20.5-mile bike journey from Community Center in Mesa to top of Grand Mesa tough

Joel Young, left, and Clint Ralston pedal up Grand Mesa from the Community Center in the town of Mesa to the top of Grand Mesa.


Bicycling up the side of Grand Mesa

Drive time and distance:  42 minutes, 31.7 miles

Elevation at town of Mesa:  5,636 ft.

Summit elevation on Grand Mesa: 10,800 ft.

Pedaling distance:  20.5 miles one way

Difficulty: Really Hard!!!

What a difference a day makes. Twenty four little hours…..

“What a difference a day made” was a popular song originally written in Spanish by Maria Mendez Grever, a Mexican composer, in 1934. Originally, the song was known as Cuando Vuelva A Tu Lado. The English lyrics were written by Stanley Adams and played by Harry Roy and his Orchestra. The song is also known as “What a Difference a Day Makes.”

Where else will you find this kind of great information?

What a difference a day makes. One day we’re enjoying a great extended Indian Summer, the next day it’s snowing, which means most people have put their bicycles up for the winter.

It’s 20.5 miles from the Community Center in the town of Mesa, to the top of Grand Mesa, the Mesa/Delta county line. Grand Junction residents Clint Ralston and Joel Young both thought it would be “fun” to pedal those 20.5 miles on a bicycle, then fly back downhill at 30 mph, so they gave me a call.

Joel and I chased Clint up the mountain last week before the snow fell. This past Tuesday, I looked out the window and saw snow on the mesa and knew my story was blown. Who wants to pedal up the side of Grand Mesa in a snowstorm?

What a difference a day makes.

Now that it’s snowed, wouldn’t you like to see pictures of a pretty fall day on the side of Grand Mesa to remind you what a lovely fall we enjoyed?

The bicycle ride from the town of Mesa to the top of Grand Mesa is one tough ride. It’s up, up, up. Veterans of last spring’s Ride the Rockies swore the toughest part of the seven-day, 532-mile trek was the ride up the side of Grand Mesa — specifically, the ride from town to Powderhorn Ski Area.

Naturally, that’s the stretch that Joel and I were dragged up by Clint.

Great ride, though. Too bad most of you won’t have a chance to do it again this year, with snow on the ground probably until next spring.

So, what will you do instead of that trip? Well, you can hit the Bangs Canyon area for a quick hike, but you’d better do that before Nov. 8.

According to the Bureau of Land Management, the Bangs Canyon Bangs Canyon trail head, located approximately five miles up Little Park Road, will be closed for extensive repair and maintenance from Nov. 8-12.

A recent press release from the BLM said the road closure could be extended beyond Nov. 12, depending on regional weather conditions that could interrupt or delay completion of the road project. Recreational users of the area are advised to call the visitors information staff in the GJFO, 970-244-3000, for current information and road status.

The Bangs Canyon trail head is a key access point for the Mica Mine Trail, the motorized portion of the Tabeguache Trail, Rough Canyon, Billings Canyon and the Third Flats Motorized Trail system. The project will resurface the road and install culverts for water diversion, providing an all-season capability and improving safety for the variety of users and vehicles it supports.

Annual expenses and inconvenience because of temporary closures should decrease as maintenance requirements decline, according to the release.

Bangs Canyon Special Recreation Management Area consists of 57,000 acres of public lands located south of Grand Junction. The area ranges in elevation from 4,500 to 7,250 feet and offers recreational opportunities for mountain bike, motorcycle and off-road vehicle use, horseback riding, hiking, backpacking and big game hunting.

The environment ranges from sagebrush and bunch grass, pi&#241on-juniper forests to Ponderosa pine at higher elevations. Bangs Canyon also includes many cultural and paleontological resources and sites.

Here’s something else we should keep in mind as winter approaches: Colorado National Monument wants to cut snow plowing costs this winter, so officials at the monument have decided to close the top of Rim Rock Drive to motorized traffic after Dec. 1.

If enough snow accumulates, the area will open to snowshoers and cross-country skiers during daytime hours. The road’s top portion will open again to motorists March 1, 2011.

Snow plowing will continue as usual on the monument’s east hill for traffic access to Glade Park via DS Road. Plowing also will occur from the monument’s west entrance to the Independence Monument overlook.

Day use parking for skiing and snowshoeing will be at the Otto’s trail head and the Independence Monument Overlook between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Bicycles are not permitted on the top portion of the monument during the winter closure and are not permitted to use the east or west hill entrances during snow plowing operations.


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