Peddling Grand Valley made easy in hosting bike tour

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Barb Bowman can’t think of a better group of visitors to which to promote the Grand Valley. They’re active and enjoy outdoor pursuits. They also drink wine and beer. Plus, they’ve got discretionary income to spend on their interests.

“The demographics of this group is just so phenomenal” said Bowman, director of sales and division manager of the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau.

That’s why Bowman is excited about Grand Junction once again serving as the starting point for the annual Ride the Rockies bicycle tour of Colorado. “There’s so much opportunity for us,”she said.

Serving as the starting point for the popular tour is doubly beneficial, Bowman said, because the 2,500 cyclists expected to participate will stay in the area for two days rather than one. Moreover, families tend to bring participants to the starting point, adding to the visitors who’ll stay in hotels, eat in restaurants and shop in stores, she added.

It’s estimated Ride the Rockies generates an average of $250,000 a day in economic benefits for host communities, Bowman said. There’s an added value in showcasing the amenities a community has to offer and encouraging participants to come back, she added.

The 2015 Ride the Rockies, the 30th version of the tour, is scheduled for June and will follow a 465-mile course from Grand Junction to Westcliffe.

A prologue before the regular tour for a group of 50 participants will include a stay at Gateway Canyons, a bicycle ride from the resort through Unaweep Canyon and a event at High Country Orchards in Palisade, Bowman said.

Registration for the regular tour is set for June 13 in Grand Junction. The tour will begin June 14 with a 45-mile ride loop stage up and over the Colorado National Monument. On June 15, cyclists will leave Grand Junction on a 98-mile leg that will take them past the vineyards and wineries around Palisade and then up and over the Grand Mesa en route to Hotchkiss.

Rides over the monument and mesa have become especially popular attractions on the tour, Bowman said.

Ride the Rockies will continue with additional stops in Gunnison, Crested Butte, Salida and Canyon City before concluding June 20 in Westcliffe.

“Ride the Rockies is all about the awe-inspiring, beautiful and rugged experience of touring some of Colorado’s most renowned regions. This year’s tour will deliver on that promise while also allowing participants to take in the sights and sounds of each host community,” said Chandler Smith, tour director.

The Denver Post, a sponsor of Ride the Rockies, and Wells Fargo also award a $5,000 grant to a nonprofit organization in each host city.

“Cyclists from all walks of life, nationally and internationally, have joined us to explore the Rockies for the last 30 years,” said, Mac Tully, president and chief executive officer of the Denver Post. “They experience Colorado’s natural beauty while also supporting local businesses within each host community. We take great pride in giving back to these cities and towns.”

In Grand Junction, Colorado Mesa University will serve as a staging area for Ride the Rockies. Entertainment and other activities are planned for participants on the CMU campus June 13. Additional festivities are planned for June 14 in downtown Grand Junction, Bowman said.

Grand Junction has served as a host city for Ride the Rockies five previous times — in 2010, 2005, 1997, 1989 and 1986. Grand Junction has served as the starting point for the tour three previous times — in 2010, 2005 and 1997.

The 2015 tour will afford yet another opportunity to host cyclists from one end of the Grand Valley to the other, Bowman said. “It’s really going to show off all sides.”