Roll Massif’s Tour of the Moon
Early last summer, I stumbled upon the Roll Massif website and watched all of the videos. While I did want to sign up for the entire list of events, my calendar was already pretty packed. I resigned myself to one ride, at the end of the season — Tour of the Moon. Throughout the summer my anticipation for this ride grew and grew.
It was my first trip to Grand Junction, and that far west on I-70 in general. I’ve lived in Colorado for 3 years and have clearly not spent enough time on the Western Slope. The drive alone was worth the trip, but the weekend was just getting started.
Grand Junction has a cute downtown. I’ve read a lot about the area, so I’m not immune to the economic and political struggles. Still, it was nice to be there to enjoy the outdoors, and to stroll the shops and restaurants. My Airbnb was just a 5-block walk to the heart of the city.
After picking up my packet (complete with a TotM jersey), I placed an order for vegan sushi at Suehiro and popped in Summit Canyon Mountaineering for some Chapstick and to check out their shoe sale. (So many Altras!) I walked back “home” in the dark with my food and enjoyed the stars.
Ride morning. While Roll Massif events are not billed as races, I’m still one to give it my all. I wasn’t riding with anyone, so I figured I’d enjoy the scenery but ride hard. We were allowed to begin riding anytime between 7:30 and 8:30am. I was there and ready to roll at 7:15. It was nice to have the police escort out of town and to the start of the park.
The morning was cool — around 55 — but heading up to 80 with full sun. I opted for a summer kit and was glad I did. The first few miles into the park were brisk, but lovely. The sun against the rocks gave a red-orange glow. Front and rear lights are required to ride in the park, and the reasoning became clear within the first 5 miles. There were several unlit tunnels, the first of which stretched about a quarter mile. Although the first 17 miles of the ride were mostly up, the climbing was never too intense. Plus, the scenery almost made you forget about the exertion. It was tough not to snap pictures of the entire ride. Roll Massif bills their events as “not races,” though there was one 2-mile timed sprint, which was flat and fun.
Upon exiting the park, riders had the choice to loop back for a 41-mile route, or opt for a tour of Fruita and Loma to make it 64. The additional miles were rolling and fun, but the main event was certainly the National Monument. I only stopped at one of four aid stations, to fill up water. The wind was picking up and I didn’t want to extend the day any longer than necessary. The volunteers on the road were numerous and helpful. The course wasn’t overly complicated, but it was great to see so many people directing traffic.
Back at the finish line and convention center, there were vendors, snacks, and lots of relaxing. After re-hydrating, I made my way to my Airbnb and set out for home. I would have loved to have stayed another couple of days — and even ridden the monument again — but this trip had to be a quick turn around for me.
I can’t recommend this ride and this place enough — truly special, and I can’t wait to return.