Tour of the Moon attracts nearly 2,000 cyclists to Colorado’s Grand Valley | PostIndependent.com

Tour of the Moon attracts nearly 2,000 cyclists to Colorado’s Grand Valley

Caitlin Row
crow@gjfreepress.com

Icon Lasik Tour of the Moon Grand Cycling Classic returns to Colorado National Monument for its third year on Saturday, Oct. 4. It will welcome up to 2,000 cyclists — plus family and friends — to the valley for a weekend of recreation and exploration. Registration costs $145 per rider.

"For our visiting recreational cyclists — to harness your own energy and pedal through time (various rock layers), hear wind interspersed with total silence, and to take in the scenic overlooks — it is certainly an item on a bucket list," Colorado National Monument Superintendent Lisa Eckert said. "The value is the experience."

According to Mike Heaston, of Event Marketing Group, participants will start and finish from downtown Grand Junction's Two Rivers Convention Center. Two road routes are available — through Fruita's beautiful farmland, finishing with a jaunt through Colorado National Monument (62 miles); or directly through the monument with entrance on the west end, then down to Grand Junction (41 miles).

"We will have park rangers stationed at Independence Monument View and elsewhere bicyclists will be stopping to enjoy the scenery," said Karla Tanner, Colorado National Monument's chief of interpretation and education. "It's a great opportunity to talk with people who may be visiting for the first time to answer their questions and share stories about the geology, human history, plants and animals that make this place so special."

"Situational awareness is important for all to stay safe with importance to share the road," she added.

Colorado National Monument's chief ranger Mark Davidson stressed the importance of safety during the event as well.

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"Those riding for the first time should take a good view of their ability," he explained. "With up to 2,000 bicyclists, plus our regular visitors, it will be at times congested and one's riding ability may not be as strong. Those participating may not be used to the hills we have at the monument — either the endurance or fitness level of riding uphill, or the ability to descend" safely at high speeds. "Take your time, take in the views and use available aid stations to stay hydrated as the weather is always an unknown."

Bike lights are additionally required to ride along Rim Rock Drive due to dark tunnels cutting through rock.

ECONOMIC IMPACTS

Budget sequestration meant all national park lands were closed on Oct. 1, 2013, right before the Tour of the Moon's second year. Though the ride was moved away from Rim Rock Road through the monument due to park closure last year, this year's ride returns to its original concept.

"The Icon LASIK Tour of the Moon has matured very well," said Scott Olmsted, Rocky Mountain Events organizer. "Going into our third year, we are extremely excited. We are expecting 1,900 cyclist from over 35 states, as well as a few riders from the United Kingdom and British Columbia. Not only is it great exposure for the Colorado National Monument, but also for the city of Grand Junction. We are just so pleased to bring in a good group of folks to enjoy what Mesa County has to offer."

Economic impact from Saturday's event will benefit the community on a few different levels, Heaston confirmed, with an overall benefit of nearly $2.5 million over three years.

"That includes participants coming and spending money," he said, noting that virtually all Tour of the Moon riders come from outside Mesa County. "We also work with as many Grand Junction businesses as possible, plus all the volunteers and benefiting charities are local."

This year money raised during Tour of the Moon will fund Bicycle Colorado, Colorado Riverfront Commission, CrimeStoppers, Mesa Monument Striders Running Club, Powderhorn Ski Patrol and more.

For more information or to see course maps, visit http://www.tourofthemoon.com.

GO&DO

WHAT: Icon Lasik Tour of the Moon Grand Cycling Classic

WHERE: Ride starts & finishes at GJ’s Two Rivers Convention Center

WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 4

COST: $145 per cyclist

INFO: http://www.tourofthemoon.com