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For more than three decades, the Ride the Rockies cycling tour has been a storied tradition in Colorado, bringing thousands of cyclists and spectators from around the world to the Centennial State for eight grueling days of cycling. The roughly 2,500 riders on course, as well as their families and supporters along the way, bring annual economic stability to the host communities in the form of community grants to local nonprofits and by buoying the hospitality services in places where the tour stops—including Crested Butte, Gunnison, Buena Vista, Snowmass, Carbondale, and Hotchkiss.
This year, the tour is broadening its charitable impact through its new Two Wheels for Change campaign. Created by the Denver Post Community Foundation, this effort gives riders an opportunity to support charitable organizations that work to make cycling accessible.
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The campaign benefits five nonprofit organizations, four of which are local to Colorado. Crested Butte’s Adaptive Sports Center is a therapeutic recreation program that provides individuals with disabilities with access to adaptive outdoors activities. Denver-based Bicycle Colorado is an advocacy group that works to increase safe biking across the state. Wish for Wheels, also based in Denver, provides free bikes and helmets to kids in low-income communities. Louisville’s Davis Phinney Foundation was created by the Tour de France winner to promote and fund research to improve the quality of life for those with Parkinson’s Disease. And World Bicycle Relief, based in Chicago, provides bicycles and skills to those in need in countries throughout Africa, South America, and Pacific Asia.
Race organizers gave registered teams at Ride the Rockies crowdfunding pages through which they can collect donations during the tour. The campaign is designed to provide cycling stewardship to those in need and connect members of cycling communities across Colorado and the world, organizers say.
In addition to the new philanthropic push, this year also marks the addition of electric-assisted bikes that organizers of Ride the Rockies hope will welcome more novice riders—and seasoned cyclists who might have been stymied by an injury.
“It’s a great compromise, and it’s really extended my cycling abilities,” says rider Doug Campbell, who, due to a chest injury, is unable to ride the full mileage of the tour and some portions of the harder climbs without some assistance. These new, partially powered e-bikes are available for any riders, according to Laura Driscoll, media relations director for Ride the Rockies. “It’s a great way for beginners who have no touring experience to get their feet wet and be part of the community,” she says.
This year’s adventurous ride is all about getting bike enthusiasts outside and enjoying Colorado. Whether you’re a long-time cyclist or a first-timer to the world of bike touring, Ride the Rockies is just simple, inclusive, pedal-powered fun.
If you go: Ride the Rockies takes place June 9–15. The 434-mile loop starts and ends in Crested Butte. 5280 is a sponsor of the 2019 Ride the Rockies.