Biking at the Grand Canyon looks bright

Family-owned park concession goes the distance with GC visitors

Bikes stand at the ready outside of the bike rental building.  Clara Beard/WGCN

Bikes stand at the ready outside of the bike rental building. Clara Beard/WGCN

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - Inside Grand Canyon National Park, temperatures are heating up and visitors are lining up to capture their own memories of one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Instead of braving traffic and crowds, some visitors are opting for a more serene approach: traveling by bicycle. This option's made possible by Bright Angel Bicycles & Café at Mather Point.

"This is our own little service that we provide here in the park," Bright Angel Bicycles owner Wes Neal said. "There are 900 parking spaces out here, shuttle buses, thousands of people. And for lots of them this is the first experience they have."

The company offers bike rentals, tours and bike shuttles. Visitors have the option to ride out to Yaki Point on the Greenway or out to Hermit Road from Mather Point.

"It gives people the freedom to explore the rim on their own terms," Neal said. "And do it in a healthy way."

Adjoining the bike rental building, a fast-paced café cooks up delicious "grab and go" food and snacks, along with a full coffee bar, designed for outdoor enthusiasts from hikers to bikers.

The café has 13 items on its food menu, from chicken salad sandwiches to southwest salads. Inside retail is limited, but Bright Angel Bikes offers most of the outdoor essentials. Lip balm, sunscreen and water bottles are just a few of the items on hand.

The small family-owned concession, which started in 2010, is picking up more and more business each From Page 2B

year. In peak season, Bright Angel Bikes rents close to 200 bikes a day, a sign that business is booming.

"We have to start thinking of creative ways to bring more bikes in," Neal said.

The rental bikes used are "gear comfort cruisers." By mixing a cruiser style bike with a mountain bike, the composition is tough enough to withstand hundreds of miles of wear.

"This is a great middle-of-the-road bike," Neal said of the durable KHS brand. "In the future, we're moving all front suspension,"

Neal went on to say that anyone is capable of producing some two-wheeled power. There are options for everyone: short rides, long rides and all the routes ride along the Canyon at some point in the trip. Visitors can also make use of the park's shuttle bus system, which can hold as many as three bicycles per bus.

For right now all bike routes on offer are paved. Visitors have the option of riding the Greenway Trail to Tusayan - a seven-mile ride one way.

"Hermit Road is the best road in the park, we have that exclusivity with the shuttle service for our visitors to go out here and experience the quaint, quiet side of the park and have their own unique experience in a really fun kind of way," Neal said.

The café is open all year and the bike rental is seasonal - from March to September. More information about Bright Angel Bicycles & Café at Mather Point is available by visiting www.bikegrandcanyon.com.

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