Ride the Rockies - Steve Newell
In 1986, The Denver Post created the Ride The Rockies (RTR) Colorado Bicycle Tour. Over 1,500 riders came from around the country to participate in the six day, cross-state tour. The Tour was an immediate success, and The Post has produced the ride every June since. Each year the route is different and it now extends to a full 7 day program. The program allows RTR to provide $5,000 grants to fund nonprofit organizations that provide services for low-income children and youth through community programs that support recreation and/or education in the areas the annual tour visits.
In 2019, VIC2 member Steve Newell agreed to join a friend on RTR. While not something that Steve had really contemplated before, being newly retired and always up for a new challenge, off he went. Not only was this the first event of this type that Steve had ever done, it was the first time he had ever done two days in a row of serious riding. In hindsight, he can now say he has done 7 days in a row totaling 440 miles and 29,000 feet of climbing (without using the SAG wagon!). His thoughts: “the saddle time was the most difficult” and he would definitely have trained more. The picture shows the route that the 2019 RTR followed.
RTR typically provides SAG support throughout the route, bike mechanics, aid stations, gear transport between cities, and shower facilities. There are also options for staying in host hotels or group camping. Steve however, chose another option…his wife Kathy (also a VIC2 member) drove support with their recently purchased 19’ trailer. Kathy got practice in maneuvering a 40’ long tow set-up, Steve had a pretty cushy place to crash at night, and they got to hang out with other “trailer trash”. While each host town provided food options, Steve and Kathy also had the luxury of taking care of their own food needs with the trailer.
When asked if he would do it again, Steve says it is definitely worth it if you have the time and resources. It’s a great way to see our State and the traffic worries are minimal, due to significant police support and presence. There are a number of lodging/camping options available, but early entry and planning gives riders the most options. Daily SAG support also allows riders to curtail their efforts a bit based on individual ability and stamina. However, that doesn’t mean you can skip the training!
Belgium and the Netherlands - Sue Waltermire and Joni Strobel-McLean
What better way to spend a week in April than cycling through tulip fields during the spring harvest. For 14 ladies from around the US...apparently nothing! Sue and Joni, fellow idiots and travel enthusiasts, along with 12 other ladies they barely knew, did just that. Beginning in the Netherlands they cycled by fields of tulips and across the countryside to Belgium. Each day began with a 20-30 mile bike ride and up to 3000 ft. of climbing depending on skill level. Mid- afternoon into the evening was spent visiting and learning about these historic and beautiful countries. Nights were saved for lovely dinners, wine and laughter in quaint villages, inns, country houses and old estates.
This particular trip was put together by Backroads, a company that both ladies have traveled with before. Tour coordinators shuttle the bikes and riders to locations throughout the area and ride with the group acting as tour guides. High quality bikes are provided, including electric assist bikes when requested. Cycling is so popular in Europe that bike lanes or paths are plentiful and safety concerns are limited. Interesting fact, bikes share the paths with motorcycles, something the locals are very accustomed to.
When asked their favorite part of the trip...the humbling experience of WWI Field of Flanders and the exquisite chocolates of Belgium. Of course Sue and Joni will travel again this year. Sue is planning a trip to Bhutan with husband Doug and Joni will travel to Ireland with husband Dave.
Colorado MS 140 Ride - Faye McGuar
Don't Just Ride...Bike MS - That's the slogan for the Colorado/Wyoming chapter of the National MS Society. They also have Hike MS, Walk MS, and Muckfest MS and other events to encourage involvement, and they mean it! The MS Society really gets after their mission......The National MS Society is working toward a world free of MS. People affected by MS can live their best lives as we stop MS in its tracks, restore what has been lost and end MS forever. From MS symptom management to health and wellness classes, they offer a wide range of resources and support throughout our region and online.
The Colorado/Wyoming ride is the single-most successful fundraising effort for the MS Society... with over 2500 riders doing 150 miles in 2 days. From Northglenn to CSU campus in Ft Collins on Saturday and back on Sunday, it covers some beautiful off-the beaten-path country in Boulder, Weld and Larimer Counties.
Faye’s husband, Stephen, came home in spring 2000, and suggested we "do this ride" because his employer ( Comcast) was a sponsor, and encouraged employee participation in some capacity.... by volunteering, riding, fundraising. They were not cyclists. (Their previous experience included around the park rides with our three boys). Naively, Faye said...why not? Stephen also had a very close friend from high school who had been struggling with MS since her 30's. As they got involved, they found more friends and family members who were affected, whether directly or in support of loved ones, and it became a mission for them as well.
That first ride in 2000 was crushing. They did the 150 miles that year from Conifer to Colorado Springs through Woodland Park, and back, on mountain bikes. Faye says they had never been so tired and sore and hurt so bad in our lives! Pulling the last 5 miles up Foxton road, being badgered by the SAG wagon to get on they were determined not to have gone 145 miles only to give up. They managed, somehow, to do those last 5 miles. Faye notes they couldn't walk when they got off the bikes, their knees hurt so bad. But, after a good nights sleep they recovered and they were hooked on "riding". Within a month, both bought road bikes and decided the next year would be better.
