Cyclists hungry for adventure
Post Independent Staff
A 3,000-legged creature wound its way into Glenwood Springs Friday, ready to devour any food in its path.
Residents didn’t need to be fearful, however. It was just the Bicycle Tour of Colorado’s 1,500 cyclists, who were nearing the end of a weeklong tour covering more than 400 miles.
And they were hungry.
As cyclists streamed into town over the course of the day, they set up tents at Glenwood Springs High School and walked stiffly over to a Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association booth, where they sought directions to restaurants, along with hotels and attractions such as the Hot Springs Pool.
The cyclists’ visit is proving to be a boon for the city’s tourism industry.
“It’s great for everybody,” said Carolyn Barron, a chamber employee who was helping out at the booth.
Nearby, the nine-person traveling crew of Gourmet Fine Catering of Denver was getting ready to serve another meal to those riders who had signed up for the company’s services for the length of the tour.
“It’s been kinda crazy,” company owner Darby Donohue said of the tour gig.
His employees have been working as many as 18 hours a day to keep cyclists fueled up. The company has been preparing the food in Denver and shipping it to each stop along the tour to be served, at the rate of about 2,000 meals a day. Dining venues have ranged from high schools to the tops of mountain passes.
Each evening, riders have been scarfing up dishes such as chipotle pasta and penne Florentine. Some have been getting up as early as 4 a.m. the next day to eat a big breakfast before hitting the road at dawn.
“They hit breakfast real hard. Dinner, too,” said Mike Morehead, one of the company’s chefs.
Forget low-carb fare when it comes to this crowd, which has been riding as much as 100 miles a day.
“They’re probably eating 5,000 calories a day, and losing weight,” Donohue said.
Cyclists hit town Friday not only hungry, but looking to take a shower.
“That’s the first thing they want to do,” Nicki Jones, a Ramada Inn manager, said of riders checking into the hotel.
Tour organizers also provided portable showers at the high school, for the many who chose to sleep in tents on the practice field. But others sought more civilized accommodations. Jones said cyclists were staying in almost all of the Ramada’s 120 rooms Friday.
“There’s a lot going to other hotels also,” she said.
The tour’s Glenwood stop meant a business boost for more than just one day. Trey Working, of Reno, Nev., said he had driven through Glenwood Springs before on Interstate 70 but never stopped. However, he stayed in town last weekend before the tour’s start in Snowmass Village. He plans to return to town after today’s ride back to Snowmass Village for the tour’s finish. Working said he hopes to take a dip in the Hot Springs Pool before heading home.
“It’s a nice little place,” Working said of Glenwood Springs.
“I’d like to see more of it,” said Jack Hartman, a fellow Reno resident who also rode in the tour.
They and Tom Wallace, of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., stood on the pedestrian bridge Friday peering down at the pool and reminiscing about the tour. Participants rode from Snowmass to Leadville, Salida, Crested Butte, and Hotchkiss before crossing McClure Pass on Friday and descending to Glenwood Springs.
Entrepreneurs made the best of the passing parade, the three said. A woman pedaled (?) cookies to pedalers on top of McClure Pass. In Hotchkiss, a football team helped ferry luggage as a fund-raiser. Like Glenwood, other small towns profited handsomely off the cyclists’ stay.
“We more than doubled the size of the town of Hotchkiss,” Hartman said.
Just as the Tour de France is getting going in France, another tour filled with cyclists in colorful jerseys is finishing a ride through the mountains of Colorado. Though not professional racers, many of Friday’s visitors to Glenwood bore taut, fit physiques suggesting that they handled the week’s 26,000 feet of elevation gain with ease.
There’s no yellow jersey awaiting the first rider back in Snowmass Village today, but tourism-dependent communities along the route have been striking gold all week.
“It really has been a boon for some of the towns,” Working said.
Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516
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