Ready, set, Ride the Rockies
Carbondale on Saturday played the part of host for the kickoff of the annual Ride the Rockies bicycle tour, helping the roughly 2,000 riders get ready for their weeklong adventure.
The Fourth Street Plaza filled with locals and participants alike to welcome the visitors and introduce them to small mountain town charm. Live music, food stands and booths from different vendors filled the space as people milled around and enjoyed cool afternoon temperatures following a rainstorm.
Because Ride the Rockies is a non-competitive event, it appeals to people of all ages and skill levels. Cyclists are always encouraged to ride at their own pace, and are encouraged stop and take photographs of the views.
Bruce Newton, from Omaha, Nebraska, is a five-year veteran. He visits Colorado in between the tours with his wife, but said that he likes to make this tradition a guys’ trip.
“I’ve got five other friends who are signed up for the trip,” Newton said. “We’re all having a great time. Carbondale is great, there’s a lot of nice local businesses here to support. And the scenery of course – you can’t beat that.”
For other riders, including Tim Fries, from Erie, Colorado, this summer’s Ride the Rockies will be their first.
He is particularly excited about getting to ride Independence Pass, Copper Triangle and Trail Ridge Road, what he referred to as the three classics.
A few local businesses had booths that sold products made in the valley. One in particular, “Mom’s Magic Balm,” lent itself directly the cyclists. It was started by Judy Davis, a Glenwood Springs native. She is a potter, and originally wanted to create something natural that would help with her carpal tunnel condition.
Eventually she created her “magic balm,” which helped dramatically. Her sister Patti Sundermann said that she also discovered that she could use it along with Chamois Butt’r, which cyclists use to help prevent chaffing during riding.
Because of it, Davis has been able to continue teaching pottery lessons at the Glenwood Springs Art Center, something she thought she would have to give up.
“I’m getting it out to the public, I wanted to help other people because it helped me so much,” Davis said.
Davis and Sundermann have been pleased with the level of interest from the cyclists in their homemade products.
For Darrell Vigil, a Denver native, this will be his eighth year participating in the tour. He keeps coming back because the route changes every year, which keeps it interesting. He also enjoys reconnecting with all the people he’s met along the way.
“The Ride the Rockies group is like families, it really is,” he said.
The cyclists take off this morning, with their first stretch from Carbondale to Aspen, a 50-mile trek. The rest of the week’s routes are available online at http://www.ridetherockies.com.
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The Forest Service plans to replace the Carbondale Aspen-Sopris ranger district station with a newer, larger facility.