Bike tour set to begin here in June
By Mark Reaman
Apparently still feeling gun-shy from the 2014 Whatever USA event, the Crested Butte Town Council wanted to discuss the proposed Ride the Rockies bicycle tour that will be coming to town next June. The official bike tour announcement won’t be made until January 18 but the idea of accepting an event and keeping it under wraps made the council uneasy, so the council put it on the December 17 agenda. In the end, the council was supportive of the event coming to town next summer.
“Based on what happened with Whatever, it was important for this to be on the agenda,” said mayor Jim Schmidt at the start of the discussion.
Town manager Dara MacDonald said she and local chamber of commerce director Ashley UpChurch had been approached by Ride the Rockies organizers in December and discussed basic initial issues with tour director Deirdre Moynihan last week.
Moynihan was at the council meeting and emphasized that she loved Crested Butte and that was a reason she wanted to incorporate the town into the tour. She noted that Ride the Rockies had made stops in Crested Butte at least four previous times.
“We have started doing loops instead of long point-to-point rides,” Moynihan explained. “We chose this as the start town for the 2019 event. It has lodging, it has space to camp, it has places to park cars and it is a quintessential Colorado town.”
She said the tour would begin in Crested Butte on June 7 when volunteers get to town to do the prep work. What Moynihan described as a “high-end fundraising event” would take place then as well. On Saturday, thousands of riders would start to arrive for registration. She said changes are still being made and that instead of doing a day-one Crested Butte loop as originally planned, riders would head to Gunnison. The tour would hit central Colorado for the next several days before returning to Crested Butte from Gunnison on June 15.
As a host community, the town is expected to organize some food options and potential entertainment. Moynihan said charitable grants are awarded in the participating communities and the tour hopes to “leave no trace” as part of its ethic. She described the basic Ride the Rockies rider demographic as a 55-year-old male with money (which is very different from the Whatever USA demographic), but she hoped to attract more women riders. She said it would also be on her radar to help get the word out about Crested Butte Bike Week, which starts shortly after the tour ends on June 26.
Crested Butte town planner Bob Nevins said he would request a parking plan since Moynihan said approximately 800 vehicles could be left in town the week of the tour. That is one reason the loop has become more popular than point-to-point rides. Nevins said he was concerned about that many cars being left in the upper valley. “We just want to make sure the parking is orderly,” he said.
Overall, the council expressed no major concerns with the Ride the Rockies event and hoped the town could put on a good showing for the riders.