Day 2 of the 28th annual Ride the Rockies Colorado Bicycle Tour sent riders on a rolling 64-mile grind from Cortez to Durango. Along the way riders passed through the small towns of Mancos and Hesperus – and climbed Mancos Hill and Hesperus Hill. Net elevation gain for the day was a tough 3,442 feet.
More menacing, though, was the heat. Daytime highs reached into the mid 90s, leaving many a battered biker by the time they rolled into the day’s finish area at the Durango High School. Heavily salt-stained jerseys and long faces were commonplace.
All told upwards of 2200 cyclists are taking on what will be a seven-day, 515-mile journey that concludes next weekend in Colorado Springs. In between riders of all ages, shapes, sizes, and skill levels will pedal up and over three high mountain passes during an accumulated 20,000 vertical feet of climbing.
Next up for the giant Ride the Rockies peloton is another easterly push, this time 86 miles (and 3,635 feet of climbing) from Durango to Pagosa Springs on Wednesday. It’ll be another hard, hot day for sure. But the good news is that – as its name implies – Pagosa Springs is home to one of the best natural hot spring in the state.
RoadBikeReview was on-route and at the finish on Tuesday. Here’s a look at some of the sights and scenes.
Ride the Rockies is truly an all-inclusive affair. Participants ages range from grade school to well into the retirement years.
After spending the day in the high mountains around Telluride on Sunday, Monday’s course showed off the high dessert landscape of Colorado’s Four Corners region.
There were no major climbs on Monday, but that certainly doesn’t mean there wasn’t any climbing. Net gain for the day was 3,442 feet.
Some riders travel alone, others in pairs. The only rule is that pace lines can never exceed more than five riders at one time.
Routes are clearly marked, making it easy to get where you need to go.
Agriculture and ranching are two of the primary economic drivers in the Cortez area. The cycling’s not bad either.
Unlike your average carbon-fiber-littered European gran fondo, the Ride the Rockies peloton of bikes is all over the map. Sure there are plenty of high-zoot composite race machines. But there are also plenty of classic steeds, such as this old LeMond.
The overwhelming take-away from Ride the Rockies is what a casual fun affair it is. Of course everyone is deadly serious about completing the 515-mile ride, but there’s none of the agro-attitude you often find at more competitive road cycling events.
Most riders stick to the prescribed route. But some opt to add in a few extra miles and take in the area sights. These guys pulled off from the field and pedaled the road up into Mesa Verde National Park, home to a litany of ancient Indian ruins.
Mavic is here providing neutral support – and as the sign indicates – looking for riders to test ride its fleet of high end road wheels.
There is no missing this year’s distinctive Ride the Rockies jersey, which is made by Hincapie Sports. Big George even made an appearance at the race and spoke at Day 1’s evening cycling seminar.
Every day when riding is down, riders gather for the evening cycling seminar which includes advice from expert riders and a featured speaker.
In Durango that featured speaker was well-known cycling TV commentator – and Durango resident – Bob Roll (and his daughter Ruby). We spoke to Roll before he went on stage. His prediction for the final podium at the Tour de France: Chris Fromme, Cadel Evans, and Alberto Contador – probably in that order.
No this is not a photo of the latest Occupy Wall Street protest. At Ride the Rockies riders have three primary lodging options – stay in hotels, sleep inside the local rec center or high school gym, or camp.
In Durango, the local high school gym provided sleeping space for the Ride the Rockies peloton.
After a long day in the saddle, recovery is everything. That means food, drink, and of course a little nap time.
Massage doesn’t hurt either. These folks were packed non-stop all day.