New signs point bikers to monument
If you like getting out on your road bike, you’ve probably pedaled over Colorado National Monument.
But if you’re not from the area, it can be tricky figuring out how to make the loop back to town.
New signs installed, thanks to a partnership between the city of Grand Junction and Mesa County, direct cyclists along South Camp Road and South Broadway, a refreshing break from cycling solely along the traffic-heavy Colorado Highway 340.
The idea for adding signs to the route came up at Grand Junction’s Walking and Biking Trails Summit in March, said Jody Kliska, a transportation engineer for the city.
Last year’s Tour of the Moon attracted more than 1,800 cyclists who traversed the monument.
While incorporating the monument into a loop is common for local cyclists, nearly all of the cyclists from the Tour of the Moon hailed from outside of Mesa County.
Those visiting cyclists, and plenty of others who travel to the Grand Valley to ride the monument, probably will want to connect the route to practice, Kliska said.
“If we’re going to invite people to do it, we may as well sign it,” she said.
Kliska said Grand Junction installed four of the new signs and Mesa County installed five.
One resident complained to the city about the signage, saying he didn’t want to see the cyclists travel past his house and he didn’t know how to pass them on the road while driving, she said.
Kliska said the man was given information on how to safely pass cyclists by allowing 3 feet of passing space, which is required by law.
From a tourism standpoint, adding signs to the loop can only help generate dollars for the local economy, said Mistalynn Meyeraan, marketing and public relations coordinator for the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau.
Visitors always inquire about how to cycle over the monument and the agency’s employees offer visitors directions on how to do it, she said.
The ride entails a challenging 2,290-foot vertical gain over at least 33 miles, depending on where you start.
“It’s something that we push and market. This can only help,” Meyeraan said of the new signs.
Meyeraan said cycling the monument appears to be becoming more popular with out-of-towners.
For example, cyclists reported traveling here from more than 30 states to participate in last year’s Tour of the Moon. Of the 1,830 participants, 1,760, or 96 percent, were from outside of the county.
The ride had an estimated economic impact of about $500,000, the VCB reported.
“We heard from participants about what an awe-inspiring surprise it was for them,” Meyeraan said.
“They don’t expect it but they get to see more of it, especially on bikes. They love to ride the switchbacks,” she said.
Grand Junction City Councilor Bennett Boeschenstein said it makes sense to have the monument loop marked, much like Palisade’s Fruit Loop, which provides direction on traveling through orchard country.
“With these big bike events, most people get to the bottom and don’t know how to get back,” he said of the monument’s entry points.
“This shows that we’re becoming more bicycling friendly. It just helps put us on the map as a biking destination and it’s nothing to be scoffed at. Fruita has benefitted from becoming a bicycling haven and Grand Junction needs to do that also,” he said.