Welcome, cyclists

The Denver Postís annual Ride the Rockies participants will be arriving in Durango after lunch today, after an overnight stay in Cortez.

The seven-day ride for 2,400 began in Telluride on Sunday and ends in Colorado Springs on Saturday.

Many riders will be camping along the ride at community locations, including at La Plata County Fairgrounds in Durango. But those who are better-heeled and are perhaps at the older end of the age spectrum will be in local hotels enjoying proper mattresses. There is no reason that the ride should be a hardship. Although serious amateur and professional cyclists maintain a diet that is consistent with high performance, that will not necessarily be true of this group. Restaurants should be full, and diners will probably choose multiple courses.

And because not everyone on the ride will have been training for weeks, those in the massage business will be in demand.

Again, keep the pain to a minimum and avoid the hardship.

The Postís ride is a copy of the Des Moines Registerís annual ride across Iowa, where agricultural communities try to outdo one another with their offerings of homemade pies.

Here in Colorado, the Postís ride has been one way to better link the east and west slopes and to introduce Front Range dwellers to the spectacular scenery that lies along the Continental Divide. That is worthwhile, and we thank the Post for organizing the event.

The ride has sold out every year. For every two acceptances by lottery, one was denied this year.

Seven days of riding along the Continental Divide means mountain passes; that is unavoidable.

This yearís route takes riders over Lizard Head Pass at 10,222 feet, Wolf Creek Pass at 10,850 feet and Poncha Pass at 9,019 feet, all known well by Durangoans who ski in Telluride or who drive to Denver. The ride is 513 miles in length.

While there is plenty of camaraderie and good cheer associated with the ride, we suggest that automobile drivers avoid U.S. Highway 160 westbound from Durango today and eastbound on Tuesday. Riders are of different abilities and stamina.

Good weather is expected at least for the first few days. Not too hot and no rain.

So, welcome all those in spandex and perhaps walking as though they have discovered new muscles. Although Monday is just the second day, they probably have.

Welcome to the participants in this yearís Ride the Rockies.

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