The revised day 6 route ran along the foothills of the towering Sangre de Cristo mountain range in southern Colorado.
The annual Ride the Rockies Colorado Bicycle Tour wrapped up Saturday in Colorado Springs, concluding what was the longest trek in the event’s 28-year history.
All told, about 2,200 cyclists pedaled 542 miles during a testing seven-day journey that started in Telluride, then passed through Cortez, Durango, Pagosa Springs, Alamosa, Salida, and Canyon City, before crossing that final finish line at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in the state’s second largest city.
Originally, the 2013 event wasn’t slated to be a record breaker. But a forest fire in the Royal Gorge area forced a last-minute re-route of stage 6. Instead of a 67-mile ride from Salida to Canyon City, including a spin over the country’s largest suspension bridge (which was closed due to the fire), the Ride the Rockies peloton was diverted on a 93.5-mile southerly route through the towns of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff, before turning north and circling into Canyon City.
The extra mileage didn’t seem to phase many people. Who doesn’t like to be part of history.
The extra mileage (and nearly 2,000 additional feet climbing) was a grind to be sure, but at the finish in Canyon City, the overwhelming consensus was that the revised route was one of the best days of the entire tour. Most of the road was on dead-quiet country roads; the climbs were steady but not leg-crushing, and the views of the looming Sangre de Cristo mountain range were some of the tour’s best.
The next day, it was a (relatively) easy 46-mile spin into Colorado Springs, ending what will go down as one of the best Ride the Rockies in the event’s near three-decades-long history.
On a personal note, this was our first up-close look at an event whose main aim (besides providing a great cycling experience) is to raise money for a variety of state and local charities. Needless to say, we were thoroughly impressed. Organization was dialed, the routes were both spectacularly scenic and reasonably challenging, and the general vibe was amazingly upbeat and positive. It was a truly welcome departure from the amateur bike racing world, which has a tendency to take itself way to seriously at times.
Here’s a look back at some of the sights and scenes, including some great videos courtesy of Ride the Rockies/OnSight Public Affairs.
Perhaps the toughest day of the weeklong ride was the grind up and over Wolf Creek Pass, peak elevation 10,850 feet. Here’s a peek at what it looked like out on the road.
The crew from WD-40 was at the event all week cleaning and lubing bikes. By one estimate the total number of washes was in excess of 1000. That’s a lot of scrubbing.
Volunteers (all 86 of them) play a huge role in the Ride the Rockies success. This young lady from Texas was a aid-station staple, always making sure there was plenty of water to drink.
Ride the Rockies is far more than just a cycling event. Each town along the route pulls out all the stops to provide a warm welcome to this traveling peloton of 2200. Here’s a look at some of the off-the-bike highlights.
No agro attitudes at this event. Just a lot of people having a really good time.
It wasn’t part of the original plan, but when a forest fire forced a re-route, organizers and cyclists adapted for what turned out to be one of the best days of the weeklong event.
Clearly the chance to pedal across the Royal Gorge – highest suspension bridge in the country – would have been a special treat. But as these views illustrate, the Plan B route from Salida to Canyon City was a pretty solid second choice.
Grit and determination are as important as training time.
Ride the Rockies means many things to many people. It’s a challenge, an adventure, a vacation, or all of the above.
Each day, when riding was done, the final area provided everything you needed to prepare for the next day: pitch your tent, park your bike, grab your luggage, then kick back and relax in the Wheat Ridge Cyclery recovery zone.