E21: Palisade Trail Guide with Rondo Buecheler of Palisade Cycle and Shuttle

Rondo Buecheler is co-owner of Palisade Cycle and Shuttle, Palisade’s local bike and river rental shop.

Rondo and I went on a grand tour of his life, from sleeping under the I-70 bridge and working at the Liv in the late seventies to summers spent in a dory on the Grand Canyon and winters on the slopes at Powderhorn to opening multiple successful businesses across the Grand Valley.

We dug into the history of the Palisade Plunge trail, exciting updates on other local trails, and why Palisade is such a ridiculously amazing place to live if you love the outdoors. We also talked about the wildest things that have happened to him out on the trail, tourists and biking, his legacy and true passion, and why it is so important to strive to make your own backyard a great place.

Music by Romarecord1973 from Pixabay.


SpotifyAnchorApple PodcastsCastBoxPocketCastsPandoraAmazon MusiciHeartRadioRSSYouTube


Welcome to Postcards From Palisade, where we hear from the people who are shaping our slice of western Colorado. I’m Lisa McNamara.

Rondo Buecheler is co-owner of Palisade Cycle and Shuttle, Palisade’s local bike and river rental shop.

Rondo and I sat down in the shop and went on a grand tour of his life, from sleeping under the I-70 bridge and working at the Liv when he first moved to Palisade in the late seventies, to summers spent in a dory on the Grand Canyon and winters on the slopes at Powderhorn, to opening multiple successful businesses across the Grand Valley.

Rondo and I got into the history of the Palisade Plunge trail, he shared some exciting updates on future local trails like the Riverfront Trail, Horse Mountain, and Coal Canyon, and why Palisade is such a ridiculously amazing place to live if you love the outdoors. We also talked about the wildest things that have happened to him out on the trail, tourists and biking, his legacy and true passion, and why it is so important to strive to make your own backyard a great place.

Join us for the Palisade Trail (and Life) Guide, on today’s Postcard from Palisade.

As I was doing a sound check, Rondo gave the best intro, which I had to keep to start out with, even though I was accidentally using the wrong input device for the recording…

RB: Hi there. My name is Rondo, and I’m here to talk about Palisade.

LM: you have a good radio voice.

RB: Thank you.

After I figured out what I was doing wrong, we dove right into the conversation.

LM: So how long have you lived in the area?

RB: I moved to Colorado, actually, in 1977. And actually, my first job was working at the livery.

LM: No way.

RB: Yeah, I was trying to get a job at Powderhorn and got a job at the livery. I’d worked at Lake Powell and lived under the bridge when it rained. The colorado the interstate goes over the freeway, and then finally got a job at Powderhorn on ski patrol and then stayed. So I lived in Mesa, and then when I raised my kids, I married, a beautiful lady with two kids. She lived in fruita. So I started a bike shop there and then. Speak of the devil, there’s my daughter. I’ll call her back later.

LM: Okay, sounds good. so before we go too far, can you introduce yourself? Your name?

RB: Hi my name is Rondo Buecheler, but I go by Rondo and I’m co owner with Scott Winans of Palisade Cycle and shuttle. And we are the local bike shop in Palisade. And then we offer shuttles up to the Palisade plunge. And then we can also shuttle winery bikes out to east orchard Mesa and people can ride back. And we do limited service here and very limited, retail. We really pretty much just sell our rental bikes. We’re not a big shop you would go to to buy a new bike, necessarily. And we are just the unofficial visitor center for the town of Palisade because we are open seven days a week from march into December. And we’re right on the corner here. We have one of the best locations in town and people stop by and visit with us. So it’s just a fun little social bike shop in a beautiful community.

LM: How long has the shop been open? So you’ve been here since 77. But when did you open the shop?

RB: we opened the shop in 2007.

LM: Okay.

RB: I had a shop and a bike shop in fruita, over the edge sports, and I sold that at that time. And, the first service manager there, Scott Winans, was a good friend of mine. We both had this vision of bike trails at this end of the valley, mesa slopes all the way up to the top of the mesa. So we decided to come out here and start a shop here and work on the trail system. So, same business plan as Fruita. There was very little fruita had. Kokopelli trail was, told about how that was going to become this next bike mecca. so opened up over the edge in Fruita and then worked with 1000 other people on developing fruita for ten years. And then Scott and me are basically doing the same thing out here, coming out here, working with a thousand other people, very involved with the community. Copmoba, your local agencies, BLM, forest service, parks and wildlife to develop, trails for biking. Some of the trails we’ve worked on, horses can go on and you can hike them all for this end of the valley.

LM: So it’s going to be really hard to just talk to you for an hour because there’s so much that you’ve done and you do, and there’s so many questions I want to ask you, but I think probably the thing that I think of the most when I hear, or people say the most when I hear about you or they talk about you, is the plunge trail, obviously. You’re very associated with that.

