A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ride the Rockies 2008 Preview - Day 1: Durango to Cortez

Ride the Rockies 2008 starts one week from today (!) with a nice warmup ride (49 miles) from Durango to Cortez, Colorado, in the southern part of the state. With a population of 15,000, Durango is the largest town in southwestern Colorado. Near the Four Corners junction with New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, Durango isn't exactly on the beaten path. As the official tourism website says, "Those who live here choose to live here..." But Durango is a beautiful spot, nestled between red sandstone bluffs in the vast Animas River Valley and the dramatic peaks of the San Juan and Needle Mountains.

Durango was the first stop on Ride the Rockies 2006, which started in Cortez. So day one of RTR08 retraces the route we rode on the first day of RTR06. Most of what I remember from that day was how different the mountains look in this part of the state -- jagged, rocky peaks that shoot straight into the sky (at left: David and Kris on RTR06 with the San Juan Mountains in the distance). I'm looking forward to our return to Durango and Cortez, a small community that rolled out the red carpet for us two years ago.

After arriving in Durango I'll hook up with the rest of Team DFL, get registered and set up camp at Durango High School. Overnight accomodations in each host city include hotels (for wimps) and indoor camping and outdoor camping at a local school. I'm an outdoor camper (at left: my campsite in Durango on RTR06). I prefer the cool mountain air and atmosphere of "tent city" (the football field, baseball diamond, basically any place with grass). My fellow Team DFLers are indoor campers (along with hundreds of people packed like sardines in the gymnasium) .

After getting our situated we'll head to Steamworks Brew Pub to meet up with Team Bar2Bar, a team of strong riders who ride directly to a designated bar in each overnight town before setting up camp...or showering (At left: Team Bar2Bar and Team DFL reunite at the start of RTR07). OK, so I'll admit I often join them. Ride hard, play hard. That's my RTR motto! I'm sure we'll also see many of our old friends like Team Bob, Team Size Matters, Team Biker Chick, Mark and Jenn from Texas, and many more. After getting reacquainted over a few pints we'll head back to the high school to get some sleep.

The ride from Durango to Cortez begins with a nice climb from 6,512 ft. to 8,399 ft. above sea level in the first 15 miles. But from there we take a roller coaster ride to Cortez, which sits at 6,201 ft., with short, steep climbs around mile 20-25 and 35-38.

After arriving in Cortez I will get my tent set up and head to the New Belgium Brewery tent to begin carbo-loading for the next day. After a few Skinny Dips waiting for the rest of Team DFL to arrive and get cleaned up, we'll head to Mainstreet Restaurant & Brewery for dinner. Mainstreet will be a popular place with its eclectic menu of American, Italian, Mexican and German food. I just hope they don't run out of food. Two thousand riders descending upon a town like Cortez after a long ride is something like a plague of locusts!

After a good meal we'll head back to camp to get rest up for the 77 mile ride on day two from Cortez to Telluride, over Lizard Head Pass (elev. 10,222 ft). More on that ride tomorrow!

Ride on!


NOTE: Each day this week I will preview the ride for that day the following week, leading up to the start of RTR08 next Sunday. Stay tuned to DDublog for the scoop on the best restaurants, watering holes and other attractions along the 2008 Ride the Rockies route!

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