Every summer for the past 32 years, thousands of cyclists have saddled up, clipped in, and taken on the mighty Colorado Rockies as participants in Ride the Rockies. This year is the 33rd edition of the tour and once again it will offer riders from across the state, the country, and the world the chance to cycle through some of Western Colorado’s most beautiful terrain while challenging themselves physically and mentally. This year is a loop year, so riders will start and end in the historic town of Breckenridge, passing through Edwards, Steamboat Springs, Grand Lake and Winter Park, grunting and groaning as they climb and gasping at the wealth of outstanding natural beauty of the Centennial state over the six days, 418 miles and 25,935 feet of the ride.
BRECKENRIDGE TO EDWARDS
77 Miles/4,429’ Elevation Gain
A challenging first day will see riders
travel 77 miles to Edwards over
Fremont Pass and Tennessee Pass.
Fremont Pass is one of the highest
passes in the state, but riders needn’t
fear its reputation too much as the road is pretty straight on both sides with only a few turns near the summit. Steep sections on Fremont Pass aren’t too long while most of the elevation on Tennessee Pass is actually gained away from the pass itself. Riders continue past Leadville before heading over Tennessee Pass and cruising downhill for the final 17 miles through Minturn.
EDWARDS TO STEAMBOAT SPRINGS
79.6 Miles/5,005’ Elevation Gain
Day two sees riders travel north from
Edwards to Steamboat Springs.
Following the Eagle River towards
Wolcott, riders eventually leave the
river and head north on Highway 131
for the first and most challenging climb
of the day - nine miles with 1,400 feet of
elevation gain before cruising down into
historic State Bridge.
The respite is short, however, as after just a few miles following the Colorado River, the second and final climb of the day, a steady 10 or so miles, starts. The final 40 miles give riders a chance to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery before arriving in Steamboat Springs.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS LOOP DAY
48.4 Miles/3,317’ Elevation Gain
Day three is a loop day as well as an
opportunity for one-day participants to
join the ride.
The route, a well-known loop from the
2015 USA Pro Challenge, is a scenic
(think cows, sheep, and a mine) and
relatively easy day that takes in the
sights of Routt County. There are a few
climbs with an overall elevation gain of
just over 3,000 feet in the 48-mile loop. Anyone who chooses to rest today will have plenty of options to keep themselves entertained and plenty of places to refuel for tomorrow.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS TO GRAND LAKE
93.8 Miles/6,202’ Elevation Gain
With half of the ride done by the start
of day four, today is a bit of a mental
victory. It is, however, also the longest
day at close to 100 miles with a climb
over the formidable Rabbit Ears Pass,
which begins less than 10 miles out of
Even though the climb itself is only
around seven miles there is another
seven miles or so of riding at around 9,000 feet before the descent into Grand County and towards Kremmling begins. The remaining 40 miles is a gentle climb from Kremmling towards Grand Lake through Hot Sulphur Springs and Granby.
GRAND LAKE TO WINTER PARK
32.1.Miles / 1,745’ Elevation Gain + 28.9 Miles / 2,725’ Elevation Gain for optional add on
The penultimate day of the 2018 edition
of Ride the Rockies is the shortest day,
but it doesn’t have to be.
At just 32 miles, it can be a leisurely day
for those that have found it tough going
so far, but for those who have energy to
burn, adding the optional ride to the top
of Berthoud Pass and back down makes
this a challenging day.
Back in 2014, a sudden snow storm meant that riders weren’t able to take on this pass, but hopefully this year the additional 28.9 miles and 2,725 feet gained will be an option. Winter Park awaits everyone regardless.
WINTER PARK TO BRECKENRIDGE
87 Miles/5,187’ Elevation Gain
The final day will see cyclists head
out of Winter Park before a gradual
descent of 20 or so miles takes them
to the base of the day’s first climb: Ute
Pass, which is considered to be one of
the most scenic rides in the state.
After climbing the roughly 20 miles
to the top (and gaining 2,000 feet for
good measure) of Ute Pass, a rest to
appreciate the stunning views over Eagles Nest Wilderness is followed by a sharp descent, leaving riders with around 30 miles left. The final leg is through Silverthorne and Dillon, over Dillon Dam and along Dillon Reservoir before cruising into Breckenridge and several very well-earned beers.
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Photos (top to bottom): The Denver Post / Ride the Rockies; Liam Doran; The Denver Post / Ride the Rockies; SSRC; Noah Wetzel; The Denver Post / Ride the Rockies; The Denver Post / Ride the Rockies