There are mountain bike trips and then there are mountain bike trips. When the good people at Rocky Mountain Bikes asked me to come test out their new Instinct and Pipeline, I figured it would be just another press camp. Oh, how wrong I was.
Upon our arrival in Fruita we were taken to an eclectic establishment called the Moon Farm. There were around 20 guests staying on the property in two different houses. The main house looks like something pulled from 1970s Americana, with décor and furniture to match. It was cozy and welcoming mixed with a touch of awkward artwork and knick knacks, which made for some interesting conversations. The rest of us stayed about 200 feet away in the "Outpost," a small house that doubles as a farm artifact museum. Old shovels, saws and farm equipment adored the back half of the house. Our neighbors were three very sassy llamas with hipster hair to die for.
Our riding crew ran deep with talent and was headlined by Rocky Mountain athletes Geoff Gulevich and Thomas Vanderham. Brand manager Stephen Matthews corralled a group of Rocky Mountain staff, brand ambassadors, journalists and mountain bike enthusiasts to round out our group. On our first morning we were whisked away by a freezing cold open-air shuttle rig from Over the Edge Bicycle Tours to the Kokopelli trails where we were treated to a lung-busting ride full of ledges, punchy climbs and breath-taking views. I spent the first day aboard the Instinct, Rocky's 140-millimeter 29er, respectfully spec'd with GX Eagle, Fox suspension, Fox Transfer dropper and Rocky's full Smoothwall carbon frame. The bike is light, fast and easy on the eyes in both available colorways.
I tend to struggle on techy climbs, and while I wasn't winning any awards for my prowess, I will say that I feel like I actually learned something aboard this bike, in spite of trying to keep up with the fast pace. The transfer of motion from back to front to actually get up and over tricky obstacles felt easier than ever, even at 5,000 feet, which was noticeably brutal to a lifelong sea-level dweller. It helps that the Instinct is just an easy bike to be comfortable on, no matter what the terrain tosses at you. Steeper climbs seemed to fade away faster. Rougher terrain was smoothed out, and unlike what some anti-29er people say, I noticed no issues cornering. Our loop at Kokopelli put the Instinct's 29" wheels to work and for the most part the bike won against the challenging cross country terrain.
The next day, we were treated to completely different trails at the 18 Road network. Coming from living in the trees of the northwest, this felt like riding on the moon. Barren, dry and brown rolling hills were set against the North Fruita Desert amidst an electric blue sky. I rode Rocky's 27.5", 2.6-treaded Pipeline on the first few laps. The Pipeline and the Instinct share a frame and fork, but the geometry is adjusted by a set of removable cups to allow for proper angles on each bike to accompany for the different wheel sizes. The jury is still out for me on plus bikes, and while I didn't dislike the Pipeline I couldn't get away from the groove I'd felt with the Instinct and switched back to the 29er for the second half of the day.
After a short climb to Zippity Doo Dah we descended as a group along one of the coolest ridge line trails I've ever experienced. Steep G-outs gave rise to walls that challenged even the strongest of climbers. Once atop each knoll it was amazing to look around and see the group spread out like ants marching on wheels along the rollercoaster-like terrain. It was reminiscent of the Olleros trail in Peru with its brown landscapes and seemingly endless views. In between laps of Zippity Doo Dah and Joe's Ridge, we were treated to tasty lunches, beer, and some highly sought after shade courtesy of the big Rocky Mountain pop top tents. Our open-air shuttle kept us rolling all day long, and our media crew of Paris Gore and Scott Secco had us smiling for the cameras and drones as we pretended to be fast and stylish like Gully and Vanderham. Journalists are pretty big dreamers.
Rocky was adamant that this wasn't a product launch, but more of a fun get together of industry minds to experience their bikes on fun trails. Well played, Rocky. It was hard to top the two days of riding, but our last night served as a pretty creative finale as our hosts at the Moon Farm ensured we had a ghoulishly entertaining time. Each year the Moon Farm staff spends weeks preparing for the fall/Halloween season. They erect a massive haunted hay maze, set up a fortune teller house, build a huge pumpkin patch, and bring the grounds to life with fun, yet creepy lighting and sounds. Our little outpost abode was situated directly next to the Creepy Clown House which had a recorded voice calling for our doom throughout the day. It got weird showering at night with that voice drifting in through the bathroom window, yet we all managed to survive the looming clown apocalypse.
Thanks to the Rocky Mountain staff for a fun couple days of riding bikes, stellar company, incredible views and the fear of murderous clowns. While the bikes are undoubtedly fun to ride, sometimes the strangest details are the ones that make for the most entertaining stories. I left with a new life chapter full of bikes, weird Barbie doll collections, baby pigs, my fortune told and a wealth of good times with great people.