Opinion: The great mountain-bike migration has begun in Fruita
Free Press Opinion Columnist
Happy anniversary to me! I am about to celebrate owning an authentic mountain bike for one whole year.
Prior to that, I rode an old clunker that I bought 15 years ago for $150 to ride once a year with bike-savvy friends. I didn’t understand why anyone would want to participate in such a strenuous and terrifying activity.
As with any sport, however, equipment can make or break you. After purchasing a bike from a local business, it turns out mountain biking is not so terrifying; and having gears and shocks that actually work make it a lot of fun. I have enjoyed many rides with old friends and new ones. I’ve also acquired a few bumps and bruises, but I am always having a good time.
By no means am I a skilled rider, but I have come a long way since grade school when I rode a bike with a blue banana seat and long, curved handle bars along the Salt Wash dirt trails that Fruita youth were drawn to back in the day.
And the evolution of biking in Fruita, regardless of whether you partake in the sport or not, is important to every resident.
As the temperatures continue to warm and spring weather draws us outside again, you undoubtedly have noticed visitors from out of town beginning to appear. (No, I am not referring to aliens, although when they speak bike lingo and sport spandex, they do seem like they might be from another planet.) Vehicles with bike racks fill our streets and parking lots, giving our little town a bit of an electric charge.
For me, the great mountain-bike migration is a sign signaling summer is just around the corner. As flocks of mountain bikers continue to increase in number, I am reminded how important they are to our local restaurants and businesses.
Only 10-15 years ago, our options for dining, entertainment, and services were more limited. Seasonal tourists help keep Fruita businesses and restaurants open year-round and allow them to be a viable part of the community and economy. I appreciate having choices and I find I now stay in Fruita more often, as opposed to driving to Grand Junction for goods and services. The tax dollars that stay in Fruita are put right back into the community’s infrastructure and services that benefit all residents.
When fewer bikes roll into town during the winter I know businesses struggle, and owners often tell me that spring and fall are their best times of year. Looking back at our sales tax revenues over the last three years, revenues during our peak seasons have averaged 24 percent higher than winter months.
Even if you are not a biker, it is vital to realize their role in our community — not just in Fruita, but valley wide. So if you get frustrated when you can’t find a choice parking space, park a little further out and smile knowing that our visitors are spending money and stimulating our local economy.
Remember, Fruita is your year-round community of choice!
Lori Buck is a Fruita native and current mayor.
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