Cyclists tackle a hot century ride |

Cyclists tackle a hot century ride

A group of bikers in the Colorado-Eagle River Ride make their way along state Highway 131 early Sunday morning. (Preston Utley/Vail Daily)

BEAVER CREEK – As packs of cyclists left Beaver Creek’s Elk Lot at around 7 a.m. Sunday, they had their sights set on hitting the century mark.

While a good number of the 900 riders in the Colorado-Eagle River Ride did trek 100 miles, others got a bit distracted by the scenery or drained by the sun and settled for the metric century mark of 100 kilometers.

Participants ranged from competitive cyclists to weekend riders, but just about everyone on two wheels took a few breaks to enjoy the atmosphere of the ride.

“Some people do centuries and don’t stop,” said Dan Sullivan of Fruita. “Today, I stopped and got my money’s worth of Gatorade and snacks.”

Doug Kunz of Denver also took a few stops, scheduled and unscheduled, to check out the mountain and mesa backdrops of state Highway 131.

“I thought I was going to run off the road a few times,” Kunz said.

The ride started out with temperatures in the 60s and 70s as bikers made their way past Wolcott. By 10:30 a.m., the sun broke through the scattered clouds and stayed out for the rest of the ride. When some riders hit the 100-kilometer mark in Dotsero, they found the 90-degree heat as a deterrent from making the trip back to Beaver Creek on a bike.

“I didn’t want to do it,” said Kevin Legace of Eagle. “It was so hot.”

Kunz didn’t mind the heat so much but caught a glimpse of something he couldn’t ignore.

“I saw the (shuttle) buses (that took riders from Dotsero to Beaver Creek), and that kind of weakened my will,” Kunz said.

And many didn’t want to ride on that stretch of U.S. Highway 6.

Unlike some of the other century races, like the Triple Bypass Ride, the Colorado-Eagle River Ride lets riders tackle terrain without highly technical climbs.

“It was not as hard as I thought,” Kunz said. “The first climb after Wolcott was real long but easier than I thought. It was easier than Mount Evans or Vail Pass.”

Still, Kunz dabbled in some of the finer points of cycling.

“I found myself getting behind a few of the racers, riding their draft,” Kunz said.

For Legace, the ride was a change up from his other bike.

“Normally I mountain bike, but a couple times a year I do rides like (this),” Legace said.

Sullivan, who has logged more than 1,000 miles on his bike this summer, gauged his progress from when he first competed in the ride two years ago.

“It was my own personal time trial,” Sullivan said.

During the bulk of the ride, there were more bikes than cars on the road. Some cyclists formed mini peletons, while others rode side-by-side. The stretch of the race along the Colorado River Road was nearly devoid of vehicles.

But the support vehicles that riders did want to see made frequent appearances to fix flats or provide medical assistance.

“It’s so well organized,” Kunz said. “Everything seems to fall in place no matter where you go.”

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