Mountain biking brings riders and their dollars to Grand Valley venues

The newly opened Lunch Loop Bike Park near the head of the Tabaguache Trail offers riders of all ages a chance to blow off steam after work. The park is located less than a 10-minute drive from downtown Grand Junction. (Business Times photo by Mike Moran)

It can be easy to overlook amenities in your own backyard coveted by people who live elsewhere.

When the spring mud season hits the high country in places like Breckenridge or Aspen, people from the mountains often gravitate toward the desert of the Grand Valley, where the mountain biking season can begin in February and extend through November — or even longer. Still others cross the Atlantic Ocean in search of the kinds of mountain biking venues offered in Mesa County.

“This brings in tens of millions of dollars a year,” said Chris Muhr, a Grand Junction businessman and active member of the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association (COPMOBA). The dollar figure includes the effects of people traveling to Mesa County to spend money in hotels, campgrounds, restaurants and retail shops.

The Grand Valley recently garnered publicity from Bike magazine, which featured Mary’s Loop west of Grand Junction on the cover of the publication.

“There’s people who would give their eye teeth to have their picture on the cover,” Muhr said.

Muhr is among many Mesa County residents who don’t need to live elsewhere to appreciate what’s available on any given weekend — or even after work.

Local opportunities range from bike trails in the adobe hills north of Fruita to the Kokopelli Trail that begins near Loma to the trails atop the Grand Mesa to the newly opened Lunch Loop Bike Park along Monument Road.

The latter is one of those places easily reached after a day’s work in downtown Grand Junction.

At the base of the Tabaguache Trail, COPMOBA recently developed the bike park as a means to encourage young people to investigate the sport and become proficient at negotiating turns and catching air while cycling off steep inclines.

The park has been such a hit COPMOBA is building a similar park in Fruita.

Such efforts are likely to continue to spread the message about the biking opportunities in the Grand Valley.