A sure sign of spring in Moab is the bloom of bike jerseys. Saturday, March 8 through Tuesday, March 11, colorful jerseys will be on full display as cyclists from all over the U.S. and Canada arrive for the Skinny Tire Festival— four days and many miles of fully supported, world-class road cycling. Thousands of dollars raised from the event will go to Moab’s cancer treatment center.

“We’re bringing 400 people to town who donate to something only locals will be using,” event coordinator Beth Logan said.

Logan predicts that this year’s event will raise 10-15 thousand dollars for the local cancer treatment center, or infusion room, at Moab Regional Hospital.

The festival was established 14 years ago as a benefit ride for cancer-survivorship programs and research.

“We’ve had cyclists attending this event every year since its inception; we are like family,” said founder Mark Griffith, who lost his older brother to cancer. “We’ve shared laughter and tears as we’ve all gone through some kind of cancer experience and put purpose to our cycling.”

The four-day event includes 40-to-60 mile rides each day, to Dead Horse State Park, along the Colorado River, and into Arches National Park. Besides the incredible scenery, cyclists enjoy this festival because it’s well-supported, Logan said.

“We have aid stations every 10 to 15 miles and the aid stations are stocked with fresh food, sport beverages, water, and cheering volunteers,” she said.

Support vehicles are also available on each ride to help in whatever situations may arise, even if one just wants to bypass a steep climb, Logan said. A bit of luxury continues with lunches served on the rides, provided by Red Cliffs Lodge and Ledger’s Deli.

Cyclists can recover and celebrate their fundraising achievements at the festival celebration Saturday, March 8 from 2 to 5 p.m., at the Aarchway Inn. The Denver band Mint Edition will provide live music.

“They’re the kind of band you get up and dance to,” Logan said.

For cyclists too tired to dance, massage therapists will provide recovery care, and Red Cliffs Lodge will provide appetizers and beverages.

The event’s top fundraisers will be awarded prizes for their efforts, including a Cannondale road bike valued at $4,500 for first place, and a 5-day river trip donated by Sheri Griffith River Expeditions for second place.

Cyclists can also browse the event expo at the Aarchway Inn, which opens Friday, March 7 at 2 p.m. and runs through the weekend. Cycling apparel companies Blackbottoms and VOMax will have booths and bicycle manufacturers Cannondale and Fezzari will have high-end custom bikes available to demo.

Sunday evening, March 9, concludes with a cowboy cookout at Red Cliffs lodge. Cyclists can tour the Castle Creek Winery, explore the Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage, or just mingle and relax by the Colorado River to music of Scott and Marly Boyer and Mint Edition.

Guest speakers Uncle Al Ardizone and Marty Jemison will also be on hand for an informal question-and-answer program. “Uncle Al” is a bike tech professional and guest commentator on the Web site RoadBikeRider.com. Marty Jemison is a former pro cyclist who rode in the Tour de France in 1997 and 1998 and now runs his own company, which offers cycling tours in Europe.

In addition to the local cause, Skinny Tire cyclists have donated $4 million over the past 13 years to various cancer research and survivorship programs all over the world. Scott Boyer, a Huntsman Hometown Heroes team member from Salt Lake City said “This will be our 5th year riding a tandem bicycle to support this worthy cancer event.

“We will cycle over 150 miles and dedicate our ride to a friend who was diagnosed recently with advanced colon cancer,” Boyer said. “My wife Marly is six years cancer free and we believe that every day with each other is a blessing.”

People who aren’t bike-riders may still make a donation to Team Moab-Locals Rock, in which 100 percent of the donation will benefit the Moab community, Logan said.

4-day event expects to raise more than $10,000 for cancer treatment

Locals are encouraged to ride with special offers. Call 435-260-8889 or register at www.skinnytirefestival.com  and use the promotion code: LOCALS.

“We’ve had cyclists attending this event every year since its inception; we are like family. We’ve shared laughter and tears as we’ve all gone through some kind of cancer experience and put purpose to our cycling.”