RB: correct. We are. And it’s not just me again, I’m just one of many, many people. three people really should be thanked for the plunge. My business partner, Scott Winans, he just worked incredibly hard on her for ten years. And then Mike Jones and Chris Pickens with the BLM, those two guys from our partners in the government worked incredibly hard to take this vision of a trail off the top of the mesa and make it happen. And it’s still a raw, rough trail. It’s going to be several years before a larger user group gets to use it just because of the inaccessibility and the challenging terrain that it goes through. But it’s a vision that’s a reality that now is just being fine tuned for a few years and then every year we should have more and more riders do it.

LM: Okay.

RB: But it’s definitely an adventure trail and we’re very proud to have been part of it.

LM: Awesome. Yeah. So what does it mean to you to have been a part of something that big?

RB: it means a lot I guess, personally. My legacy is to have developed several businesses in town bike related that have led to making western Colorado, the grand Valley, Grand Junction, Fruita, loma, palisade into a biking destination and the last key to a biking destination. So we have local riding, the lunch loops, then we have Fruita area which is some destination. You’ve got camping in north Fruita desert, but you’ve got the Kokopelli, you’ve got the north Fruita, Rabbit Valley. So we had all this incredible desert riding here and incredible road riding. We’ve got the Alphabet ride you can do out in Fruita where you just took all the roads that are alphabetically named. And then you’ve got the riverfront trail, which I’ve also been on the riverfront commission. We’re trying to get that done, the monument. But we have lift service riding at Powderhorn. But we didn’t have those epic rides, a shuttled epic ride. So this is the first of maybe some more shuttled epic rides in the grand valley. So we have it all right here.

LM: Yeah. Well when you talk about making it more accessible, what does that mean? Or what would that look like? The plunge trail?

RB: What do you mean by accessible? Okay, so right now, a trail when it’s infancy, when it’s brand new, is raw, it’s rougher, it’s narrower, it gets overgrown, it has more rocks on it, it’s susceptible to weather like flash floods and stuff like that. So it takes a while to wear a trail in to where a larger user group can use it. So right now it’s got some exposure, it’s got some rocky areas and it’s long and it does start on top of a beautiful 10,000 foot mesa, but end up at 4500ft along the Colorado river in the stinking hot desert. So it’s an adventure ride that has a limited user group that would ride it right now. Again, when we tell people, we talk about it, we tell them it’s almost two different trails. You have the mesa top section and you have the plunge section of Palisade. We recommend that people do the plunge section. It can either be done as a 21 or 17 miles trail down to the valley. And that is pretty darn epic in itself. And then if you’re okay with that, you can add more to it. But it’s a challenging trail at this point.

LM: Sure. Yeah. So building a trail is just one piece of it. It’s complicated. You have to work with a lot of people to get there. But then maintaining it over time is never ending.

RB: No, it’s never ending. And that’s the challenge right now, is taking a raw trail and working it. we’re hopefully applying for some grants, to get some reworking on one section in the forest service from the place called Otto’s wall. It’s this switchback wall section. That’s just incredible. Off the tippy top of the mesa, through the cliff section, through the lava flow, and then to the first crossing of lands end road and that section, we’re hopefully going to get a grant to work on that and improve it and then just due to the inaccessibility of it. It’s hard to go do trail days up there. We work on the lower part and such. But to get, especially with volunteers to get them up there. We had used a trail group last year. Ross Mittleton with Department of Health had his trail crew go work up there for a week and they basically wanted to camp there to make it more effective. And it didn’t work out due to weather challenges. But you need to almost camp on the trail for a week or so and do work on it. And there’s very few trails that are that inaccessible like the other trails that people compare it to. The whole enchilada in moab, the monarch crest trail, they have all sorts of roads crisscrossing it, so you can get in and work on sections. But the inaccessibility of this trail once you hit lands end road, the last 17 miles, there’s one bailout that will go through town of Palisade property down to Cottonwood. But you can’t drive a vehicle there, it’s private to get up through it. So you can bail out there, but there’s no other way to get into it. So you do little projects and then figure out how to get home before dark.

LM: That’s a challenge.

RB: It is a challenge, yeah.

LM: And the bail out’s new, right? That was in the last few months or so?

RB: the bailout’s always been there because there’s some trails up into the watershed. But, the town of Palisade, BLM, nobody wanted us to broadcast that as a trail in itself, because it does go through some area, some country that is special to the people in Palisade, which is your watershed. Both grand Junction and Palisade have this watershed on the mesa that’s worth billions of dollars. It’s incredible. It’s amazing. And they really try to protect it, and they didn’t want a mainstream trail going through that. So, we had a tragedy up there that was a fatality. very sad. And after that point, it was determined that maybe we should mark the bailout for emergency use only.

LM: Okay

RB: So it’s well marked now. So if anybody does get in trouble, because it is such a long trail and it rides a little more challenging than some people think, they do have that option to bailing out and coming down. You can be in Palisade in, like, half hour, 40 minutes from the bailout, and there’s water. Ten minutes from the bailout, you’re in a creek.

LM: Okay.

RB: where you could drink if you had to and cool yourself down.

LM: Makes sense. So dealing with all of these different governmental agencies and the whole list of things that you listed before, private landowners, all the other people who have some interest in a project like this, how do you keep it on track? How do you not just get frustrated?

RB: Well, it was pretty easy for me because I put Scott Winans in charge of that.

