We asked Deborah Maresca, event director for the Century Experience Ride to give us her top ten reasons for taking part in a organized bike events. Her event, which takes place in southern Colorado leaving and returning from Florissant, has some of the most challenging and scenic roads in the state. (You can learn more about her ride at http://www.mountaintopcyclingclub.com/experience-ride/)
#1) The reputation of the event – Look at some of the greats: Elephant Rock- over 25 years running, The Hotter Hell Hundred, Triple by Pass, MS 150’s. You have definite bragging rights to say “Yes, I’ve done that event.” Wearing the event jersey or t-shirt with pride.
#2) The party – the free lunches, massages, the chance to win prizes or just getting the grab bags. The music, sometime free beer, free ice cream cones with real ice cream, it is the whole festive atmosphere.
#3) The support- I like to be catered to, I like being wined and dined, having a bike mechanic at each rest stop. If my gears are popping, or my detailer is derailing, the occasional flat tire, I like knowing that I do not have to rely on my mechanic skills.
#4) Friends – it is always great to ride with friends. To push each other, and that smile you get when you meet up at the next rest stop and talk about the last 10 miles that you both just rode. You must ride your own ride, ride at your own pace, don’t worry about being the last one in or if you are not fast enough because it doesn’t matter, at least you are out riding. It is like a special friend reunion after riding in the same event year after year. Sometimes it is just the fact that you are sharing an experience together, WOW, did you see that field of wild flowers? Wasn’t that downhill awesome?
#5) The experience – The views of the mountain ranges. The rolling roll-a-coaster hills that remind you of all the posters you’ve seen that screamed out, Do These! The sights you will see and perhaps a course that sent you down a different route that you might not have chosen. Having the route signed, where you get that warm and cozy feeling you get when you know you are going in the right direction. The fact that that rest stop is only 1 mile away is so comforting at times.
#6) The sights – Too often we ride with our eyes just focused on the road. Not taking the time to see the wild flowers, the bold eagle flying next to a buddy, which really happened on The Century Experience Ride. The special points of interest along the way or the historical landmarks. Knowing that you were not the only one but a member of a special group of cyclists.
#7) The safety – when you have a state highway patrol car riding up ahead, or at an intersection waiving you though the traffic, you feel safer than if you were riding all by yourself. A woman riding alone sometimes feels vulnerable out riding by herself. Personally, I rode with my three children, knowing that they would be waiting for me at the next rest stop, that they were always in sight of another rider gave me peace of mind.
#8) The cause – Checking to make sure you are OK every inch of the event. SAG vehicles standing by and traveling the route. You feel safer, knowing that they care that you are out there, supporting their cause. Whether it is for Multiple Sclerosis or just supporting the local high school, they depend on participants.
#9) The rest stops – The little details that make it special: air fresher in the port-a-pots, availability to do drop bags, rest stops offer a smorgasbord of snacks, treats and needed hydration, homemade cookies, fresh cut banana’s, oranges on ice. They are like little parties along the way.
#10) The volunteers – Enthusiastic people that are there thanking you for your participation. They are looking out for you, asking you if you need sun screen, eye glass cleaner or if you need to sit down for a while. Not having to worry your bike is stolen while you are in the bathroom of a grimy gas station. They are often giving their time because they want the event to succeed to support their cause.