Trinidad-Las Animas County releases Gravel Adventure Field Guide

The pocket guide will feature routes, historical information, and links to digital maps of curated gravel rides in southeastern Colorado.

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While using bike computers to navigate gravel routes has become de rigueur, nothing beats the experience of traveling somewhere and diving into the place on a paper map.

For visitors and locals alike, burgeoning gravel hotspot Trinidad, Colorado now has a unique new resource for those who want to get a taste for the town and its thousands of miles of gravel roads.

Related: How Trinidad, Colorado is transforming itself into a gravel cycling hotspot

The Trinidad-Las Animas County Gravel Adventure Field Guide puts paper maps, historical and cultural context, and access to the digital space in one jersey pocket-sized field guide.

“It’s really cool because it’s something that’s tactile, you can touch, feel, read, interact with,” says the guide’s route and content creator Juan de la Roca. “And it has the ability to take you into digital space where you can play around on a map.”

De la Roca has lived in the southeastern Colorado city of Trinidad for just over five years now and has been touting the location’s potential as a gravel-riding destination for nearly as long. To develop the Gravel Adventure Field Guide, the city of Trinidad partnered with de la Roca and Denver-based creative director Stephen Beneski to create something more meaningful than a throwaway photocopy and more tangible than a GPX route.

“It’s a merging of creativity with maps, art, and photos,” de la Roca says. “There’s a section that will talk about the 200 years of the Santa Fe Trail and also the 40-year anniversary of the A.R. Mitchell Museum of Western Art.  There’s also an advertorial on the Purgatorie River and Trout Unlimited.”

Related: Life Time announces ’Rad Dirt Fest gravel race in Trinidad, Colorado

De la Roca said filling the 64 pages of the guide was easy given the plethora of information he wanted to share about the region. He created and showcased 11 gravel routes, ranging from 25 miles or less to one that tops 100 miles. Each route includes a detailed narrative about the area and is complemented by Beneski’s artful illustrations.

For those who also want the digital experience, the guide’s production team partnered with People for Bikes’ RideSpot app to enable turn-by-turn navigation of the routes. The QR codes in the guide will open the maps on riders’ smartphones via the RideSpot app.

The release of the Trinidad-Las Animas County Gravel Adventure Field Guide coincides with a growing interest in the development of rural southeastern Colorado as a recreation destination. In Trinidad and surrounding Las Animas County, a number of events are already planned for 2021.

De la Roca’s own experiential agency Backshop Bikes is offering the Far Quarter Gravel Adventure Ride Series, three curated adventure rides between June and September.  Meanwhile, gravel enthusiasts seeking a more competitive experience can sign up for the Pony Xpress 160, which returns to the area in early May for its seventh edition. In September, the 4th annual Branson Hi-Lo Country Gravel Grinder offers three race distances that tiptoe into northern New Mexico, and in October The ‘Rad Dirt Fest debuts during the 200-year Santa Fe Trail celebrations in Trinidad.

The Spanish Peaks or Huajatolla feature prominently to the west of Trinidad. Photo: Stephen Beneski

The Trinidad-Las Animas County Gravel Adventure Field Guide is the perfect companion to inspire your next ride in southeastern Colorado. Beginning April 26, the guide will be available at select bicycle shops along the Front Range of Colorado and into northern New Mexico. A list of locations can be found on the Backshop Bikes website. Guides will also be available at merchants in downtown Trinidad.

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