It was about 28 years ago that a reporter with The Denver Post was participating in a 10,000 bicycle event in Iowa that was sponsored by the local newspaper. She brought the idea back to The Denver Post and Ride the Rockies was born.
The 27th annual Ride the Rockies came through the North Fork Valley on Sunday stopping in Hotchkiss overnight. This bike tour will take the riders over five mountain passes, two national parks and 442 miles in six days. The riders came from Gunnison riding through Crawford. Monday morning they took Back River Road and then Highway 133 over McClure Pass on their way to their next overnight stay in Carbondale.
Some bikers camped at Hotchkiss K-8 turning it into a tent city. Others stayed in local motels, some in Cedaredge, Delta and Montrose. Colorado Charter Lines shuttled the riders to accommodations.
The Hotchkiss High School football team provided overnight security for the bicycles at the Hotchkiss K-8 playground. "We needed young guys who stay up all night anyway," Mayor Wendell Koontz said as he was manning the Hotchkiss Chamber of Commerce booth on Sunday.
Hotchkiss K-8 principal Carrie Coats greeted everyone as they brought their bikes to the bike corral. She invited them to get some food at the concessions set up inside the school. In addition to the concessions, the Hotchkiss K-8 PIT Crew (Parent Involvement Team) prepared Sunday's lunch and arrived at 3:30 Monday morning to prepare breakfast for the riders. They made 800 breakfast burritos. "I have the best parents in the world," Coats said.
Two riders, Greg Churchman and Jason Diaz, left at 7:30 Sunday morning to make their way to Hotchkiss. It was a little windy at first, but once they went through the canyon, Churchman said, "It was absolutely gorgeous."
Asked if they took vacation time to participate in Ride the Rockies, Diaz joked, "No. My boss thinks I'm working!" Churchman said actually they did take vacation time.
It was the first time either had done the six-day jaunt. Both enter other biking events. Once they were picked through the Ride the Rockies lottery system, they knew they had to put in more time training.
"The folks up in Crawford put up a pretty good show for all of us," Diaz said. The Crawford Friends Church provided lunch after the non-denominational service. Coincidentally, riders began arriving in town.
After riders reached Hotchkiss K-8, if needed they could get first aid which was provided by St. Anthony Hospital. A medical care van was brought from Denver sponsored by the Denver Community Service Center. Cathy Kissner said there had been a couple of minor accidents Sunday morning. Medics and doctors ride with the others to be available when mishaps or injuries happen.
Nolan Epple was in the information booth helping people get to their hotel shuttles and find their way to showers, food and entertainment. Epple has worked with Ride the Rockies for five years. At a ceremony Saturday night in Gunnison those who have been with Ride the Rockies for multiple years were recognized. A couple people have been with the ride for 25 years.
In one large tent riders could get massages. About 24 to 26 massage therapists came along to help soothe riders' muscles.
Elizabeth Norris, community relations manager and a Colorado native, said over 2,000 riders were involved this year. The total participants for the ride balloons to about 3,500 when all the support crew is counted. Hotchkiss K-8 was the headquarter site with camping, lunch, breakfast and the bike corral. The Delta County Fairgrounds just down Fourth Street was the entertainment site hosted by the Hotchkiss Chamber of Commerce with dinner provided by local nonprofits. There was an Odell Beer Garden and local musical entertainment.
Six shuttle buses ran until 10 p.m. Sunday so people could enjoy all the activities at the fairgrounds.
From the reports Norris was hearing on Sunday afternoon, riders met some head winds, but "It's one of the most beautiful rides that Colorado has with the North Rim of the Black Canyon," Norris said. "Everyone's smiling!"
Norris said the economic impact for the host community for one night averages $250,000.
Ride the Rockies also gives a $5,000 grant to a local nonprofit in their host towns. This year that was won by Kids' Pasta Project which supports many local nonprofits. The check was presented at Heritage Hall on Sunday before the cycling seminar. One hundred percent of the proceeds from Ride the Rockies goes back to The Denver Post Community Foundation which provided the grant to Kids' Pasta Project.
"Thanks for being such a wonderful host community. This whole valley has been great!" Norris said.blog comments powered by Disqus