Derrick Strauss lives in the suburbs of Denver and is an avid biker, hiker and cycler. In 2006, Derrick Strauss was fortunate enough to participate in the Ride the Rockies Tour—an experience he says brought him face to face with unimaginable beauty and unparalleled camaraderie.
According to Derrick Strauss, the 2006 event was 419 miles starting in Cortez, Colo., and ending in Cañon City. The first 48 miles to Durango precede a near 90 mile trek to Pagosa Springs. From Pagosa Springs, Derrick Strauss reports that the entourage traveled approximately 15 miles, crossing the border into Chama, N.M. Heading over to Alamosa—a distance of 83 miles—the bikers hit Cumbres Pass and La Manga Pass, which Derrick Strauss points out are both at a height of more than 10,000 feet.
The final 150 miles of the six-day ride were exhausting, says Derrick Strauss, with another 9,000 foot ascent over Poncha Pass and finally closing at Cañon City.
Derrick Strauss recalls the ride, which was directed by Paul Balaguer, offered cyclists the opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of nature and history.
Starting in Cortez, at the Mesa Verde National Park, Derrick Strauss notes that many attendees chose to visit the Kiva Ceremonial Chambers and the Anasazi cliff dwellings. These homes were constructed between 1212 and 1276 A.D., explains Derrick Strauss, and were actually built into the existing landscape, offering both structure and security. In the park, the group was able to get up close to the Spruce Tree House—the third-largest cliff dwelling in the park.
Along the route to Pagosa Springs, Derrick Strauss reports that puffy white clouds and expansive blue skies made some of the more unusual mountaintops look almost surreal. Derrick Strauss recalls that many of the riders stayed at the Pagosa Springs Resort on the third night to visit the local Catholic church, which is famous for its small garden and shine. The resort, says Derrick Strauss, overlooks a bluff-lined river and is set amid some of the most beautiful scenery on the tour.
Derrick Strauss quips that the highlight of his journey was on day five when none other than Mr. Potato Head made an appearance to strengthen morale.
Derrick Strauss reports that along the way there were numerous aid stations and rest stops. Bikers were given plenty of water and opportunity to maintain their road-weary bikes. Throughout the entire trip, event organizers were never far away, keeping a watchful eye over participants to ensure everyone’s safety and success, says Derrick Strauss.
It is obvious, insists Derrick Strauss, that the entire state of Colorado supports this and similar events. Along the way, he reports meeting many strangers who commended the group for their efforts to raise awareness about the state’s natural beauty. Throughout the journey, Derrick Strauss says that everyone stayed positive and seemed to really enjoy the chance to get to know one another.
According to Derrick Strauss, the Denver Post created the Ride the Rockies Bicycle Tour in 1986. The event immediately grabbed the attention of more than 1,500 riders from across the country. Today, the ride receives more than 4,000 applications, though a lottery system limits actual registrants to just 2,000—a manageable number for both organizers and road traffic, says Derrick Strauss.