Taking a ride with good cause
Over the river and through the woods they cycled. They rode for the sake of people who otherwise might not have the opportunity to learn how to snowboard and enjoy the magic of Vail and Beaver Creek due to a variety of different reasons, including the extravagance of lift tickets, travel and equipment.
Approximately 450 participants enjoyed a temperate bike ride on Sunday, benefiting the Snowboard Outreach Society at the Colorado-Eagle River Ride.
“This whole thing started out – just a few years ago – with a “Tour de Roundabout’ joke. It was just an excuse for a group of guys to create a big peloton (a pack of riders that create higher speeds by riding intimately),” said Menconi.
The ride drew 100 people for the first year, riding the Burns Loop. Last year, the event drew 260 folks, so the ride is fast becoming a premier Eagle County athletic event.
“Registration was amazing because every different type of cyclist was showing up. I was just blown away,” said Menconi. “There were folks in their 60s on Colorado River Road, and just cruising right along. It’s pretty amazing; the popularity of cycling in the valley.”
The consensus seemed to be that ride had it all: Gorgeous country, a slew of different terrain, perfect temperatures and some moments of comedy and wonder.
“We had a surprise at Dotsero. There was an ice cream truck,” said Menconi. “The ice cream lady was out there selling ice cream, so we pulled in. And, a group of us rode out with … uh … what’s the kind with vanilla wrapped in chocolate on a stick? Like a Heath Bar kind of thing.
Drex Douglas, who’s been cycling for 30 years, also experienced something out of the ordinary.
“A bird just about went through my spoke,” said Douglas. “(It was) a robin. You know how you see the cartoons of birds where they stop? Well, the bird came up to my front wheel, and it just hovered and went over the wheel. I thought it was gonna go through, but I’ve never, ever had that happen.”
It took Enrique Umbert from Lima, Peru, 6 hours, 45 minutes to finish the 100 mile loop.
“It was a beautiful ride, it was very well-organized and it was really a pleasure to be with all the people out there. It was a spectacular day, really and truly,” said Umbert, who is a part-time resident in the Vail Valley. “I’m tired but happy.”
Helen Rudy, who lives in Wildridge and is originally from England, finished the ride with an impressive time, coming in barely more than seven hours after she began.
“I was a little bit tired by Eagle. And, by the time you got to Wolcott, you thought, “Well, I’m heading straight now,’ so it wasn’t too bad,” said Rudy, who is 38 years old and picked up road-biking just last year. “The hills aren’t too huge on this, so your able to, sort of, spin a bit faster on this race than most.”
Not everybody rode 100 miles. There was also a 100 kilometer course and a ride that went to Eagle and back – approximately 40 miles.
“It was a pleasure ride. It was a good group of people, a good cause,” said Douglas, who rode to Eagle and back. “Some people did 100 miles, which was grueling, I think. Yesterday, we went and did the road that they’d be riding on, and we chose not to do the 100 because it seemed a little grueling.”
There didn’t seem to be any complaints about the scenery from anyone.
“The whole Colorado River Road is just amazingly beautiful. It’s kind of funny because there was virtually no traffic until we started to come in toward Wolcott. So, you spend about 85 miles in what feels like peace and tranquility. Then all of a sudden, you’ve got all these cars around you when you’re at a point where you haven’t eaten enough, you haven’t drank enough and you’re just like, “What’s all of this? I’m back in the city,'” said Menconi. “From (State Highway) 131 down to Dotsero, 20 miles of it is just dirt road following the river with just amazing views.”
Mike Kloser, who rode in with the “leaders” in a pack that included Menconi at approximately 12:15 p.m., enjoyed himself thoroughly.
“What a gorgeous day,” said Kloser. “Great, great group of riders – 400 plus. I think if we keep doubling like this, we’re gonna grow out of our pants here. We’re gonna have to keep reinforcing our infrastructure and keep planning for the best.”
Immediately after the ride, Kloser changed out of his clothes, hopped in his motorized vehicle – the one he drives on something besides sheer will power and pure energy – and headed out to Avon Lake for a quick workout in his kayak.
“I did like a two-and-a-half-hour trail run yesterday, so I kinda felt that on the ride. I try to just pace it, you know, I don’t go too fast in these things.”
Arriving at the finish in approximately five hours, Kloser’s “easily-paced” ride clocked in at an average of 20 mph in relatively steep terrain.
“I let all these fast, young guys do all the work to make sure I can get up those hills,” said Kloser, who is heading to Newfoundland with his adventure racing team – Danelle Ballangee, Michael Tobin and Ian Adamson – on Wednesday for the world championships.
Menconi was very pleased with the event’s sponsors and all of the volunteer help.
“The main thing is that Beaver Creek really threw down big to support this, and the Vail Daily and the county. And, a lot of volunteers made this very successful,” said Menconi. “So, SOS really is very thankful for all of the people who rode and pitched in to make this possible.”
Andrew Harley can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or at email@example.com.