Bike tour brings big bucks Summit County
COPPER MOUNTAIN – With 2,000 cyclists, their families and support teams, as well as a host of organizers comprising the Ride the Rockies entourage, having the annual bike tour stop through town is an economic windfall.
Every town council and chamber of commerce director knows it, and it’s no secret that they lobby to have the week-long, 404-mile trek snake its way through their neck of the woods. They call organizers. They e-mail. They send information packets and tourism brochures. They even travel to Ride the Rockies pit-stops in other mountain towns to shake hands with organizers, just as the director of Grand Junction’s chamber of commerce did this year, traveling to Telluride to put a face with a name.
“We do our best to move it around the state,” said Amy Kaplan, who has helped organize the tour for its major sponsor, The Denver Post, for the last five of its 18 years.
The race typically ends near Denver, closer to the transportation hubs and routes that allow bikers from 45 states and eight countries to travel to Colorado and participate. Last year, for the first time, the route was plotted in a loop beginning and ending in Alamosa.
Copper Mountain has been a stop on the course for a few years. This year was the first that the resort area was designated as the final destination.
Towns and resorts lobby so hard because the bike tour brings $1.3 million in tourist spending to the route, according to organizers.
“We stayed in hotels each night along the way,” said Michael McDaniel, a telecommunications manager from Houston riding in the event for the third year. McDaniel and a friend look forward to the event, even hiring someone to drive a car for support – the driver stayed in the hotels, too.
That bed base is exactly what organizers look for in planning the tour route. While the exact process for choosing stops and the finish line is a secret, organizer Kaplan said the tour director looks for towns sizable enough to handle the crowds, as well as provide volunteers for the gigantic logistic undertaking.
“The average day is 65 miles,” Kaplan said. “So we look for towns along scenic routes with distances that are manageable in a day.”
In addition to bringing business the day the pedaling caravan passes through, local participants know that a good showing is likely to bring visitors back. Kaplan said the cyclists don’t come back alone, either – they bring their families on vacation.
Resort spokesman Ben Friedland said Copper Mountain officials hope Ride the Rockies bikers do just that. He said the resort is positioning itself as a “road biking Mecca” and hopes riders return to test themselves on the challenging mountain terrain.
“This is a great way to introduce people to Copper,” Friedland said. “We hope they come back.”
As the day wore on and more bikers filed into Copper’s New Village, workers and vendors in the area were anxious. Waiting for his 2 p.m. shift to begin at Endo’s Adrenaline Cafe, Will Baker said he was looking forward to a big crowd. It’s easy to “see the economic benefit this brings to the area,” Baker said.
Bikers shop, too. In the Rockin’ R Ranch gift shop, Indianapolis resident Mark Carlson was shopping for a T-shirt for his young daughter. Carlson, participating in his fourth Ride the Rockies, said he was part of a group of 12 that came to Colorado for the event. Some of the group camped along the route, and some stayed in hotels, he said. “And I never go home empty handed,” Carlson said, adding that he comes to Copper to ski in the winter.
The benefit was, perhaps, no better summed up than by Rockin’ R Ranch manager Bev Jones: “It’s definitely a money-maker.”
It was also a money-giver. Proceeds from the ride benefit Post-News Charities, which donates to several Front Range causes. For the third year, Ride the Rockies also awarded grants to nonprofits in each of the towns along the route. Organizations in Cortez, Telluride, Montrose, Delta, Gunnison, Buena Vista and Summit County received grants ranging from $5,000 to $10,000.
Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or email@example.com.
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