Racing on the rocks
 a boon to the valley

When Labor Day rolls around next year, it appears the Grand Valley could be host to a nationally recognized bicycle race, but this one will be run primarily on rocks and dirt rather than pavement.

The proposed Labor Day mountain bike race would be primarily on federal land in the Bangs Canyon Special Recreation Management Area south of Grand Junction. It would be an economic boon to the area, attracting hundreds of professional and amateur mountain riders, as well as possible national television coverage.

The race would be staged by Arizona-based Epic Rides, which already puts on several mountain bike races across the West each year. Races would start and finish in downtown Grand Junction, creating a festival-like atmosphere.

The Bureau of Land Management is seeking comment on proposed routes for the several different races that would be part of the event. The BLM is partnering with Mesa County, the city of Grand Junction and the Grand Valley Trails Alliance to assess the feasibility of the event.

People wanting more information on the proposed routes and information on commenting can find it at the website for the BLM’s Grand Junction Field Office: http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/gjfo.html.

By hosting the Labor Day weekend event, this community would likely to become home to the grand finale of the mountain bike racing season, said the president of Epic Rides.

Additionally, the race held here would be one of the most technical and physically demanding of all the mountain bike races, said Dan Grossman of Grand Valley Trails Alliance.

Beyond that, the race would provide a major event for a key, three-day weekend that currently has few significant events scheduled locally.

It won’t just be for professional riders. Backers of the event envision a race for beginning riders on Friday, several races for amateurs on Saturday, followed by the professional race on Sunday. They also hope there will be a concurrent bicycle manufacturers trade show and a concert to conclude the event.

No wonder the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau, Grand Junction Economic Partnership and several local government entitites are interested in the bike race.

The Epic Rides mountain bike race seems tailor-made to fit with Mesa County’s growing reputation as one of the premier off-road bicycle locales in the nation.

It would bring additional visitors and revenue to the area on an important weekend each year. And, with national television coverage, it would show many others — not just mountain bikers — the natural beauty and attractions of this area.

We applaud all of those who have worked hard so far to put the event together, and we hope all goes as expected for hosting this major national event at the beginning of September next year.


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