DEL NORTE – Wednesday June 12, was the fourth day of a weeklong journey for the 28th annual Ride the Rockies bicycling event. Thousands of cyclists passed through the Valley giving a big boost to the local economy as they spent money on food and lodging.
Steve Whitehead, manager of the Windsor Hotel in Del Norte, said it was by far their busiest day at the restaurant since opening under his management in May, and many of the rooms were booked for the night also.
“It has been great for business,” said Whitehead.
The riders started their day in Pagosa Springs and had a chilly ride over Wolf Creek Pass where the temperature was barely above freezing.
Robin Ash, from San Francisco, Calif., said he was getting feeling back in his toes after leaving at 5:30 a.m., on Wednesday morning. He was one of the first of the 2,000 riders to go through Del Norte around 10:30 a.m. Most cyclists arrived together in a large group around noon at the Holy Name of Mary church on their way to Alamosa.
The tour started in Telluride on June 9 and ended on June 15 in Colorado Springs. The route had to be changed due to wildfires in Colorado Springs and near the Royal Gorge Bridge; the new route added an additional 30 miles to the original plan.
Warren and Terree Scortino, from New Orleans, were on their first Ride the Rockies tour.
“It has been fantastic,” said Scortino. “That last hill, I guess you could say mountain, was pretty challenging.” The Scortinos live part time in Crested Butte, so the altitude was not that much of a factor for them. Scortino said the best part of the ride for him was the first day leaving Telluride.
“It was unbelievable,” said Scortino. “Lizard Head Pass was beautiful going up over that, and then the downhill was fantastic. That was my favorite so far.”
Scortino said the weather has been great and reminded him of New Orleans because it was so hot.
Herb Myers, from Aurora, Colo. said the day had been a big challenge coming over Wolf Creek Pass.
“From the way the wind is blowing, it looks like it will be even more of a challenge getting into Alamosa,” said Myers. “I am looking forward to getting some stinky laundry done tonight and to hitting the sleeping bag too.”
Myers said Wednesday was the most challenging for him because they traveled 92 miles with Wolf Creek Pass in the middle.
“The wind is keeping the heat down, but it is making me work harder,” said Myers.
Tim Brooking, from Houston, Texas, said he does not see a lot of hills like he saw in the Valley, so it has been quite an adjustment for him.
“I kid with people and tell them I train at 13 feet above sea level and then come here where it is 13,000’ above sea level,” said Brooking. “It is getting better every day, but the first few days were pretty rough.” Brooking said coming off of Wolf Creek Pass was his favorite part so far.
“I have loved every minute of it,” said Brooking. “It is certainly not an easy ride but I have enjoyed every second of it.”