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Outdoor Adventure

Rodeo? Lets Go!

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What fun to interview the people passionate about their sport and the animals who make it possible. Read the original here:

Rodeo? Let’s Go!

Fruita Rimrock Rodeo

By Cecily Whiteside

“This family friendly entertainment has been a place for cowboys of all experience levels and ages to gather and compete for more than twenty years.”

The competition is between you and the animal, the adrenaline pumps, the crowd roars. You adjust your grip, take a deep breath, and nod. The gates open and then you and the bull are the only ones in the world. For a few short moments, that is, until the roar of the crowd reaches your ears, the world comes crashing – sometimes literally – back in. And you pick yourself up off the ground, brush yourself off, check that all is intact, and wave to the cheering fans.

Fruita Rimrock Rodeo is a summer staple in the Grand Valley. This family friendly entertainment has been a place for cowboys of all experience levels and ages to gather and compete for more than twenty years. Every Tuesday from June 2 until August 25, the rodeo draws competitors from across the Grand Valley, across the country, even across the world.

The cowboys who compete each week come from an assortment of backgrounds. Some are pro rodeo riders – past or present – but many make their living in more ordinary pursuits and come out to compete just for love of the sport. Jerry Berentis has been producing rodeos all over the west for 33 years from California to Texas, although most are in Wyoming, Arizona and New Mexico. And of course Colorado, since this is his home. He smiles as he talks about ‘his’ cowboys. “We have bankers, lawyers, students, real estate agents, oilfield workers, truck drivers,” Jerry says. “We also have a lot of people from out of the area. People will call from New York or Los Angeles or even from Germany or England. They want to make sure we are having the rodeo in a particular week as they plan their summer vacation – either to watch or to compete. We are an internationally known event, and people come back year after year. And when the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) is in town, we get a lot of those guys coming over here to ride with us. We’ve even had bus loads of tourists from Japan.”

Jerry used to be a professional bareback rider and has a profound respect for the men he works with to make this a high quality event. “Our funny man is Joe Carr. All summer, rain or shine, he’s out there to entertain the crowd in-between events or when there’s a lull. He does jokes, skits, physical comedy.”

And then there’s J.D. Muller, the announcer “J.D. is a retired bullfighter,” Jerry says. “It takes a certain kind of guy to be a bullfighter. A lot of people want to be one, but not many can actually do it.” We’re not talking about the matador kind of bullfighter, waving a red cape and wearing a silly hat. These are the guys who chase the bulls and bucking broncos away from fallen riders; who dart in to help cowboys up and out intact. It takes quick thinking, quick acting, and a selfless commitment to the safety of the participants. “J.D. is all about cowboy protection,” Jerry says.

Jerry has provided the livestock for the event from the beginning. Bulls, calves, and horses come from Jerry’s stock. Brett Tonozzi provides team-roping cattle. “We wanted to have a high quality rodeo and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” Jerry says. “Our stock is award winning in the Colorado Pro Rodeo Association, and in The Wyoming Pro Association. The cowboys appreciate a good animal.”

“Rough stock is my favorite,” Jerry admits. This would be the bucking horses and bulls. “But it takes all aspects of competion to make a rodeo.” The rest of the events draw plenty of enthusiastic participants and fans. Mutton busting is always a favorite, with kids riding sheep to the delight of the crowd. And it’s not just a male sport. “Usually the women will do roping and barrel racing, although every now and then we’ll have a woman in the rough stock events, especially when they are younger – junior bull riding up until they are 15 years old.”

Roping events include tie down roping, breakaway roping, ribbon roping, and team roping. These are technically difficult, taking precision riding and rope-handling along with physical agility and strength.

Barrel racing is about split-second communication between rider and mount. “Saddle horse riders love these animals as much as their own children,” Jerry says.

And it’s the animals that are the key to a successful rodeo. A bucking horse can enter the ring at about 4 years old, and will be able to compete for as long as 20 years, while bulls tend to slow down at about 10 years of age. When not in the ring, and when they are retired, they are well fed and well cared for. They don’t buck because they are mad, it’s inbred. “We have a ‘born to buck’ breeding program for rough stock,” Jerry says. He works closely on this with his son Bryce, who has been involved in the business as he was growing up, and stayed on for love of the sport. “It’s a family business. We’ve found a way to make it work all these years. It may have been struggle sometimes, and hard work. But I’m one the people living my dream.”

