Ride the Rockies a ‘tribe,’ a scene, a festival
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – To some riders, Ride the Rockies isn’t so much a serious bike ride as it is a traveling festival.”It’s like a tribe,” Mark Stangl said. “This is like the Burning Man or the Rainbow Festival. I recognize people I saw on the ride back in 1990.”Stangl, from Boulder, made friendships on previous rides. They started back up right where they left off. Wednesday afternoon the Hot Springs Pool was on the minds of weary riders.”A bunch of us are getting ready to go to the pool,” rider Gary Mills said. “That’s why a lot of us have been riding for four days.”
A party was scheduled there for Wednesday night. It’s a good chance to relax, especially after strenuous rides into headwinds.”According to the wind, we’re riding the route backwards,” Stangl said.Riders had to battle strong headwinds coming over Rabbit Ears Pass, as well as headwinds and smoke on their way from Rifle.Asked about conditioning for the ride, Stangl said, “You need to easily be able to go 100 miles when it’s brutally hot when there’s wind in your face and smoke in the air.”
Wednesday afternoon Sayre Park had entered full festival mode. The musical stage sat squarely on top of the pitcher’s mound. The sounds of SoulFeel and later Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon entertained bikers and fans. A circle of vendor tents surrounded the stage, skirting the park. A larger circle of camping tents connected around the entire park and St. Stephen’s church. Tents were set a few feet from one another and put up just about anywhere they could fit. “There’s not much conjugal visiting going on,” Stangl said.Despite there being a lot of couples on the ride and “cyclist groupies” – who’re there for the pro-biker types – tents are too close to each other for people to feel comfortable doing that sort of thing, he said. Or they’re just too tired.The massage tent looked like some kind of M.A.S.H. unit, with weary riders sprawled out on massage benches and looking as if they wouldn’t be moving any time soon. Glenwood Springs High School cheerleaders cooked up food. The New Belgium Brewing Co. tent had a misting contraption to cool off passers by.
Bike reps were out trying to interest people in their products, lending riders bikes for a day hoping to promote their brand.Eva Jankovsky and Ryan Newberry of Glenwood Springs worked behind a colorful array of scarves from Cambodia. They just got back from a trip there and were trying to raise money to increase educational opportunities for kids in the country.The riders will be heading out to Aspen Thursday, where the designated campsite for participants is the Aspen schools campus. Then they’ll attack Independence Pass to Leadville.”It’s a good excuse to get in shape,” Mills said. “That’s for sure. … Independence Pass is just a cool pass. The thing that makes it easy is it’s just so beautiful.”
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The dual-sport student-athlete was named to the Class 3A Western Slope League all-conference first team for softball as one of two Carbondale players on the Basalt High School softball team team last fall.