The annual Grand Junction Off-Road bicycle event has been a boon not only to the Grand Valley's economic prosperity, but it also has helped put the region on the map worldwide as a must-go destination for mountain bikers.

That's why negotiations between the company that organizes that event, Epic Rides of Tucson, Arizona, and the Grand Junction Sports Commission are ongoing about setting a date for the event that will help it grow.

Both Sports Commission Director Renee Wheelock and Todd Sadow, president and chief executive officer of Epic Rides, said the two are talking about switching the date, but they are unsure what that will end up being.

"There are a couple of offers on the table and we're just waiting for a decision and what other dates are viable," Wheelock said.

"We're just batting dates around and trying to find something that works for everybody," Sadow added. "After having produced the event there for seven years, it has not really come easily for us."

Some fear the event might not return if a viable date can't be found.

The problem right now, however, is that the current weekend the three-day event is held, which lately has been the third week in May, conflicts with other major annual events, including the spring graduation ceremony for Colorado Mesa University and Grand Mesa Invitational soccer tournament.

Finding that new date, however, is problematic, particularly in May considering Epic Ride's other events nationwide and the start of Alpine Bank Junior College World Series on Memorial Day weekend at the end of May.

In its seven years, the Grand Junction Off-Road has already had three different dates. The event started in 2013 during the Labor Day weekend.

In the third year, it was moved to the Memorial Day weekend, then the last four years it's been in mid-May.

Epic Rides also organizes the Whiskey Off-Road in Prescott, Arizona, the third week of April and the Carson City Off-Road in Nevada the third week of June.

Wheelock said the commission, which helps pay for staffing and other costs in running the bike race, has no control over CMU's graduation, but it did reach out to organizers of the soccer tournament. She said that event likely would lose its sanction from the Colorado Soccer Association if it tried to move its date.

Having so many events the same weekend ends up taxing the valley's available hotel space, a problem made slightly better with new rooms that have since been added to the area.

In July, the new Tru by Hilton hotel opened downtown, adding 92 additional rooms to the region. Including that new hotel, there are 3,152 rooms in Grand Junction, but that figure doesn't include rooms in Fruita and Palisade.

Additionally, sometime next spring — in March or April — Colorado Mesa University hopes to open its new teaching hotel on campus. That hotel, to be known as The Maverick, is to add another 60 rooms.

Meanwhile, the owners of the four major downtown hotels — the Hilton, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Hampton Inn and the SpringHill Suites — are considering building a fifth hotel to be attached to the Two Rivers Convention Center.

If that happens, the area could see an additional 100 hotel rooms within the next year or so.

Both sides in the talks said they are endeavoring to find a new race date to help it to grow into something even more major than it has already.

In the years that it's been in town, the amateur part of the race has gone from about 221 riders to nearly 600 in 2019. The race also draws some of the top professional riders from around the country.

The event includes a music festival and bike expo downtown during the three days.

"We all have that goal of seeing that event grow," Wheelock said. "The Sports Commission supports the event and wants to see it continue on here, so we've got a couple of offers for them to consider in making that work."

That comes as good news to Sadow, who also says he wants to continue investing in Grand Junction.

"We like the community a lot and see the potential of the community, more now in the last few years than we've ever seen," he said. "The potential is starting to show through, and we're excited for the community of Grand Junction."

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