Tour of Moon promoter waits for approval from monument

National Park Service officials will evaluate a proposed 2013 IconLasik Tour of the Moon bicycle tour of Colorado National Monument as they put together plans to involve the community in such events.

That could mean there won’t be a “quick turnaround” in the Tour of the Moon application, monument Superintendent Lisa Eckert said, adding that she will “be mindful” of applicants’ schedules.

The Tour of the Moon can accommodate some delay for the event that drew nearly 2,000 cyclists and $500,000 in an economic jolt to the Grand Valley for the first weekend in October 2012, promoters said.

Still, they hope to open registration for the 2013 version of the event in February.

“We need to know by the first of March” at the latest whether the 2013 version of the event has been approved, said Mike Heaston of Event Marketing Group LLC, one of the two main promoters of the event.

The National Park Service is seeking a third-party facilitator to work with staff at Colorado National Monument and the public to draft a visitor-activity and commercial-services plan, which Eckert proposed in the wake of rejections of competitive bicycle races on running the length of 23-mile Rim Rock Drive on the monument.

One purpose of involving the community in the plan is “to educate the public on what national park units are for,” Eckert said. In the process of drafting the plan, there will be “opportunities to hear both sides and learn about the mission of the national park system.”

Involving the Grand Valley community is fine, Heaston said.

“What I don’t want to see happen is recreating the wheel,” he said, stressing that he has no adversarial relationship with the park service.

Colorado National Monument was a star attraction for the 2012 inaugural Tour of the Moon event, Heaston said.

“I was kind of blown away” by the reaction to the 2012 tour, he said. “This was our most satisfying first-time event. The participants were pleased, the staff and volunteers were pleased, the jurisdiction was pleased — everyone was just glowing.”

Nearly all, 97 percent of the participants, were from outside the Grand Valley and came from 36 states, Heaston said, noting that the event gives Grand Junction recognition as a road-cyling attraction as well as a mountain-biking one.

Tour of the Moon participants who responded to a survey dished out superlatives about the event and the backdrop.

“Superior road surface. Lots of friendly rangers. Great vistas. Neat rock formations,” one wrote.

“Colorado National Monument is beautiful,” wrote another, “glad you organized the ride so I had the chance to see it!”

Monument officials are taking applications for special events, which include sporting events, weddings, memorial services, pageants, spectator attractions, entertainment, ceremonies, automobile or motorcycle club rallies, cycling organized tours or rides, large group camps or rendezvous.

More simple ones can be processed easily, Eckert said, but more complex ones will require greater study.

Park Service officials expect to hire the third-party facilitator in January.



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