Annual Ride the Rockies stage race kicks off June 13-15 in Grand Junction | SummitDaily.com

Annual Ride the Rockies stage race kicks off June 13-15 in Grand Junction

Heather Portenier
Grand Junction Free Press

Grand Junction is slated to be the start city for Ride the Rockies again this year on June 13-15 — the sixth time since 1986. It's the 30th anniversary of the event, and, for the first time ever, the community of Fruita plans to welcome cyclists and their cheering squad.

According to Mike Bennett, Fruita's city manager, in order to convince event organizers to alter the route, Fruita had to demonstrate commitment to the cyclists. Plus, Fruita's involvement with Ride the Rockies is vital to the community's promotion of cycling.

"Whether you're a cyclist or not, mountain biking has a positive impact on our community, specifically our small businesses," Bennett explained. "Many of the cyclists that participate in Ride the Rockies are also avid mountain bikers. And reminding them, or introducing them, to our world-class trails and Fruita's culture is a driver of our efforts."

The partnership between the City of Fruita, Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau and Fruita Chamber has been great, Bennett added. In years past, the route took riders to the frontage road near the Kokopelli business district as they exited Colorado National Monument. This year, Fruita wanted to bring racers into its downtown area in hopes of attracting more tourism business and to show people the allure of small-town living.

"The opportunity to welcome 2,000 cyclists — and about 750 friends and family who travel with them — to the community and to sell them breakfast (and) lunch, and, most importantly, to showcase our community in a way that leads to their future choice to visit or relocate to Fruita has a pretty high value," Bennett said.

Fruita's plans include a downtown Super-Aide Station, an information booth at Civic Center Memorial Park to direct riders to area attractions and eateries, a supervised bike corral provided by Colorado Backcountry, free massages from Colorado Canyons Hospital and a bike-fitting station. The James Williams Brothers Band will perform from 12-2 p.m. at the pavilion.

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As the community coordinating agency for Ride the Rockies, the Grand Junction Visitor and Conventions Bureau (GJVCB) plays the most important role in facilitating a successful event for all of Mesa County. They reached out to the city of Fruita and were able to outline a favorable route for Ride the Rockies cyclists.

Mistalynn Meyeraan, marketing and public relations coordinator for GJVCB, said, "The awareness created for the region as a cycling community is tremendous, and the positive media coverage of the event displays our stunning scenery, vibrant culture and warm hospitality that we offer visitors."

The base camp for Ride the Rockies is Colorado Mesa University, which also hosted the event in 2010. Dana Nunn, director of media relations for CMU, said the university is handing out gift bags and providing food, entertainment and both camping sites and rooms in residence halls. There will also be a beer garden and vendor expo.

The event begins Saturday, June 13, with registration, the expo and entertainment at CMU. There is no ride that day, and the public is invited to the festivities at no charge. On Sunday, June 14, riders will make their way over Colorado National Monument and into Fruita.

Downtown Grand Junction will also have free entertainment open to the public from 4-8 p.m. on Main Street. Cyclists will leave CMU the morning of Monday, June 15 for Palisade and up Grand Mesa.

"This is a community event, and we encourage everyone to come out and enjoy it, whether they come on campus or watch the riders on their route through the Grand Valley," Nunn said.

2015 Ride the Rockies

The 30th running of the seven-day, 472-mile cycling tour across Central and Southern Colorado kicks off in Grand Junction June 13-15. Registration is already closed — it’s capped at just 2,000 cyclists — but here’s a look at the burly route:

June 14: Grand Junction loop, 47 miles

June 15: Grand Junction to Hotchkiss, 96 miles

June 16: Hotchkiss to Gunnison, 79 miles

June 17: Gunnison to Crested Butte, 35 miles

June 18: Crested Butte to Salida, 102 miles

June 19: Salida to Cañon City, 66 miles

June 20: Cañon City to Westcliffe, 47 miles

For more info, see ridetherockies.com or find it on Facebook.