From the creators of the Whiskey Off-Road comes a new event with a welcoming town, more challenging trails and awe striking scenery.
Rocks. There was no shortage of them at The Grand. Photo Credit: Devon Balet (www.devonbaletphoto.com).
Since it’s inception in 2004, the Whiskey Off-Road has become one of the staple mountain bike events in America. Racers from all over the country – and across the world – flock to Prescott, Arizona the last week of April to participate in a weekend that celebrates community, health, family, friends, free live music, beer and oh yeah, mountain bikes.
Modeled by Epic Rides to be just like the Whiskey Off-Road, this year’s inaugural Grand Junction Off-Road was held in Grand Junction, Colorado on Labor Day weekend. Set on the high desert Western Slope of Colorado, Grand Junction – and its nearby neighbor Fruita – has become one of the most popular places in America to ride mountain bikes. And with Moab a mere hour away, its no surprise that mountain bikers are helping cities like Grand Junction experience an economic resurgence.
The inaugural Grand Junction Off-Road had no shortage of panoramic vistas.
Named for its location at the confluence of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers, Grand Junction boasts hundreds of miles of singletrack ranging from technical and rocky to smooth and flowing, all set with an otherworldly backdrop of scenery featuring massive red rock cliffs, hoodoos, mountains of slickrock and towering, craggy canyons that could be confused with a photograph from Mars.
Alt-rock icons Cracker jamming out in downtown GJ. Photo Credit: Devon Balet (www.devonbaletphoto.com).
Grand Junction has a much larger downtown area than Prescott, and with city officials fully behind the event, the Grand Junction Off-Road shut down Main Street all weekend long to cars, offering a bike-friendly boulevard hosting a Kid’s Ride, Clunker Crit and a Pro Men’s and Women’s Fat Tire Crit perfect for spectating. Just like the Whiskey, live music was heard all Saturday, with the headliner and alt-rock legends Cracker playing amidst a glorious Grand Junction sunset.
The Clunker Crit on Friday evening was a huge hit. Photo Credit: Devon Balet (www.devonbaletphoto.com).
Also just like the Whiskey, The Grand offered multiple courses for amateur riders including the 15 Grand (1 Grand = 1 Mile), 30 Grand and 40 Grand events.
Never having ridden in Grand Junction before, on Friday I went out and pre-rode the 15 Grand course, as it shared some of the same trails I would be riding in the 40 Grand on Saturday. As soon as I got off pavement and on the legendary Tabeguache Trail, matters got serious. Steep technical ups, rocky ledges that require serious heaving of the bike and miles of winding, technical singletrack were the fare of the day.
Continue reading for more on the Grand Junction Off-Road and full photo gallery.