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A celebration of “average”

Colleen O’Neil
coneil@postindependent.com
The Glenwood Springs CRUISE-A-THONg commences at 11 a.m. this Saturday, July 11, at Veltus Park.
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Break out your flip flops, sunscreen and silly hats — it’s time to cruise.

On Saturday, the Glenwood Springs CRUISE-A-THONg commences at Veltus Park at the relaxed hour of 11 a.m. The event is a triathlon of the least competitive variety — designed for the un-hardcore, un-trained, noncompetitive athlete in all of us.

First, racers spin on a cruiser bikes (or any other self-propelled transportation) around town from Veltus park. Next, there’s a rousing “thong,” a flip-flop walk down the bike path along the Roaring Fork River. Then racers hop into inner tubes or other floatation devices and float back down the Roaring Fork to Veltus Park.

The race was started by Tamra Allen, who brought the event from Pagosa to Glenwood Springs in 2013.

It’s a fun, colorful afternoon full of laughs and antics.

Katy Knapp, a member of the race committee, loves seeing the costumes that some people think up for the cruise. Last year the costume contest winners were group of pirates wearing hats, cloaks, swords and masks. And there was a group of chickens and two bearded ladies carrying inflatable pigs. Also, at the doughnut-stocked registration desk volunteers give out custom-puffy-painted headbands with silly sayings instead of number bibs.

Along the race course are various “comfort” (not “aid”) stations providing high-calorie snacks and simple carbohydrates along the way: Jimmy John’s sandwiches, root beer floats from the Glenwood Canyon Brewpub, 50-cent ice creams from Sweet Adventures and free fries and onion rings from Grind are strategically placed along the course for optimum athletic recovery.

“People have tons of fun gorging on sugar and fat,” Knapp said with a laugh.

Since the CRUISE-A-THONg is a celebration of mediocrity, the first-place person doesn’t actually win. The winner is the person who posts the most average time. No, that muscle-bound fellow with his designer sunglasses and energy gels isn’t your competition at this race. At the CRUISE-A-THONg, you’ll need to watch out for the lady in the pink visor and Keen sandals riding a longboard.

Judges score the race using a system of bonus points for things like consuming fattening snacks along the way, having a multitude of gears on your bike, losing your sandals or doing anything else that makes you even more of a normal competitor. (The course, however, will be closed after three hours.)

At the finish line, racers can enjoy the after party with music, drinks and a ceremony to reward the most average of the Jo(e)’s. Other awards go out for the most creative costumes and best antics along the race course. Local businesses have donated some excellent prizes for the race, like a cruiser bike from Sunlight Ski and Bike, a pedicure kit from Treadz, pint glasses from the Glenwood Canyon Brewpub and beignets from the Lost Cajun.

In 2013, race proceeds went to Houses 4 Higher Education, which partnered with Glenwood Springs High School to build outdoor furniture around the city. Last year, proceeds build two bike racks near the bathrooms at Veltus Park. This year the CRUISE-A-THONg will be funding an undetermined public project.

Register online until Friday afternoon at http://www.cruiseathong.com. Adult registration starts at $35, and kids 12 and under can race for free. Helmets are always required, and this year due to high water levels, racers must also wear life jackets.

If you’d like to be even more average and spectate instead of participate, you can see the race on Midland Avenue, 27th Street bridge, the Rio Grande trail, 12th Street and Cooper Avenue, before they take a turn onto 7th Street for a stop at Grind, then head straight back to Veltus Park.


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