Team Silver Cliff/Westcliffe left town on Saturday, the 13th. Registration in Grand Junction was late that afternoon. Buses and tractor trailers stood at-the-ready for riders who chose to leave their cars in Westcliffe and travel by bus to Grand Junction. At the conclusion of the ride, their cars will be on-hand for the trip home. 18-wheelers transported the riders’ boxed bikes.
Most team members drove, but Brent Bruser took a shuttle from Absolute Bike Shop in Salida. When I asked Brent if he had any advice for a novice rider, he recommended Absolute Bikes: “They are a great place to start. They have knowledgeable staff ready to help and to sell what you need to begin any level program – even rent first, buy later.”
Growing up in a small town, growing up before Title IX and equal funding for girls’ sports, I had no experience playing sports myself, but I love that my daughters played sports in school, and I am excited that Lori Fox is one of the strongest riders on Team Silver Cliff/Westcliffe. Go Lori!
Based on the fact that James Gearhart is riding his sixth Ride the Rockies, the team looks to him for advice. Coming into Gunnison towing their shiny Airstream, Jim and his wife Joanne promoted not only the ride but also Westcliffe.
Not content with just enjoying the host towns, the team is busy judging what works and what could stand improvement in terms of hosting the ride. We have already learned that Westcliffe will need to keep a sharp eye on the recycling bins which fill quickly and need to be emptied often..
That said, we have been charmed by Grand Junction’s hospitality. It is quite cute when the hospitality ambassadors approach those of us serving on the support team and ask us how the ride went. As though we were riders! How flattering!
The sky is clear and the weather warm. Mesa State University is welcoming; the beer is cold; the volunteers are friendly; and the music is hip-swinging good.
The bike corral is full of bikes, and tent city is packed cheek-by-jowl. Our team has wimped out by staying in motels, but there is something to be said for the buzz of being tent-to-tent and hip-to-hip in the middle of the action.
Today, the team’s first day on-the-road, was a bit of a warm-up. The cyclists left Grand Junction and circled north through Colorado National Monument and Fruita before returning to Grand Junction for a second night.
Today’s 47-mile ride was pretty much a walk-in-the-park. And just to clarify, Ride the Rockies is a seven-day ride, not a race.
Wearing their new team jerseys donated by Chamber of Commerce president Donna Hood, they looked fresh, smart and smiling at the start of the ride and more importantly, at the end. No bystander could tell that in true Custer County fashion, the cyclists had brought along Duct Tape… just in case.
Joining the team was Debbie Davies, a former Westcliffe resident who flew in from Bend, Oregon to join Lori Fox on the ride.
The ride motto is, “What happens on the ride, stays on the ride.” Trust me. If anyone has to take the sag wagon, you won’t hear it from me. If a rider “sags,” he is given a lift to the next aide station where he recovers and rides on. A more serious loss-of-face occurs if a rider cannot ride one more mile and has to take the “meat wagon.” Great word choices. If your body sags… you “sag.” If you are on your last legs and you are feeling like road-kill, it is time to call the “meat wagon.”
Colorado National Monument was established in 1911 and covers 20,000 acres of high desert, deep sandstone canyons and towering rock formations. It is the backdrop of every “High Wide and Lonesome” cowboy movie you’ve ever seen. The arid landscape is rich in dinosaur digs.
In contrast, Fruita (fru tah) is lush – a regular Garden of Eden. In 1886, a farmer with five hundred dollars could buy five acres, 200 fruit trees, and water.
Unfortunately, our riders missed Fruita’s “Headless Chicken Festival.” Despite being beheaded, Mike (the chicken) lived for another 18 months thanks to his owner feeding him with an eye dropper.
Some folks will do anything to draw tourists.
We have prairie dogs… I’m wondering. I ate guinea pig a couple of times when travelling in Peru. Aren’t guinea pigs and prairie dogs related? Cousins or something? Peruvians call guinea pigs “the other white meat.” Maybe we could… have a prairie dog cook-off or something along those lines. The Chamber should take note.