Fruita Rimrock Rodeo has drawn a devoted following over the years. Live broadcasts can be heard on local radio stations and seen on Channel 5. Over the years the venue, Rimrock Adventures owned by Allin Baier, has added lights and other amenities for the thousand-plus spectators who come out on any given Tuesday evening. I intend to be one of them this summer. Join me for an evening of true western Colorado sport!


To enter call 970.434.7515 Monday between 6-8 p.m.

Tickets at the gate are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors.

Save by buying in advance at Fruita Co-Op or Rimrock Adventures.

Kids 11 and under are always free.

Published with permission of Grand Valley Magazine

Parts, Passion, and Panache

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I was once an amatuer mountain bike racer. Never mind that I won every race I ever entered. That was mostly because I was what’s termed “Athena” category. In other words, I was more than 160 pounds, so I never raced against the top tier in my age group. I still felt the thrill of the race, and paid the price in bruises and lost skin after close encounters with rocks and cacti.

Read the unedited version here:

Parts, Passion, and Panache

Mountain Racing Products

By Cecily Whiteside

The trail is steep and rocky, the sun strong on my shoulders. My heart pounds as I come around a curve and see an outcropping of boulders that I need to maneuver through. I hear a rider coming up behind me. I am bearing down on one in front. It takes all I have to keep my courage up as my legs tire and my breath comes in labored gasps. I shift gears, thankful at the reassuring thunk of the chain moving between gears. I dab on the turn, but quickly pick up speed again to pass the racer in front of me. Like many other sometime-mountain-bike-racers or passionate enthusiasts, I want quick and efficient shifting so I can think about other things. Mountain Racing Products of Grand Junction hears me, and delivers. Their products are dedicated to preventing chain drop, the most common reason for racers to DNF (did not finish).

“What are our customer’s needs? This is the question that drives innovation and design at Mountain Racing Products. We’ve spent the last ten years focused on developing products organically; reaching out to our customers, finding out what their needs are, and using the fact that our employees are out there riding three times a week or more to make innovative and unique products,” says owner Tim Fry.

As home to world-renown mountain bike trails with some of the toughest terrain there is, the Grand Valley is a perfect testing ground for the development of high-end bike components. While MRP can’t just create products for our trails, they can certainly test them here. “We have a very dry climate here, well except for this year that is. So we have to think about other riders in other places. We ask ourselves, will this design do well in mud? In the Pacific Northwest? Or in the UK [United Kingdom]?” Tim says. Their goal is to manufacture products that will make a difference in the passionate enthusiast’s riding experience.

MRP started in 2000 when Tim and his wife Christy bought several small part manufacturers, combined their product lines, and relocated to the Grand Valley. The latest MRP products are worlds beyond where they began, thanks to creative minds, years of experimentation, and hard work.

MRP does both the manufacturing and design in their Grand Junction facility. “We are a tiny company, but this gives us an advantage in product development,” Tim says. “We can go from the design table to testing in a few days.”

“Our employees are passionate about riding, and about the products we make,” Tim adds. “We have had no trouble attracting the right talent. Being in Grand Junction is a little harder to travel from, but as we sell all over the world, it also adds credibility to the company that we are located here.” The design and sales team at MRP is a mixture of Grand Junction natives and out-of-town hires. They recently had a CMU engineering student as an intern who they hired full-time upon graduation.

There is also a company culture of promoting mountain biking as a sport. “We sponsor riders to help them move their career forward,” Tim says, “but it’s a two way street. Podium wins are great, but we want to sponsor riders who interact with the fans and help the sport grow.” To do this, they look for ambassadors, not just fast riders. Character counts. They also offer a grassroots sponsorship program through key bike shops around the country. These shops can sponsor young local riders, high school teams, and collegiate athletes. “We don’t know the local riding scenes, so we do this through the local bike shops,” Tim explains.

With passion for the sport, quality parts for bike enthusiasts, and panache in their approach to innovation and design, Mountain Racing Products is a local company making a splash on a global scale.

The Wheels of Progress

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As editor of Grand Valley Magazine I sometimes get to pick my assignments instead of delegating them to someone else. I picked this one. I took Layne’s story over to the shop to review it with Chip, and while there, took photos and got a tour of the facilities. Who knew that a box of spokes would be one of my favorite pictures ever?


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