Winter Park will be the first overnight stay for cyclists participating in the 2014 Ride the Rockies race, set to start June 7 and continue through June 13.
“Our 29th tour showcases some of Colorado’s finest communities; a number of which are renowned for world-class skiing, but it’s their summertime activities that make them desirable destinations year-round,” said Chandler Smith, tour director, in a press release regarding the route announcement. “A Front Range start and finish (Boulder and Golden respectively) should appeal to the masses and make for an enjoyable experience all week.”
The route announcement for this year’s competition came on Feb. 8, where event officials released the detailed route that will travel through nearly all of Grand County on Highway 40 on the first and second day of riding.
The ride will start in Boulder and travel through Nederland and Black Hawk before heading up the I70 corridor to Empire and then up and over Berthoud Pass for one of the most difficult days of riding for participants.
The route from Boulder to Winter Park will put 89 miles under participant’s belts for the first day of riding and riders will gain more than 8,000 feet of elevation before calling it quits on day one.
While the ride has traveled through Grand County before, with overnight stays usually in Granby, it has never had an overnight stay in the Winter Park area. The Ride the Rockies visit in the Fraser Valley, with 2,000 riders descending on the town, is something Winter Park and Fraser businesses are getting excited about, according to Catherine Ross, executive director for the Winter Park-Fraser Chamber of Commerce.
Ross will act as the host community lead for the event and plans to put on quite a show to welcome the riders to the community, with live music at Hideaway Park and food and drinks.
“They are going to have a rough first day, so I’m not sure how energetic they will be,” Ross said. “But we are going to show them a good time anyway.”
The riders will be setting up base camp at the Fraser Valley Recreation Center, where they can camp for the night to regain some of their energy for the second day of riding. Riders can also choose to stay in one of the hotels in the area.
Grand County Tour
While the overnight stay will take place in the Fraser Valley, the ride will continue throughout nearly the entire county as the second day’s ride will start in Winter Park and will follow Highway 40 all the way to Kremmling, then over Rabbit Ears Pass.
The second day of riding will cover the most mileage of any day on the trip at 94 miles, though will be the second easiest day of the ride in terms of elevation gain as the riders only gain about 2,600 feet in elevation.
The fact the ride will travel through most of Grand County means it will be a great opportunity to showcase the county as a whole, according to Ross.
“It’s our opportunity to really shine as an entire county,” Ross said.
Ross is hoping that the showcase of the entire county will be a great way to build interest and bring the riders back for visits in the future.
The average economic impact in each overnight community is about $250,000, and the impact can be found in more places than the local bike shop as riders take advantage of hotels, restaurants, and retail shops of all kinds, according to a press release on the event.
“The event has a big economic impact,” Ross said. “ We are hoping to leverage that to get them to come back and see us again.”
The event is still in need of volunteers who will help with various aspects of the event. The chamber has also established a committee for the event, which anyone is welcome to join, Ross said.
“It will be a fun thing for the whole community to come out and experience,” she said. Even for those who don’t want to donate time to volunteer for the event, Ross encourages residents to watch the race as it is always fun to watch road bikers go zipping by while you ring cowbells and hoot and holler. “Get out there and cheer them on and make them feel welcome in the county,” Ross said.
Not only does the ride promise to have a substantial amount of economic impact in the Fraser Valley, but the organizers and main sponsors of the event, the Denver Post, also contribute a $5,000 grant to one of the nonprofits of each host community for the ride.
The grants are provided through the Denver Post Community Foundation in partnership with Wells Fargo and support nonprofit agencies that serve children, youth, recreation, and literacy efforts. Nonprofits who want to apply for the grant should contact Catherine Ross at the chamber for details. The announcement of the grant winners will be made in mid-May and the grant money will be awarded to the winning nonprofit on the same day the cyclists are in town.
The rest of the ride
While the ride travels through Grand County on the first and second day, the remaining route will travel through some of the other popular ski towns in Colorado. The second day of the race will end in Steamboat Springs, the third day will be a loop on Twenty-Mile Road that will also end in Steamboat Springs. On the fourth day of the event riders will shoot from Steamboat Springs to Avon through State Bridge.
Day five of the race will take riders from Avon to Breckenridge, over Battle Mountain, Tennessee, and Freemont passes.
The final day of the event will take riders from Breckenridge, over Swan Mountain, Loveland Pass, and Lookout Mountain to the finish line in Golden. The total mileage participants will pack on by the end of the race will be 473 miles.
Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334