Few sporting events offer competitors the opportunity to view the majestic beauty of Colorado from the exhilarating vantage point of a bicycle. For the 28th consecutive year, the Ride the Rockies bike tour will offer a group of 2,000 athletes just that opportunity.
Beginning June 8 in Telluride, the Ride the Rockies tour traverses 513 miles over a period of eight days. Riders must climb 20,400 vertical feet, crossing Wolf Creek Pass, Lizard Head Pass and Poncha Pass before finishing in Colorado Springs.
Local riders participating in the Ride the Rockies tour this year include Robert Heyl, Marty McKean, Jack Nickerson and Dean Palmquist.
For many riders, the physical challenges presented by the tour, combined with the opportunity to enjoy Colorado’s vast landscape, make the grueling experience worthwhile.
“For me, Ride the Rockies will be special because it will allow me to challenge myself and enjoy the sense of accomplishment that will hopefully come after meeting that challenge,” said Palmquist. “This truly is a special event.”
Along with offering local riders the opportunity to bike, Ride the Rockies will provide economic benefits to Cortez, a host community for the tour this year.
After the second day of the tour, participants will stop in Cortez to rest, rejuvenate and refuel.
According to Ride the Rockies race coordinators, people associated with the ride will spend approximately $250,000 at local businesses during the 24 hours they are in Cortez.
Economic benefits provided by Ride the Rockies will also extend to a local nonprofit organization. The Medicine Horse, which provides assistance to people through equine-assisted therapy, will receive grant money generated by the Denver Post Community Foundation. Nonprofit organizations in host communities are eligible to apply for the money.
The Medicine Horse will use the grant money to provide scholarships for young people interested in participating in their program.
“Most of the children and youth that come to The Medicine Horse are from low-income homes,” said Lynne Howarth, executive director of The Medicine Horse. “I am very thankful to Ride the Rockies and the Denver Post Community Foundation for providing us the opportunity to serve young people that we might otherwise be unable to serve.”
In addition to the economic benefits provided to Cortez area businesses, City Manager Shane Hale sees the Ride the Rockies Tour as an opportunity for Cortez to impress people who may not be familiar with the area.
“I see this as an opportunity for the city of Cortez to showcase itself to numerous people,” said Hale. “We hope participants will come back in the future. It’s a great deal and an honor to be a host city for this event.”
After the arrival of tour riders in Cortez, events will be held at the Parque De Vida at the pavilion across from the Cortez Recreation Center.
First, acclaimed cyclist, George Hincapie, will be speaking at 4 p.m. Live music will begin at 6:30 p.m., presented by The Beautiful Losers. A beer garden will also be available for those 21 and older.
All events are open to the public.