Cyclists glad for layover, high temperatures
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. – After a challenging couple of days battling rain, snow and cold, including white-out conditions on top of Trail Ridge Road on Monday, Mary Sebert said Wednesday was one of the most enjoyable days of her cycling life.
“Coming down (Highway 131 from Steamboat Springs), I was thinking there’s no place I’d rather be than on this bike today,” she said while preparing to set up camp in the field outside Glenwood Springs High School Wednesday afternoon.
Sebert, of Rapid City, S.D., joined a group of friends on her first Bicycle Tour of Colorado, which brought some 1,500 riders and support crews to Glenwood Springs Wednesday afternoon. They will spend a layover day today to take in the local sights and attractions and leave of Friday morning.
“I was sad that we didn’t get to ride through Glenwood Canyon. I was really looking forward to that,” said one of Sebert’s friends, Janet Briggs of Spearfish, S.D.
The tour was to have brought the cyclists, along with their bikes, into Glenwood Springs through Glenwood Canyon. However, flooding along the Colorado River from the spring runoff has kept the canyon trail closed and caused extensive damage in several sections.
Wednesday’s revamped route took riders from Steamboat Springs down Highway 131 to Wolcott. Originally, riders were to have come down the Colorado River Road through Burns to Glenwood Canyon.
After pedaling to Gypsum via Highway 6, the riders dropped their bikes at Eagle Valley High School and hopped on buses for the remainder of the trip to Glenwood Springs and the scheduled day off.
“I’m really looking forward to not getting out on the bike again,” said Briggs, looking forward to today’s layover. She and her companions are visiting Glenwood Springs for the first time.
She and Sebert were among the handful of tour participants fortunate enough to complete their ride all the way to top of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park on Monday, when snow closed the road.
Many riders had to turn back to Estes Park, while others waited at the visitor’s center at the top of the pass. None of the riders could proceed down the other side to Granby as planned, and instead took their first of two unplanned bus rides to make it to that day’s destination.
“My sunglasses were icing over, and nobody could feel their fingers or toes,” said four-year tour veteran Scott Richmond, of Boulder, recalling the Trail Ridge ride.
Jerry Touslee of Fort Collins was happy for the warm temperatures that greeted riders for the Wednesday leg.
“This is the prettiest day so far,” he said. “It’s the first day we were actually able to ride in shorts.”
Despite the route changes and logistical challenges, Touslee said he had no regrets.
“They (tour organizers) had to deal with a lot of stuff they didn’t expect,” he said. “I think they handled it the best they could.”
Frank McSwain of Carbondale and about a dozen other tour participants from the Roaring Fork Valley were able to arrange their own shuttle at Dotsero so they could ride the original route down the Colorado River Road from Burns.
“It was sure nice to see the sunshine today,” said McSwain, who was doing the tour for the sixth time. “We had ice on our tents in Steamboat this morning.”
After a welcoming party for the cyclists in Sayre Park Wednesday evening, participants were to take part in a variety of activities in and around Glenwood Springs today.
This is the 16th year for the Bicycle Tour of Colorado, which takes riders along different routes through the Rocky Mountains each year, starting and finishing at the same point. This year’s tour began Sunday in Central City.
After being bused back to Gypsum Friday morning, the riders will make their way to Frisco, before finishing back in Central City on Saturday.
(Post Independent photography intern Jury Jerome contributed to this report.)
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