March 23, 2011 - 5.0
This is a day-trip loop that can be ridden either direction east from Grand Junction via I-70 or south out of Grand Junction via US 50. The sweet part of the ride is Colorado State Highway 65 (the Grand Mesa National Scenic Byway) between Mesa on the north and Cedaredge on the south side of the Grand Mesa, the largest flat top mountain in the world. If you and your bike are up to it, there are also a few dual sport and off-road side and alternate routes along the Byway.
The ride peaks at about 10,600 ft elevation at the Mesa/Delta County line. A major side route is the Land's End Rd. Cutoff, a partially paved 14 mile access to the viewpoint overlooking the Grand Valley and Grand Junction. Adventurous riders can short-circuit the loop by accessing Hwy 50 from Land's End via a steep switchback gravel road running west off the edge of the Mesa (not recommended for big road bikes!).
The main (paved) Byway route between Mesa and Cedaredge is approximately 65 miles long over the top of the Mesa and suitable for all bikes and moderately experienced riders.
The ride approaching Mesa from I-70 exit 49 on Hwy 65 is in Plateau Creek Canyon - many tight/decreasing radius corners and extremely scenic - hard to keep your eyes on the road!
CAUTIONS: Especially in Plateau Creek section - you wil be sharing the road with large oil/gas field service trucks, steep grades with switchbacks up onto and coming off of the Mesa, watch for occasional rocks and gravel on paved surfaces, wildlife including Moose and Elk on the road, large elevation changes, occasional summer thunderstorms with severe lightning and sleet and/or snow even in July - check the weather, conditions can vary markedly between the north and south sides of the Mesa, and THERE IS NO GAS AVAILABLE IN MESA (north side - there is gas in Cedaredge).