails in the West, hunkering down in the shade during the afternoon’s intense heat, hitting the trails again in the evening, and snuggling up in our blankets at night in the freezing cold.
The girls—and Derek’s opera voice—learned to appreciate the fact that they could be loud as hell, with no one around to give a shit.
We also quickly learned to appreciate how fast we could go through 52 gallons of fresh water, as well as how vital excellent internet service was for work. We knew we were going to have to leave soon, but we wanted to make the most of every single second until the moment arrived.
Our 3 Mistakes
Saying aloud, “We should all go take one last ride,” was our first mistake.
The second? Taking our ride on a trail the girls hadn’t yet ridden (the green, upper section of Zippity Loop).
The third? Mis-judging Olivia’s skill level and allowing her to ride an especially steep section of the trail.
Actually, she rode the steep section perfectly. It wasn’t until the bottom that she over-corrected on an otherwise harmless turn, which propelled her over the steep embankment on her left, caused her to ram into a creekbed full of rocks, and thrust her over her handlebars.
We want to describe it as superwoman-esque, but she looked more like a ragdoll. Pure fucking horror.
We raced toward her and were relieved to find her crying, and obviously scared, but otherwise calm and lucid. She put a deep dent in her helmet (always wear them, adults and kiddos!), but her hip took the brunt of the fall.
After quickly checking her out in the creek bed, we saw only minor scratching. Derek picked her up and walked to the top of the embankment, where he laid her down on the side of the trail with his Camelbak underneath her head. He rechecked her hip, which appeared oddly swollen, so he initially thought there was something more severe going on underneath the surface.
With that, we went into “get shit done” mode.
Derek hopped on his bike and hauled ass back to the truck, while Jamie carried Olivia on her back and pushed her bike, and Ava shuttled along with the remaining two bikes. On their way out, Jamie sang her songs and asked her questions so that she remained alert.
Later, Jamie revealed she cried quietly the whole time. Ava was a champ, knew exactly what she needed to do, kept moving the entire time, and never said a word. She wasn’t afraid—she just made it happen.
The girls made it about three-quarters of a mile from the trailhead by the time Derek met them on foot. He put Livi on his back and carried her the rest of the way to the trailhead. Once Jamie and Ava arrived, he ran back to the same spot, picked up his bike, and cycled back.
The Hospital Visit
After we had the opportunity to assess the situation and Livi started looking and acting more like herself, we realized we didn’t need to call 911. We didn’t want to assume we were in the clear, though, and decided it was best to have a doctor quickly look her over.
Unfortunately, our Cigna urgent care isn’t covered anywhere in the valley (don’t get us started on healthcare!), and the nearest ER option was in Grand Junction, about 20 minutes away. We made the trek.
Once we arrived at St. Mary’s Medical Center, the best team attended to us, many of whom had current MTB injuries of their own, which is a sign of a solid bike community.
While Jamie and Olivia were there, Derek and Ava headed back to Fruita. Luckily, they snagged a spot with full hook-ups (including sewer!) at James Robb State Park. When he was setting up, he received a text from Jamie that Olivia would be just fine—just bruised muscle underneath and some black-and-blue coloring on the exterior of her skin.
She’s lucky she’s young. The doctor said that if an adult had flown like her, the outcome would have been much different. And again, thank goodness she was wearing her helmet!
Rest, Recuperation, & Retail Therapy
With so much adventure in such a short time, we figured it was best to hunker down for a couple of days and take full advantage of the inexpensive site we scored, complete with full hook-ups.
When Livi was discharged, her doctor looked her in the eyes and instructed, “I want you to promise me that you will get back on that bike.” And she certainly did.
But first, she needed a new helmet and knee/elbow pads, so we headed to Over The Edge Sports. If you’ve never been, go now!
It’s like Target for bike nerds. But like Target, don’t expect to leave without dropping a few hundred on best-quality bike gear you definitely need.
Later, we headed downtown for dinner at the Hot Tomato. Afterward, the girls picked up a book at a free little library to occupy their time now that their electronics time was drastically cut.
Final Goodbyes to Fruita
With Olivia adequately geared up, we headed out for a family ride in the Kokopelli Loops trail group during our last day in Fruita, and she immediately started overcoming her fall-related fears.
We witnessed more epic views and locked in more fond memories. We’ll be back earlier next year when it’s not so hot.