Bicycle tour starts this weekend
By Kendra Walker
This weekend, Crested Butte will play host to an estimated 2,000 cyclists for the 34th Annual Ride The Rockies (RTR) Colorado Bicycle Tour. This year’s seven-day race begins and ends in Crested Butte, “One of Colorado’s most iconic mountain towns” according to RTR (and our own local bias).
“The riders will be returning to Crested Butte this year which is new,” said Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce executive director Ashley UpChurch. “This is the first year the ride has been a loop.”
Participants will arrive to town on Saturday, June 8, for the race start on Sunday, June 9, and will cross the finish line back in Mt. Crested Butte a week later on Saturday, June 15.
Crested Butte has been incorporated into the Ride the Rockies race event several times in the past, most recently in 2015. This year’s route will cover 445 total miles and 28,230 feet in total elevation gain through the mountain passes and valleys nestled here.
From Crested Butte, cyclists will ride to Gunnison; from Gunnison to Buena Vista via Monarch Pass; from Buena Vista to Snowmass via Independence Pass; from Snowmass to Carbondale; from Carbondale to Hotchkiss; again to Gunnison and then the final push back to Mt. Crested Butte. Daily mileage will vary between 40 miles and 83 miles.
According to RTR public relations representative Laura Driscoll, 15 Crested Buttians are registered for the race. RTR also offers a “Ride the Rockies’ 1-Day Loop” a 63-mile loop to riders, locals and outside participants this Saturday.
Created in 1986, Ride the Rockies is the longest running bicycle event in Colorado and the signature event of the Denver Post Community Foundation. The foundation’s grant program also allows RTR to support non-profits representing the participating RTR host communities.
This year, the foundation will provide $3,000 grants each to Living Journeys and Adaptive Sports Center for Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte, and to Gunnison Country Food Pantry and Gunnison Valley Mentors for Gunnison, as noted by Driscoll.
There will be a vendor village at Town Park (the Alpenglow field) on Saturday with Eddyline beer, food, yard games and poster making to cheer on race participants. There will also be a sidewalk sale on Elk Avenue on Sunday with various businesses offering rider specials. Also be prepared for weeklong rider parking at Town Ranch, Snowmass lot, Grand Lodge and up Gothic Road until the event wraps up June 15.
Otherwise, plan for a fun couple of weekends of cyclist crowds and activities as our town shows the RTR community what we’re all about.
“Please come out at 8 a.m. at the school on Sunday to cheer on the riders as they begin their ride!” encourages UpChurch. “We’d like to show them that Crested Butte has the most spirit on this course.”