A ridiculous number of cyclists will descend on Salida as two multi-day tours cruise into town in the coming days The Denver Post Ride the Rockies, the largest of the two, will roll into town in the coming days. The Denver Post Ride the Rockies, the largest of the two, will roll into town with 2,000 riders plus support crews Saturday, just in time for the FIBArk whitewater festival.
For participants of Ride the Rockies, Thonhoff Park in Salida marks the end of a 447-mile tour that must be reached by crossing Monarch Pass, the route’s highest point. At the finish line, riders will be treated to a finishing expo with vendors, entertainment, food, beer and all that FIBArk has to offer.
Ride the Rockies is all about a bunch of people having a really good time on bikes, said Salida Bike Co. owner Anton van Leuken, who looks forward to the tour passing through town.
The route, which changes from year to year, features different regions of the state as riders travel from one town to next over the week-long, non-competitive event. Tent cities that house riders and event colunteers come to life in towns that host the annual ride.
Salida has hosted the Ride the Rockies tour for 16 of the last 32 years, more than any other town in Colorado. This year’s tour began Saturday, June 10, in Alamosa with the route enticing riders west over Wolf Creek Pass to Durango before turning north through Gunnison and then to Salida. Event organizers are eager to point out that during 2016 riders spent an estimated total of $250,000 in each host town, which includes Alamosa, Pagosa Springs, Durango, Ridgeway, Montrose, Gunnison and Salida.
“We get steady business from riders buying a saddle or other parts along the route,” said van Leuken, who is prepared for a busy week at his shop even at the end of the route “It’s all about keeping the energy up and being as helpful as possible ” Ride the Rockies organizers have encouraged participants to stay an extra day or two in Salida to enjoy the FIBArk whitewater festival. To accommodate the finish of Ride the Rockies, the FIBArk 5-k and 10-k races, which typically make use of Thonhoff Park, will instead begin at nearby Nuno Park.
Just three days after Ride the Rockies cruises into Salida, riders from a second tour, the 23rd Bicycle Tour of Colorado, will make their way into the Ark Valley Riding a similar route, but in reverse, over 600 cyclists will head toward Salida High School, where a tent village will spring up for two nights.
Riders on the Bicycle Tour of Colorado will take a rest day in the Ark Valley before riding west to Gunnison.
For the thirsty cyclists, support crew and anyone who likes beer, bikes and music, Soulcraft Brewing will be hosting an early show by Colorado indie rock band Mark’s Midnight Carnival Show at 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 20, in support of the Bicycle Tour of Colorado.
The infectious tunes come from a three-piece band that puts a major emphasis on their live shows. “We put a lot of heart and soul into our live shows, and we think it’s evident when you see us live,” said songwriter Mark Bush, who joins Scott Bein on guitar and Aaron Fanning on drums. Music by Mark’s Midnight Carnival Show is reminiscent of other indie bands like Minus the Bear, Spoon and Vampire Weekend.
Even with all the riders in Salida, van Leuken said the vibe is chill because, after all, they all like bikes.