Our View: Saddle pals

The great divide that once existed between cattle ranchers and road cyclists in Routt County appears to be narrowing, and a weekend road ride that wound its way through the Yampa Valley’s most fertile ranch land proved just that.

On Saturday, Moots hosted its first Ranch Rally — a benefit cycling event that raised money for the Community Agriculture Alliance and went a long way toward educating riders and ranchers on how to coexist.

The Moots Ranch Rally was an ingenious way to promote road biking while raising awareness about the need to share the road. It also raised money for a valuable local organization that has dedicated itself to ensuring “the vitality and continuity of local agriculture.”

Midway along the 50-mile route, Doc and Marsha Daughenbaugh hosted the 90 or so riders who participated in the ride for a lunch at their ranch, and Marsha, who also serves as executive director of CAA, described the ride as being extremely well executed and well received by riders and ranchers alike.

One of the stories riders shared with her Saturday summed up in one compelling image what the ride was able to accomplish. Several riders spoke about riding along a particular stretch of county road where cowboys on horseback were working in the pasture. As the riders pedaled down the rural road, they said the cowboys rode alongside them, waving all the way.

This image of bicycle riders and cowboys waving to each other from across the fence line is just what this ride was all about. In addition to raising money for a great cause, the ride was a genuine gesture of good will on the part of one local bike manufacturer to raise greater awareness of the need for ranchers, riders and motorists to share the road.

The chosen route for the ride also was symbolic. It snaked past multiple centennial ranches, and only 5 miles of the half-century ride were on pavement. Participating cyclists spent most of the ride pedaling on rural dirt or gravel roads that cut through and connect Routt County’s vast agricultural land.

The week before the ride, Marsha tried to call ranch owners along the bike route to make sure they knew about the event and weren’t planning any cattle drives or wouldn’t be operating heavy equipment on the roads during the ride. Without exception, everyone she contacted thought the idea of the ride was “pretty darn cool,” which is proof positive the relationship between riders and ranchers has changed for the better, Marsha said.

In general, riders have become a lot more cognizant of how to share the road with ranchers, which sometimes means riders have to stop their ride to get off to the side of the road and wait while cattle or heavy equipment pass by. And ranchers seem to have become more accustomed to the brightly clad cyclists who ride past their ranches.

It is events like Moots Ranch Rally that help foster that cooperative spirit, and our hats are off to the local business for planning such an event. It was a big success in its first year, and we hope to see the event return next summer with even greater participation.

And as the summer heats up and more and more visitors travel to Bike Town USA and hit the pavement on two wheels, it’s a good time to remind everyone to Share the Road — a message that was symbolized so well during Saturday’s ride.

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