-Photos by Devon Balet Photo
Saturday brought moderate morning temperatures, cheering spectators, and riders that were anxious to take to the Grand Junction Off-Road course. Escorted by the City of Grand Junction Police Department, participants in both the 30 and 40 Grand took over Main Street en route to the world class Lunch Loops trail system. Although the trail proved to be challenging, the finishing times were impressively fast. Evan Ross of Crested Butte, Colorado was the first to cross the finish in the Men’s Open category with a blistering time of 3 hours and 30 minutes while Kenny Wehn, and Vince Anderson were only minutes behind.
In the Women’s Open Amy Nolan claimed first place with a time of 4 hours and 34 minutes as Tiffany Ballew, and Bethany Elson captured second and third place. A full day of legitimate cross country riding was brought to a close with the Scott Sports Amateur Awards Ceremony held on the concert stage located in the DT Swiss Event Hub. Energy was high and the podiums were filled with exceptional talent. Epic Rides presented customized wine bottles from Two Rivers Winery (Grand Junction, CO) to the top five finishers in all categories.
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As riders mustered their all on course, music filled the streets of downtown Grand Junction. Local favorites, the North 17th Street Band, kicked off the day at 10 am with classic Bluegrass/Americana. The Grand Shenanigans rolled on as riders filtered in from their adventures and were welcomed by the growing energy at the DT Swiss Event Hub.
Noon marked the opening of the Rockslide Brewery Beer Garden and the moment for the rocking tunes of Jack + Jill to take the stage. As the crowd began to take shape The Williams Brothers Band stepped it up raising music lovers of all ages to their feet and dancing in the streets. The Grand Junction Off-Road topped off the inaugural community concert with headlining act, Cracker. Drawing fans from near and far, not an inch of pavement could be found at 4th Street and Main.
Throughout Saturday during the Amateur 30 and 40 Grand the buzz grew louder, and the smiles continued to grow bigger. Touted as a true cross country mountain bike course, the technical challenge of the Grand Junction Off-Road course became apparent throughout the day’s events; namely at Andy’s Loop and Butterknife. Although the course presented a chance for riders to step outside of their comfort zone at times, more than 96% of the rider’s successfully completed the course and expressed a strong sense of accomplishment upon crossing the finish line.
Local volunteers arrived in numbers on Saturday to show their support for the Grand Junction Off-Road event. Thanks to the efforts of these like-minded, enthusiastic individuals of all ages many areas of the event were not only well staffed but allowed the event to run in a seamless fashion. Areas include keeping riders safe as Course Marshall, in town traffic directors, and answering questions at the packet pickup and registration booth. The Grand Junction Off-Road has over 150 volunteers giving their time over Labor Day weekend for an event they feel brings a new energy into their beloved community.