The 13th Durango Fall Blaze will pedal forward in 2020.
Fort Lewis College’s cycling team will once again host the annual scholarship fundraiser event this fall, only this time the Fall Blaze, presented by Morehart Murphy Subaru, will be a virtual event because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. So, with a shakeup in format, event organizers decided to expand the event from its traditional road ride to allow athletes to compete on trails, gravel roads or however else they want. This year’s event is set for Sept. 26.
“Like many 2020 pivots, we’re taking this beloved event virtual so that no matter where you are, you’re welcome to join the FLC community, current FLC cycling team, FLC cycling alumni and the Durango community for an unforgettable day of riding for a cause, which hasn’t changed a bit: to support student-athletes on the nationally-ranked Skyhawks cycling team,” FLC cycling director Dave Hagen said in an email to The Durango Herald.
The Fall Blaze is the biggest fundraiser of the year for FLC cycling, which had it’s funding cut by $60,000 as FLC was forced to eliminate $1.85 million from its general fund because of a shortfall to the state’s General Fund caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The FLC cycling program has won 24 national championships across all disciplines. Because of the budget cuts, FLC had to suspend its BMX and track cycling programs with hopes to bring those back in the future.
Money raised by the Fall Blaze goes toward operating expenses and scholarships for athletes.
Registration for the Fall Blaze is $50, and participants will be able to fundraise additional funds. The first 100 people who successfully fundraise $100 will receive a four-ounce bottle of Orange Seal tire sealant. The first 150 people who hit the goal of $200 in fundraising will receive Optic Nerve sunglasses. Each athlete who registers will receive a fundraising link to share.
“We’ve seen over 1,000 kids go through this program in the 16 years I’ve been here,” Hagen said. “We are asking everyone to dig in and play a part in ensuring this incredible program is more self-sufficient so we can continue to do what we do.”
Those who register before Sept. 13 will receive a custom number plate to put on their bikes for the day of the ride. The first 500 who sign up also will receive a Fall Blaze neck gaiter.
A Durango Fall Blaze Strava Club has been set up for each rider to log their ride. Different challenges will be held for the most miles ridden, the most vertical feet gained and the most vertical feet lost. The winner of each will receive a Osprey hip hyrdration pack.
Participants are also encouraged to take photos and post them to Instagram with the hashtag #durangofallblaze. The best photos with that hashtag and the tag @rockymounts will be entered to win one of two Rocky Mounts hitch bike racks.
“You’ll hop on the saddle of whatever steed you prefer from wherever you are to head out on a ride as long as you like,” Hagen said. “We look forward to riding with you soon.”