Ride the Rockies covers treks a 500-mile-plus swath through the Rocky Mountains, with daily rides ranging from 35 to 100 miles long. The popular event has been sold out since February, when 2,000 of 4,000 submissions won the event’s lottery.
According to Ouray Chamber Resort Association President Karen Avery, tour organizers estimate the cyclists spent an average of $250,000 in a 24-hour period in each town during last year’s event. Participants come into Ouray from Delta on a 67-mile stretch of Highway 550; heading out, it’s on to Durango via a 70-mile route traversing Red Mountain Pass (11,090 feet), Molas Divide (10,899 feet) and Coal Bank Pass (10,640 feet).
The four-day, 238-mile Colorado Peace Ride begins and ends in Durango, encompassing a portion of the San Juan Skyway that passes through Ouray; Ouray is the first overnight stop on the fundraiser tour. Riders will travel from Durango through Animas Valley, over Coal Bank and Molas Passes into Silverton and over the Million Dollar Highway into Ouray, with the Dolores-based Sophia Peace Center the primary beneficiary of the profits generated by the ride. The Sophia Peace Center supports nonprofits by providing them with free or low-cost retreats in a beautiful setting. To learn more about the race, for information on registration, or to donate to the cause log on to HYPERLINK "http://www.thepeaceride.com/"www.thepeaceride.com.
And finally, Peaks and Pints is a five-night tour that starts on Aug. 30, covers a little more than 200 miles, and is punctuated with nightly tastings at local brew houses. The tour begins in nearby Ridgway and continues in a counter-clockwise direction around famous San Juan Skyway, climbing four mountain passes of more than 10,000 feet.
Riders arrive in Ouray on Sept. 2 from Durango via a 72 mile route crossing three major mountain passes and traversing the Million Dollar Highway, with a stop at the Ourayle House brewery and a soak at the Ouray Hot Springs Pool (http://www.ouraycolorado.com/Hot+Springs+Pool)Learn more about Peaks and Pints or to register for the event log onto www.peaksandpints.com.
But, you don’t have to be an event participant to enjoy Ouray County on two wheels. Offering something for cyclists of all levels, Ouray County is home to a number of back roads and off-road trails. Recreate the routes covered by one of the events mentioned above, or hop on a mountain bike to explore the many off-road trails (http://ridgwaytrails.com/trails/).
Rent a ride at Peak to Peak Bicycles (www.peaktopeakbicycles.com), located in neighboring Ridgway, or bring your own. In Ridgway itself you can take the single track that runs right along the edge of town north across Highway 550 to County Road 10. Dallas Trail, at an elevation of about 9,000 feet, is a popular, yet difficult more riding trail. Another challenging route is the eight-mile-long Portland Trail, which is a shorter, yet intense, single track. Imogene Pass/Last Dollar Loop is extremely difficult, long and steep and can take up to 10 hours to complete. If you are enjoying a family trip with children or simply want to take it easy plan a leisurely ride along the river just north of Ouray. The River Road goes all the way into Ridgway and back (approximately 25 miles) and is a scenic route over rolling ranchland.
About Ouray Located at 7,700 feet above sea level in southwest Colorado, the National Historic District of Ouray is surrounded on three sides by 13,000-foot peaks, earning it the nickname “The Switzerland of America.” Ouray is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, offering rock climbing, hiking, four-wheeling and mountain biking in the summer and ice climbing, backcountry skiing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. To make a lodging reservation and learn more about planning your trip to Ouray log on to www.ouraycolorado.com.