May for cruising: Cyclists take to the streets

Jon Rizzo riding his double-decker, with his daughter Kate in the trailer.



Jon Rizzo built this whimsical lawn mower when a neighbor threw away an old push mower.



Jon Rizzo at his home with some of the collection of spare parts and bikes.



QUICKREAD

Get on your bike and ride

The Palisade Classic Bike Festival, offering competitive expert races, sport and beginning races and leisure tour rides, is set for Friday through Sunday, May 14–16, in Palisade.

Festivities begin with early registration and a reception from 5–7 p.m. Friday at Twisted Brick Studios, 128 E. Third St.

Registration will continue Saturday morning in the Palisade Town Center Plaza. The day’s competitive races begin at 7:30 a.m. with the Full Grind Grand Mesa Mountain Bike Race for experts. The Grand Mesa Grind for sport and beginners gets under way at 10 a.m. The entry fee to race is $35.

The Tour of the Fruit and Wine Trail starts at 10 a.m. with three road routes of differing length and difficulty.

All routes stop at area shops, orchard stands and wineries. A barbecue with music and door prizes awaits each cyclist at the end of the tours. The tour fee is $30.

From noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, participants can enjoy a barbecue, awards and prizes at Palisade Brewing Co. The Party on the Plaza is from 5–9 p.m. in Palisade Town Center Plaza with dinner specials at area restaurants.

Rides Sunday include guided mountain bike rides from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. as well as a guided bike tour of Palisade area wineries, brewery and distillery.

For more information or to register, visit The Bike Shop, 243-0807, or go to http://www.thebikeshop.com, or contact Rapid Creek Cycles in Palisade, 464-9266 or http://www.rapidcreekcycles.com.

— Tammy Gemaehlich



When Jon Rizzo tinkers with one of his nearly 20 bicycles, he sees both function and fun.

Rizzo enjoys restoring vintage bikes to original condition. But he also likes creating bikes from various spare parts — Frankenbikes, really.

“Social experiments” is how Rizzo describes them. They’re not meant for 18 Road single-track trails or Colorado National Monument climbs, but they do work.

You may have seen Rizzo try to mow his lawn with one of his social experiments, a bicycle with a lawn mower attachment in the front.

“I got the idea one year during Spring Cleanup,” Rizzo said.

You also may have seen him riding his homemade double-decker bike that he must mount much like a person getting into the saddle on a horse. It’s a spectacle.

“You never know who will drive by and have their camera out the window,” Rizzo said.

Of course, Jon and Nancy Rizzo have several bicycles meant to take on trails and roads because both are avid cyclists, evidenced best by Nancy’s recent win in the women’s solo division of the 18 Hours of Fruita, a mountain bike endurance race.

Jon rode on a team for fun.

The couple also commute to work on a regular basis.

And this month in particular, the Rizzo family and all other cycling advocates encourage people to park their cars, pump up their fat or skinny tires and take to the city streets for National Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 21.

The entire week of May 17–21 is National Bike to Work Week. Both events are part of National Bike Month, which is this month, according to the League of American Cyclists. The organization created the National Bike to Work Day in 1956.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is promoting June as its Bike to Work Month in the state.

As the temperature warms in the Grand Valley, Jon and Nancy Rizzo said they’ve seen more people riding bicycles. The popularity of mountain and road biking in Mesa County hasn’t necessarily translated to more cycling commuters, though.

“It should be a bigger deal than it is,” Rizzo said.

To foster a love of cycling, the relatively new Grand Valley Bikes organization supports monthly Junk Rides, which are local bike rides where people are encouraged to dress up both themselves and their bikes.

“There isn’t a lot of strategy to it,” said Jason Wedemeyer, president of Grand Valley Bikes. His wife founded the Junk Ride.

The next Junk Ride is May 27. Another is scheduled for June 1. The rides start at the Community Garden on 10th and Main streets, but Wedemeyer said a definite start time is not set.

More information about the rides is available at http://www.gjjunkride.com.

The Junk Ride is free. No club membership is required. An average of 40 people turn out for each ride, Wedemeyer said.

“The idea is for people of all ages to come together, no matter the bike, and join a fun ride,” Wedemeyer said.

Cruiser bikes are popular Junk Ride bikes because they are comfortable to ride on Grand Junction’s flatter roads, he said.

The ways people can turn a cruiser bike into an accessorized custom machine are numerous. A visit to any area bike shop will reveal a host of options. For example, you can purchase baskets, streamers and even horns in the shape of sumo wrestlers.

Keith Kitchen, who works in sales and service at The Bike Shop, 10th Street and North Avenue, puts his Blue Tooth attachment in his ear to give him a wireless way to listen to music or answer his cell phone while on rides.

Rizzo has seen people build stereos for bikes. He has even seen people purchase spoke lights that can be controlled remotely.

In fact, Rizzo owns some of those remote-controlled spoke lights. However, his start in offbeat cycles began nearly 10 years ago when he got the idea to build a blender bike that could crush ice and mix a margarita.

He had to scrap the idea because it didn’t work, he said. Pieces of that social experiment are now a sculpture in his front yard.

“Cycling, to me, is getting back to being a kid,” said Rizzo, standing next to one of his cruiser bikes with a homemade, blue velour banana seat.

“Now that’s totally fun.”


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