New bicycle tour to roll through Durango

By Jim Sojourner Herald staff writer

Cycling with service.

That’s the goal of a brand-new bicycling tour set to roll into Durango on July 23 on its inaugural jaunt through the San Juan Mountains.

The 109 West Bicycle Tour will start in Grand Junction on July 21 and wends 472 miles across seven days to finish in Gateway.

Micki Matthews, one of the minds behind the tour, said the goal is to create an experience for cyclists unlike anything else offered in the Rocky Mountain region: a cruise through some of America’s best scenery with the service to match.

“We wanted to provide something for local riders and people out of the state to come enjoy this part of the world,” Matthews said. “So we just kind of decided a bike tour would be a great way to showcase different parts of Colorado and especially the Southwest.”

The route, which hugs the 109th meridian west to give the tour its name, passes through Cedaredge, Ouray, Durango, Cortez and Telluride on the way from start to end and includes a rest day in Durango.

“Our goal for this inaugural tour is to really provide riders with a great insight into our idea of how we want to present ourselves and provide them with a great ride, a great level of service and really enjoyable time,” said Matthews, who conceived of the tour along with husband Scott Matthews and Michelle Meeker and Jeff Marsoun.

The tour, a recreational, nonracing event, is hotel-only, with riders resting each night in hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts and condominiums as they work their way across Colorado.

The tour aims to grab a smaller, more personal niche than some of the country’s bigger bike tours.

“They just can’t afford the personal touch, and we have a very personal touch to our ride, and we care about each of our riders as individuals,” said Molly Peck, the 109 West social media manager. “... A real attempt at luxury for the long riders.”

So far, about 30 cyclists are signed up for the first event.

“We’re going to be small this year, but we’re kind of excited about that to get our feet wet,” Matthews said.

Registration for the full week costs $450, not including accommodations or meals, as 109 West provides fully supported aid stations, help from the Colorado State Patrol, proper route markings and baggage service from start to finish.

But riders don’t have to tackle the whole route, either, Peck said. Participants can choose to ride from Grand Junction to Cedaredge or Ouray to Durango for $149.99 or the last stage from Telluride to Gateway for $169.99.

“It’s a great way for people who have never done a ride before to get on board and see what it’s all about and really they can actually do it,” Peck said.

Matthews said her dream is to see the 109 West grow as the years go by, eventually into something big enough to contribute back to the communities through which the tour passes.

For now, though, it’s about the mountains.

“The biggest part is, we love the San Juans,” Peck said. “And really, the San Juans are where it’s at.

“We just thing the mountains here are spectacular, and we think everyone should have a chance to ride that.”

jsojourner@durangoherald.com

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