The 28th annual Ride the Rockies Colorado Bicycle Tour rolled out of Telluride Sunday, with upwards of 2200 cyclists taking on what will be a seven-day, 515-mile journey that concludes next weekend in Colorado Springs. In between riders of all shapes, sizes, ages, and skill levels will tackle three high mountain passes and an accumulated 20,000 vertical feet of climbing. According to event officials, this year’s field includes participants from 49 states and 11 countries with ages ranging from 6 to 84.
Day No. 1 accounted for 2218 feet of that uphill pedaling, as the town-sized peloton rolled down valley out of Telluride, the hooked a left onto Colorado Highway 145 for a 75-mile trip to Cortez. Along the way, riders had to overcome the 10,222-foot summit of Lizard Head Pass, plus temperatures that lifted well into the high 80s by midday.
Day 2 is a 64-mile ride from Cortez to Durango with 3442 feet of climbing. You can see the full route here, which also includes stops in Pagosa Springs, Alamosa, Salida, Canyon City and Colorado Springs
RoadBikeReview was at the start in Telluride (and the VIP prologue event the day before). Here’s a look at some of the highlights from an event owned by the Denver Post Community Foundation, which gives a $5,000 grant to a deserving charity in each host community. Stay tuned for more galleries all week.
Former WorldTour racer George Hincapie is the top-of-the-marquee celebrity at this year’s Ride the Rockies. His company, Hincapie Sportswear, is the official jersey sponsor of the event.
Festivities actually kicked off on Saturday with a 50-mile VIP prologue ride from the swanky Hotel Madeline at Telluride’s Mountain Village over to Ouray, home of some of the state’s best hot springs.
The Prologue ride summary is just one example of the high-level of organization at this event. No detail is overlooked. It’s very impressive.
The rest of the Very-Important-Person line-up includes Hincapie’s brother Rich, well-known cycling coach Chris Carmichael, and former pro racer Ron Kiefel.
This year’s Ride the Rockies kit, designed by Hincapie Sportswear.
Still the handsomest guy at the party.
And still rocking the BMC team kit, though he retired after last season.
Every rider has one of these attached to the seat tube.
This year’s route crosses the state’s southern half and includes a trip across the Royal Gorge, which is spanned by the country’s highest suspension bridge.
Day one’s route had a little up and a lot of down.
There are no official start times at Ride the Rockies. The first groups started rolling out around 6 a.m., with everybody else on the road no later than 9.
Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert has a fan in Colorado.
These two got married a couple weeks ago. They’re spending this week riding a custom tandem, and they can go downhill fast.
No skiing today. All cycling all the time.
Along with several Colorado-based bike shops, Mavic is here providing mechanical support.
There are a handful of official’s milling around the peloton assuring such rules as always wear a helmet, no pacelines greater than five cyclists, and no headphones.
One way to get noticed.
This is arguably the prettiest part of Colorado. And that is saying something.
Some riders opt to carry a little more gear than others.
Full disclosure – we love this stuff.
Aid stations have the usual mix of hydration drinks, bananas and water, plus a flap jacks stand. Just remember to pack some cash. Pancakes are not part of the entry fee.
That’s why they call it Lizard Head Pass.
And these are the pertinent details.
Sheep Mountain provides a stunning backdrop for a perfect day on the bike.
This place was along the route in Rico. Single bunks for $23.