Dominique Taylor/Vail Daily
Chuck Matthys, right, takes a swig of water after locating his baggage as Thaseus Eby keeps searching for his in the massive pile brought in on trucks for the Ride the Rockies participants Monday at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards. The multi-day bike ride through Colorado has riders camping overnight at Freedom park before continuing to Steamboat Springs on Tuesday.
For more information about Ride the Rockies, visit www.ridetherockies.com.
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Beer garden featuring a special Odell’s brew at Memorial Park near Steamboat Springs High School
5 to 8 p.m. Free concert with folk rock group the Owen Kortz Trio at Memorial Park
4:30 p.m. Cycling Seminar presentation with guest speaker Johnny Spillane at Steamboat Springs High School auditorium
2:30 to 4 p.m. Ski jumping at Howelsen Hill
4 to 8 p.m. Beer garden on Routt County Courthouse lawn
5:30 p.m. Free concert Loose Change on courthouse lawn
Steamboat Springs More than 2,000 cyclists steadily will pour into Steamboat Springs on Tuesday afternoon from Edwards to begin a breather from their 412-mile bicycle tour across Colorado.
Biking enthusiasts in town say Ride the Rockies, which hasn’t passed through Steamboat since 2007, is a perfect opportunity to further promote the Steamboat Springs Bike Town USA Initiative. Routt County Riders President Michael Loomis said Steamboat has undergone several changes since the bicycle tour last rolled through town that have made its roadways and wilderness trails more inviting to cyclists from across the country.
“What we’ve seen over the last few years is an increase of awareness toward cycling,” Loomis said. “We have a lot more trails locally, we’re on the cusp of increasing signage and adding more stripage on the road. I hope the riders coming through here see what a great place Steamboat is for cyclists.”
Each June, 2,000 cyclists, assisted by more than 100 volunteers, embark on the weeklong Ride the Rockies on paved roads through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.
This year’s event will feature 25 riders from Steamboat Springs and has cyclists traveling from Crested Butte to Georgetown. The cyclists will traverse Cottonwood, Tennessee, Yellow Jacket, Rabbit Ears, Muddy and Berthoud passes during their six-day tour.
Ride organizers said that despite the influx of cyclists, they expect all roads in Steamboat to remain open during the event. Police will be on hand to assist riders in high-traffic areas, and tour organizers are urging motorists to exercise caution as they drive downtown during the tour dates or to seek alternate routes when possible to avoid the cyclists.
This week’s stop in Steamboat won’t be all work for the cyclists, though. Starting Tuesday afternoon, several riders will be camping in Memorial Park near Steamboat Springs High School where they can enjoy live music, a beer garden, and other festivities being organized by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. The event then moves to the courthouse lawn Wednesday.
“We’re going to welcome the riders with open arms,” Chamber spokeswoman Michelle Krasilinec said.
While riders can spend their layover in Steamboat biking trails on Emerald Mountain or participating in a challenging but optional 50-mile loop ride through Oak Creek, organizers hope community members without bicycles also flock downtown to enjoy the festivities with visiting riders.
Krasilinec said the ride is expected to benefit downtown businesses and hotels this week. Despite the large number of the riders expected to camp during their journey through Colorado, the Chamber’s lodging barometer predicts that 41 percent of hotel rooms in town will be filled Wednesday, with 5,800 pillows occupied. Lodging was 21 percent occupied in Steamboat on the same day last year. According to the bicycle tour’s organizers, cyclists in last year’s ride spent more than $1.5 million at hotels, restaurants and retail businesses in the host communities they rode through. Krasilinec said that’s why the Chamber is tailoring events to include more than just the riders. With family members and support staff also expected in town, she’s predicting Steamboat will see more than 3,500 visitors this week.
“Tuesday and Wednesday shouldn’t just be about the riders,” she said. “There will be a lot of entertainment for just about everyone in town.”
Events include a free concert Tuesday at Memorial Park featuring folk rock group the Owen Kortz Trio and ski jumping from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Wednesday at Howelsen Hill. Cyclists are expected to depart Thursday morning.
For the past 26 years, Ride the Rockies has had bikers stop in 42 communities across Colorado, from Alamosa to Walsenburg. This year’s group of cyclists represents 46 states and 10 countries.
Ride the Rockies route
Tuesday: Cyclists will be arriving in Steamboat via Colorado Highway 131, Routt County Road 14 and River Road from noon to 5 p.m.
Ride the Rockies, Day 3 route
Wednesday: Cyclists may elect to participate in a 50-mile loop ride that will have them travel River Road and Colo. 131 to Oak Creek. Riders will return on Twentymile Road and Routt County Road 33. Cyclists will be on these roads from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., and while roads will not be closed, motorists are advised to use caution or use alternate routes.
Ride the Rockies, Day 4 (Steamboat loop)
Thursday: Cyclists will leave Steamboat via U.S. 40 over Rabbit Ears Pass as early as 5:30 a.m. Most are expected to depart by 9 a.m.
Ride the Rockies, Day 5 route
— To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com