Book Review: Bicycle Junction Chronicles the History of Cycling in Grand Junction, Colorado

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By Shanna Matheson — An historical fiction story woven through the history of Grand Junction and the surrounding areas; Bicycle Junction, by Chris Brown, is the story of a cycling time traveler. On his first day in Grand Junction, the main character crashes his bike on the Holy Cross trail and finds himself on a magical bike which takes him back to 1880. Each chapter takes you through a decade in time as the main character rides his way through history.

Bicycle Junction chronicles the history of cycling in Grand Junction, Colorado.

The history is well-researched. Many of the true stories are about the bikes themselves, bike racing, and bike clubs, all sprinkled with some local lore. Interspersed with the cycling tales, is the history of a western town from its pioneer days to the current (2015) Grand Valley of today.

I enjoyed the true cycling stories that took me through more than a century. Judges cheating in bike races, racers using buttermilk to seal their tires, world-record unicycle rides, and a dirt velodrome are great true stories from the more distant past. More recent history includes facts about the area hosting stages of the Coors Classic and the filming of American Flyers.

Herman Vorbeck Sr. with Tony Ross. Photo Courtesy Brown Cycles

Woven into the history is a bit of a love story. Throughout the time jumps in history, the main character repeatedly has encounters with the same person. As one would expect, time travel makes having a relationship difficult. The main character’s love interest is an actual person who marries another man and moves to Salt Lake. No spoilers, but their story ends in a sweet and somewhat sappy way.

The book is full of great pictures throughout time. However, the story sometimes takes unnecessary sidebars attempting to tie every photo into the storyline, but overall, I enjoyed looking at the images and tying them into the historical stories. Occasionally, the stories also delve a bit too deep by providing race results won by people long forgotten.

Grand Junction Wheel Club on South 9th St. Circa 1890’s. Photo Daily Sentinal

The book also has lots of maps of road and mountain bike trails throughout the Grand Valley and surrounding areas. However, since it was published in 2015, its usefulness as a trail resource is limited. You will easily find more current and easier-to-use trail resources in any of the multitude of bike shops around the area.

I spoke with the author last week. He mentioned that out of about 200 books sold, he only knew of about 15 people who had read the book in its entirety. Given the plentiful sunshine and endless riding opportunities in the area, I’m guessing those who didn’t finish the book were out making their own cycling history.

On a side note, I have yet to see the opera based on the book.

Editor’s Note: There really is an opera based on the book: One Bike, a Folk/Jazz Opera by Music Writer and Composer Scott Betts is inspired by the book Bicycle Junction. Filmed by Cullen Purser of Fruita. Director and Choreographer Lana Rogal. Preformed Saturday, August 7, 2021 CMU Robinson Theater. Available now on DVD at the Mesa County Library or online here and on YouTube: https://browncycles.com/bc/fun-videos/

Title: Bicycle Junction
Author: Chris Brown
Publisher: ‎ Independently published (July 6, 2023) 
Paperback: ‎ 326 pages
Over 400 photographs, 30 Modern day local trail maps, Historical Fiction, Softbound cover.
ISBN-13: ‎ 979-8397679886

Available from: https://browncycles.com/bc/book-store/

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