Ride the Rockies arrives in Steamboat
Cyclists settle in for 2 days after 80-mile ride from Edwards
2:30 to 4 p.m. Ski jumping at Howelsen Hill
4 to 8 p.m. Beer garden on Routt County Courthouse lawn
5:30 p.m. Free concert Loose Change on courthouse lawn
Steamboat Springs — As Sue Bushman surveyed Memorial Park next to Steamboat Springs High School for a spot for her tent Tuesday, it was obvious the Boulder resident was glad to be done with the third stage of Ride the Rockies.
Bushman, who has completed 10 Ironman Triathlons, was spent. Even after being one of the first of 2,000 or so cyclists, Bushman was surprised by what she encountered on the 80-mile ride that took cyclists from Edwards up Colorado Highway 131 and into Steamboat.
“It was hard — it was windy,” she said. “It was a harder 80 miles than I thought. I expected more rollers and an easier 80 miles. We all have tired legs. But (Tuesday) was the first day I needed an aid station. (Tuesday) was the first day. Around mile 40.”
Tuesday’s stop in Steamboat served as a reminder of what riders already had gone through. After two consecutive rides of 75-plus miles — treks that took riders over Cottonwood and Tennessee passes — the ride from Edwards to Steamboat proved to be just as difficult. Although Yellow Jacket Pass stood in the way of fresh showers and nighttime entertainment, the wind was the biggest obstacle.
Headwinds and crosswinds greeted riders for much of the ride. Although the 412-mile tour has its share of difficult sections, Tuesday’s wind provided some of the toughest stretches.
“The wind factor, plus you have to remember it’s Day 3,” said Parker resident Patrick Youngquist, who was participating in his 12th Ride the Rockies. “We’ve had three long days. It wasn’t as bad for us. But you could tell it starts to wear some people out. You see a lot of people stretching on the side of the road.”
The wind, however, soon gave way to entertainment.
In addition to a beer garden featuring a special Odell’s beer, the folk rock group Owen Kortz Trio performed.
The ride brings 2,000 cyclists to Steamboat for a pair of days. Steamboat is the only stop with two overnight stays. According to the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association’s lodging barometer, 41 percent of available lodging pillows in town were expected to be full Wednesday, compared with just 21 percent on the same day last year.
Ride the Rockies also serves as a benefit for many charities, including locally. In each host town, the ride gives away a $5,000 grant. Steamboat’s recipient was Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports.
“The people here have been great to work with,” said Elizabeth Norris, the community relations coordinator with Ride the Rockies. “I’m thrilled this is the town we have two days in.”
Wednesday, cyclists may elect to participate in a 50-mile loop ride that will have them travel River Road and Colo. 131 to Oak Creek. Riders will return on Twentymile Road and Routt County Road 33. Cyclists will be on these roads from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., and though roads will not be closed, motorists are advised to use caution or use alternate routes.
Riders depart Steamboat on Thursday when they climb Rabbit Ears Pass and travel to Granby.
Ride the Rockies route
Wednesday: Cyclists may elect to participate in a 50-mile loop ride that will have them travel River Road and Colo. 131 to Oak Creek. Riders will return on Twentymile Road and Routt County Road 33. Cyclists will be on these roads from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., and while roads will not be closed, motorists are advised to use caution or use alternate routes.
Thursday: Cyclists will leave Steamboat via U.S. 40 over Rabbit Ears Pass as early as 5:30 a.m. Most are expected to depart by 9 a.m.
— To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com
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