Colorado’s ‘best kept secret’
Nearly 1,900 cyclists from 38 states rolled into Two Rivers Convention Center Saturday afternoon with giant grins on their faces after riding up to 62 miles, winding over Colorado National Monument and through Fruita.
“The contrast of the Monument and the farmland ... that was just tremendous,” said Mark Rumby, of Boulder, after finishing the inaugural Icon Lasik Tour of the Moon.
He rode with Craig Rapp of Westminster and Larry Moon of Erie, who all escaped the snow to enjoy the perfect weather on the course. They called Grand Junction the state’s “best-kept secret.”
Riders began their recreational journey between 7:30 and 9 a.m. and returned between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
About 75 percent of them chose to do the 62-mile loop that started and ended at Two Rivers while others took the 41-mile option.
Former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter was among the participants.
An added highlight for participants was taking photos with professional cyclist Tom Danielson, who learned about the event through Icon Lasik, where he was a patient.
Having only ridden mountain bike trails in the area in the past, Danielson didn’t know what to expect.
“I was blown away,” he said, referring to the rock formations, challenging hills, switchbacks and beauty of the ride. “It had a little bit of everything. … Two thumbs up for sure.”
Danielson took his time, stopping to sign autographs at all the rests and chatting with cyclists throughout.
He also attended the viewing of American Flyers, a cycling movie filmed in Grand Junction in the 1980s that played Friday night before at the Avalon Theater, and enjoyed the motivation and enthusiasm of the cyclists he met there.
“It’s really rare to see a community unite like that with a sport,” he said.
Planning for this event began about two years ago with conversations of permitting for the monument, said Scot Harris, event director with Rocky Mountain Events in Denver, which puts on two other rides in the state.
After the positive feedback that poured in with the riders, he hopes it will become an annual occurrence.
“The monument seems open and assured us they will consider that,” Harris said.
Ed Turner of Littleton was impressed with the entire experience, including his stay downtown and eating at local restaurants, and said he’s sure the event will fill up next year.
He saw it advertised in a bike shop in Denver and decided to make the trip to ride the park he had previously only driven.
“That was spectacular,” Turner said with a huge smile.