Visit fat-tire heaven

Fruita, Colorado, is the nation's other mountain-biking epicenter. Its de facto ambassador gives us an insider's tour of the town he put on the map

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Q. Best teeth-rattler?

A. Mary's Loop and Horse-thief Bench, an 11-mile set of trails that begins by snaking along the rim of the river, but then plummets vertiginously to the canyon floor. "Walking your bike on the descent is normal." [Editor's note: Rarick doesn't.] "Once you're down, the ride is pretty easy" and the views of river-cut rock formations and candy cane-colored cliffs "could stop your heart."

Q. Best recovery meal?

A. Stinky Deluxe Pizza at the Hot Tomato Café ( $$; closed Sun?Mon; 201 E. Aspen Ave.; 970/858-1117). "Enough fuel to get you through any ride and enough garlic to keep the critters away."

Q. Best recovery beverage?

A. Sipping Colorado vintages in the tasting room at the Colorado Wine Room (closed Mon; tasting fee varies; 455 Kokopelli Blvd.; 877/858-6330). "Great even for beer guys, like me."

Q. Best place to take the kids when they tire of biking?

A. The Dinosaur Journey museum ($7, $4 ages 3-12; 550 Jurassic Ct.; 970/858-7282) has a robotic T-Rex and touchable dinosaur bones. 'Nuff said.

Q. The ride that epitomizes Fruita?

A. The Edge Loop. "It was the first trail we built and I'd say, with all modesty, it's still the greatest single-day ride in the country." Thirty miles of backroads and single-track that swoop up and down mesas. "From the highest points, you can see from the La Sal Mountains to the San Juans to heaven."




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