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Adventure of the week: Going from nirvana to hell

— The thought of navigating 50 miles of some of Routt County’s narliest dirt roads on a road bike can be a little daunting to those used to cruising on smooth pavement.

Right there on the Moots Ranch Rally event website, it stated, “Yes, you can do this route on a road bike. However, we recommend new tires and no less than a 28-millimeter tire.”

After reading this the day before the ride, I decided my skinny 23-millimeter tires would have to do.



I rolled up to the start line, and I discovered I was not alone. There were other weirdos with skinny tires who wanted to make the ride a little bit more of a harrowing adventure.

There was a congregation of 150 Moots bicycle owners and cycling enthusiasts from throughout the country who showed up that day to tour Routt County’s lesser-traveled roads and historic ranches surrounding Sleeping Giant. I was in for a treat.



I was in awe as I saw riders on the Moots Routt 45 bike with a 47-millimeter tire designed specifically for this kind of riding. They seemed virtually worry free while speeding through the corners and floating through the gravel.

It is no accident that Moots has developed a line of bikes for grinding gravel.

“There is a huge movement toward gravel,” Moots marketing director Jon Cariveau said. “The majority of us here at Moots — that’s where we prefer to ride.”

All cleaned up after the ride at the party, I asked Cariveau to take a look at my Moots Compact to see what size tire I could upgrade to.

“You put a bigger tire on that bike, and that opens up this area like we rode today,” Cariveau said.

He seemed surprised to learn that was my setup for the day.

After slaying the biggest climb of the ride, I was on track to finish blood free. That was until my mind started wandering about something stupid, I got complacent, and my front wheel went sideways in a rut on Routt County Road 52E. I should have read the part on the website where it described the road as a “testy section of two track that keeps you on your toes.”

Fortunately, the fall was on what had to be the softest dirt in Routt County. Ironically, I learned the woman riding behind me was my doctor, and she checked to make sure I was OK. The bill is probably in the mail.

Nearly scrape free, I celebrated the finish with a Hefewizen at Butcherknife Brewing Company and a little reflection.

The ride was awesome, and there is a reason some of Steamboat’s best riders stick to those roads.

It forces you to concentrate and makes you a better technical rider. The scenery was amazing, and I explored places I have never been before.

Perhaps the best illustration of why I am sold on dirt was when I turned off from the tranquil countryside and headed back to the Moots factory on the busy, paved Routt County Road 129. This does not happen to me very often, but I got blasted with exhaust from a loud diesel truck.

Cariveau knows the feeling.

“It’s like going from nirvana to hell,” he said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland


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