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'Grand Junction' takes readers along for a ride through cycling history

Published November 2, 2020

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (BRAIN) — From serving as home of cycling companies to being amid some of the country’s best road routes and mountain bike trails, Grand Junction is considered by many as a cycling mecca.

Chris Brown’s appreciation for that history motivated him to write Grand Junction. Self-published this fall, the book contains a collection of stories, pictures, artifacts, and memorabilia from his customers at Brown Cycles, Brown's shop in downtown Grand Junction.

“The book has done extremely well,” Brown said. “We blew through our first 100 copies in three weeks. Some like it for the historical fiction story and some like it for the 400 local photographs and 30 modern-day trail maps.

Everybody has a bike story.”

Brown’s research over five years turned up that half of the buildings, streets, and town founders had cycling roots dating to 1888. He especially treasures the stories from the 1940s for some of the city’s older cyclists.

“We share the same roads and experiences, just 80 years later,” Brown said. “They were doing the same dumb stuff that we do today on our bikes — and they made it.”

He also uncovered tales of murderers with Grand Junction cycling roots frequenting local bike shops. 

Sam McMullin won a bike race on Main St. in 1897 and then was poisoned to death in 1946 for marrying another cyclist's girlfriend,” Brown said. “Lester Jones used to frequent my shop for bike repairs and was referred to by the service staff as, 'The Guy That Could Just As Easily Kill A Man.’ Ten years later (2010) he was convicted for the Paige Birgfeld murder. Always trust your inner tube (guts).” 

Brown wrote Grand Junction for three audiences: cycling enthusiasts, older folks interested in history, “and to some kid in 100 years that loves to ride and wants to know how we used to do it. I'm here for you, buddy. Keep pedaling.” 

The book project also motivated the city’s musical director to write a bicycle opera that was scheduled to debut this summer but was postponed until next summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Isn't it amazing that nobody has ever written Bicycle, The Musical?" Brown said. (Editor's note: There is a bike shop musical!)

While the bike boom has meant busy times for Brown Cycles — which has the same sales numbers year-over-year “with almost zero (bike) inventory,” Brown said — he managed to find time for the book.

“There is always time for special bike projects,” he said. “It's called night. You can sleep when you're dead.”

Grand Junction can be purchased at Brown Cycles for $59.99 and shipped for $10.

Brown Cycles was one of the stores that BRAIN editors visited on our 2017 Dealer Tour in the Grand Valley

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