A man and his mapping mission
The man pictured at left is John Hodge, an avid road cyclist who’s made it his mission to help other skinny-tire enthusiasts discover the wonders of traversing Mesa County’s highways and byways on two wheels.
Hodge, a geologist by trade, knows a thing or two about mapping. He’s put together a web-based collection of downloadable maps that could have filled every page in this magazine. And they’re all free, thanks to a friendship and collaboration with Tomorrow Hill Farm. Go to the link at the bottom of this story and see dozens of maps like the one on the opposite page, the “crown jewel” of Mesa County’s road rides, the Colorado National Monument.
“If this area was no so well known for mountain biking, it would be well known for road biking — it’s that good,” Hodge said. “Even if the monument wasn’t here, it would still be known for road riding.”
On the website he writes:
“I made these maps to aid cyclist unfamiliar with the routes around the Grand Junction area or, as in the case of the Colorado National Monument, laws that are unique to some of our local rides. These maps are free to download and print, they’re my gift to the cycling community that has done so much for me.”
The maps are loaded with facts, elevations and the mapmaker’s observations and tips on getting the most out of the scenery.
Perusing them is like flipping through grandma’s cookbook while planning your next great meal.
For those who haven’t yet had the pleasure of sampling Mesa County’s diverse terrain, Hodge recommends — in addition to the mounument — the Palisade Fruit & Wine Tour and the 100K version of the Rose Hill Rally. Both maps are available at the web address in the caption at left.
“The ride through the orchards is real zen ride,” he said. “It’s for someone who wants a short ride with time to stop at a wine-tasting room or grab a peach.”
“The 100K of the Rose Hill Rally is a good distance ride on rolling terrain. It’s nothing too brutal. It’s an ‘LSD’ ride — long, slow distance.”
Hodge himself is looking forward to getting back in the saddle. An unfortunate collision with a wayward racoon last July ended his riding season prematurely. He suffered a head injury. He took his first ride recently and hopes to participate in this year’s Bicycle Tour of Colorado.