Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Nice Weekend in Grand Junction

My first visit to Grand Junction was March, 2014 when I flew into town to run a great half marathon. I stayed in the really cute downtown area of Grand Junction and fell in love with the town. The race itself ran along the Colorado River at the base of the fabulous towering cliff walls of Colorado National Monument. After that race, the race director organized a winery tour, a most perfect post-race activity and a great way to see the beautiful and fertile Colorado River valley area.

This year I saw an opportunity to return to Grand Junction when I learned that a motorcycling acquaintance was basing his HW3 scavenger-style rally out of the Clarion Hotel in Grand Junction. I could combine this with a few days in Santa Fe and have a really great vacation trip. So I emailed him, offering to volunteer for the rally. I made my reservations at the rally headquarters hotel and made my travel plans for the trip.

I knew that I'd be put to work all day on Friday, helping conduct the check-in process for the riders, so there's be no free time to drive the short distance to Palisade to get to a couple of the wineries, so I made sure I left Santa Fe early enough on Thursday morning to make it to at least one of the wineries before getting to the hotel.

I made it to my most favorite winery, The Meadery of Colorado just 1/2 hour before they closed and was able to pick up a case of mixed meads. I had another winery routed but didn't make it there in time before they closed. So it was definitely in my plans for the weekend, and was hoping I'd have some free time to get there.

Riders began arriving to the hotel Thursday evening, and I found a couple of my most favorite long-time IBA motorcycling friends in the hotel bar so I joined them for a beer and we went ahead and had dinner together at the hotel restaurant.

Visiting with one of the rally riders

Checking in one of the rally riders

Going over a rally rider's paperwork

The next morning the volunteer staff met over breakfast and then went out to the parking lot to start greeting the riders and getting them checked in. But not before I led a couple of the others to a great little coffee house next door for some really kick-butt good coffee. The check-in process included checking drivers license for M endorsement, insurance for required coverage, current vehicle registration, and that VIN number matched on all documents. It was a great opportunity to meet some of the riders, too.
Reviewing a rider's paperwork with fellow volunteer John.

That evening there was a group dinner at the hotel and riders were given last minute instructions before the early morning start the next day. I set my alarm and made sure I was dressed and out the door at 5:30 AM the next morning to help if needed and to see the release of the riders for the start of their rally. After all of the riders were departed, a couple of us walked to that great coffee house and sat for a bit, enjoying our drinks and making plans for the day.

Friday night rider/volunteer dinner

I invited one of my friends to join me for a short drive to that winery. He needed to stop at the grocery store to pick something up, so we ran that errand first, then headed east to the town of Palisade to the Talon Winery. It was fun to share the wine tasting with him. We both bought some wine, then took a little tour of the downtown Palisade area before returning to the hotel.

The entire group of volunteers all piled into the hotel courtesy van to go the short distance to The Ale House for dinner that evening. When we got back to the hotel, it was getting late and I returned to my room to get into bed and watch the Olympics. It had been a very long day with a very early wake-up and I was ready to quit for the night.

Sunday morning staffer meeting and review of scoring forms

Sunday morning, I joined some of the volunteers for breakfast and we all moved to the conference room, where we reviewed the scoring process and uploaded some files and connected to other files on Google Sheets, an online document sharing site. We were ready to start scoring, and were watching the Shared Spot tracker page to determine when the first riders would arrive. Within minutes we got word from the parking lot that the first rider had arrived. A couple of hours later, the next rider arrived, and soon the room began to fill with arrived riders, waiting to be scored.

Going over scoring process and forms before riders begin arriving

I scored 8 of the riders and as I scored them one by one, began to see many of the same bonus locations among the riders that I scored. This made it easy, not having to refer to the sample photo to verify. It was fun meeting these riders and hearing their stories, seeing how some were exhausted, others elated. Three of the riders I scored were in the top ten riders, two of these three were first-time ralliers.
Scoring one of the rally riders

When we were done scoring, I returned to my room, grabbed a couple of bottles of Sweaty Betty beers and sat outside by the pool with one of my fellow volunteers, John from California. We've been friends for years, seeing each other at various IBA events and MTF gatherings over the years. As we sat there, we were surprised by the arrival of a good friend from Utah who was originally not going to stop by. She surprised us all by showing up and it was a real treat seeing her again.

The awards banquet started at 6:00 PM. The riders were all eager to find out the results of the rally. But first, we were fed a great buffet meal. Then the awards were announced. All of the riders, no matter how well they felt they'd performed in the rally, were very happy with the rally and the experience. It was fun to be witness to their experiences.

As I sat at our table talking with my California friend John, the room slowly emptied out. I considered joining the others afterward in the bar or the parking lot, but I really wanted to watch the Olympic closing ceremonies on TV. I also knew I had a very long drive home and needed to be well rested and get an early start, especially since the change in time zones was not in my favor returning to Texas.

The next morning I had breakfast with another of my motorcycle friends, and got on the road early - 7:30 AM - for the long drive to Amarillo for the night. It was going to be all secondary roads, some of them slow and tedious, so I knew it was going to be a tough 620 mile day.

It was a good trip, and I got to see some of my favorite IBA friends. I got to visit a couple of my favorite little towns in the Rockies west and to bring home some of my favorite Colorado wines.

Now home for another month before my next adventure.

1 comment:

  1. Volunteering at the rally seems like perfect excuse for a road trip.