Monday, February 19, 2001
Steamboat Springs The lottery that determines which lucky riders get to participate in The Denver Post Ride the Rockies Bicycle Tour doesn't happen until Feb. 28, but that's not stopping cyclists from booking their motel rooms in Steamboat for June 19.
The tour has spaces for 2,000 riders and 4,000 applications. Typically, another 1,500 people follow the route of the cyclists.
"We've been booked for about a month," Carla Cox of the Rabbit Ears Motel in downtown Steamboat Springs said. "People called and booked three nights, June 19, 20 and 21. I guess they pretty much just guessed" the dates the tour might be coming through Steamboat.
Ride the Rockies' appearance in Steamboat this summer will mark the sixth time it has come through town on various routes. This year's tour begins in Crested Butte June 17 and takes the scenic route to Boulder via south Routt County, Steamboat and Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. The route is 432 miles long. The two longest rides of the week will be the trip from Edwards to Steamboat (81 miles) and from Steamboat over Rabbit Ears Pass to Granby (80 miles).
Judy Wiesner, marketing director for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, said that although many of the cyclists camp out during overnight stops, she expects Steamboat's lodging community to be busy on June 19 because Steamboat is one of the few communities on this year's route that can easily accommodate more than 2,000 roll-in visitors. Typically, even the die-hard campers on the tour want to spend one night in a real bed.
"We were getting a lot of calls in January, before the route was even publicized," Wiesner said. "We were obligated to keep it a secret. I think people figured since the tour hadn't been to Steamboat for a couple of years, it was due again."
Ride the Rockies first came to Steamboat in 1988 and then again in 1990, 1993, 1995 and 1998. Riders usually come from all 50 states and as many as 18 foreign countries.
Wiesner said she will need about 100 volunteers to help host the event. Steamboat will host a community dinner and concert for the cyclists.
A new development since the last time Ride the Rockies was here, Wiesner said, is the availability of one or two grants for local nonprofit agencies that do work benefiting youth or literacy programs. The grants, supplied by Denver Post Charities, could range from $5,000 to $10,000, Wiesner said. Her office has already sent out application packets to local agencies that might qualify.
Larry Green of KCNC Channel 4 in Denver will broadcast live along the way. And the Ride the Rockies' Web site will link to the Steamboat chamber's.