A nice, quiet ride with 2,000 cyclists | PostIndependent.com

A nice, quiet ride with 2,000 cyclists

Dale Shrull
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Dale Shrull

Ride the Rockies is a tremendous undertaking. Imagine taking care of 2,000 cyclists, and knowing that you have to take care of them in six different towns.

To say the Ride the Rockies event, now in its 24th year, is a well-organized operation is a huge understatement.

At every stop, a mini-town is set up within the town. There are food, showers, massage opportunities, medical aid – virtually everything you need is ready and waiting. And there is staff everywhere to help with any questions you might have.

It’s quite impressive.

Today I arrived in Hotchkiss after an 80-mile ride. Tomorrow we take off on another 80-mile ride, arriving in Gunnison. And when we arrive, there will be another mini-town waiting for us and taking care of our needs.

Here’s a glimpse of what most cyclists go through every day.

Tomorrow, I will get up, pack my tent and everything else in my large cargo bag. Then I’ll lug it up a hill and drop it behind a semi-truck. All the bags will be loaded onto the truck and driven to Gunnison, where they will be unloaded in long lines.

This is a noncompetitive ride, and riders will depart when they want. So riders will arrive at the destination at all times during the day. Aid stations are set up at several locations on the ride so riders can stop, rest, eat, go to the bathroom or whatever. Obviously, if a rider doesn’t want to stop they don’t have to. We ride at our own pace, stop whenever we want but that doesn’t mean the competitive juices don’t kick in once in a while.

Finding your bag can be a trying ordeal at times, since there’s a couple thousand of them.

After dropping my bag, I’ll pop into the pancake breakfast that is benefiting the Hotchkiss Fire Department.

One of the great benefits of Ride the Rockies and other large bike tours is the money cyclists bring into communities. In Hotchkiss, like Glenwood Springs, several high school organizations were benefiting from lunch sales, bottled water sales and other things.

Hotchkiss has an estimated 4,000 residents in town and the surrounding rural area. On Sunday, more than 2,000 people came to town. They shopped in stores, ate at restaurants, stayed in hotels and spent money.

That’s what they did on Saturday in Glenwood.

After today’s 80-miler, which will skirt parts of the Black Canyon, I will arrive in Western State College in Gunnison, find my bag and find a place to pitch my tent.

After I get my tent set up, I’ll go to the shower truck and wash off the day’s ride. The shower truck will go from town to town and be hooked up and ready when cyclists arrive. The wait can be long – 30-40 minutes at times.

After the shower, I’ll grab some lunch, usually whatever is available on site. There’s downtown after lunch. The tour sets up some lectures to go to, you can hang out and talk about the ride or whatever, or you can take a nap, which is a popular choice after a long, hard ride. There’s massage opportunities, which are also popular after a grueling ride.

I got a massage after the Sunday ride. An Englishman named Colin worked on my pesky left thigh and calf, and boy did it feel good.

Here’s something I didn’t know. All the message therapists are contracted, and some have been doing it for decades. Colin comes all the way from England to do contract work during Ride the Rockies and the Bicycle Tour of Colorado, which starts next Sunday.

For dinner, I’ll try and find something in town, but there will be options at the college.

Obviously, if you go anywhere, you either walk or ride your bike. Some riders have family who drives and meets them at the next destination.

There’s a lot of hanging out with friends or new acquaintances. And that’s a big part of the tour.

After what I’m hoping will be an outstanding night’s sleep, we’ll all get up in the morning and take off for Gunnison.

And when we arrive, everything that we need will be waiting for us.

Quite a major operation, and one that runs incredibly well.

A little about yesterday’s ride: W e ran into some rain and hail on the other side of McClure Pass on Highway 133, but, other than a few painful pelts from the hail, it wasn’t too bad. But today may be a bit of a wet one. Rain is in the forecast. All cyclists will or should pack a rain coat with them in case the weather turns ugly.

I’m looking forward to the ride, because I’d made the ride from Gunnison to Hotchkiss eight years ago, and it remains one of the most beautiful and fun rides I’ve ever done.

The opportunity to do these long rides is what makes these tours special. The Hotchkiss to Gunnison ride will be difficult, but it will be memorable. Hopefully, the weather cooperates a little. But if it doesn’t, that’s just cycling in Colorado.

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