LM: OK that’s a Scott question!

RB: Scott Winans was president of CopMOBA. He’s been, a board member, past president, just very involved with copMOBA for many, many years. And we needed an advocacy group to help do the trail. And Scott, as part of CopMOBA, was that person. And he is an incredibly well organized, very diplomatic, very, well spoken. He is the type of person that you want when you’re trying to get all these different people. Because we had. So we had Town of Palisade was involved. City of grand junction because of their watershed, BLM, forest service, Colorado parks and wildlife, private, property owners, leasees. So, the van Winkle ranch leases most of grand junction. And working with that family, which have been incredible, they’re just a great old time cowboy family. it took somebody to do that. And Scott was that person. And then the two, guys I mentioned from the BLM, Chris Pickens, Mike Jones. You know, government people can do what they want, but those guys just really put their heart and soul into this project, too, to make it happen on a governmental way. And then all the other partners, the people work with, all these other entities came together, and just to make this happen.

LM: So finding the right people

RB: it is definitely the right people. And it’s patience and time and money. Time and money. You can do anything. So it’s somebody that’s taking the time and then finding the funds to do something like this. And it’s a lot of people, but it takes. Scott and me came in here with this vision, so we were motivated by fear and greed. So that helps out know both this. And then the fruita project we’re coming into towns with limited riding. I’ve always believed that if you start a business, you shouldn’t start one that you’re taking away from somebody that’s there. So, like, when I started my second shop in Fruita, I was looking for a spot. I didn’t want to do one in grand junction because there were already bike shops there, and there’s a limited amount of business. So it’s always fun to start something from scratch. So, fruita, we proved it could be done, and we came out here to do this. Although this was much more challenging. We were the ones, too, that, instigated getting the palisade rim trail turned into a legal trail. So Scott and me paid for the concept plan for that. There was a series of, social trails up in that area, and we started the process by hiring someone to come out and do the concept, which, in turn, the BLM took over to turn the rim trail into what it is today.

LM: Okay. Oh I didn’t know that, that’s awesome. Well thank you for that!

RB: Well, it’s part of contributing to the community, and it’s part of creating a business. You start with nothing, and then you create all parts of it. So we’ve started the shop here without impacting any other business that was here, and we’ve contributed to the community. The taxes we pay as a business, the people we bring in that support other businesses, and just turning palisade into a community that people want to live here because of the recreational opportunities.

LM: Absolutely. So other trails you mentioned around here, you mentioned the riverfront trail, and you’re pretty involved with one riverfront, right.

RB: I just term limited out, but I’m on the committee, though, for getting the riverfront trail completed to this end of the valley.

LM: Yeah.

RB: So it’s a vision that was started many, many years ago. Again, a thousand people have been involved in that, and it’s all the way to Loma, and now it’s time to finish it to Palisade. And it’s supposed to it connects all the pearls of the grand valley, which are the state parks. So it’s supposed to end up at Island Acres State park. But right now, there’s a group that’s working on getting it to Palisade. There’s actually a work group. That’s where I’m off to a meeting after this with one riverfront and a bunch of partners to try to figure out how to get it to Palisade. And then from there, we can continue on to island acres.

LM: Okay. That would be amazing. And so you’re looking at now, or one riverfront is looking at, I believe, building the path along existing roadways instead of trying to go through private land along the river.

RB: Actually, we’re doing it well it might end up that way because that’s what ended up going to fruita. They had to go different routes. The vision is along the river, but there’s property owners that have beautiful properties, especially between Palisade and Clifton, that if I owned that property and my house was right along the river, I wouldn’t want a bike path in front of it. So we’re working around those people that don’t want to, and then working with other landowners that do say, oh, yeah, we can put a trail through here. It’s not going to affect my use of it. And then where it can’t do that. We’re looking at options, and there’s several options out there. We have three main ones that we’re looking at, and we’ve got $100,000 grant. So we’re working with a consultant to try to identify of these main three options. And maybe there’s one we haven’t thought of yet, which would be the best way to get it, to Palisade and Riverbend park. Because it is part of Riverbend park is part of the riverfront through there. And then from then highway six out, to the freeway, and then to cameo and island acres.

LM: Okay. I’m really looking forward to that.

RB: So am I. In my lifetime.

LM: Yeah. Okay. I was going to ask you what you thought the timing was.

RB: I want to live to be 100, but I’d like the trail to be done so I could ride.

LM: I’d love to just be able, get on the trail. Ride all the way out to fruita.

RB: Yeah, no, it’d be great. And then there’s some other options, are looking at some other trail alignments that could be really cool, that hopefully will become a reality again sooner than later. But all this, again, it takes people to dedicate their time. Most of these people that are working on all these projects, the mountain bike trails and the trails like the riverfront are led by volunteers working with government entities to make it happen.

LM: a couple of other trail things I want to talk about, and then we can move on to other things.

RB: That’s okay.

LM: so I don’t even want to get into the canal paths, but the canal paths, do you think that will ever happen?

