At Jans, we’re more than a little bike crazy – mountain biking, road biking, downhill biking, we do it all. And while many of us compete, some of us prefer to focus on the ride while still pushing ourselves to pedal longer and climb higher than we would otherwise. Such is the case for Martin Holly, a Jans Team Member, who is currently participating in the 28th annual Ride the Rockies. This noncompetitive road bike event covers 513 miles and over 20,000 vertical feet in just seven days while traversing the great state of Colorado.
Why Ride the Rockies?
So what prompts a Park City roadie to pack up his bike and drive five hours to embark on a week-long bike ride that can only be described as epic? Well, it starts with the fact that Marty grew up in Colorado and is returning to his roots. And that the mountains along the route are “so majestic and so huge that they make Park City mountains look like foothills,” he says. And then there is the ride itself, a perfect combination of long flats, gnarly climbs and sweeping descents that put the self-professed climber in his element.
And let’s not forget about the bike. Marty is riding the Trek Madone in this year’s Ride the Rockies. “It’s just grace. The Madone is incredibly stiff, light and strong,” he gushes. “It’s so light that I feel like I’m riding a Harley.” If this makes you salivate at the chance to ride a road bike of this caliber, check out Jans’ fleet of demo bikes that includes the Trek Madone 5.9.
Stage 1 – The Ride to Lizard Head Pass
One of the great things about bike races, the size and scope of Ride the Rockies, is that the route changes every year. So while Marty has participated in this event in years past, he gets to tackle new challenges like the ascent up Lizard Head Pass. Part of Stage 1 from Telluride to Cortez, this climb boasted an elevation gain of 2,218 feet, but Marty took it all in stride. “It wasn’t unbearable,” he recalls. “Lizard Head was right up there with Royal Street in Park City, but it was just a lot longer and we got up to about 10,000 feet. The big vertical is going to be Wolf Creek Pass on Wednesday.”
Luckily the weather during Stage 1 was perfect for riding with a chilly start when the riders rolled out at 7:30am. At the start, Marty recognized the oldest rider in the race whom he had met in previous years. The 85 year old man insisted that this will be his last Ride the Rockies, but since he claimed the same thing in the past, we’re not buying it. Something about this race brings people back year after year, as evidenced by the 3500 applications that were received for only 2,000 spots.
As with most bike races, pace lining on the flats makes it that much more fun and Marty was lucky enough to grab the wheel of a seasoned road biker. “He was an elegant rider,” recalls Marty, “It looked like he was exerting no effort at all. I started mimicking his pedal stroke and we worked together for about 25 miles and got going really fast.” As they pulled into the aid station, Marty got off his bike and shook the rider’s hand, citing that is what makes Ride the Rockies special.
What’s Next – Durango, Pagosa Springs & Wolf Creek Pass
Each evening, after the riders have refueled and enjoyed libations in the beer tents, event organizers offer participants the chance to listen to guest speakers of the caliber of 17 time Tour de France rider George Hincapie and former professional cyclist and commentator Bob Roll. Marty even received a Hincapie jersey as part of his swag kit for this year’s race.
After a night’s rest in Cortez, Marty will continue Stage 2 today with a 64 mile trek to Durango followed by an 86 mile ride to Pagosa Springs for Stage 3. After that comes the pinnacle climb up Wolf Creek Pass with an elevation gain of 4,678 feet. Check back here on Thursday, June 13th for an updated blog on Stage 4 of the 2013 Ride the Rockies.
Liz Yokubison, Senior Editor