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Pagosa Springs will again be an overnight stop for The Denver Post Ride The Rockies bike tour in June.
The route for the race was announced on Feb. 2. The tour will begin in Telluride on June 9 and end in Colorado Springs on June 15, spanning 513 miles over the seven days.
This will be the sixth time in the 28-year history of Ride The Rockies that Pagosa Springs has been chosen as an overnight host town. The race last passed through town in 2010, and prior to that in 2005.
The full 2013 route is:
• June 8: Registration in Telluride.
• June 9: Telluride to Cortez, 75 miles, including over Lizard Head Pass (10,222 feet in elevation).
• June 10: Cortez to Durango, 64 miles.
• June 11: Durango to Pagosa Springs, 86 miles.
• June 12: Pagosa Springs to Alamosa, 91 miles, including over Wolf Creek Pass (10,850 in feet elevation).
• June 13: Alamosa to Salida, 84 miles, including over Poncha Pass (9,019 feet in elevation).
• June 14: Salida to Canon City, 67 miles, including over the Royal Gorge Bridge (956 feet high).
• June 15: Canon City to Colorado Springs, 46 miles.
“We look forward to touring southwest Colorado where cyclists will be treated to seven inspiring days on their bikes,” said Chandler Smith, director of Ride The Rockies. “Climbs over Lizard Head and Wolf Creek Pass as well as a trek over the Royal Gorge Bridge will give cyclists a real sense of accomplishment.”
Mary Jo Coulehan, Chamber of Commerce director and Ride contact for Pagosa Springs, said the event typically comes to a community every fifth year, but said that Pagosa is receiving the riders again ahead of that schedule.
“I’m just excited that it seems to be ahead of schedule,” Coulehan said, adding, “It’s going to add to our summer.”
A total of 2,000 cyclists participate in the ride each year, creating a sudden influx of people that requires planning for each host community.
“Contrary to popular belief, they don’t just show up,” Coulehan said, adding that Pagosa Springs is typically well-liked by riders and is known for its hospitality — a tradition Coulehan would like to continue.
Community planning for the race began last December, with each community granting permission for the race to pass through, Coulehan said.
Typically, three to four site visits take place in each community before the event, Coulehan explained, with a core committee working to make it happen. Locally, that includes a representative of Pagosa Springs High School (the main facility for the stopover), Jim Miller with the Town of Pagosa Springs’ parks department, Police Chief Bill Rockensock, and Coulehan, the community’s primary contact for the Ride.
Beyond noting the availability of facilities, the Ride puts together a booklet for riders with information about each community, including maps, events, bus routes and more information, which Coulehan will provide this spring.
In the end, it seems the work is worth it.
An influx of 2,000 riders and their support teams stopping in Pagosa Springs means economic benefit for the community.
Ride The Rockies’ estimates an average economic impact of $250,000 in each town throughout the week.
That benefit, Coulehan said, is primarily seen in money spent for lodging and at restaurants, but she added that, typically, riders have support teams that may stay in a community longer, giving a bump to retailers.
The Ride also benefits community nonprofits by encouraging them to host the parties in the community and offer food to cyclists as a way to boost their fund-raising efforts, Coulehan said.
Additionally, a $5,000 grant from The Denver Post Community Foundation will make its way to a community non-profit organization. Coulehan anticipates receiving information about that grant soon to pass it on to community nonprofits.
Foundation funding comes from proceeds from Ride The Rockies. All funds raised through the ride and associated events, such as an auction open to the riders, are returned directly to Colorado nonprofits.
For example, Coulehan said, Pagosa Springs is putting a vacation package in the auction that will allow a rider to return to Pagosa Springs.
And return trips by the riders, Coulehan said, are not uncommon, with several revisiting locations from the Ride that they enjoyed, or even moving there.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s just so well worth it,” Coulehan said. “We always want to be the best community.”
Cyclists may only register for the event online at www.ridetherockies.com. Applications will be accepted Feb. 3-Feb. 22.
Ride The Rockies is a noncompetitive event, and riders are encouraged to ride at their own pace. Training information is available online at ridetherockies.com.
Riders on past Ride The Rockies tours have varied in age from 7 to 85 years old and have represented all 50 states and 18 foreign countries.
For more information, contact Ride The Rockies at (303) 954-6700 or visit the event website at www.ridetherockies.com.