It’s the first time Ouray has been a host city for the event in 25 years – as well as the cycling event’s 25th anniversary.
Rick Noll, the city resources director, said city staff and residents have high hopes for the approximate 3,000 cyclists planning to spend the night.
“Every motel room in town is full and we’re doing tent camping in Fellin Park by the hot springs pool,” he said. “It will be full, I’m sure, so we’ll also have camping at the gym at the Ouray School, and probably camping in the hallways of the school.”
Rotary Park on the north end of town will be held out as an option for additional camping, possibly even the Cascade Creek area too, Noll said, and many people are putting bicyclists up in their homes.
Noll said he and other staff and volunteers hope all their planning pays off.
“Ouray has about 850 residents and this brings in about 3,000 when Ride the Rockies is here,” he said. “It’s a little easier to absorb in a town the size of Montrose or Durango, but this has been a great community effort.”
One of the challenges is finding enough flat ground for camping, Noll said, and support teams in recreational vehicles are being directed to the state park camp ground in the Amphitheater or to campgrounds like the KOA.
The big influx should be good for the local economy, Noll said, where summer visitors haven’t reach their peak yet.
“Our experience with other large cycling events is that the restaurants will get filled and turn those tables a couple of times,” he said.
Ride the Rockies will present a check for $5,000 to a local nonprofit on Tuesday, Noll said, and the cycling group states that it will impact the local economy to the tune of about $250,000.
“Those are their numbers, but regardless, it is a significant boost, particularly for lodging and restaurants,” he said.
Parking will be available at Rotary Park, Noll said, with free shuttles will go all around town and also to Ridgway, where hotels are also fully booked, Noll said.
Sixth Avenue will be closed east of Main Street on Tuesday, June 15, from 12 noon to 9 p.m., Noll said, where race participants can hear live music, drink beer and eat lunch and dinner while Ride the Rockies hosts a bicycling seminar inside the Community Center.
On Wednesday morning, a parents’ group from the Ouray School will serve breakfast burritos to the cyclists at the school and at Fellin Park, Noll said.
Volunteers will also help with parking control, he said, and a bicycles can be secured and will be guarded at both the Community Center and in a fenced-in area at Fellin Park.
“In most communities they have one site where all the bicycles are headquartered, but we don’t have room,” Noll said.
The parking lot at the hot springs pool will also be closed off for the cyclist camping he said, and volunteers will be on hand to direct pool patrons to parking on nearby streets.
Volunteers are also serving food, as well as managing trash and recycling, Noll said, which saves the city money. He added that he isn’t sure what the cost to the city will be.
“There is a lot of volunteer effort,” he said. “Most of the city’s direct cost is in staff time, so it’s hard to quantify. And we also waived the fee for camping in the park.”
Ride the Rockies participants will start the 540-mile route in Grand Junction on June 14 and end in Salida on June 19. Other host cities along the way are Delta, Durango, Pagosa Springs and Alamosa.
Delta is also geared up for the cyclists, according to an article in the Delta County Independent, with camping at Cleland Park and local schools and food and entertainment planned.
All host cities will benefit economically from the tour, said Ouray Mayor Bob Risch, who canceled a meeting in Durango to be on hand when the bikers hit town.
“In a word, it will be chaos, but a terrific opportunity to showcase Ouray to a lot of people,” he said. “A lot of people are doing our best to accommodate them in a way they can enjoy and appreciate our environment…It’ll be a good boost.”
The hard part of their journey awaits the cyclists when they leave Ouray, as they will have to climb 11,090-foot Red Mountain Pass followed by Molas Pass, Coal Bank Pass, Wolf Creek Pass and Poncha Pass before reaching the end of the ride in Salida.
The timing is perfect, Noll said, since the Department of Transportation just finished repaving Main Street about two weeks ago. Now the streets are all shiny with new paint stripes and the city has hung American flags from all the downtown light poles.
“We also put lots of flowers out a little earlier than usual, so I hope we don’t get any freezes,” he said. “We wanted to get the town all spruced up, looking good, and have it all set to go on June 14, so when they roll in the next morning they’ll see Ouray at its finest.”