Life on 2 Wheels: Ride the Rockies with the Creekside Crawlers of Frisco (video)
Editor’s note: For countless Summit County residents, a bicycle is more than a machine — it’s a lifestyle. Every week during the summer, we’ll ask our most adventurous residents, “Where has your bike taken you?”
For Ira Tane’s 68th birthday a few weeks back, his friend, neighbor and bike-training partner Mario Corvetto gifted the one thing any cyclist needs, but might never ask for: butt balm.
“The unspoken anatomy that really needs training is the butt,” Ira Tane said on a sunny June afternoon in Frisco, drawing laughter from Corvetto and Tane’s wife, Terese. “The only thing that helps that is time in the saddle.”
And, of course, butt balm. A day earlier, the three joined Corvetto’s wife, Jeanine, for an early summer ride to Vail Pass and back. The quartet of Frisco locals has been training since February for Ride the Rockies — an annual weeklong tour held on classic routes across the state, with a tour of southern Colorado between Alamosa and Salida planned this year from June 10-17 — and by now, their butts are ready for nearly 450 miles and 32,400 vertical feet of climbing under the June sun.
But what about the rest of them?
“Through training, I’ve seen everything: rain, sleet, snow, wind, sun, more wind,” said Terese, drawing another round of laughter from her cycling partners. “I did a 10-day bike ride in Italy five years ago and I said I’d never do it again. But I’m not really nervous about this ride because I have the training and I already have that base. You only get stronger as you go.”
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1st time, 2nd time
Of the quartet — Ira, Terese, Mario and Jeanine — only Mario has completed Ride the Rockies before. He finished the tour last year after having a total knee replacement on his right leg, simply to see if he could do the thing. But once wasn’t enough and he wanted to return this year with a new — and less selfish — goal.
“The idea behind that was very self-focused,” Mario said of his first Ride the Rockies. “It was a selfish attitude about me, myself, getting back in shape, recovering from my knee. To counteract that during the ride, I said, ‘I’ll do an offering for friends of mine who have passed along the way.’”
And Mario did. At the top of every mountain pass, he made a small offering to friends and family who couldn’t be there with him. When his new neighbors in Frisco started talking about completing the ride in 2017, Mario couldn’t say no.
“It’s nice on our training time to focus not only on yourself, but on the people who you’re riding with,” Mario said in a deep yet light Italian accent. “Ira and Terese, when they moved here, we wanted to meet the neighbors — make them our victims, make them suffer with us while we’re training.”
And suffer they have, beginning in February when temperatures were unusually warm and snow was unusually light. They continued training through March, when the Ride the Rockies lottery opened for cyclists, and finished hundreds of miles all across the state: Montezuma, Ute Pass, Tennessee Pass, Colorado National Monument, Vail Pass, Boreas Pass to the dirt, even the Highlands neighborhood in Breckenridge.
Come April and May, not long after the quartet knew for sure they were riding in the wildly popular tour, the four were riding in the winter weather they’d been lucky enough to miss most of spring. On Memorial Day weekend, Mario and Terese rode from Frisco to Fremont Pass under bluebird skies and temperatures in the teens.
“We have the advantage of living here,” Terese said. “I use yoga to let go of the negative feelings, the fear, telling myself, ‘You can do this.’ It can be very meditative to pedal for mile after mile after mile.”
All downhill from there
Terese and Mario are confident they’ll finish all 450 miles, while Ira isn’t so sure.
“I’m a medical wreck,” Ira said with a half-joking, half-serious smile. He dislocated his shoulder in April and put off a knee replacement of his own until October, when the thick of summer cycling season has passed.
“I was going to do it in April, but I said to myself, ‘If you make it through winter, you deserve the summer,’” Ira said. “You put in your dues and I didn’t want to miss that.”
Still, the first two days of Ride the Rockies will be the toughest. At 90 miles with more than 4,000 vertical feet, Day One is by far the longest day of the tour. Day Two is comparatively mild at 68 miles, but everyone in the quartet needs to keep things in perspective.
“I’ve been thinking about the first two days a lot,” Terese said. “I did 90 miles years and years ago, but I’ve never done a century. We decided the second day will be the hardest because the day after 100 miles will always be the toughest.”
At least their butts are ready.
“Terese said the other day, ‘The things we stress about are goose poop on the trail,’” Mario said. “You have to put things in perspective — riding in a hail storm is nothing compared to the privileged lives we created. You have to put it into focus.”
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