AVON — This time it only took three years for Ride the Rockies to return to the Vail Valley for an overnight stop. This could be the start of something important.
Ride the Rockies, a Denver Post-sponsored bicycle tour of the state, draws 2,000 or more participants most years for a week-long ride through the high country. With that many people in the rolling caravan, overnight stops are a big deal for host communities. While many people camp through the tour, host towns always see increased hotel bookings as well as restaurant visits and bike shop business.
The last time the tour spent the night in the valley, it meant filling at least 700 hotel rooms, and that’s just for support crews and others directly associated with the ride. It’s not known how many riders, families and friends decided to splurge on a soft bed and easy access to a shower.
The ride’s Avon stop comes at a perfect time for the valley. Chris Romer, president of the Vail Valley Partnership, the area’s convention and tourism organization, said businesses will see a real benefit from hosting that big a group in the middle of a week in early June.
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Romer said this year’s tour stop was the result of steady lobbying by the Partnership. But, he added, the real effort was getting the tour to stop in the valley in 2011 after an 11-year absence.
“Since then, we’ve continued to work on that relationship, letting (ride organizers) know our community welcomes them with open arms,” Romer said.
This year’s host site will be Nottingham Park, a place used to hosting big crowds. Avon Mayor Rich Carroll said since the town routinely hosts 10,000 people or more on the Fourth of July, this stop should be relatively easy. And riders should find plenty to do near the park, from the town’s recreation center to local restaurants and hotels. There will also be a shuttle into Beaver Creek for those who decide to stay there.
Mike Brumbaugh, owner of Venture Sports, said he heard the announcement when it was made Saturday evening.
“My phone just started to blow up,” Brumbaugh said. “People are super stoked about this year’s ride.”
When Ride the Rockies last came through the valley, Brumbaugh said his shop had to stay open late to handle the service business that came through. This year, he expects the same thing and perhaps more of it given how close the camp will be to his shop.
Brumbaugh and his wife participated in the 2013 Ride the Rockies, and he called it “the best vacation of my life.”
That riding vacation is part of what makes Ride the Rockies such a tasty plum for host towns hoping to bring riders back for another visit.
Carroll said this year’s ride will be a chance for the entire eastern part of the valley to show off, since riders will come to Avon through Wolcott, then leave through Minturn, up Battle Mountain and over Tennessee Pass.
“This is going to be great for the town of Avon and the greater community,” Carroll said. “Participants will get to see the valley from a unique perspective.”