Tour of the Moon’s Plan B a hit
Months ago, with rumblings of a potential federal government shutdown, the organizers of the Icon Lasik Tour of the Moon bike ride set up a contingency plan. Relying on an alternate route through Glade Park that was suggested years ago, a new route was drawn that avoided federal lands on Colorado National Monument.
Tuesday, the federal government shut down, and access to federal land on Rim Rock Drive was blocked off.
“We were ready,” event manager Scott Olmsted said. “A couple months ago, we saw the news that the government could shut down, and we decided that we needed to prepare for it. We drove the alternate route in August, and as it got closer and closer, everyone here and everyone in the community stepped up and helped pull this all together.
“I mean it’s a bummer about the shutdown. But it’s such an epic ride to go anywhere up the monument. For us to get even one-third of the monument in for this ride is great.”
So, on Saturday, aside from chilly weather on Glade Park and Interstate 70 closures limiting travel for some riders from Denver late last night, the event was nearly perfect, Olmsted said. The original course was designed so cyclists entered on the west side of Colorado National Monument and exited on the east side. The new course was a 30-mile course that looped up Glade Park and back into downtown Grand Junction, with an optional turnoff that took cyclists to 17 Road in Fruita and extended the ride to 62 miles.
Denver cyclist Randall Pierce said he went through multiple seasons of clothing on the trip.
“It started off pretty chilly this morning,” Pierce said. “Pretty much had the gamut of weather, from summer to winter, out there. Had to put layers on for the climb and shed them for the descent. But it’s a very beautiful ride. I enjoyed it.”
Jane Johnson, a Grand Junction cyclist, said there was a silver lining in the public lands being closed. She said she had already ridden over Colorado National Monument, but had never ridden to Glade Park because of the difficulty and steep grade of the road.
The alternate course was Johnson’s first Tour of the Moon.
“It was a lot harder than the original course,” Johnson said. “But it was absolutely beautiful. A little bit chilly, but absolutely beautiful.
“I had just moved back to Grand Junction after five years away and had never been a much of a biker before, but I’d always wanted to ride over the monument. So, I had signed up for this so I could ride it. But when I heard that it might be closing, some friends and I rode over it. So, I got to ride on the monument before it closed and then ride this wonderful course today.
“I’m sure some people out there are upset with the change, but it was great. Today’s ride isn’t something I’d do normally by choice, so when you’re being forced to do it, you get a chance to enjoy it.”