Park officials sack tour at top of Trail Ridge Road
June 20, 2011
The day before summer officially began, participants in the 2011 Bicycle Tour of Colorado got a taste of Rocky Mountain winter.
A storm Sunday night, June 19, dropped several inches of snow on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, closing the road and stranding more than 1,500 bikers on the east side of the park for several hours.
The road closed at 9 p.m. Sunday due to blowing snow and low visibility, according to park Public Information Officer Kyle Patterson. Snow, fog and wind continued to challenge snowplow crews, who finally got the road open around noon Monday.
The first wave of riders who made the push over Milner Pass were met with freezing rain, wind, snow and low visibility. Many riders experienced varying degrees of hypothermia, Patterson said.
More than 40 people stopped on the west side of Milner Pass to warm up in park ranger patrol vehicles. An additional 14 riders were transported to Alpine Visitor Center with mild hypothermia. One bicyclists was taken by ambulance to Granby Medical Center for moderate hypothermia and dehydration while another was taken by ambulance to Estes Park Medical Center for mild hypothermia
and an altered level of consciousness
About 90 minutes after opening Trail Ridge Road, park officials decided, due to deteriorating weather conditions, to sack the Estes Park to Granby leg of the tour because too many riders were showing up at aid station near the west entrance of the park suffering from severe chills and hypothermia, according to a Rocky Mountain National Park Ranger directing traffic at the Alpine Visitor’s Center.
While an estimated 350 riders made it over the pass and continued the tour to Granby, 450 more attempted the ride but were waylaid at the Alpine Visitor’s Center, waiting for buses.
Some 600 cyclists did not attempt to go over Trail Ridge Road and were bused directly to Granby, Patterson said.
Because of the weather, the Granby Chamber of Commerce had to cancel its party in the Polhamus Park, but Hunker Down still played at the high school from 5-8 p.m.
“We are disappointed that we couldn’t throw them the party but hope they still enjoyed our restaurants and shops,” said Chamber Director Sharon Brenner.
The event left town today, continuing from Granby to Steamboat and then on to Glenwood Springs and Frisco before returning to Black Hawk.
On behalf of the chamber, Brenner added: “I would really like to thank all the volunteers who made it work and the businesses who put out decorated bikes.”