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A first for everything at River Ride

Ruth Moon
Vail, CO Colorado
SPT Eagle River Ride 1 DT 7-26-08
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AVON, Colorado ” This was a year of firsts for the Colorado-Eagle River Ride.

It was the first time the ride was not held on the last day of the Tour de France and the first time ride founder Arn Menconi did not follow the ride. It was also the first time husband and wife Mary and Dave Summitt rode tandem for a 100-kilometer ride and first official ride for at least two bikers.

There’s a first time for everything.

First-timers of all kinds

Mary and Dave Summitt, 48, and, 38, respectively, live in Parker and are veteran bikers, but this was the longest ride they’ve done on a tandem bike and the first time they have ridden the Colorado-Eagle River Ride.

“It was absolutely beautiful,” Mary said. “Some of the scenery I’d never seen ” it almost looks like Moab back there. It’s absolutely gorgeous.”

The couple said they enjoyed the tandem ride and plan on continuing the practice, although it might lead to an unequal workout for them.

“We share the work, but I say he does more of it than I do,” Mary said. “We have to pedal the same but I don’t have to push as hard.”

Although the Summitts may have been the only tandem bikers on the ride, there were several first-timers of different kinds heading out Saturday morning.

Nils Albert, 42, is a long-time biker but had never done this route. This ride was comparatively easy and pleasant, he said.

“I just did the Bob Cook Memorial last week, which is straight up Mt. Evans, so this is a lot easier than that,” he said. Plus, he added, “The weather gods were on our side today.”

For others, this ride was their first.

Cindy Perkin, 59, and Rhonda Erickson, 50, are old friends who have been training together for the Colorado-Eagle River Ride since April. They rode the whole 100-mile circuit.

After completing the ride in just shy of eight hours, Perkin and Erickson were sore in strange places, and skipping the after-party in Beaver Creek to head home for a shower.

Erickson held up her left wrist and pointed at her calf. “Just the right one is sore,” she said.

Despite the soreness, though, the women were glad they had finished the ride.

“We’ve seen people do it for years, but I never imagined I would do it,” Perkin said.

“It’s exhilarating, the feeling that we did it,” Erickson said. “You can talk about it all you want, but until you do it you don’t know if you can.”

Raising funds

Ride organizer and founder Arn Menconi, 49, has ridden every year, but had to sit out this one because of a knee injury he received while riding the Triple ByPass earlier this summer.

“I started this ride eight years ago to have an excuse to ride on the peloton with guys who are faster than me,” he said. “I’ve been in a mild state of depression today.”

Around 1,100 people participated in the ride this year, SOS Outreach development director Seth Ehrlich said, up from last year’s 949 participants. The River Ride is the largest fundraiser of the year for SOS Outreach, a nonprofit organization that helps build character in teenagers through teaching snow sports. SOS worked with 456 children ages 8 -18 in Eagle County last year.

This was also the first year the ride was moved off of the closing day of the Tour de France, Menconi said. The move to Saturday was intended to bring in more riders from the Front Range area.

But the date move didn’t affect organizer and rider interest in the Tour de France, based on an announcement Chris Davenport, one of the ride ambassadors, made as the riders were pedaling out of the parking lot at 7 a.m.

“I hope we’re all pulling for Christian Vande Velde in the Tour de France,” he said. “But don’t be checking your Blackberry on the ride ” you’ll find out when you get back.”


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