Ride the Rockies – Day One

Bike Transport from Westcliffe to Grand Junction

Bike Transport from Westcliffe to Grand Junction

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.”

2015 06 RTR GR Junct 022I personally like the artwork on the side of Absolute’s building. The mural features a woman… on a bike, and she is going-for-it, full speed with abandon, enthusiasm and skill.

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!

Follow us to Westcliffe

Follow us to Westcliffe

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.

2015 06 RTR GR Junct 040The 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.

2015 RTR-Complete-Tour-Map-vPRESS

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.

L to R: Brent Bruser, Mark Stamper, Jim Gearhart, Lockett Pitman, Lori Fox, and Mark Dembosky

L to R: Brent Bruser, Mark Stamper, Jim Gearhart, Lockett Pitman, Lori Fox, and Mark Dembosky

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.”

2015 RTR Colorado_National_Monument

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.

Dewey finds sitting on the handlebars more comfortable than sitting on the bicycle seat.

Dewey finds sitting on the handlebars more comfortable than sitting on the bicycle seat.

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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4 Responses to Ride the Rockies – Day One

  1. Jim Remington says:

    Thanks for the progress report Doris. Give them all a hearty pat on the back for me. Tell them I did 55 miles today. Spread that suffering around!
    The Best,

    Jim Remington

    • timeout2 says:

      Dear Jim, The team thanks you for your training tips, your company on their training rides, and your on-going support. How they wish you could suffer with them tomorrow: it will be a long day… 96 miles and 7,631 feet of climb.. They’ll be needing some hugs and light-hearted banter from someone who has undertaken the same. And next week, you are riding… in New Mexico, I think. Good luck with that.

  2. Robyn Wallerich says:

    Such a neat report, Doris! Thank You!

    • timeout2 says:

      I hope that your are a believer in “better late than never,” Robyn. Thank you for reading. I’m in a tizzy – Fremont County/Valdai Russia Sister City commitments followed Ride the Rockies. I take our Russian guests to the airport on July 4th and that evening our Long Island daughter, husband, and grandkids arrive. I’m too old for life in the fast lane.

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