2016 Ride the Rockies brings cyclists on 6-day route through Summit County June 11-17 | SummitDaily.com

2016 Ride the Rockies brings cyclists on 6-day route through Summit County June 11-17

Summit Daily staff report
news@summitdaily.com

Tom Schwein saw the finish line ahead. He could taste victory after an exhilarating yet grueling week of cycling: six days and 400 miles across Colorado for the 2015 Ride the Rockies road tour.

And then his bike came to a sudden, jarring stop.

A divot in the pavement vaulted him over his handlebars and onto the ground, face first, at 30 miles per hour. Few cyclists escape permanent brain injury or even death after a similar accident, which left him with eight broken bones in his face, he said.

Yet it was hardly enough to scare him away from the saddle. This summer, Schwein is back on the bike as captain of Team Samaritan House, a volunteer group of 33 cyclists participating in the Ride the Rockies Colorado Bicycle Tour from June 11-17, with three stops in the Summit County area. Like last summer, the group and hundreds of fellow riders brave 400 miles of steep grades and winding roads to raise money for Denver's Samaritan House and other shelters run by Catholic charities.

"The more I thought about the homeless after my crash and the blessing we had as a cycling team … the more I realized that God was not yet done with me here on earth and was calling me to do more," he said, a 56-year-old who lives in Highlands Ranch and dedicated last year's tour to raising $150,000 for his charity of choice. The cash raised went to beds and support for Catholic Charities' shelter program, designed to teach residents life skills and self-reliance.

For the cause

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All funds he raises during this year's Ride the Rockies tour will go to Samaritan House, a downtown Denver shelter for men, women and families, along with The Mission shelter in Fort Collins and Guadalupe Community Center and Shelter in Greeley.

In 2015, Catholic Charities provided more than one million nights of shelter at emergency and transitional housing, along with 457,000 meals. Schwein said he wants to continue dedicating every mile pedaled this June to someone in need.

"My motivation for this ride is, and will be, knowing the difference we can make in the lives of those less fortunate," he said. "Each dollar raised will truly change the lives of the individuals and families who call these shelters home."

Joining him on the team, now in its sixth year with Ride the Rockies, are business executives, college graduates, mothers, fathers and triathletes driven to give to the homeless.

For Leslie Prevish, a 47-year-old Boulder resident who joined two years ago after competing in a triathlon and Ironman events, the ride is a chance to encourage others through trials.

"Our team is a beacon of light for the homeless and each other," said Prevish, who owns Prevish Marketing. "I feel like anybody could have a circumstance in their life where they could end up homeless. I think of how important it is to help other people in need and not judge because you don't know their story."

Help to the homeless

Over the past five years, Team Samaritan House has raised more than $250,000 through Ride the Rockies. The riders credit fellow rider and Catholic Charities CEO Larry Smith, who sets each rider's goal at a minimum of $1,500.

"Our cycling team can't feed all the hungry, but we can feed quite a few as a result of what we do to raise money for the homeless," Schwein said.

Along with the rest of the riders, his team begins its tour in Carbondale before riding up to 85 miles per day through Aspen, Vail, Copper Mountain, Silverthorne, Estes Park and finally Fort Collins for a grand total of 29,000 vertical feet.

"The ride will be physically demanding and undoubtedly there will be some sore muscles," he said. Past participants say the tour promises weight loss, camaraderie, adventure and the satisfaction of helping others.

"You're in for the journey of your life," he said of Ride the Rockies. "I feel blessed that God has called me to do this work. We're all called to help our brothers and sisters in need."

2016 Ride the Rockies

What: A 6-day, 400-mile road-biking tour of Western and Central Colorado, with three stops in the Summit County area from

When: June 11-17

Where: Routes across Colorado

Cost: Registration full

All spots for the 2016 Ride the Rockies tour are currently full. Spots for the tour were selected through a random lottery in February. Needless to say, this event is in high demand. Spectators and fans are welcome to cheer cyclists on June 13-15, when teams come through Center Village at Copper Mountain. For more information, including a schedule of free events tied to the tour, see the website at http://www.ridetherockies.com.

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