There will not be a professional bicycle race coming to Southwest Colorado in 2013, but there will be a couple thousand cyclists pedaling into Cortez this June.
The annual Ride the Rockies cycling tour will begin in Telluride and stop in Cortez its first day.
The tour begins on June 9 with cyclists taking off from Telluride and making the 75-mile trip through the rugged San Juans, down Lizard Head Pass and into Cortez.
The ride is limited to 2,000 riders with registration open until Feb. 22. All riders will be picked via a lottery and participant announcements will be made on March 1.
After spending the night in Cortez, cyclists will have a 64-mile ride to Durango. Riders will head out on northbound Highway 491 and turn onto Highway 184 making their way to Mancos before taking Highway 160 to Durango.
Cortez Area Chamber of Commerce Director Dena Guttridge said plans are already underway to welcome riders and offer them plenty of Cortez hospitality.
"It's such a great event and we want to promote biking in the area, so we are really excited to be part of it this year," Guttridge said.
The rest of the 513-mile route is Durango to Pagosa Springs (86 miles via Vallecito route), then to Alamosa over Wolf Creek Pass (91 miles); from Alamosa, riders will travel 84 miles to Salida, then 67 miles to Canon City, before the final day that takes cyclists 46 miles into Colorado Springs on June 15.
Ride the Rockies is a massive undertaking with well-planned logistics and organization to take care of the 2,000 riders and hundreds of support staff and family or friends following the route.
Ride the Rockies, which is sponsored by the Denver Post and Wells Fargo Bank, brings a huge economic impact to all the host communities.
According to a Ride the Rockies news release, in 2012, cyclists spent an average of $250,000 in a 24-hour period in each town.
Most of the riders will camp at designated schools or parks, but most motels in the area will be filled to capacity, and restaurants packed for lunch and dinner during the one-night visit.
A different route is chosen every year.
The last time Ride the Rockies came through Southwest Colorado was in 2010 when cyclists rode from Ouray to Durango, then off to Pagosa Springs.
The last time Cortez was a destination for the ride was in 2008. That year the ride started in Durango, came to Cortez, then to Telluride.
This will be the seventh time Cortez has been part of the tour over its 26 years. The ride has started in Cortez four times.