RB: I have no idea. I’m not going to just speculate. It happens in other communities. Whether it’ll happen here, it’s up to, again, all the different players, from the canal companies or board of directors to property owners. any canal that does have go through private property where there’s easements. That’s a big question. Versus, say, the government canal. The high line canal is a government canal, and they own all the easements. So maybe there’s an option to do something out there. And again, as time changes, board members change, partners change, just the whole culture of canals and what they were for. Can they be used for recreation that could change over time, and maybe they are, but there’s a lot of players involved, and I wouldn’t want to speculate because I don’t want to jinx anything. so we’ll see down the road, but there’s a lot of people that are involved now, in all these different entities. Maybe it’s something that will happen, but it’s got to work for everybody. And there’s a lot of, challenges to make this opportunity happen. So we’ll see.

LM: There’s more to do there. A lot more to do. if.

RB: There’s a lot more to do there, and you just can’t be forceful. Yeah, we’re going to have trails on all these canals because you have to be sympathetic to the people that have the canals and the property owners that have canals and the safety for the people that possibly could use it. So it’s a pretty complicated issue, but we’ll see what’s happened. It’s happening elsewhere, and we’ll see what the future holds for canals here in the valley.

LM: Cool. Yeah. Just seems like such a great opportunity for trails. I mean, not that I obviously love to bike and, I want more trails. So on, that note, tell me about horse Mountain. What’s happening there?

RB: So horse Mountain is BLM, and it is in their management plan to allow, several types of recreation out there. But again, it’s not high on the list at the moment due to the BLM here has done an incredible job promoting bike trails. And the big trail now is the old spanish trail area. the trails up by east orchard Mesa, and that’s what everybody’s focusing on at the moment. So down the road. Yeah, it is eyed for possible, bike trails. Another area that we’re working with, too, would maybe be some more stuff out cameo. The book cliffs right behind us up here. There’s already some roads and trails up coal canyon. So there’s some opportunities there again, you know, things happen with private landholders, government agencies, town of Palisade. So there’s some options out there, too, that would probably could happen faster maybe than horse mountain, so. But horse mountain but again, there’s access issues because, the legal access is from desert Highlands subdivision. I don’t know if any of them are thrilled to put, that’s where the trailhead is. But the county doesn’t put trailheads in. And then getting access and that terrain up there is interesting because it’s, your shales basically with lava rock everywhere. So you build a trail, you clear all the lava rock out. After the next rain, the lava rock’s back.

LM: Yeah, it’s wild.

RB: So maybe on some of the slopes where you’ve got more sediment over the lava. But that’s the challenging spot out there. And we did have, we used to do races out, sink creek area on the other side of it. There’s some cool riding out there, but it, again, is, used by a lot of user groups and some of the motorized user groups, majority of them are responsible, good riders that care. There’s a few people that we had some trails out there, and there’s trash dumping. So that’s just the wild west out there. But there’s opportunity. It’s just, again, someone’s at some point going to have to be the ramrod, to make that happen. And it’s in our minds, but we’ll see. But the BLM is pretty busy at the moment, so it’s not like on the top of their list. A lot of energy is going toward that new trail system, and then energy is going toward finishing the plunge.

LM: Okay.

RB: So we can have 30,000 people a year come ride it.

LM: Wow.

RB: And then whenever you build a trail, the other challenges is just day to day maintenance and maintaining of them. We’ve got this incredible trail system in the valley, and all of the trails need constant maintenance. So, again, how many trail systems can we have in the valley that the valley can maintain? CopMOBA does a great job, but it’s a volunteer organization. There needs to be a countywide, statewide, maybe a multi government entity trail crew that’s a full time job that works on these bike trails here, and then you just have to look at funding. But that, to me, would be an awesome thing to see. But again, bikers, when you look in the big scheme of things for the county, from the homeless people to potholes to bike trails, you’ve got a justify is there are there enough users, which there could be in this valley because people come here, but, to do something like that. But that’s the big thing is these maintenance plans for all these trails. We come up with maintenance for the plunge. We go out and talk to other businesses. And the economy, with the pandemic, things are coming back now. So hopefully we had a lot of businesses sign on to contribute to that, and that sort of went away for a while. But hopefully it comes back now. And hopefully the revenue that people see the plunge bring to the valley, along with the other trails, makes them want to contribute to maintain them.

LM: Yeah, makes sense. Yeah. How do you measure that? How do you measure exactly what’s tied to people coming to bike the plunge?

RB: There’s ways. It’s out there. They can measure it. And I don’t know all the details, but you can see what mountain biking has brought to the grand valley, which is a lot. hunting, fishing might not be quite as popular as they once were. Fishing is, but it’s brought a lot of people in. It’s a whole different user group that contributes to everything else that historically has been here. One of the challenges the county has, like, we’re doing all this recreation on public lands that in the past were used for extraction oil and gas, primarily coal, all around us here. So we’re replacing some of that with recreation. But recreation jobs traditionally do not pay what the extractive energies jobs were. So the challenge is now on the recreation industry, to pay livable wages to their staff that work here. And that’s like a big challenge with everybody. so we can contribute what other industries used to from recreation.

LM: Sure, makes sense. So, just shifting to you personally, I assume that you like to ride your bike.

