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Thursday, July 1,2010

Blue River Century

By James Dziezynski

Colorado’s best grassroots cycle tour

Colorado`s mountainous landscape is tailor-made for epic cycling tours. Whether you prefer the challenging high mountain passes or the long stretches of rolling alpine meadows, pedaling in the high country is a feast for the senses. The third annual Blue River Century ride and fundraiser captures all of the majesty of Colorado’s towering topography, while offering several ride options for cyclists of differing abilities

— and it just so happens to make a strong case for the best century ride in the west. Now is a great time to start training for the Aug. 22 ride, which starts and ends at Keystone’s River Run village.

Having ridden in most of Colorado’s marquee road cycling events — such as the Triple Bypass, the Copper Triangle and the Mount Evans climb — I feel the Blue River Century is my personal favorite. The grassroots feel, the zero-waste initiative and proceeds benefiting the Lance Armstrong LIVESTRONG Foundation for cancer research all make it a worthy cause before you have cranked a single pedal stroke. Riders can raise money in several different ways and are given the option to ride in honor of loved ones who have battled cancer. The race is well supported and offers four different finishing opportunities: 62.1 miles (a metric century), 101.42 miles to the town of Montezuma, 103.26 miles to A-Basin or the full 109.48 mile course that summits Loveland Pass and ends at the River Run parking lot at Keystone. The Loveland Pass finish covers three mountain passes (plus the bonus “subpass” on Swan Mountain Road) and pushes up over 8,600 feet in elevation gain. So for all the hardcore riders — what are you waiting for?

Founder Marie Willson created the Blue River Century in honor of friends and family who have fought cancer, with her brother David (a cancer survivor) foremost in her heart. After being inspired by other community cycling events run by the LIVESTRONG foundation, Willson knew Colorado was the perfect setting for a cancer fundraising event. The 3rd Annual Blue River Century is dedicated to the memory of Lewis and Jeanette Hagerman, in-laws of Blue River Century volunteer webmaster Michael Birdsong. Lewis and Jeanette passed away from cancer within eight months of each other. Michael and his wife Patricia (Lewis and Jeanette’s daughter) themselves are both cancer survivors. The inspiration to carry on and triumph over the darkest side of this deadly disease fuels the spirit of the Blue River Century and makes the ride not only a challenging day in the mountains, but also an affirmation of life.

In the first two years of the event, more than $36,000 has been raised for cancer research. As the event grows and evolves, Willson hopes the awareness the Blue River Century raises will inspire more riders to participate and help bring in more donations. For all the great intentions and hard work, perhaps the best part of the ride is the course itself.

Because the course combines good climbs with beautiful rolling hills, the crowds soon disperse and riders are left to feel the fresh air and open sky of the high country. All riders follow the same route to the metric finish, meaning if you want to hammer out the full century and your friend wants a more modest day, you can ride along together all day. Starting from Keystone, the first climb pushes up Ute Pass and returns under I-70 to climb Fremont Pass. From there, riders can push towards whatever finish they feel up for. The Loveland Pass finish is a true test of endurance, as the last climb up offers the steepest and highest elevation road in the entire event. The screaming-fast downhill to Keystone is a glorious finish and compares favorably to the rush of entering Folsom Stadium at the end of the Bolder Boulder (only about 102 miles more of work).

Registration for the Blue River Century is $65 for the metric century and $75 for the full century until Aug. 8, when the fees for both entries increase by $10. Riders can sign up until race day (Aug. 22) at 6:15 a.m. (race day registration is $85 and $95 for the metric/full century respectively). A minimum $25 donation to the LIVESTRONG foundation is required as well, though riders are encouraged to set up a fundraiser page to raise more money. Top fundraisers receive prizes.

For more information, visit www.blu erivercentury.com.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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