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Hotchkiss to Host Ride the Rockies

February 15, 2019

 

The route for the 34th annual Denver Post Ride the Rockies Cycling Tour will bring bicyclists to the North Fork Valley this summer, with an overnight stop in Hotchkiss on Thursday, June 13.

The seven-day loop starts and finishes in Crested Butte. The daily mileage varies between 40 and 83 miles, for a total of 445 miles and approximately 28,230 feet in total elevation gain.

On Sunday, June 9, riders will roll west out of Crested Butte up Kebler Pass. Right before the summit, they'll turn onto Ohio Pass Road and head to Gunnison for an overnight stop.

Monday is the longest day of the bike tour, taking riders from Gunnison over Monarch Pass to the overnight stop in Buena Vista. The 83-mile route includes elevation gain of 5,393 feet.

Day 3 is a ride from Buena Vista to Snowmass via Independence Pass. At an elevation of 12,095 feet, the summit marks the highest point on this year's tour.

A circuitous route will give cyclists a glimpse of the famous Maroon Bells as riders cover the 78-mile route from Aspen to Carbondale on Wednesday.

Following three very tough days in the saddle, things get a touch easier as riders head south on Highway 133. The Ride the Rockies website describes the grinding ascent up McClure Pass and the ride through Gunnison and Delta counties:

"Once past the summit, it's essentially all downhill, as you speed past Paonia State Park and Reservoir, the mostly defunct coal mines around Somerset, and the peach orchards of Paonia proper, before wheeling into the finish town of Hotchkiss, which sits in the heart of the fertile North Fork Valley on Colorado's Western Slope."

That's where the 2,000 cyclists, friends, family members and Ride the Rockies support personnel will spend Thursday night.

"We will work hard to assure that the fourth visit of the Ride the Rockies bicycle tour on Thursday, June 13, is the best one yet -- for the tour and for the community!" said Nathan Sponseller, president of the Hotchkiss Community Chamber of Commerce.

Activities will be headquartered at the Delta County Fairgrounds. Cyclists will also have the opportunity to book a hotel room, camp outdoors or in Heritage Hall, or stay in a "yurt village" that's being erected in the hay field along Highway 92 across from Family Dollar.

Hotel rooms, however, could be hard to come by since the bike tour coincides with Rural Philanthropy Days. About 300 attendees are expected for Rural Philanthropy Days; about 2,0000 riders and an additional 300-500 support crew and tour personnel will be added to that number.

On Friday, cyclists head back to Gunnison. According to the route description on Ride the Rockies' website, "In terms of elevation gain, this is the hardest day of the 2019 Ride the Rockies, gaining almost 7,000 feet during the near-80-mile ride from Hotchkiss to Gunnison. Fortunately, Stage 6 is also one of the most scenic days of the tour, availing stunning views into the yawning depths of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, which owes its name to the fact that parts of the canyon receive less than an hour of direct sunlight per day.

"The ride itself kicks off with a jaunt through the town of Crawford, and then heads steadily skyward on State Highway 92 to the route's 9,128-foot high point at Hermit's Rest Overlook around mile 30. From there it's a rolling ride along the Black Canyon's northern rim before the road drops away as you cruise down toward the shores of shimmering Blue Mesa Reservoir, crossing Blue Mesa Dam, and then heading eastward on a mostly flat section of US Highway 50 to Gunnison.

The final day of the 2019 Ride the Rockies, on Saturday, June 15, is also the shortest and easiest. Cyclists will ride Highway 135 from Gunnison to the finish day celebration at the base of the Crested Butte Mountain Resort ski area.

Ride The Rockies is open to cyclists of all ages; participants are encouraged to ride at their own pace. The lottery has been dropped, and now all registrations are on a first come, first serve basis, until the ride is sold out. Proceeds from the event benefit The Denver Post Community Foundation and all the funds raised are returned directly to Colorado nonprofits.Visit https://www.ridetherockies.com/registration/ for additional details.

For information about a limited number of fundraising spots for meals and other tour assistance such as baggage handling, trash and recycling assistance and more, contact Nathan Sponseller.

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