RB: I do, yeah. I started my first bike shop at Powderhorn just to get a deal on a bike. Stupid idea. Should have just bought one.

LM: So what’s your favorite trail, personally? Like, what do you love to get out and ride?

RB: Personally, I would say I do like the rim trail once I’ve done the climb. and the other end of the valley, horse thief bench was always my favorite. It’s just got a little bit of everything on it from view to, some interesting moves and just neat out in that area. I ride the upper plunge a lot now. So the part from highway 65 to Otto’s wall section to shirttail point and connect a lot up there. I live in Mesa. So one of the reasons we came out here because it’s so stinking hot in the summertime. Well, let’s ride up there. So I love riding on those trails. So I ride that trail a lot. Do the plunge to Powderhorn. so I’m up there quite a bit.

LM: I just went downhill biking at Powderhorn this last summer. First time I’ve ever done downhill biking. So fun. I’m totally hooked on it now.

RB: It’s fun. I work on the bike patrol of powderhorn.

LM: Okay.

RB: So I’m up know at least once a week usually, or try to be once a week or so. and my grandkids all love riding up there.

LM: Yeah.

RB: So again, it’s a nice addition. Not many valleys have everything from lift service to epic trails to incredible day cross country riding. That’s along the I 70 quarter.

LM: Ah.

RB: So it’s pretty cool. But Powderhorn. Yeah, they’ve got some really nice trails up there. Hopefully that’ll keep expanding. Their summers grow to be as big as their winters someday.

LM: Yeah, that’d be great. what’s the toughest situation you’ve ever been out on a trail and what did you learn from it? that you want to talk about?

RB: No, I’ve been involved in some rescues out in the early days of fruita. I had one where a child went off a ledge and it was pre cell phone so I had to send someone, he was unconscious to go out to get a phone to call, to get that person stable, to get a helicopter in to help the helicopter crew because there’s just two of them and a couple of riders evacuate this child out of a canyon and get them there. So that was probably the most interesting, I would say. Others are just being on just some of the spots we have. especially when you’re exploring, you’re out looking for new trails and where they could go and you’re just out in the middle of nowhere. If something breaks, you have a long walk.

LM: so you’ve had a few long walks.

RB: I’ve had some long walks, yeah, everybody has. but yeah, I have not personally had anything horrific happen to me, which is, knock on wood. It’s a blessing, for all the miles that I’ve ridden.

LM: Okay. What happened to the kid? Was the kid okay?

RB: Yeah, he was fine eventually.

LM: Yeah. I mean, now, it’s amazing to think about how easy it is to really, if you have the right tools, you can summon emergency services so much more easily than before.

RB: Yeah, I’m thinking of getting an inreach, because they’re pretty cool now, and things happen. And where people are riding, the way the young people are riding now, my grandson, all my grandkids, how they’re riding at their age is stuff that I never would have dreamed of doing. And for whatever reason, they’re going big, because all the videos of people going big, people get hurt, and they get hurt in these situations. Thank gosh. We have mesa county search and rescue. They do an incredible job of getting people and the fire departments, along with the other government entities, getting people out of stupid predicaments that they get into in, just challenging terrain and locations. And we have a ton of riding. And a lot of the trails in the valley, some of the stuff out in fruita, the book cliffs along with the plunge and stuff are. You’re out there, so nothing’s easy.

LM: Yeah. Right. You’re far from the trailhead, and it’s not a smooth ride back to the trailhead. Usually. It’s usually pretty challenging.

RB: And then powderhorn, we’ve had some challenging up there because, again, downhilling, these people are going fast, going big, gaps, rocks, whatever.

LM: Yeah, it’s exciting. These kind of trails didn’t really exist before. You know, you didn’t have the opportunity to do things like this.

RB: No. And you didn’t have, the trails have been here for a while, but you didn’t have the equipment. When I first started riding, both Scott and me, Scott’s toured around a lot of the world on a bike. I did a lot of bike packing back in the 80s. but the equipment you had couldn’t let you couldn’t go big. You would just fall before you could get very big. And now the equipment that they have and then the skills that these kids have, it’s pretty amazing. Equipment is a lot of it. How the bikes have changed.

LM: Yeah. So here at the shop, at your shop, you mentioned you rent a lot of bikes.

RB: We do

LM: you rent cruisers for wine tours and, bikes for, some of the mountain bike trails around here. so those are two very different groups of people. I’m sure there’s some overlap, but

RB: they are, very interesting.

LM: What do you recommend for each group to have the best experience here? What do you tell them before they go?

RB: We’ll start with the winery rides. It’s real popular. This is the only spot in the world you can hit 25 wineries on a day on a bike. if you’re good

LM: physically, I don’t know about that!

