Famed ‘Ride The Rockies’ bike event canceled due to low registration

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Durango Six
Ride the Rockies, June 2007.

Updated at 3:36 p.m. on Thursday, April 18, 2024

One of Colorado’s marquee cycling events has been canceled for 2024.

Ride The Rockies was scheduled for June and hoped to take more than 2,000 riders on a route in northwestern Colorado, but the long-running tour failed to attract enough interest from participants, the organizers announced on Thursday.

“After much consideration and evaluation of the limited registration, we regret that Ride The Rockies 2024 is canceled. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all the towns, participants, sponsors, crew, volunteers, and supporters who have had a role in making this ride so special for the past 37 years,” a statement on the group’s website read.

The organization’s post left it unclear if the event will return. “We are assessing the best options for this beloved ride,” the organizers wrote.

Ride The Rockies is a tour, not a race. This year’s installment was scheduled to run from June 9 to 15, covering 400-plus miles and more than 23,000 feet of vertical gain.

Just days before the cancellation, Ride The Rockies was advertising this year’s merch, camping locations, and sponsors. The tour was to include stops in Steamboat Springs, Craig, Meeker, Rangely, and Fruita.

Ride The Rockies' now former tour director Sabra Nagel lost her job at about the same time the cancellation was announced. She said she is devastated.

"I feel bad for all the communities that have worked so hard to bring this event that I'm devastated for the financial impact some of these communities are going to see because their hotels have been booked full and now people are going to be canceling those reservations," Nagel said. "This doesn't just impact me. This impacts hundreds of other people that have worked very hard with me since October of last year to prepare."

Meeker locals and cycling fans alike were surprised and disappointed

Stephanie Hanson, executive director of the Meeker Chamber of Commerce, saw the news of the cancellation on Facebook — just hours after receiving an email from the event about planning.

“Well, at first I thought it was a joke,” she said.

But then got a call confirming the news. 

Hanson made a point to say she wasn’t “angry or disgruntled,” and believes the organizers were as surprised as she was. She is disappointed, however.

While Ride the Rockies riders have zoomed through Meeker in years past, her community of just a few thousand people has never hosted an overnight stop. This year was going to be its chance.

“We're a small town, so saying 1,500 riders are staying overnight, that's huge for us because they come to our restaurants and our shops,” Hanson said. “And further you're introducing someone to a town that maybe they'll return to.” 

All the town’s lodgings had already been booked up, months in advance. One saving grace is that this does give local merchants time to adjust, Hanson said, though the chamber is giving people who’d still like to keep their reservations $20 to spend at local establishments.

News of the cancellation drew a flood of social media posts. Some commenters complained the routes had grown too easy, too hard, or too boring. But a sense of shock and sadness was the most common response.

“The feeling of camaraderie while looking ahead and behind at the line of cyclists all laboring up Loveland or Independence Pass, and the feeling of accomplishment rolling into the last stop for the night, the nice hot shower in the shower truck, a hearty meal and then settling down in the tent for a good night’s rest,” one woman wrote of her experience.

In years past, the event was so popular that slots were awarded by lottery. That wasn’t the case this year.

“A classic Colorado gem gone by the wayside,” one commenter wrote.

History of Ride The Rockies

Ride The Rockies was founded by The Denver Post in 1986. The inaugural ride took more than 1,500 riders from Grand Junction to Denver.

In 2021, it was sold by the Denver Post Community Foundation to an organization called Ventures Endurance Events, which is a subsidiary of Gannett USA Today. A new tour director came aboard early in 2023. Ride The Rockies was previously canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Refunds for this year’s ride will be paid automatically, the organizers said, and those who registered will still get a commemorative jersey.

Former director Nagel said the cancellation is a blow to Colorado.

"I think this ride means everything to the state. Over 80 percent of our riders were Colorado riders. It's got a legacy. I think the impacts to Colorado are far wider and far deeper than anybody can actually put their mind around," she said.