In 1995, a young visionary began a journey to Moab, Utah to work for the Poison Spider Bicycles shop. At the time, Moab was the holy grail of the budding mountain biking scene. On the way to his new job, Troy Rarick detoured to the dusty streets of Fruita, Colorado, where he wondered why this tiny, quiet town couldn’t also be a biking destination. After all, the surrounding landscape promised the slick rock, junipers, ledges, and cliffs that lure mountain biking enthusiasts. Abandoning his trip to Moab, Rarick purchased the historic and empty Furniture & Undertaking Building on the corner of Aspen and Mulberry streets. He cleared out the cobwebs, mapped out a rudimentary single-track trail system, and in April of that year opened Over the Edge Sports bike store. He had six customers – his buddies that helped carve the trails.
Today, mountain biking is a major economic driver for Fruita, catapulting the town into a premier biking destination. Each spring and fall draws mountain bikers from around the world. In April, Over the Edge kicks off the cycling season with its Fruita Fat Tire Festival, where mountain biking fans worldwide come to test-ride the latest bikes, and listen to live music performed outside Friday and Saturday evenings.
Located in its original building, and serving as an anchor for downtown Fruita, Over the Edge is a full-fledged bike shop with retail sales, rentals and a full service center. According to shop manager Michael Vaca, approximately 70 percent of their business comes from out-of-towners. All the bikes, including state-of-the-art bikes like Trek, Santa Cruz, Juliano, Pivot, Rocky Mountain, Ivis, Evil, BMC, Knolly – are available to rent. If you decide to buy the bike, the rental fee is applied to the purchase price. Renting a bike first allows cyclists to make sure it’s a good fit before spending anywhere from $3,500 to $4,500.
The store also sells accessories, custom components, and clothing. “Our customer service is what sets us apart from other bike stores,” Vaca says. “We have same-day shop service. We also sell the best women’s clothing according to our customers.”
Fruita’s trail system boasts hundreds of miles of single-track trails that will take a rider deep into the belly of canyons, onto canyon rims overlooking the Colorado River, and between the flora and fauna of the high desert. Trails can be found in the north Fruita desert off of 18 Road, the Kokopelli trail system at the Loma and Mack I-70 exit, and in Rabbit Valley, near the Utah border. Routes east of Fruita include the Palisade Rim as well as trails on top of Grand Mesa.
Trails are built and maintained through a partnership between the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association, an organization dedicated to advocating for, building, and maintaining sustainable single- track mountain bike trails in western Colorado. Over the Edge is committed to keeping the trails single-track and sustainable; for that reason 1 percent of every sale goes into the Edge Trail Fund. Their current project is Power the Plunge, a fundraising effort to complete what will be the Palisade Plunge Trail, a breathtaking ride that will take the rider 32 miles from the top of Grand Mesa to the town of Palisade. According to Dan Goss, OTE’s service manager, the plunge will be a 6,000 ft. vertical descent through multiple ecosystems.
Just as the sport of mountain biking has mushroomed since 1995, so has Over The Edge, once a small shop opened on a wing and a prayer. Rarick franchised his business, taking his passion and vision to new places worthy of, as Rarick says, “Over the Edge.” Today, there are OTE shops in Hurricane, Utah; Melrose, Australia; Sedona, Arizona; South Lake, California; and in the near future, Todos Santos, Baja, Mexico. Employees are given the opportunity to participate in an employee exchange for a season, giving them a taste of what other locations offer. It’s a sweet deal for those with a bit of wanderlust.
Rarick has since passed the torch to new owners Ross Schnell and George Gatseos, having created a tremendous legacy to the city of Fruita. By following his passion Rarick placed Fruita on the world mountain bike scene. Sometimes, a detour may be the right path to choose.