RB: so those people that come in, we have regular cruisers because we have the five mile, a seven mile. You can combine them for this twelve mile ride and the wineries right around here and they’re great for just a pedal cruiser. And then we do have a pretty big fleet of, ecruisers that you can go farther or if you’re, say you’re riding with a parent or someone that maybe isn’t as good a shape they can be on that. but, the ebikes are definitely becoming really popular, especially when it’s hot out or it’s windy even doing the twelve mile loop. They’re great, they’re popular. But the big thing is just respect where you’re at. People come here to have a good time. And unfortunately in this area, or fortunately for all of us, a good time involves drinking. We have the, dispensaries. So the big thing we try to pre educate people is if you’re going to come here, be aware of that, don’t become too impaired. Don’t go get a bike ride to the dispensary, and then hit a winery, and then don’t drink water or eat all day long and while sitting in the sun without a hat. so we just try to educate people. I’m, on the tourism advisory council. We’re actually working with a mentor to come up with how to ride palisade. so you can just respect the people, the lifestyle, the area you’re coming to, but still have a great time. and the big thing is just watch what you eat and drink, drink lots of water, stay in the shade a bit, wear a hat. And the bikes are kind of cool. I think you don’t get as impaired as easily than sitting in a limo, although that’s a great way to go wine tasting or a van because you’re somewhere and then you’re out, you’re actively moving, sweating, and then you stop again.

LM: Takes more time to get from stop to stop.

RB: Right. But we’re very aware of what they’re doing and we really try to educate them. If someone does get impaired, we will come get you and your bike and gladly bring you back, so you can start again the next day.

LM: that’s a nice added service.

RB: Yeah. And then mountain biking again. Most people that come here, our two mountain bike trails are the rim trail and the plunge. They’re both challenging trails. Rim trail has that climb to start with. So, like, if someone does ask a big question is, hey, how do I know if I can ride the plunge trail? Is there anything? And we go. If you can ride the whole rim trail and you’re not intimidated by some of the exposure, the terrain, because the bottom part of it can come out the lower rim trail. If you can ride all that and think it’s great, don’t mind the heat, then that’s a good primer for doing the plunge. And again, depending upon your ability. But most people, we would recommend to do the bottom 21 miles first, although there is a lot of people that show up and do the whole kit and caboodle, and they’re done in 3 hours going, wow, that was great.

LM: Wow. Have you ever talked to anybody out of doing the plunge?

RB: Oh, yeah, we have. you don’t necessarily talk them out. You just want to explain to them the challenges, the exposures, and let them make the right choice for their ability. Because it is hard to talk to somebody not knowing their ability if you haven’t ridden with them. But, yeah, we try to educate them so they can make good choices. Where to start. If you would need the bailout, that option is there. Just, maybe ride the top part. It’s 110 degrees in the valley. Riding the bottom part is great if you’re riding by 7:00 in the morning, so you’re off early and being prepared, having the right equipment. We’ll look at people’s bikes. If you see someone show up with a bike that’s not appropriate, you try to go, hey, are you sure you know what you’re doing? Having water, having food, repair parts so they can fix most common things and just good. It’s common sense. So, yeah, we do talk people out of it. There’s no ebikes allowed on any of the trails out here, so we educate people that you can’t ride them here. There’s other spots to ride them in the valley. but this isn’t the best place. Should I turn that off?

LM: Does it just stay on like that?

RB: It comes on and off. It’s that heater, but I can turn it off for a while.

RB: How am I doing?

LM: Good. Great. How do you think you’re doing?

RB: Fine. I’m just rambling. I’ve rambled my whole life.

LM: I mean, that’s kind of what a podcast is, is just listening to people ramble.

RB: Okay.

LM: At the end of the day, that’s what it is. Okay. So we talked a lot about biking. Oh, wait, I had one more question about biking at the end of last season. You were doing some group rides last fall. Do you think you’re going to start doing anything like regular bike shop rides in the future?

RB: We’d like to. Yeah, we will. We’re going to do that again. The challenge is for mountain biking here. It’s the rim trail. You can ride after work. and that again is a smaller user group because of the climb. but we’ll do the rides. We’ll ride around town, the road rides, we will do some where we meet somewhere at a trailhead, lunch loop, go out to maybe Loma, or fruita, and do out there. So, yes, we’re planning on doing something like that. our hours are such, though we have a limited staff here and our hours are long. We’re open from basically nine to six. By the time stragglers get back, it’s late and we have a limited staff. But yeah, we want to do that. We like to be involved in the community. We’re part of this community, and it’s fun to do that. And there’s other businesses in town that do the group rides also. So we encourage everybody to look at what everybody offers.

LM: Yeah, I’m really involved with the Bike Palisade group and the, Monday night rides. But I mean, that’s really just a fun ride.

RB: That is. That’s a fun ride where you end up at Pali Thai and a beer.

LM: Yeah, exactly.

RB: but, yeah, we’re going to try. We will do more of that this year. We have a really cool staff. Everybody is returning from last year. just about everybody that works here in the summer is the ski patrol of powderhorn in the winter. So it works perfect. As soon as they’re done ski patrol, they start here, and as soon as they’re done here, they start ski patrol. So it’s a perfect lifestyle for people looking for nontraditional where you have different jobs that are fun, exciting.

LM: Ok so I asked you think all the bike questions I have. But I know you do more than just renting bikes here. I know that you also rent river craft or things to float..

