Grand Valley’s burgeoning bike scene is on the cusp | PostIndependent.com

Grand Valley’s burgeoning bike scene is on the cusp

Brittany Markert & Caitlin Row
bmarkert@gjfreepress.com
crow@gjfreepress.com
The Fruita Fat Tire Festival, generally held every last weekend of April, is a favorite festival for visitors and locals to test out new bikes and as a kick-off event to the mountain biking season.
Brittany Markert / bmarkert@gjfreepress.com | Free Press

Grand Valley’s adolescent cycling community is on the cusp — growing into itself as a top-tier destination for both mountain and road bikers. Still, some locals hope for increased bike-lane and recpath mileage to make it even more friendly to folks on two wheels instead of four.

“From a recreational perspective, we have it all,” said Mistalynn Meyeraan, Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau communications spokeswoman. “It’s one of the main activities we tell visitors to do while in Grand Junction.”

In Fruita, out-of-town cyclists often head to Over the Edge Sports (202 E. Aspen St.) for its exposure in worldly biking magazines and word of mouth. Then they swing by Hot Tomato Pizzeria, a hotspot known to cater to cyclists from around the globe.

“They plan trips to the area months or even years in advanced just to ride here,” Over the Edge Sports salesperson Pablo Snazzy said. “ … Every person that works at Over the Edge moved to Fruita to be closer to the trails.”

Meyeraan added from a visitor’s perspective, they see how the community embraces the biking culture and that brings them in, too.

From an economic stand point, Grand Junction Economic Partnership’s Laura Peters said cycling is one of the major target industries for businesses in town, including at least nine bike shops and a variety of bike touring companies, like Desert Rat Tours and Colorado Backcountry Biker. Still others — like Grand Junction’s own Mike Curiak, who owns and runs Big Wheels, a web-based business producing custom bike wheels — help Mesa County’s blossoming bike industry with specialty support.

Plus, one of Grand Junction Economic Partnership’s major selling points when trying to attract new IT/communication businesses to the area is Grand Valley’s extensive recreation access. Most people in that industry don’t have to operate out of a true office setting, Peters explained.

“Overall, cyclists spend $81 billion annually on trips and gear [across the country] and in Colorado $646 million is spent,” she added.

“Businesses move here for the great quality of life and because they want to play here.”

PLANS IN PROGRESS

Though visiting cyclists to the area soak up Grand Valley’s world-class singletrack, some residents think the cycling community still has room to develop.

Nancy Rizzo, a Grand Junction resident and active cyclist, said the area’s lack of bike lanes on roads still needs to be addressed.

“It takes more than dirt trails,” she explained. “Bike lanes should get you everywhere you want to go, not just along the river.”

The Grand Valley 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, which is currently being developed, is one way Grand Junction hopes to shape its transportation goals for a more complete package. The plan includes recreational paths and bike lanes as transportation needs for the community.

Ken Simms, senior transportation planner on the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan board, said many Grand Valley locals have expressed concern to him regarding expanded needs for cyclists in the area. One part of the expanded vision is the Riverfront Trail System’s Monument View Trail section in Fruita, which officially opens Friday, Sept. 5. It added 4.2 miles of trail, completing an 8.4-mile stretch of Riverfront Trail that also connects to Grand Junction.

Other ideas for Regional Transportation Plan projects include a bike-sharing program, linking disconnected bike lanes (like Orchard Avenue and Highway 340), an overpass for pedestrians crossing over busy highways on B 1/2 Road and Redlands Parkway, and more.

According to Scott Winans, Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association’s president, “it takes a combination of recreational-type bike access” and road access to create a fully developed cycling community. He added that more rideable access is needed in town, and as more cyclists visit the area they will come to expect improvements as well.

“The community will grow with expectations and [it] will include bikes in the next decade,” Winans said.

To learn more about the Grand Valley 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, visit http://www.gv2040rtp.org.


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