Photo: Captive Studios
Red Rocks. Tourists come from all around the world to see this natural phenomenon that's in our own backyard. For cyclists, it's one of those "must-rides". Imagine riding through Red Rocks with a police escort and then rolling up the canyon in a fully supported ride where 100% of the proceeds go to charity? Tempting, right? Read on to find out more about this fantastic ride by the woman who knows it best: ride director, Morgan Landers.
[303 Cycling:] How did you get involved in the Red Rocks Century?
Morgan: I got involved about a month before the ride last year. I used to work in the commercial real-estate community which was heavily involved. I was really interested in the position so I put out some feelers and became the ride director for 2013 about a month before the ride.
[303 Cycling:] Wow. A month before. Was that a challenge?
Morgan: Only in the sense that I needed to get myself up to speed very quickly. But we have a WONDERFUL staff of volunteers that put so much into this ride every year. They were on top of it. It was a pretty seamless transition and that's a huge credit to our volunteers.
Photo: Captive Studios
[303 Cycling:] Tell us about the Century.
Morgan: This route is perfect for those just coming off The Triple, The Copper Triangle, or any other ride that you've had to put in big training miles. It's the perfect way to cap off your climbing season. It's 10,000 feet of climbing in 100 miles. You "hit the ground climbing", so to speak and keep on climbing up to Evergreen and beyond. On a map, it looks like 1/2 of a clover--2 big loops with a tail. Because we are a small ride, we can take rider feedback and really do something with it. This year we've changed the course to hit Brook Forest first vs last (like 2013). Riders told us that was a bit brutal. We want it to be challenging, but still enjoyable. To give you an idea of the ride, an elite rider will probably finish this in 7-7/12 hours.
[Route description from the website]:
Starting at the Island Lot at Bandimere Speedway, cyclists will pass famous landmarks include Dinosaur Ridge, Red Rocks Park and the historic Brook Forest Inn, as well as the mountain towns of Idledale, Kittridge, Evergreen, and Idaho Springs. Additionally, riders will experience an exhilarating climb up Squaw Pass where the elevation tops out at 11,140 ft. The total elevation gain for this route is approximately 10,000 ft.
[303 Cycling:] There are several distances to choose from, though if you aren't up for that suffer fest. Can you tell us about those?
Morgan: Yes! There's a 62 mile, a 50 mile and a 33 mile ride. All of them have the same start and finish as well as sharing several aide stations. This ride has always had a sense of "community" about it due to the volunteers, the riders and the charities involved. We wanted all the riders to be able to interact, regardless of the distance they choose. People usually don't sign up for these types of rides to ride alone and never see anyone else the whole time.
[303 Cycling:] This is a charity ride. Tell us about the charities represented this year.
Morgan: This year we're working with two very special groups: Hope Communities and Can Do Multiple Sclerosis. Both non-profits empower folks to make positive changes in their lives. Hope Communities is a 33-year old Denver non-profit that provides rental housing and services to low-income families. Hope owns and operates apartment properties in Central, Northeast and East Denver in addition to doing so much more. Can Do MS has also has been around more than 30 years. The founder (Jimmie Heuga), is an Olympic medalist skier and pioneer in the MS care management field. This Avon, CO based non-profit raises money empowerment programs for people with MS and their support partners.
Both go along with the ride and align really well with our overall goals. Often cyclists sign up for these types of rides as a personal challenge. "Can I do this?" is always in the back of our heads whenever we try something new or take on something difficult. We want to be the message that says, "YOU CAN DO THIS". You can do this ride, you can find a place to live, you can thrive with MS. You can. Each of the charities can bring up to 10 riders per day. So look for them out on the course. They will also be there at the start/finish as well to answer any questions and chat.
[303 Cycling:] This ride is "fully supported". Break that down for us a bit.
Morgan: As I've mentioned, we want this to be a successful ride for our cyclists. We've got 7 very well-spaced aide stations. About every 10 miles or so. Areas with big gaps are obviously descents. We've got interim water stations on big climbs--for instance there's one at the base of brook forest, with the aide station at the top. Primal (who does our jerseys) will be there with support vehicles if anyone needs anything away from the aide stations. We really tried to use the feedback from last year. We want to give our riders as many opportunities to make smart choices. We've all had those rides or races where maybe this...didn't happen, or we didn't come prepared. We want to be on top of..."user error". [Editor's note: More on this later...].*
As far as food--we've got a complimentary breakfast from Corner Bakery and back by popular demand, Wahoo’s Fish taco's for your after-ride meal. Whole Foods of Denver West is providing electrolytes and water and Core Power will be there to hand you some goodies as you pass the finish line.
Photo: Captive Studios
[303 Cycling:] Speaking of the "finish line", what will that look like?
Morgan: (laughing) Hopefully like a party! We've worked with the Morrison police department, State Patrol and Jefferson County PD to make this as safe as possible. We'll have volunteers directing you onto the bike path shortly before entering the town of Morrison. The finish will be right across from Cafe Prague in the Red Rocks Cyclery parking lot. The bike path will be decorated. There will be music, food and beer. GREAT beer, in fact from Grist Brewing company. Talk about a wonderful "finisher's prize." Can't beat that. And all in downtown Morrison.
[303 Cycling:] Is there anything else you'd like to say to our audience about this ride?
Morgan: This is a ride for anyone near or far! We always have riders from out-of-state coming to do it. Indiana and Texas, so far (just off the top of my head). For our Coloradoans: you get to ride through so many varying levels of terrain; desert, forest, hills, lakes, and best of all at the end of the day, YOU GET TO SLEEP IN YOUR OWN BED. Sign up today!
*A big thank-you to Morgan and her loyal crew for the interview AND for the free registration to our lucky "Massively ill-prepared Monday winner, Steve Gardner. ;) Cannot wait for the ride...and the beer.