This is your ride |

This is your ride

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado
SPT Jerseys PU 7-26-07

They love the jerseys. They love the views. They love the ice cream. They love seeing their friends.

And of course, they love to ride.

Sunday morning, more than 1,000 bike riders are expected to head West from the Beaver Creek Elk Parking Lot and cruise the roads of Eagle County for the sixth Beaver Creek Colorado-Eagle River Ride.

The only century road ride that stays in the county, the Colorado-Eagle River Ride attracts the local bike enthusiasts for a myriad of reasons.

“I ride with my family, and we were looking for a new ride,” said Greg Lestikow, who lives in East Vail and will be riding with his mom and brother. “We’ve done the Triple Bypass, but we’ve never done a good, long ride around Vail. We love the area and we’d never seen downvalley.”

With ride options of 100 miles, 100 kilometers and 42 miles, bikers of all abilities have the opportunity to pedal for hours in an organized setting.

“You see everybody out there. Everyone who bikes does this ride whether they are awesome or just starting out,” said Daryn Ostendorf, who signed up for this year but reluctantly had to give away her entry. “That’s why I started doing the ride. When I got into (biking) after spinning classes all winter long, they told me I had to get a bike and do the river ride.”

Not only is the ride accessible in terms of ability, but registering isn’t as difficult as many other rides.

“It’s just a ride that I could fit into my schedule. There are other rides I would have tried, but you have to sign up pretty early for those,” said James Wilson, 74, who will be the oldest person doing the century loop. “My daughter is coming in from Denver and is going to ride with me.”

Each year, the ride seems to attract more local residents.

“We’ve lived here for four years,” said Nancy DeLine, who, along with her husband, Ken, will be first-timers this year. “We heard about it every year and weren’t able to do it before. We’re anxious to try it this year. We’ve been encouraged by a lot of people.”

Proceeds from the race (which was $85 for early registration, is $95 for regular registration up to July 29 and then $115 for day-of registration) go to the Snowboard Outreach Society. Once again, former World Cup Mountain Biking Champion and three-time EcoChallenge winner Mike Kloser will be the race ambassador.

Before many century rides, bikers drive to the start site.

“If you live here, it’s a really nice thing ” you’re rolling out from your home,” said Scott Bartel, who will be riding with his wife Katie.

Of the expected 1,000 riders (there were 725 registered as of Thursday night, 7 percent ahead of last year’s numbers), about 85 percent will be Colorado residents.

The route ” which takes the riders west on U.S. Highway 6, then North on State Highway 131 to the Colorado River Road, then turns back on 6 at Dotsero and loops back to the Beaver Creek Parking Lot ” gives people a glimpse of less-traveled sections of the county. But what the ride also provides, many people point out, is the overall support of aid stations and vehicles.

“It’s a really nice setup,” Bartel said. “There was tons of support along the way.”

With plenty of stations, riders can easily get by with two water bottles on their bike and load up at the four aid stations. And there is a special treat waiting in Dotsero for riders doing the century and 100K routes.

“The ice cream ” I tell everybody about that,” Lestikow said.

Riders load up with a pancake breakfast in the start area, and usually head out from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

“A friend of mine last year told me you have to get to Dotsero before noon, or you get a headwind,” said Wilson, who plans on leaving at daybreak.

If there is one part of the ride that can gives people a bit of trepidation, it’s the packed dirt of the Colorado River Road.

“That’s the only part I don’t like,” Ostendorf said. “But I’ve never flatted there.”

Once the riders start looking around and soaking in the surroundings, they know it’s worth the shaking handlebars.

You wouldn’t think to ride it,” Lestikow said. “It’s a good way to off-road on a road bike and see some scenery you wouldn’t normally see.”

Early in the ride on Colorado Highway 131, riders get to climb hard and then reap the benefits of their hard work.

“The downhill by the State (Bridge) is a thrill,” Wilson said. “You set your speedometer. I think last year we hit 50 to 55 mph.”

And with the large peletons that form, anyone can latch onto a fast pack. Ostendorf had a good time ducking behind a group of top riders last year.

“We sucked off their wheels for the first 10 miles,” she said. “I was so excited to bike with them ” normally I don’t get to bike with them.”

The race may only take place one day a year in Eagle County, but people ride vicariously the rest of the year and all over the state by donning the Colorado-Eagle River Ride jersey.

“It feels like a trophy,” said Ostendorf, who will be keeping the jersey from this year, even though she won’t be riding.

Lestikow wore his two weeks ago for the Triple Bypass ride.

“I had a couple people from Denver ask me about the ride. I was a walking billboard,” he said. “I feel kind of a connect especially when I’m doing a ride not in Vail and I see people wearing the jersey ” it’s a great conversation starter.”

And unlike some not-so-color coordinated jerseys from other rides, the Colorado-Eagle River Ride top is known for its, well, good looks.

“It’s stylish,” Lestikow said. “You look cool in it.”

But Lestikow isn’t as concerned with what he physically takes away from the race Sunday.

“You really feel good after it,” he said. “Apart from doing 100 miles, you feel like you supported a great cause and the ride is in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”

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