TELLURIDE – Up to 3,000 cyclists and their supporters will descend on Telluride in early June, as the town hosts the lead stage of the 28th Annual Ride the Rockies Colorado Bicycle Tour. News of the route for the seven-day tour was released in Denver on Saturday night, Feb. 2.
Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser and Telluride Tourism Board Director Michael Martelon were on hand to receive the news. “It’s good for the town; it’s a real economic positive,” said Fraser, noting that the event will give Telluride lodgers and restaurants a real boost during a time of year that is typically on the slow side.
Hosting the lead stage comes with certain advantages. Many tour participants will spend two nights in Telluride instead of just one, arriving in town on June 7 in order to enjoy pre-event festivities on June 8. Early on the morning of June 9, they will depart Telluride for their grand adventure, which ends a week later in Colorado Springs.
Along the way, cyclists will ascend Lizard Head, Wolf Creek and Poncha Pass and cross the Royal Gorge on the highest suspension bridge in North America, before spinning across the finish line at Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs. Other host communities along the way include Cortez, Durango, Pagosa Springs, Alamosa, Salida, and Cañon City.
Ride the Rockies organizers said that Telluride ”has been a delight to work with” in planning efforts thus far. They initially made contact with Telluride officials late last year, in order to scope out Telluride’s capacity as a host community for the lead stage.
According to Fraser, the same core group which had worked on last year’s Pro Challenge event reassembled to work with Ride the Rockies organizers.
“They were impressed with how we handled the Pro Challenge as well as all of our festivals,” Fraser said. When the announcement was made on Saturday that Telluride would host the lead stage, “the applause was just unbelievable. It felt wonderful.”
Telluride has hosted Ride the Rockies four times in the event’s 28-year history, most recently in 2008. The tour route changes each year. Host communities typically enjoy a positive economic impact from the event. According to a statement from Ride the Rockies, cyclists in 2012 spent an average of $250,000 in a 24-hour time period in each host town. Many cyclists also return to host communities as tourists.
Host communities, in turn, support the tour by providing lodging, community meals and entertainment for the cyclists. However, unlike the Pro Challenge event which Telluride hosted last year, Ride the Rockies will give Telluride an allowance to cover the cost of entertainment, and does not require any comped rooms, Fraser said.
While there will be some campers, many cyclists and their families prefer to stay in hotels, he said.
Over 4,000 applications are expected for the 2,000 cycling spots available for this year's ride. Riders on past Ride The Rockies have represented all 50 states and 18 foreign countries. Ride The Rockies is a non-competitive event open to cyclists of all ages, and riders are encouraged to ride at their own pace. The event was created by the Denver Post, which continues to sponsor the ride each June as a way of showcasing the state and boosting its economy.
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