RB: right we do, so my passion was river running. I was a river guide for 40 years for this really unique company, Grand Canyon Dories. At over the edge and here, we like to have some river involvement. My partner, Scott likes to float the river. So we did teach paddleboarding for many years. We’ve sort of gotten out of that because there’s a couple other businesses that are doing it and there was just too many people teaching. But we do rent and we rent paddleboards and inflatable kayaks and tubes. And the river is this incredible resource for the whole grand valley. It’d be nice to have the Colorado river designated as a river trail someday, starting here and ending up down in Loma. but we really encourage, if you’re here, like to do a bike ride, either a mountain bike ride. And we didn’t talk about rental mountain bikes yet.

LM: No, we didn’t.

RB: We do do that. But if you’re coming here, it’s another thing to do in Palisade. that involves drinking. but no, you don’t have to. But it’s a great. Kids. I take my grandkids out all the time. It’s just a great opportunity in Palisade to float. We have the four mile palisade to Palisade section, which is beautiful. At the end of the day, the color is changing on the cliffs. As long as there’s enough water to get through the, grand valley, irrigators diversion what an incredible float you have through town and then all the way down to 32 road. So we do rent and provide shuttles with reservations to do the float. We were the first to offer that and really encourage people to do it wisely. When you rent from us, you get a life jacket, you get some instructions, what you’re using. and again, ask you to use common sense. And have a good safe time.

LM: do you have a favorite section of river around here or in the world that you’ve floated?

RB: I worked most of my career in the Grand Canyon, and then worked quite a bit up in the northwest. so I would say every river has its own personality. The grand is the grand canyon, so everybody should do that at least once in your life. But the other rivers we have locally, the Colorado through grand junction is a great float. You go up to Glenwood, you’ve got the roaring fork, which is like doing a home tour in a boat. You got all those big mansions all around you. other rivers that are really fun nearby. I love Lodore, Deso, so there’s a lot. And each of them has a personality. So I like each of them. But my favorite again was I was very fortunate to work in the Grand Canyon for this crazy guy, Martin Litton, and all the crazy people that worked for Dories for many, many years.

LM: Were you in an actual dory?

RB: Yeah, I have my own here. this summer. You can go float through town. You should read a book called the Emerald Mile. It’s about the high water of 1983, the politics of the high water, the dam and everything, and about three friends, Rudy, Wren and Kenton, who set the speed record in a dory on the grand Canyon. And just an incredible book by Kevin Fedarko.

LM: I’ll check that out

RB: yeah, it was a cool culture. It was just very unique.

LM: That’s exciting

RB: yeah. when the water is high. Here we go run, the little rapid above the freeway right there, the diversion there. And that’s really fun. you can put in at cameo and take out in town, so it adds, another dimension. If you want to go do that, call in the spring. I’ll be around. I’m retired from river running commercially, but I still kept my dory.

LM: I’m still trying to get over some of my fears of being on whitewater, so I’m working on it. I’ve done a few trips this last year.

RB: where did you go?

LM: desolation. Got stuck on a rock.
Pause for a fact check! It was actually Split Mountain Canyon – a different section of the Green River a bit farther north of Desolation Canyon. But my fear is accurate. OK, back to the conversation.

RB: what kind of boat were you? Were you in a ducky then?

LM: no, in a raft.

RB: Okay.

LM: Yeah. we did Ruby horsethief twice. The first time was at the peak.

RB: there’s so much fun when it’s high, though.

LM: It was my first time on, like, a moving river. I’ve done a lot of lakes, still water, like, in the northeast. It was terrifying. You know I made it through, but

RB: OK that would be intimidating. River people like the high water. We love high water. You don’t have to row as much. It’s more exciting. rapids are bigger.

LM: I’m working up to it. Yeah, but it’s fun. I mean, the culture and just the feeling of being on the river and especially being out overnight for a couple of nights. It’s so much fun.

RB: I like that. Most of the trips I did were 16 to 19 days. And I just love the camping part of it as much as the adventure of everything else and then the side hikes and all that. But, no, we have a great opportunity here, to float the river. You can learn how to kayak, learn how to paddleboard, and take the family out. It’s a great family river through town

LM: right because this stretch through town is pretty tame.

RB: Very tame through the whole grand valley. It’s great. It’s a float. And the whole county, all the towns are very into river access, so we’ve got quite a few boat ramps. The city is just finishing up a new one down by 24 road. They’re redoing one down there. so we have just a lot of access. Hopefully we get more down the road. Palisade is working on a beach and working on putting a new ramp there, in the next year or so. So again, it’s another reason we live here, for the outdoor opportunities that we can do after work. How many people can go float after work? How many people can go for a bike ride after work? How many people can get off work till noon, drive to powderhorn and ski the afternoon and then come back home? it’s, pretty cool. If you want to use it, there’s a lot to do here. Hiking, horseback riding, motorsports. It’s just a very cool spot.

LM: Yeah, I love it. Very happy to have found it. so is there anything else that, I didn’t already ask you about that you’d want to talk about?

