A matter of the bladder

Officials hope Ride the Rockies will be relieved with not in Yampa


— When the Ride the Rockies bicycle tour comes through south Routt in June, Yampa town officials hope the participants won't be marking the same territory they did the last time the tour came to the quint south Routt town.

In 1998, 2,000 bicycle riders on the seven-day Ride the Rockies tour stopped at the South Routt Elementary School in Yampa for a water and bathroom break. Though many took advantage of the water stations, not many took advantage of the portable restrooms provided at the school's play ground, according to town officials.

"They urinated all over the school and all over town," Yampa Mayor Tom Estes said.

The Yampa Board of Trustees figured the problem was the lack of restrooms provided for the riders.

Yampa resident John Fitzgerald gave out free fruit smoothy drinks when the riders came to town in 1998.

He said he doesn't remember seeing a bunch of people publicly relieving themselves, but he did note that the approximately eight restrooms at the school seemed like a small amount.

"That's probably not enough for the 2,000 people," Fitzgerald said.

Routt County Sheriff John Werner said he thinks the simple solution to the problem is for him to tell organizers of Ride the Rockies to provide more toilets.

"It seems to me that solution is real easy," he said. "As soon as the Ride the Rockies people call, I'll tell them," he said.

Ride the Rockies tour director Paul Balaguer said he wishes the solution was that easy.

"The last thing I want to do is piss people off," he said with a laugh. However, Balaguer doesn't believe it's an accessibility problem.

"To be perfectly honest, my personal opinion is that it's not a Port-o-Potty problem; it's a lack of manners problem," he said. "I think we could have five times the Port-o-Pottys and you would still have a problem."

Some people just won't wait in line or would rather go outside, Balaguer said.

"I offer my complete apologies," he said. "Believe me, this isn't the first time this has been an issue."

Through the years, Balaguer said there has been many problems with riders relieving themselves in improper places. Ride the Rockies has combated it by spending $45,000 on supplying portable places to "go."

In Routt County alone, there will be 60 portable restrooms, 24 for of which would go to Yampa if the tour stops near the town.

Balaguer explained the stop won't be the same set up as in 1998, as far as going through the town and using elementary schools.

Also, there is a possibility that the riders won't be scheduled to stop near Yampa at all.

At the very most, the bike ride, which originates in Crested Butte on June 16, would only stop near Yampa, not in the town.

On June 19, the riders will go from Avon to Steamboat Springs, passing by Yampa on U.S. 131, going north. Balaguer said even if he wanted to, the Colorado State Patrol wouldn't allow the group to turn left, across traffic, to go into Yampa. So a pit stop could only be near the town, somewhere on the east side of the highway. Furthermore, all the stops haven't been planned yet, and there is a possibility that it won't even be near Yampa.

But it may be in the village of Phippsburg, just up the road, he said.

Either way, Balaguer said though numerous restrooms will be provided, controlling people's peeing habits will be difficult.

"I don't think there is a reasonable, 100 percent solution," he said.

Yampa town officials don't see it that. They passed a motion at a town board meeting Wednesday to request a Routt County deputy sheriff to be on duty the day the event rides by, hoping the officer will forestall any public urinating by the riders.

As of Friday, Sheriff Werner said he hasn't been contacted about providing the deputy.

"If they ask, we'll do our best to get one down there," he said.

To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206

or e-mail dcrowl@steamboatpilot.com


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