Hang on for a blue-sky ride by the river | VailDaily.com

Hang on for a blue-sky ride by the river

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado

SPT river ride 1 KA 7-29-07

AVON ” There are a few certainties in Colorado-Eagle River Ride, like great weather (no matter what the forecast) beautiful views, some pretty impressive support.

Back for the sixth installment of the race Sunday were all the favorites that drew close to 1,000 riders, but participants got an added bonus when they had a chance to latch on to the “Floyd” peloton.

Floyd Landis, the 2006 Tour de France winner (his case with the United States Anti-Doping Agency over abnormally high levels of testosterone during the 17th stage of last year’s Tour is on-going), took part in Sunday’s Colorado-Eagle River Ride, giving everyone from former pro riders to first-time century participants a chance to pull up alongside the guy in the orange jersey.

“You could tell where he was riding because there was this big pack of guys ” everyone was around him,” said Scott Van Deren, of Sedalia. “I got on the Floyd peloton early.”

From the pancake breakfast beforehand to the post-race meal, Landis drew a large crowd, although none as big as the pack of riders that moved through the 100-mile race at a solid clip.

“I like to use this as social training,” said Mike Kloser, who was one of the pack riders, “but today I think our group averaged from 20 to 40 throughout. I’m sure Floyd and I may have been up front a bit, but none of us were really hammering.”

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After the peloton passed ” another certainty Sunday ” riders had plenty of time to soak in the semi-familiar scenery in a biker-friendly environment.

“I know the roads,” said Mark Marto, “But it’s a pretty ride next to the river. And it helps to be supported. Snowboard Outreach Society (which puts on the event) does a fantastic job. I do other races, but this is the best supported race by far. They have great rest stops.”

“Everyone around here tells me how beautiful it is,” said Terry Michel, a part-time resident. “The scenery was beautiful, and the whole thing was well organized and everyone was friendly. The hills were very hard. “The whole thing was well organized and everyone was so friendly,”

Those doing the 100-mile, 100-kilometer and 42-mile ride options took full advantage of four aid stations stocked with an endless supply of food and beverages most riders wouldn’t even bring for themselves. In addition to the aid stations, there were roving support vehicles.

“I can’t believe how many people enjoyed it and how many helped out,” said Arn Menconi, executive director of Snowboard Outreach Society. “I really want to emphasize this ride wouldn’t be possible without all the people who volunteer their time.”

With the throngs of repeat riders were those who cut the trail for the first time.

“I’d been training for the Triple Bypass, but I couldn’t do it and saw this ride in paper,” said Van Deren. “That’s the great thing about Vail ” there are so many activities going on. It was really great ” I’d ridden parts of the course before and it was so cool to be along the river and that 20 miles of dirt road was kicking.”

A long section of the ride brings the bikers along the Colorado River Road, a dirt-packed surface that snakes next to the Colorado River and provides open views of high cliffs and the occasional train.

Steve Anzalone of Eagle picked up his first century ride Sunday.

“It was about time,” Anzalone said. “I ride a lot and have never done a 100-mile (ride). I figured this would be the best one to do.”

Susan Rogel, participating for the fourth time, nearly had to skip out on this year’s ride.

“I got injured on Friday,” Rogel said, pointing to a swollen knee. “Something on my bike hit my knee. It swelled up like a balloon. Yesterday I thought I couldn’t ride, but today I got up and was perfectly fine.”

In a long ride with ascents descents, just like in big bike races, bikers form packs to help take the load off each other.

“You draft when you can, and you save a lot of energy,” Anzalone said.

“That’s one of the fun things of doing these events,” Van Deren said. “You get to ride with a lot of different people and it just kind of happens naturally. And as long as you are with people who know how to do it, it’s really kind of fun, and it just kind of flows.

You get in a group, fall off, get in another group. It’s actually really important when you get on some of those lonely stretches. I found my heart rate was a lot lower when I was in a group, going 28 mph, than when I was with myself doing 20.”

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.

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