Two thousand bicyclists will pedal 447 miles through Southwest Colorado in June, spending two nights in Durango as part of Ride the Rockies.
The seven-day ride starts June 11 in Alamosa and ends June 17 in Salida. The tour will arrive June 12 from Pagosa Springs, have an optional 39-mile day loop June 13 past Lake Nighthorse, and head out of town June 14 for Ridgway.
“It’s good advertising for Durango,” said Tim Walsworth, executive director of the Durango Business Improvement District and chairman of the organizing committee created to help coordinate activities in Durango.
“There’s an immediate economic impact on Durango, and we hope some of those riders and their families will enjoy their stay here and maybe come back on vacation in the future.”
The last time Ride the Rockies came through Durango was four years ago, in 2013. That year, the ride started in Telluride and went through Cortez and Durango before continuing east and then north to Colorado Springs.
The tour has an estimated $250,000 economic impact per night on the communities it visits, so Durango stands to experience a $500,000 impact from the two-night stay, said Bill Almquist, community relations manager for Ride the Rockies.
It arrives two weeks after the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, which draws thousands of cyclists during Memorial Day weekend.
Spending two nights in one location is not something Ride the Rockies always does, but riders seem to enjoy it and it helps with logistics, Almquist said.
“Our riders have expressed that they enjoy the opportunity to not have to pack up all their belongings every single day,” Almquist said. “So we’ve oriented that double overnight to be in the middle of our tour, and it gives people an opportunity to use it as a rest day.”
The extra day in Durango also gives riders time to rest their legs in anticipation of Day 4, one of the most-grueling days on the circuit: An 83-mile ride with 7,792 feet elevation gain from Durango to Ridgway, a route that includes Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain passes.
“There’s quite a bit of climbing for sure,” Almquist said. “We’re pretty excited about the route. It’s gorgeous.”
About half the riders will camp in tents and half stay in hotels, he said.
Headquarters and camping will be at Durango High School. Ride the Rockies contracts with Summit Cycle Solutions to reserve rooms for riders who prefer hotels.
Ride the Rockies was started in 1986 by The Denver Post. The event typically attracts about 2,000 riders, who are picked by a lottery registration system. Registration for this year’s event closes Feb. 26.