Statewide mountain-bike campaign — www.redhotdirtdays.com — meant to attract tourism to the Grand Valley | PostIndependent.com

Statewide mountain-bike campaign — www.redhotdirtdays.com — meant to attract tourism to the Grand Valley

Caitlin Row
crow@gjfreepress.com
Rider Krissy Steele on Holy Cross in Grand Junction's Lunch Loops area. This trail system will be a primary location for this Labor Day weekend's Grand Junction Off-Road bike race.
Sarah Withers |

OTHER UPCOMING BIKE EVENTS

20th annual Tour de Vineyards

Sept. 21, 2013

Palisade, Colo.

www.tourdevineyards.com" target="_blank">Text">www.tourdevineyards.com

Tour of the Moon Grand Cycing Classic

Oct. 4-5, 2013

Grand Junction, Colo.

www.tourofthemoon.com" target="_blank">Text">www.tourofthemoon.com

Registration is still open for both events.

Though East Vail resident Laura Eilers loves to mountain bike in Grand Junction and Fruita, she still considers the rocky, desert area two hours west of her home to be relatively unknown.

“I found out about biking in Mesa County from going to Moab, and people said I should stop and do Kokopelli,” a popular trail in Fruita, Eilers said. “I think it’s one of the better kept secrets of Colorado.”

Eilers, who consistently returns to the valley to bike, also noted that its unique trails are the primary reason people travel to the Grand Valley from mountain towns in Summit and Eagle counties.

“Shoulder seasons are the dominant time to be down there to bike,” Eilers said. “Weather is a lot nicer in Mesa County in October and November, and even in April and May. It’s warm enough to camp and it gets us going before our bike season starts happening.”

“Half of Summit County is always there during shoulder seasons,” she added.

Ophir resident Sandy Smith also travels to the Grand Valley in spring and fall to mountain bike “a few times a year.”

“I like to travel to Grand Junction/Fruita to mountain bike due to the desert terrain,” Smith said, who works at The Hotel Telluride. “It’s often warmer there than here and I’ll combine the mountain biking with shopping.”

Biking on 18 Road in Fruita is her favorite spot, she noted, and she makes the trip a long-weekend adventure.

That’s why the Grand Junction Visitors & Convention Bureau (GJVCB) joined forces with the City of Fruita and the Colorado Tourism Office to get the word out on fall tourism deals, mainly related to visitors on bikes.

“Red Hot Dirt Days” — http://www.redhotdirtdays.com — recently launched with local lodging, food, drink and retail deals designed to attract mountain-bike tourism to both Grand Junction and Fruita this fall. The offers expire Oct. 31.

This marketing campaign is “mountain-bike focused, driven digitally” and it will target both the Front Range of Colorado and Salt Lake City, GJVCB spokeswoman Mistalynn Meyeraan said.

“Deals come through texts, then you click on the link and show it when you walk into a restaurant or attraction,” Fruita’s tourism PR representative Jennifer Grossheim-Harris said. “Deals apply locally, it’s open to the public, and you don’t have to stay at properties to take advantage of deals.”

Meyeraan hopes this joint campaign will both draw attention to Mesa County’s world-class bike trails and encourage people to stay more than a day.

“Once they have the incentive, they’ll see what we have to offer,” Grossheim-Harris said, “even if it’s one extra trip in the fall.”

The joint bike/tourism campaign was made possible through a grant from the Colorado Tourism Office — $5,000 from CTO, and $2,500 each from Grand Junction and Fruita.

“The tourism office looks fondly on communities working together,” Grossheim-Harris noted. “That was the grant’s basic requirement.”

Another mountain-bike enthusiast and local trail guide Sarah Mah Withers noted: “For the community, the tourism that cycling brings into this valley is worth millions of dollars, and not just for cycling-specific businesses. … You see the landscape, and how can you not want to come visit and bike here if you’re a cyclist?!”

Withers owns and operates Desert Rat Tours, a Grand-Valley based mountain-bike tour company, with her husband, David. She said they will guide tours well into November, as long as trails remain clear and safe for users.

GRAND JUNCTION OFF-ROAD BIKE RACE

For the first time ever, the new Grand Junction Off-Road bike race and community concert will kick off Mesa County’s fall bike season this holiday weekend, Friday through Sunday (Aug. 30 through Sept. 1). Upwards of 2,000 visitors are expected to participate in some aspect of the Grand Junction Off-Road.

“We are thrilled that people are coming here for Labor Day weekend,” Grossheim-Harris said.

A variety of mountain-bike events and racing are scheduled for all three days, along with free music on downtown’s Main Street Saturday afternoon and into the evening. Then Sunday, pro racers will vie for a win and a hefty payout.

The alternative rock band, Cracker, is set to headline the free music portion of the event Saturday, Aug. 31, on Main Street in downtown Grand Junction as part of the Off-Road bike event. They will take the main stage at 6 p.m.

Plus, fundraising during this three-day event will benefit two timely causes – both the Grand Junction Food Bank and the Avalon Cornerstone Project.

For more information about music, racing and road closures, visit http://www.epicrides.


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