Ride the Rockies pedalers to bring in the bucks?
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Swarms of cyclists will descend Saturday on Glenwood Springs for the annual Ride the Rockies bicycle tour put on by The Denver Post.
Some 2,000 cyclists will spend six days biking through the Rocky Mountains. This year, Glenwood will act as both the start and finish points. That means a lot of revenue for local businesses.
“Ride the Rockies is a big deal to Glenwood Springs,” said Krista DeHerrera of Valley Events Inc., the company contracted by the city of Glenwood Springs to plan this tour.
The tour should be a major boost for the local economy, she said.
“Cyclists on the 2008 tour spent an average of $90 per cyclist per town they visited,” DeHerrera said.
Though some of the food and places to camp are provided, many cyclists choose to eat at restaurants and stay in hotels, creating a big uptick in business.
Both industries saw a surge in revenues the last time the tour came to town in 2007. Hotels were especially popular, because the last few towns the tour had stopped at prior to Glenwood had fewer hotels.
The tour takes off Sunday morning, and most riders are expected to arrive Saturday to register. Riders will return Friday, June 19. Because that is the start of Strawberry Days weekend, it is anticipated that many cyclists will stay longer.
Add to that the approximately 2,000 staff, volunteers and spectators of the event, and Glenwood starts to seem pretty packed. “In a five-day period of time, we’re looking at a good 4,000 people in town who do spend money,” DeHerrera said.
According to The Denver Post, cyclists in 2008 spent an average of $270,000 dollars in a 24-hour period per town. However, the tour brings more than just dollars and cents. It also provides towns with valuable publicity and future tourists. For a destination like Glenwood Springs, that amounts to a very promising investment.
“That’s the hope, that when we do this we are showcasing the town to the riders and their families in the hopes that they’ll come back,” said DeHerrera. With Glenwood’s base in tourism, the opportunity to reach more people is always welcome. Additionally, the type of people participating are the type of people that tend to be attracted to Glenwood, for both its outdoor attractions and close proximity to nature, she added.
Another big benefit for Glenwood will come the same weekend of Strawberry Days when the Bicycle Tour of Colorado departs Glenwood. It returns to Glenwood on June 27. Again, more than 2,000 cyclists will take part.
Although the tour will bring a huge amount of people to the town, in all likelihood, it will not be an overwhelming amount. Many volunteers are stepping in for things like crowd control and parking direction.
When the cyclists leave Glenwood Springs High School on Sunday morning, they will proceed to Grand Avenue, then to South Grand, and then to the Rio Grande Trail, until they reach Westbank Road that goes alongside the Ironbridge neighborhood. The first day’s route then takes riders into Carbondale, up Highway 133, over McClure Pass and finally to Hotchkiss, where they will spend the night.
An opening ceremony starts at 7:30 a.m. but should be done within half an hour, putting the cyclists on the road at 8 a.m.
Drivers should be aware of this influx of cyclists. “However, it’s for such a short period of time that we’re only closing one lane of traffic,” said DeHerrera. “They should be off Grand within 15 minutes, maximum.”
Discounting these minor inconveniences for drivers and potential crowds at restaurants or other attractions, Ride the Rockies should be a major benefit to the town. In times of economic difficulty, every dollar counts. $270,000 dollars per day? That counts a lot.
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