On October 5th, TMS’s 9th-grade students and teachers loaded up three vehicles and 16 bikes and headed to Rabbit Valley campground and trailhead. Their goal: Bike 70 miles of the Kokopelli Trail, a 140-mile series of connected trails from Fruita, CO to Moab, Utah. This was a new trip for Mountain School, the maiden voyage. Different from the tried and true White Rim bike trip, the support vehicle (SAG) would not be with the bikers the entire time. Instead, it would intersect the riders at designated points, at 10, 12, or 18-mile intervals, depending on the day. The group scoured maps and listened intently to route descriptions to get a grasp of each day’s route.
The first day, they awoke from their sleeping tarps backlit by the pink hue of the rising sun. They packed, ate quickly, and prepped their bikes before pedaling quietly into the sleepy desert. This day, they would bike 26 miles, 18 of it on windy single track overlooking canyon rims and the Colorado River. The SAG would not be available until mile 18, and after the biggest hill of the day. The entire group committed to finishing the segment, the most challenging and technical of the trip. There were some relieved faces at seeing the SAG, cold water, and snacks at the top of Bitter Root Mesa. A hard-core group determined to ride EFI – every fabulous inch –stayed on their bikes and happily descended to the White Water campground.
The second day, the crew welcomed what seemed like an easy 18 miles after Day 1. The highlight included “sessioning” (practicing drops and finding creative lines) on a slickrock rim or “playground”. The elated and confident group was able to stay together and descend to Fisher Ford campground full of energy to swim and play football and whiffle ball.
The last day, students faced a challenging, hilly, twenty miles. They began on a rocky double-track before the trail changed to red sand and slickrock characteristic of Moab and Utah desert riding. After winding through red rock formations, the group descended down rocky, ledgey, technical terrain to their final campsite at Dewey Bridge campground on the Colorado River. The group had completed about 65 miles and would bring the total to 70 with a student-led sunrise ride the following morning. But on the final night, with the hard work and long miles behind them, they celebrated with a campfire, appreciations, reflections, and lots of laughter.