Dani Gregory & Jeff Fox Are Avid Mountain Bikers In Southwest Colorado.
Dani Gregory, Jeff Fox, Phil’s World, Southwestern Colorado Cycling Association
MRV: The Buzz, Your Outdoor Lifestyle Insider, Written By: Renee Wright
Cycling Mesa Verde: Southwestern Colorado Cycling Association
Dani Gregory & Jeff Fox Are Avid Mountain Bikers In Southwest Colorado In Support Of Maintaining The Trails Of Mesa Verde
When Dani Gregory and her husband moved to the Cortez, Colorado area from Denver 19 years ago, they found only one trail designated for mountain biking, their favorite activity. How things have changed. Today, the area is a growing destination for mountain bikers, with many miles of developed trails attracting enthusiasts from around the country.
“We’ve seen it change a lot,” Dani says. “When we moved here, the area was primarily farming and ranching. We got together with a loose bunch of other riders and started the Kokopelli Bike Club. Things sort of took off from there.”
Dani believes that a race the club sponsors, the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde, has helped the region become better known among cyclists. The race is held at Phil’s World, a network of 30 miles of trails developed and maintained by the local bike club.
Jeff Fox, also an active member of the local mountain bike community, says that the race has raised awareness of the cycling opportunities in the area. “People come for the race, then come back to ride,” he says. “We do a really good job keeping the trails well maintained, so people can just come and ride for fun.”
“Phil’s World has trails to suit every biking ability, from the beginner to more advanced riders,” Dani says. “There are trails for kids as well.”
Best of all, Dani and Jeff both agree, riding at Phil’s World is a lot of fun. The trail system, about 2 miles from Cortez and 6 from Mesa Verde, is arranged in loops for varying ability levels. Club members hope to add an additional 26 miles of trails soon.
A trail named the Rib Cage is one of Jeff’s favorites. “It’s a whole bunch of little bumps and jumps at a slight downhill angle,” he says. “When you get to the bottom you can’t help but smile, it’s so much fun.”
“Phil’s is like riding a roller coaster on a bike,” Dani says. “You get carried away, it’s just so fun.”
Jeff, who rides nearly every day after work, admits his favorite ride is another trail maintained by the local cyclists: Boggy Draw, located about 10 miles from Phil’s World. Where Phil’s is located in the high desert with pinion and sagebrush predominating, Boggy Draw is 1,000 feet higher situated in a Ponderosa pine forest.
“It’s cool and shady,” Jeff says. “There are about 35 miles of trails arranged in four loops. One takes you up to the McPhee Overlook on the rim of the reservoir. There are great views from up there, and, when it’s hot, you’re close enough to the water to swim.”
The Kokopelli Bike Club was recently reorganized and relaunched as a more formal entity, the Southwestern Colorado Cycling Association (SWCCA). The impetus, Jeff tells The Buzz, was to give bikers a more official voice in several changes taking place on the lands where the trails are situated. “We wanted to weigh in on the management planning for the new Canyons of the Ancients National Monument where we’ve been riding for a long time. Our Sand Canyon loops go past some of the old pueblos and we were able to keep those open. Also Phil's World was in danger due to parts of the trail being located on Colorado State Trust land that was about to be leased by the local gun club’s shooting range. We were able to partner with the gun club and State Trust to split the lease and keep these world class trails open for mountain bikes.”
Currently the SWCCA operates the trailhead at Phil’s World on State Trust land, providing insurance, port-a-potties, signage and trail maintenance, as well as a covered picnic area and play equipment for kids. “Now that I’m a mom, my husband and I like that there’s place where one of us can get in a ride while the other entertains the kids,” Dani says. “Then we switch.”
The SWCCA also partners with the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service to maintain other trails in the area. In addition to Phil’s World and Boggy Draw, club volunteers maintain the trails at Sage Hen, 15 miles of trails across the lake from Boggy Draw, Sand Canyon past the pueblos in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Geer Park and others across Montezuma County. The local Kokopelli Bike Shop is a good spot to pick up information on trails in the area, Jeff suggests.
The reputation of the trails in the Cortez area is on the rise, and Jeff says that on a nice spring day, you can find license plates from all over in the parking lot at Phil’s World. “There’s plenty of challenging single track here,” Jeff says, “but you don’t have to be an expert to have fun.”
Dani says that one of the nice things about the trails at Phil’s World is that traffic on the loops all travels in one direction: “Even on busy weekends in peak season, you don’t have to worry about meeting someone head on.”
Dani, current president of the SWCCA, and Jeff, a former president, both stress the fun to be had on the Cortez trails situated in the shadow of Mesa Verde. “We’re a pretty friendly group up here,” Dani says. “And the scenery never disappoints.”
A graduate of Franconia College in Social Psychology, Renee has worked as Travel Editor for Charlotte Magazine and has written three travel guidebooks for Countryman Press among other writing assignments. She enjoys food and camping.
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