June 9, 2011
Saturday, I will trade my heels for cycling shoes – not an uncommon occurrence for me, but for the first time ever, I will be taking part in the Ride the Rockies bicycle race from Crested Butte to Georgetown.
This 26-year-old race will cover 412 miles of our fair state over seven days with stops in Crested Butte, Buena Vista, Edwards, Steamboat Springs, Granby and Georgetown. It is an annual event that draws more than 2,000 cyclists to climb and coast our many hills and valleys, but this race is about much more than appreciating Colorado’s beauty and challenges on two skinny wheels.
Races like this mean business and commerce. Each day of this weeklong event, hundreds, if not thousands, of people will line the route to watch racers pass or to catch a glimpse of a loved one who is participating. Those people visit and spend money in the communities that host the racers. They remember the hotel where they stayed, that delicious sandwich they ate, or the fun curio shop they visited. Then, they come back again long after the race has finished.
Last year, officials reported that participating cyclists spent about $250,000 every 24 hours of the race.
Needless to say, I’m excited about next week not only as an avid cyclist but as an advocate for businesses all across Colorado. The host communities have so much to offer and this event, because it changes routes every year, is a wonderful way to showcase our state and the businesses that call it home.
This year’s Ride the Rockies is the fourth time Buena Vista’s population has been doubled by serving as a host to cyclists. Though the town has to bus some lodgers to Salida because it doesn’t boast enough hotel rooms, Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Judy Hassell told the Mountain Mail the race is a “wonderful benefit to any town it visits.”
Granby has Buena Vista beat, with this tour making its ninth stop in the town. Local vendors have planned a gathering in Polhamus Park during the overnight stay, complete with live music and a beer garden, according to Granby Chamber of Commerce executive Sharon Brenner.
Steamboat Springs will be visited twice during the race. Race director Chandler Smith said Steamboat Springs was a natural choice for a tour stop because it provides so many activities for riders.
The Ride will make a stop in Edwards – its first in more than a decade. According to the Vail Daily, a “Taste of Vail Valley” event has been planned for the race stop to offer riders and race watchers a flavor of what area restaurants, lodges and retailers have to offer.
Georgetown is eager to put its best foot forward as the last leg of the tour, as this is the first time the town has ever served as a stop for Ride the Rockies.
Town resident Bob Gibbs volunteered to serve as a liaison between the race and the town. He told the Clear Creek Courant, “I look at it this way…Georgetown is not exactly an industrial town, but we better keep having special events if we’re going to continue to survive.”I’m off to take advantage of my last few opportunities to train before the race starts this weekend. Wish me luck!