Steamboat lands Ride the Rockies cycling event for two nights |

Steamboat lands Ride the Rockies cycling event for two nights

A long line of bicyclists make their way up the Rabbit Ears Pass as part of the Ride the Rockies event in 2011.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Soon after Steamboat Wine Festival announced they would not be returning this year, the city has learned another event is coming this summer to help fill hotel rooms and seats at restaurants.

Ride the Rockies organizers on Saturday night announced that its 2,000 cyclists will make Steamboat their home for two nights June 11 and 12.

"We're thrilled that they are again coming to Steamboat Springs," Steamboat City Manager Gary Suiter said. "It will be great to have them downtown where they can walk across the bridge and frequent the shops and restaurants."

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.

This year's six-day ride will span 418 miles with 25,935 feet of elevation gain. In addition to Steamboat, the host communities will be Breckenridge, Fairplay, Edwards, Grand Lake and Winter Park.

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The cyclists have their gear shuttled between stops and have the option to camp in the host cities, but many choose to stay in more luxurious accommodations.

"What I've heard is hotels fill up pretty much right away," Suiter said.

While in Steamboat, Ride the Rockies headquarters and campsites will be at Howelsen Hill.

"It's going to be a worthwhile event," said Ernie Jenkins, parks supervisor for the city. "People call Steamboat Bike Town USA, and this is as big as it gets as far as bicycling events in Colorado."

At Howelsen, cyclists will camp in the ballfields and have access to the lodge and portable showers on a semi-truck.

A dedicated group of volunteers provide support during the event.

The ride begins and ends in Breckenridge, but Steamboat has the only two-night stop, with an optional 48.4-mile Oak Creek Loop ride June 12 during the layover.

"A lot of people I think are just going to relax," Jenkins said.

Ride the Rockies organizers are encouraging local cyclists to participate in the Oak Creek Loop ride.

On June 13, the cyclists will leave Steamboat by climbing Rabbit Ears Pass during their 93.8-mile journey to Grand Lake.

In January, Steamboat Wine Festival organizers announced they would not returning in August for a 15th year. The event brought more than 3,500 people to town during an already-busy summer weekend.

Suiter was happy to land Ride the Rockies during a typically slower period in June.

"It's before the peak season," Suiter said.

The demographics of the people who participate in the cycling event is also attractive. The median age of the riders is 52 years old with an average household income of between $100,000 and $150,000.

"It's a desirable group to have in town," Suiter said.

The youngest rider during the 2017 ride was 10 and the oldest was 82.

Ride the Rockies estimates the economic impact in each of the host communities is $250,000 per day.

In each host community, the Denver Post Community Foundation awards a $5,000 grant to a local nonprofit.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.