Rim Rock Drive: The greatest ride in Colorado
FROM MY HOTEL ROOM in downtown Grand Junction, it was eight miles and more than 1,500 vertical feet to Cold Shivers Point at Colorado National Monument. My transportation was my road bike, and the route was Rim Rock Drive — truly one of the greatest bike rides in all of Colorado.
There are others, of course: Mt. Evans, Poudre Canyon, Colo. 141 through Unaweep and Dolores canyons, Trail Ridge Road, the San Juan Skyway and, maybe, Dinosaur National Monument. But Rim Rock Drive is a special case. The redrock sandstone cliffs above and below you give you the dizzying sense that you're flying on your descent — and you nearly are as your bike speeds downhill at 40 mph.
This used to be my morning exercise when I lived in Grand Junction. I'd get up at 5 a.m., point my bike toward the ornate cliffs of the Uncompahgre Plateau, and climb 10 miles from my apartment to Cold Shivers Point, the first overlook at the top of the plateau. Or, I'd just keep going, do the entire route over to Fruita and find my way back home via the Grand Valley's extensive network of farm roads. The whole circuit was a respectable 44 miles (or so).
This week, I was on assignment in Grand Junction, which meant my bike came with me and I'd get up once again at dawn to pay a visit to Cold Shivers Point before the sun began baking the valley.
Here's what the ascent looks like: