Our cycling ambassador
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
LEADVILLE, Colorado – As Bruce Christensen made the final few pedal strokes to the top of Monarch Pass, he was one tired dude.
It might be as tired as he’s ever been on a bicycle climb.
Pain and agony, but it was finally over. After nine miles up to 11,312 feet, he wobbled over and rested in a chair.
Ride the Rockies can be a grueling ordeal. But when the training schedule gets messed up, the pain is worse.
Christensen is almost embarrassed to admit that he never got in the training miles that he should have for the 2009 ride.
But the mayor of Glenwood Springs wasn’t about to miss this Ride the Rockies. The tour has traveled through Glenwood on numerous occasions but this is the first time Ride the Rockies has ever started and ended in Glenwood.
Christensen is an avid cyclist and has been for years. – this is his ninth Ride the Rockies. He’s also done one Bicycle Tour of Colorado, which is also starting and ending in Glenwood (June 21-27).
When asked if he’s a cycling ambassador, Christensen quickly says, “definitely.”
After taking a break on the top of Monarch, he headed down the speedy descent, and that’s when his cycle computer clicked over to 28,000 miles on his Titanium Merlin bicycle.
He bought the bike when he was 50. Now at 63, he says his body is starting to be a little rebellious.
“I wish I was 60,” he says with a laugh.
As tough as this tour has been for him, Christensen says there will be more Ride the Rockies in his future.
“This is not my last one, I will do more,” he says sternly. “What I’ve found out at my age is that I have to work harder to stay in shape.”
As mayor, he’s excited about the final leg of the tour. Not only does it bring him back home but it also brings cyclists down the Rio Grande Trail, and he’s all for showcasing local cycling.
“I’m committed to cycling as an individual and our community has lots of healthy, fit people, and cycling is part of that. There will be a lot of those people who will come back, and that’s why we want them to see what we have to offer.”
Pedal power immediately boosted the popularity of the Rio Grande Trail since it was opened in April 2008. On any given day, and especially on the weekends, the trail is packed with cyclists getting exercise.
In a eight-month period (January to August), anywhere between 40,000 to 68,000 cyclists were counted at various points of the Rio Grande Trail.
“The Rio Grande Trail is a huge benefit to the entire valley,” Christensen says. “There are a lot of people using that trail, and that’s great for everyone.”
There’s no doubt that cycling is a tourism draw aided tremendously by the Rio Grande Trail and the Glenwood Canyon Bike Path.
In 2007, Ride the Rockies rolled through Glenwood, and Christensen pedaled into town flashing a proud smile.
“That was neat, I remember passing (Police Chief) Terry Wilson and I said ‘Hi Terry,’ and he said ‘Hi Bruce.'”
Christensen never misses an opportunity to promote Glenwood Springs, the Rio Grande Trail or cycling in general.
He knows that as an avid cyclist that he’s passionate about the sport, but he also knows there are undeniable benefits that cycling brings to Glenwood area.
That’s why he’s proud to call himself a cycling ambassador.
The appeal of cycling has many levels to Christensen. There’s an intellectual release, and a time to “let the everyday stuff go away” for a while.
But today, there’s no getting away from what awaits. It’s Independence Pass, and that means lots of climbing up and over 12,095 feet.
It will be tough, there will be pain and agony. Then there will be satisfaction and relief. Then it will be down the Rio Grande Trail from Aspen and into Glenwood the next day.
And there will be a proud smile, because he’s the mayor and he knows how special it is to call Glenwood home.
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Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon closed around 9 p.m. Thursday for a flash flood warning.