Ride the Rockies kicks off this weekend

Lance Maggart

Residents of Grand County should prepare for a traffic jam, though not quite the kind you’re used to seeing. Next week US Highway 40 and US Highway 34 through Grand County will see a sudden and massive spike in traffic, of the two-wheeled variety.

Colorado’s annual Ride the Rockies cycling tour kicks off this weekend on Sunday June 12 as ride participants head north out of Carbondale on a winding route that will eventually lead them down to Aspen for the first night. The tour will continue with stops in Breckenridge and a spin around the Copper Mountain Loop before heading for Grand County on day four of the Ride.

On Wednesday June 15 riders will be moving through Grand County on their way to Grand Lake, the fourth stop on the tour and one of several designated host communities. Riders will leave out of Summit County Wednesday morning and travel to Silverthorne before turning and heading up US Highway 9. Their journey will become significantly more difficult as they turn onto the Ute Pass Road and head up and over Ute Pass, passing the Henderson Complex and Williams Fork Reservoir before turning east on US Highway 40.

Riders will remain on US 40 as they roll through Byers Canyon and Hot Sulphur Springs. They continue east on US 40 before turning onto US 34 just before reaching Granby. Participants will continue down US 34 through the Three Lakes Region to Grand Lake where they will stop for the night before heading through Rocky Mountain National Park, up and over Trail Ridge Road on their way to Estes Park.

That Wednesday night Grand Lake will serve as an official host community for Ride the Rockies and will providing lodging and food options as well as various forms of entertainment for riders. According to the Ride the Rockies web site cyclists spent an average of about $250,000 in a 24-hour period in each host community on the route during the 2014 race.

The community of Grand Lake expects to see a significant economic boost from the tour. All the hotels, motels and other lodging establishments in Grand Lake were completely booked for the date of the tour stop in Grand Lake as early as mid-April. The Grand Lake Center will also serve as a lodging center for riders on the tour providing accommodations for those looking to campout under the stars.

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