Since 2000, Faye has done the MS ride with her husband 15 times. She lost him in 2015 to kidney cancer, so 2015, 2016 were off years for the ride, but Faye continued to do fundraising and carry on the passion Stephen had held for this cause. She got back on the bike in 2017, and bittersweet as it was, had a wonderful and memorable ride. It was her all-time favorite sanctioned ride. The scenery, the people, the energy. It's truly an exhilarating time.
You meet many who ride with MS on the ride. Some ride independently, some on tandems, some on recumbents, some in trailers. Others help out at the rest stations. In Faye’s words she is “humbled by their strength, courage and resilience in dealing with this disease.” She encourages anyone with a connection to MS, or just wanting a great ride with a good cause to join her next year!
Mallorca, Spain - John Rehl and Doug Waltermire
Doug and John are no strangers to cycling adventures, having done several together to celebrate milestone birthdays or to just put more adventure in life. This year they chose a “ride camp” in Mallorca, Spain, organized through Trek travel. Joining them were 4 other friends, and over 20 other cyclists willing to push the envelope with intensive early season spring training rides. Trek provided route planning, SAG support, ride day sustenance, and the use of a Trek Domane SL 7 Disk bike.
Mallorca, one of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean off the Coast of Spain, is well known as a cyclist’s playground where the pros go in the off season to train. In fact, there were thousands of cyclists of all different abilities enjoying the hilly rides and stunning ocean and mountain scenery. The 6 days of riding included well over 300 miles with 28,000’ of climbing. Some days the number of cyclists outnumbered the cars on the roads.
Post-ride downtime was spent enjoying the beautiful Monnaber Nou Eco Hotel and Spa in the Spanish countryside outside of Campanet. Post- ride massage, use of a pool and spa area and outstanding local food were all part of the routine. Post-ride camp, many of the group were joined by their spouses for an extra week of exploration around the island. While Mallorca is well known as a European tourist destination, this trip was earlier than the European “holiday” season. While the temperatures rarely got to 70 F, the tradeoff was an island with little tourist traffic.
John sums up the experience here. “The best adventures for me are those that exceed my expectations, and that is exactly what Mallorca did in all regards. All of the routes were on smooth roads and incredibly scenic, whether it was the bucolic rolling hills, challenging epic climbs, or overlooking the Balearic Sea. More often than not, orange blossom fragrance was filling your lungs and sounds of livestock were filling your ears. It turns out Mallorca is indeed Europe’s road cycling Mecca, and autos gave due respect to those in charge. Fueled by fine Mediterranean fare, excellent weather, and friendly locals, everything about the trip was just perfect.”
Cycling, Sage Advice and Twenty Parents – Alice Liu
Alice Liu, a Millennial and currently the youngest member of the Village Idiots, bridges the gap between the generations with ease. Prior to joining the Club, she was an occasional cyclist, with soccer, running, and climbing 14ers her primary sporting activities. Two years ago, a conversation at the Village Fitness Center resulted in an invitation to a Friday morning Club ride and she has been a full-fledged Idiot ever since!
This year she achieved several milestones. Among them, logging in her first 100-mile ride as a participant of the Denver Century ride, and riding the Copper Triangle, a 79-mile loop cresting three mountain passes for an elevation gain of 6,500 feet! Prior to the Century ride, her longest ride was 40 miles.
When asked about her ride experiences, here’s what she had to say:
What motivates you to do rides like the Denver Century and the Copper Triangle?
I’m a very goal-oriented person and love the thrill of pushing my body to the limit. I’m addicted to constantly raising the bar and seeing what I can push my body to do next. When I sign up for a ride, it’s something I’m not capable of doing in that moment, but training and pushing through to the end, that’s the fun part for me!
How do you cope with the physical and mental challenges?
For the long rides, it’s always the last stretch that tests both my physical and mental strength. For the Denver Century, it was around mile 80, at the last aid station; for the Copper Triangle, it was around mile 50, right before Vail Pass. What keeps me going, besides my love for the burning legs and lungs during a climb, is how alive it makes me feel to be out in the elements and the thrill of pushing myself to see what I can accomplish. A little bit of Chamois Butter helps too.
Why join a cycling club where most of the members are closer in age to your parents than to you?
This group is so fun to be around, always encouraging, and will help you achieve whatever goals you have in mind; you don’t ever have to do it alone. I love the group ride. Ironically, the first ride I signed up for after joining was horrible. It was a women’s ride in Evergreen and had a tremendous amount of climbing. I wanted to quit so many times! I really did contemplate whether to come back or not after that ride. But honestly, I was captivated by the sense of community, the heckling, and the speed. Every group ride I’ve been a part of, no matter how physically challenging it is, the community makes it worth all the while.
How would you sum up your experience with the club thus far?
I’ve learned from the Idiots that cycling is really just a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle of being fit, of being disciplined, and of building strong friendships with strangers who become friends. One of my favorite things about cycling is the adventure. The best part of adventure by bike is those beautiful days where you explore new routes, bigger destinations, and local cuisine. You can really take your bike wherever you want and do whatever your heart desires. It doesn’t always have to be about the races or Strava segments, although those are noble pursuits in their own right. In the midst of training for the big rides such as the Denver Century or Copper Triangle, the Idiots riders always remind me to just get out there, clip in and enjoy the ride.
My time with this group has been absolutely phenomenal. It is truly adulting at its finest.
Maybe The Triple Bypass…