The climate in Grand Junction is cold and semi-arid, which doesn’t sound nearly as good as it
feels. Across the year, residents see 250+ days of sunshine. In the winter, the mountains get
snow, while Junction remains mostly dry. Rain tends not to last long. In the summer, the heat is
tempered a bit by the dryness, which makes Grand Junction a great place to ride a bicycle.
GJ Bike Night, now in its third season, is up and riding every Friday. Ian Thomas founded GJ
Bike Night three years ago, after riding with groups in Boston, Massachusetts and Reno, Nevada. Riders meet at 544 Rood Avenue, at 7 pm, and are encouraged to wear helmets, lights, and speakers. The ride usually starts around 7:30 and lately there have been over a hundred riders! Thomas themes each week, and you can find out more over on Instagram (follow @gjbikenight).
For more serious riders, or once you’ve regained your bike legs, it’s time for the bike commute.
Riding is great exercise for the body. Biking means less wear and tear on the knees, ankles, and hips, and a fantastic aerobic experience. The more you ride, then, the better.
One way to ride more is to commute. Commuting to work on a bike means incorporating
exercise into my daily routine, which means healthier living, both physically and mentally. I
ride, five miles a day, five days a week. My ride in or out is twenty minutes, and
that means I’m getting forty minutes of wonderful movement every day, as I get to work and
Commute riding is different from a GJ Bike Night, mountain biking at Powderhorn, or a road
bike jaunt over a Rocky Mountain pass. In fact, a road bike is not the best commute bike. Road
bikes are light, have lots of gears, and they’re fast. On a commute in town, though, what works best is a hybrid or a mountain bike, because they’ve got bigger wheels, more durable frames, and can be ridden upright. The bigger wheels make for a cushier ride, and coupled with the frame, this makes for an easier and more enjoyable ride on a variety of surfaces.
Riding fast when commuting is inviting an accident. I bring lights (no matter the time of day),
wear bright colors, and ride like a guest. I regularly remind myself to ride slow, stay in the bike
lanes, make eye contact with drivers, and give them (and pedestrians) the right of way. I ride
because Junction is a wonderful place to be, and I can. I have plenty of time and it’s fantastic to
I wear a helmet and photochromic glasses to protect my eyes. When it’s not sunny, they remain
clear and protect my eyes from stones, raindrops, debris blown up by cars, etc. Another game-
changer for me is a pannier. Some can make do with a rack, or basket. I use a pannier because I need to bring some things, in addition to my lunch. The pannier has two bags with pockets that
rest atop a rack and hang on either side of the back wheel. With a pannier, I can skip the sweaty and uncomfortable backpack. I encourage you to spend some money and effort on the commute gear because it replaces driving a car. I enjoy biking and I want you to enjoy it as well.
Finally, I use the commute to transition. I like the time alone to gather up my energy, and then
unwind and let go. The bike helps through movement; I can release the anxiety and stress as I
pedal and push. Markers on the way help me do this. I pedal past a park early on and I am reminded of the innocent joy I get on two wheels. I pass a school where I turn on the way in, which means it’s time to get ready to work. On my way home, I take a left into a bike path lane. At this point, I can be me, wholly me, enjoying the pleasure of being in a healthy body on a bike.
The Bookcliffs and Mesa in front of me offer beauty and nourishment; both work and the day
are behind me.
As we slip into summer, let’s ride!