Next week folks should keep an eye out for bicycle riders as participants of the Ride the Rockies come through Delta County and enjoy an overnight stop in Hotchkiss before heading to Gunnison.
The 2,000 riders, and their support crews, will be arriving in Hotchkiss from Carbondale on Thursday, June 13. Their route along Highway 133 covers 65.4 miles and gains 3,958 feet in elevation. The grind up McClure Pass is not for sissies. The group will surely be ready to relax when they hit Hotchkiss.
Many of the riders will be camping at the Delta County Fairgrounds, where they will find food vendors, music and a beer garden. The community is invited to come down as well. The food vendors will be serving from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., the beer garden opens at noon, and live music will be from 2 to 8 p.m.
Ride the Rockies is an epic tour of Colorado created 34 years ago by the Denver Post, and has gained in popularity since its beginning year in 1986. The bicycle event challenges its cadre of riders with a different route each year, taking on some of Colorado's most breathtaking mountain passes.
This year's route begins and ends in Crested Butte. On the first day, Sunday, June 9, riders travel to Gunnison. From there the route goes to Buena Vista on June 10; to Snowmass on June 11; to Carbondale on June 12; to Hotchkiss on June 13; to Gunnison on June 14; and finishes in Crested Butte on Saturday, June 15.
Drivers are asked to give the bike riders plenty of room along the routes -- Highway 133 on June 13, and Highway 62 on June 14 through Crawford and along the north rim of the Black Canyon. Ride organizers describe Friday's ride as one of the hardest of the tour because of the elevation gain, and "one of the most scenic days of the tour."