Skip to content

The conception of a new Colorado mountain bike event: Epic Rides’ Grand Junction Off-Road

March 9, 2013

Dave Grossman traveled to Prescott, Arizona for the Epic Rides Whiskey Off-Road event last April with something simmering in the back of his mind. Since his appointment to the role of Coordinator of the new Grand Valley Trails Alliance, the Grand Junction, Colorado resident had realized the area’s trail treasures deserved more recognition.

In Prescott Grossman rode the 50 mile amateur course and experienced what he called “an event that surpassed anything I’d seen before.” During thirty years of mountain biking Grossman has attended more events than he can count. But the Whiskey turned his head.

He knew right then and there that he wanted something just like it in Grand Junction.

Whiskey history

Geoff Kabush at the Smartwool Cup USGP cyclocross event in Fort Collins, Colorado

Geoff Kabush at the Smartwool Cup USGP cyclocross event in Fort Collins, Colorado

The Whiskey Off-Road is an endurance mountain bike event produced by Epic Rides. It takes place Friday through Sunday on the last weekend in April in the central Arizona town of Prescott where the elevation is about 5,300 feet. The event is famous for its generous Whiskey-50 pro-race cash prizes as well as its fun vibe and challenging amateur races of 15, 25, and 50 miles in length.

Pro-rider Geoff Kabush (SCOTT-3Rox Racing) described the Whiskey Off-Road in an event press release as “a template for what a great mountain bike weekend should look like. The festive atmosphere, great riding, superb coverage and unique location make it a memorable weekend for riders of all ability.”

Sealing the deal

Grossman commenced his pitch to bring a similar extravaganza to western Colorado at the 2012 Whiskey start/finish line where he encountered Epic Rides’ President Todd Sadow. Securing a subsequent conversation took several efforts on Grossman’s part, but he didn’t give up. The two connected. Sadow saw the potential and began to prepare a proposal to develop a three-day Grand Junction Off-Road race and festival.

As explained by Grossman, the purpose of the Grand Valley Trails Alliance is to bring together all kinds of trail users such as motorcyclists, hikers, horsemen, and bikers as well as conservationists and federal and municipal entities to carry out successful trail projects. Grossman, now also event manager for the Grand Junction Off-Road, told ProVéloPassion that his ability to hook Sadow into this network helped to create a compelling proposal to the City of Grand Junction.

Grossman also benefited from the knowledge base of a committee of community leaders that has for three years submitted bids to land a stage of the USA Pro Challenge. And while that road race has yet to select Grand Junction as a host city, the committee’s on-going work around what’s required to organize a big cycling event in the Grand Valley proved useful in shaping the Grand Junction Off-Road proposal.

Getting passed over for the USA Pro Challenge was not, Grossman stressed, the reason behind the Grand Junction Off-Road proposal. Work on the mountain biking event had begun before the city learned it wouldn’t host a USA Pro Challenge stage.

In addition to promoting the Grand Valley’s extensive trail resources, the Off-Road proposal stood on its own economic merit.

Everybody benefits

Based on attendance at the Whiskey Off-Road, Grossman expects 1,500 to 1,800 people will attend the 2013 Grand Junction Off-Road. He believes visitors will stay for three days at a minimum and create a real economic impact in the community, a benefit that enticed the city to welcome the event.

“When I went down to Prescott I came in Wednesday and I left on Tuesday and made a fun weekend of it. You bring your family, you bring your kids,” Grossman said. “You stay a long time and you have a very dramatic and very significant economic impact on the community… the Grand Junction Off-Road can bring real dollars into the community from day one and the community sees that.”

Brady Kappius on the last lap of elite 'cross nationals

Brady Kappius, shown here at the 2013 ‘cross nationals, rode the 2012 Whiskey 50

Grossman’s attendance estimate reflects those registered to race or traveling with competitors. He hasn’t yet estimated how many spectators will visit to watch the pro-race or soak in the atmosphere. But he’s expecting them too.

“I think that we’re going to have a lot of important cyclists, we’re going to have a big industry expo, and we’re going to throw an amazing event. So the draw if you have any interest in mountain biking is going to be pretty significant,” he said.

The three days of mountain biking will take place over Labor Day weekend from August 30th through September 1st. Grossman thinks other local events that will draw people to the area at the same time, such as the Western Colorado Classic car show, could also influence attendance positively.

Tempting trails

The Epic Rides event concept is designed, Grossman said, to appeal to a wide range of people. Male and female pros will race for a combined purse of $20,000.

Mountain bike newbies will like the “15 Grand,” a 15 mile course. “It’s going to be an interesting challenge for people that are learning to ride a mountain bike but not so hard that they can’t succeed in it,” Grossman said.

Jari Kirkland, women's solo winner with 15 laps

Jari Kirkland, women’s solo winner at the 2012 24 Hour national championships, could appear at the Grand Junction Off-Road

More experienced riders can choose between the 30 Grand and the 40 Grand.

“For those that really want to push their limits and try a whole completely different class of x-country racing,” Grossman maintained, “the 40 Grand is going to open up some eyeballs and show people what we’ve got here in the Grand Valley and the quality trail system we have.” Course routes should include the Lunch Loops, Magellan Loop, and Bangs Canyon area trail systems.

Racers and non-racers alike can sample all-day free concerts on Saturday, and the schedule includes kids’ races in downtown Grand Junction. “There’s going to be lots of fun for everybody,” Grossman promised, “so bring your bikes.”

Registration for the Grand Junction Off-Road opens on March 16th. In addition to presenting sponsor U.S. Bank, major sponsors include Blackburn, Cirrus Visual Communication, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, Scott USA, Stan’s No Tubes, and Springhill Suites by Marriott.

From → Mountain Biking

One Comment
  1. Reblogged this on Sykose and commented:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: