Triumphant return to Glenwood for weary cyclists
Post Independent Intern
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – They rode 380 miles, slept in tents, and broke through the finish line. These determined men and women conquered the 24th annual Ride the Rockies, completing the Glenwood Springs loop on Friday.
A total of 2,000 riders departed Glenwood Springs on June 14 to complete the first leg of the ride – 80 miles to Hotchkiss. For the next five days, the participants rode through Gunnison, Salida, Leadville, Aspen and back to Glenwood Springs.
Rebecca McFarland, one member of the rider gang known as the ‘Wheel Dogs’, rode into the St. Stephen’s Church parking area and crossed the Ride the Rockies finish line for the second time.
A cheering crowd welcomed riders, including McFarland, who said her favorite thing about this event is the people she meets. She likes that there are so many people from so many different places.
When hitting the brick wall of fatigue, she powered right through it.
“Everyone’s hurting,” McFarland said. “Its not just you, you’re not alone.” She laughed, adding that this helps her push through the hard moments.
For her, the hardest day was the second day, from Hotchkiss to Gunnison.
“It was a long day, windy and a constant grade up,” McFarland said.
This year was easier for her because she maintained her riding form from last year. She expressed this by laughing, saying she is in better shape, which made the ride more enjoyable.
Along with riding through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, McClure Pass and Monarch Pass, riders reached an elevation of 12,095 feet over Independence Pass.
Glenwood Springs High School senior-to-be Brad Coates went through the finish line for the fourth time. He said this year’s ride was not any harder or easier than the previous years.
“I love riding, receiving support and watching everyone else finish it,” Coates said.
The event pulls in big money for each of the towns the riders stop in. Approximately $90 is spent by each participant per town, which greatly helps the local communities in such a brutal economic climate.
More than 4,000 applications were taken for the 2,000 spots available. Riders came from all 50 states and nine different countries.
The event is non-competitive, which allows riders to go at their own pace, enabling some to push their limit and allowing others to just enjoy the ride.
James Malone, from New Mexico, finished his first Ride the Rockies Friday. Malone prepared himself with a 15-week workout regimen to get primed for the six-day ride. Keeping with the consensus, he said the second day was also the hardest day for him.
He remained focused on the ascents, which felt like he was climbing forever, but enjoyed coasting on the descents that allowed him to look at the scenery and to admire the beautiful country.
“I finished,” Malone said, adding that was the best part.
All proceeds from the event will benefit Denver Post Charities, a McCormick Foundation Fund. The raised funds will be matched at 50 cents on the dollar and put back into the community. The Denver Post and Wells Fargo Bank are the two main sponsors of the ride.
On Sunday, the second major bicycle tour will take off, again from Glenwood.
The Bicycle Tour of Colorado, now in its 15th year, will also have 2,000 riders and will run June 21-27. This tour will start and finish in Glenwood and go through Hotchkiss, Grand Junction, Montrose, Crested Butte and Buena Vista.
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