RB: Mountain bikes. We do mountain bikes, so we do rent mountain bikes. We have a fleet of mountain bikes that we rent, for the plunge, for the rim, or we’re trying to position ourselves as the gateway to the grand valley. So say you’re coming in to ride in the grand valley for a few days, stay in Palisade. We’ve got the wine country inn and we’ve got the spoke and vine. We have b&b the wine Valley Inn homestead. we’ve got homestead, which is just a really cool property along the river. We have the base camp rv park. So to me, if you’re going to come to the grand valley, this is the spot you want to stay and base out of the gateway. And then you can do your little day excursions to Loma fruita, to Grand Junction,

LM: right it’s like 45 minutes to get there

RB: to the top of the grand mesa. you, can just do day excursions and stay in this town. Because again, you’ve got the wineries, you’ve got some nightlife with the distillery, the brewery, Clark’s, local places like three five seven and the livery. It’s just a fun area to stay at, and do things. So we rent mountain bikes to be used all over the valley. We’re seeing people do this trifecta where they’re coming in from around the country and they’re going like flying, into Denver. You could do it to junction, but getting a car, buzzing out, hitting the whole enchilada in moab, then hitting us for the plunge and hitting the monarch crest trail and then flying back home. So doing this epic shuttled ride road trip.

LM: wow

RB: and again, none of this would be here without the enthusiasm, knowledge, and hard work of my business partner, Scott Winans, who’s incredible. And the plunge wouldn’t be here again. He’s very instrumental in making the valley what it is as a riding community also. So we’ll always thank him and give him his credit that he’s earned.

LM: Definitely. Yeah. well, thank you and Scott, but thank you for everything you’ve done, too. I think you’re very modest. but I know you’re involved with a lot, too. So we appreciate that.

RB: Yeah, I’ve done a bunch. This has been pretty cool. It’s been a fun life to do all these different things. for a while, I was talking at schools about nontraditional lifestyles, and it starts with a very patient wife and then just doing all these different jobs. So, in the summer, I’m boating and I’m biking, then I’m skiing, and, there’s a lot of opportunity for young people that are looking for more of a lifestyle, that’s nontraditional. You can do it.

LM: I love that. Yeah. Right. Everyone should not want to go sit behind a desk every day.

RB: No. And I think it’s changing. The young people today are realizing they just don’t go work for a company for 30 years, get their retirement, and be done. You want to live your life, especially while you’re young, while you’re active, and you’ve got your health and your strength and everything. Go do all the wild stuff. And then when you get older, that’s kind of what I did. The reverse retirement. My, wife teases me, how can I retire when I’ve never really had a job? But I did all the stuff younger, and now I’m still doing it, but not nearly at the same level. But I’m okay with it because I’ve been at the forefront of all these I hate to say the word extreme sports, but adventuresome sports back in the day.

LM: so what’s the best way for other people to get involved? If somebody hears this and they’re like, you know, I’d love to get involved with helping build this trail or maintain this trail.

RB: A couple things. Number one, Copmoba is our local trail advocacy group. We need young people to get involved with that because biking is changing the type of bike trails people are looking to ride now versus what was popular when I was younger. It’s flow trails more, maybe extremish, but it’s different. So Copmoba is this great advocacy group that we need young people to get involved with. So the trails of the future are trails for future riders. riverfront commission with this vision of getting this trail through the valley and beyond. Once we get it through the valley, then we want to interconnect. You’ve got grand junction. They’ve got an urban trails group.

Get on a committee, one Riverfront is a good one. Palisade has some committees. We have our tourism advisory council and parks and rec. But get involved in your community and make your backyard cool. If everybody works to make their backyard cool. So everybody’s backyards are cool. It’s just this big playground, but it takes people to be involved. And I know looking at my kids, it’s harder now because parents, I think, are doing a lot for their kids that maybe they didn’t used to. So time is harder, but make time to get involved in your community. And when you read things out there, be a voice in it, because we can create this valley to be whatever we want, and it will change over then it changed in the time I’ve been here, and it will change in the next 40 years. I’m excited to see. Hopefully I’ll be around, maybe not 40, but for a while, just to see what the next group of people come in here to do with it.

LM: Yeah.

RB: And still keep its charm. And it’s fun and not overcrowded. And everybody gets along. And again, a lot of it’s like building these bike trails. It’s all these different user groups getting together and working together. So the bikers working with the horse people working with the motorized vehicle people working with the government entities and the communities and the people that have been here historically, that maybe change is scary and, not what they wanted, but it could maybe happen in a respectful way. So we build this really cool community while honoring the past and the people that are currently here.

LM: That’s a really good mission statement and a good thing to end on, I think.

RB: Thank you very much.

LM: Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.

RB: Yeah, nice to meet you. Nice to talk. Come back this summer, you guys. We open sometime in March.

LM: Sometime.

RB: Yeah. Well, depending upon the weather. First part of march.

LM: Okay.

RB: but it’s weather dependent.

LM: I’m ready for it to be nice so.

RB: Support us through bikes and boating.

LM: Yes. Support your local bike shop.

RB: Right? Yeah. And river

LM: and river shop

RB: and river rental shop

LM: What a fun conversation. I hope it inspires to get out on a trail or on the river, to pick up a shovel or do whatever you can to help, to work to make your own backyard cool.

Thanks for listening. With love, from Palisade.

Leave a Reply