Telluride is the epitome of a bike-friendly town. It is also a place that knows how to roll out the welcome mat and throw a party. And it doesn’t hurt that the town is nestled amongst some of the most scenic cycling routes you’ll ever find.
All in all, it’s a pretty sweet spot to kick off Colorado’s favorite cycling tour. The town is pulling out all the stops this weekend to welcome the 2,000-plus cyclists, plus an entourage of up to 1,500 supporters, for the lead stage of the 28th Annual Ride the Rockies Colorado Bicycle Tour.
"The Town of Telluride is very excited to host Ride the Rockies,” said Town Manager Greg Clifton. “I can think of no better place for 2,000-plus cyclists to start their journey across the Colorado high country. We love bikes – and we love a good party!"
Ride the Rockies is no stranger to Telluride. This is the fourth time in the event’s 28-year history that RTR has come here – most recently in 2008.
But it is the first time this town has been selected to host the opening stage.
News of this year’s RTR route, and Telluride’s special place at its helm, was released in Denver in early February. Ever since then, a key group of organizers has been planning and preparing for the visitation of cyclists that is now upon us.
Those preparations can be grouped into roughly three categories: meeting the logistical needs of the cyclists and their supporters while they are in town; throwing an epic Ride the Rockies Street Party on Saturday, to showcase the community to the visiting cyclists; and sending the cyclists off in style the next morning with a grand opening ceremony.
Whether you are a RTR participant or a Tellurider wanting to partake in the celebration, here’s what you need to know.
Most cyclists are traveling to Telluride from the Front Range, and are expected to arrive in town on Saturday, June 8. Upon arriving, all participants must check in at Tour Headquarters at the Telluride Middle/High School, between 1-7 p.m.
The school district is opening up the entire campus for RTR use. A colorful tent village will spring up on school grounds Saturday night (with some cyclists opting to sleep indoors). A shower truck will be set up on the soccer field.
In all, about 1,000 cyclists are expected to camp at the school. The remainder of the participants will stay with local lodgers throughout the community. According to the Telluride Tourism Board’s Kiera Skinner, a number of local properties have already sold out in anticipation of the event.
A large bike-security area will be set up at Tour Headquarters, where participants can park their bikes overnight and retrieve them before departure in the morning. There will also be an information tent staffed by the Telluride Tourism Board.
Children and parents from Telluride preschools will be selling snacks and refreshments during registration. After settling in, cyclists are encouraged to walk into town to celebrate the beginning of an exciting week.
Cyclists and locals are invited to mix it up at the Ride The Rockies Street Party, on Main Street (between Aspen and Fir Streets), Saturday, from 1-9:30 p.m. This kick-off party offers live music, contests and activities throughout the day, and will showcase the best that Telluride has to offer, in terms of local cuisine and libations. The non-barricaded free event is open to the public, and everyone is encouraged to join in the festivities.
As a fundraising opportunity, the Telluride Youth Lacrosse Association will operate a beer garden (that also sells wine and margaritas). Local food vendors will offer samplings of Telluride’s culinary specialties, and merchants will provide goods and services at the Expo located in Elk’s Park. A kids’ tricycle race, “Best Biker’s Calf Contest,” and photo ops with a professional photographer, are just a few of the many activities planned during the daylong event. The Main Street stage features great music all day, with DJ’s T MUNZ and Juiceboxxx spinning the tunes and easing the crowd into a festive mood. Telluride’s crowd-pleasing hometown band, The Great Funktier, takes the stage from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
At 8:30 p.m., High Country Shipping hosts a movie night at the Elks Club featuring shorts from the Mountainfilm Festival.
Opening ceremonies take place Sunday, June 9, at 7:30 a.m. at RTR headquarters (Telluride Middle/High School), where The Ride The Rockies/ Denver Post Community Foundation will announce and present a $5,000 grant to a local nonprofit organization. After the opening ceremonies,cyclists depart Telluride to pedal over Lizard Head Pass toward Cortez, their next destination. Over the course of the week, they will travel to Durango, Pagosa Springs, Alamosa, Salida and Cañon City, wrapping up with a tour finale in Colorado Springs on June 15.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION & PARKING
The gondola connecting Telluride and Mountain Village operates from 7 a.m.-midnight on Saturday, and gets rolling again Sunday morning at 6 a.m. to accommodate cyclists staying in the Mountain Village. Telluride’s municipal bus system, affectionately called the Galloping Goose, runs until Saturday, and then resumes service Sunday morning, at 6 a.m. Both modes of public transportation are free.
Cyclists will leave town on a rolling basis, and the Spur (the short stretch of highway running from Telluride to the turnoff for Lizard Head Pass) will remain open Sunday morning.
Parking in Telluride is always a challenge, even when there are not 3,000 extra people in town. There will be no parking available at Tour Headquarters, but there will be a drop-off zone, with signs directing cars to free public parking areas, which the town is coordinating, at Carhenge and the South Pearl Lot. Long-term parking is available, in Mountain Village, for a fee.
BE A ZERO HERO
You know the routine. Telluride is helping to minimize the environmental footprint of Ride the Rockies by cooperating with an initiative to provide composting and recycling stations in addition to regular trash cans at key venues around town. Plenty of volunteers from Telluride’s EcoAction Partners will be staged at all areas to assist answer questions.