TELLURIDE – Five years ago, 59 cyclists pedaled the 133 miles from Telluride to Moab, under the banner of the first-ever Mountains to the Desert fundraiser bike ride. Today, hundreds of riders and thousands of fundraising dollars later, the Mountains to the Desert ride has emerged as one of the cycling community’s most anticipated events. The fully supported 2008 ride takes place Saturday, Sept. 20, rain or shine.
Since its inauguration in 2003, the Mountains to the Desert ride has grown considerably in size, to 150 riders today. But it’s also made big leaps in the fundraising department. Last year the bike ride, which is the major fundraiser for the Just for Kids Foundation, brought in a whopping $70,000. That amount was generously matched by the Carstens’ family.
Pedaling 133 miles, from the mountainous steeps around Telluride to Moab’s lengthy desert stretches, is no easy task, but well worth it for the riders who help raise funds for the community organization that is a stanch advocate for the region’s kids. According to ride organizer Erik Fallenius, the success of the event has fallen on the able shoulders of its riders, who double as champions for JFK. The event is unlike other charity rides, he said, in that the cyclists’ fees are designed to cover the expenses of the supported ride only, and it is then up to the riders to raise money for the JFK foundation.
For every $100 raised, the participant receives one chance to win a custom Moots titanium road or mountain bike, or other prizes. The more money raised, the better that rider’s chances of winning. While the unique fundraising format means that M2D riders play a direct and personal role in the annual funding of this local nonprofit, it also assures that the M2D will forever remain an intimate, locals-oriented ride.
“It's critical for us to keep this more a local event than not, because it's the locals who have a vested interest in gathering donations and supporting the Just For Kids Foundation,” said Fallenius. “To turn this into a big road cycling event would be easy… it's too much fun, but it's not what the event is about. Like the Just For Kids Foundation, M2D is a small and efficient grassroots organization.”
An boon of the race is that it has helped build a stronger road biking community. “We certainly see so many more road cyclists going toward Lizard Head Pass, Rico, Dallas Divide, Norwood… Although there has always been that core group of local hard core riders, we do believe that M2D has brought road cycling back to the Telluride region in a bigger way,” said Fallenius.
While the M2D boasts a predominantly local ridership, word of its dramatic and challenging route has begun to spread amid cyclists outside of the region. Fallenius reports that Utah, Arizona, New York, and California will be well represented at this year’s ride.
Since the sheer number of riders doesn’t ultimately equate to lots of donated dollars, it’s important that the few riders – about 150 – commit to the fundraising effort in earnest.
“We've kept it small intentionally. We've always felt that if we could reach our fundraising goals with a smaller group of participants, the intimacy of the event would be preserved. But there is a fine balance between the number of riders, the fundraising goals and covering the cost of the event,” Fallenius explained.
The event is utilizing the website Active.com for its registration and fundraising efforts, which Fallenius said should make it easier for everyone to participate.
There is still time to sign up for this year’s Mountains to the Desert Ride, with organized starts that allow for distances of 133 miles as well as 101 miles, 69 miles or 37 miles. For more information or to donate, visit HYPERLINK "http://www.m2dbikeride.com" www.m2dbikeride.com. This event is sponsored by Moots, Nevasca Realty, Paragon Ski and Sport, U.S. Bank, Eddie McStiff’s, Coffee Cowboy, Master’s Security, Jagged Edge, and Bootdoctors.