Cycling event sparks love and draws thousands to Steamboat Springs
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — For one Steamboat Springs couple, the Ride the Rockies cycling event was a life-changing event that led to new love later in life.
A tent city will appear at Howelsen Hill as more than 2,000 cyclists pedal into Steamboat on Monday for the return of Ride the Rockies.
The Denver Post Community Foundation started the recreational, multi-day ride in 1986 as a way to benefit Colorado communities.
It last came through Steamboat in 2011 and 2014.
“It’s a really well-run, professional event,” Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association Public Relations Manager Maren McCutchan said. “We think it’s a fun thing for the community because we are a cycling community.”
Steamboat residents participating in the ride include Jack and Anita Trautman.
Anita met Jack during Ride the Rockies in 2011 when she stayed at Jack’s house during the Steamboat leg of the journey with mutual friends.
They got married in 2014.
“We’re coming up on four years in September,” Anita said. “Finding love later in life is very rewarding.”
This is Jack’s first time doing Ride the Rockies, and the couple started training in December at Old Town Hot Springs.
Training involved hours in the spin room with instructors. Amy Charity, a former professional cyclist, developed a 14-week training plan that culminated June 3 with a 100-mile ride during the Elephant Rock Cycling Festival in Castle Rock.
“We had an amazing group of people supporting us,” Anita said.
This year’s Ride the Rockies started Sunday with a 77-mile ride from Breckenridge to Edwards.
The Trautmans left the starting line at 6 a.m., and coach Charity was there to see them off on the day’s ride, which took them over Fremont Pass, Tennessee Pass and Battle Mountain.
“We climbed 4,100 feet during the course of the day and we burned a lot of calories,” Jack said.
The Trautmans on Sunday evening were planning to have an early dinner, get their bikes ready and then head to bed.
On Monday, the cyclists will leave Edwards and ride the 80 miles to Steamboat.
Monday’s route will take them north on Colorado Highway 131. They will turn off onto Routt County Road 14 and ride through Stagecoach before returning to Highway 131. They will then return to C.R. 14 and take the back roads toward Howelsen Hill.
The Trautmans on Sunday were still waiting to see if a wildfire in Wolcott would impact Monday’s route.
While some cyclists get hotel rooms, a majority of the riders will have tents pitched for two nights at Howelsen Hill.
McCutchan said the event gives a boost to the local travel industry during a time that is typically slower in Steamboat. Lodging occupancy was expected to be up 15 percent, compared to the same period last year.
At Howelsen, cyclists will camp in the ballfields and have access to the lodge and portable showers on a semi-truck.
On Monday, there will be a festival at Howelsen Hill from 2 to 9 p.m. that is open to the public.
The festival will feature a beer garden, cyclist panel, expo, yoga and live music.
The cyclists have the option Tuesday of doing a 48.4-mile loop southwest of Steamboat. People wanting to participate in the ride on Tuesday only can register at ridetherockies.com.
On Tuesday, there will be another festival starting at 2 p.m. on Yampa Street between Sixth and Seventh Streets.
On Wednesday, the cyclists will leave Steamboat for a 93.8-mile ride to Grand Lake.
The six-day, 418-mile ride ends Friday in Breckenridge.
Ride the Rockies awards grants to organizations in each of its host communities.
Grand Futures Prevention Coalition is the recipient of the local grant. In return, the group recruits people to volunteer at the event. Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up at grandfutures.org/ridetherockiesvolunteers.
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