Coloradans who are into cycling are pretty spoiled for choice. We have thousands of miles of mountain highways and bikeways to crush. We even have a full lineup of organized, supported rides each year. There’s Ride the Rockies, Pedal the Plains, The B-Strong Ride, the Copper Triangle, and the Tour of the Moon, to name a few. They all have their own history and flavor, but the Courage Classic to benefit Children’s Hospital is the nearest and dearest to me. Here are a few reasons I revisited it this past summer and hope to make it a yearly tradition.
#5: The Scenic Routes
The two-day ride is based in the ski resort town of Copper Mountain, which is surrounded by possibilities for scenic rides in the Central Rockies. This year, day one was the famous Copper Loop, which traverses three mountain passes, and day two was the ring-around-the-reservoir route with plenty of waterfront cruising around Lake Dillon.
It’s hard to summarize the scenes I took in from the saddle. At times, I was pushing too hard to climb a pass to notice take it in. Ater that, I’d be flying downhill too fast to do justice to the views. But from the high points, I could look up and admire all the purple mountain majesty.
#4: The Super Support
With so many loyal fans, this ride impresses with its army of staff and volunteers. The riders get constant support from volunteer medics, mechanics, sign-holders, SAG vehicle drivers, cowbell ringers, and finish line medal hander-outers. I have never been cheered on so heartily or thanked so profusely for riding my bike.
The aid stations get a five star review. I may not have survived the 78 miles and 7,000+ feet of altitude gain on Day 1 without those aid stations to look forward to. The highlight at the lunch stop was a candy tent with endless Red Vines and Jelly Bellies for the taking. So I loaded up a baggie to-go. What? I wasn’t going to let any jersey pocket space go unused.
#3: The Camaraderie
Flying solo on the Courage Classic is an option, but it’s not encouraged. The idea is to unleash your inner team spirit. I found the Courage Classic in 2014 through my involvement with the Global Down Syndrome Foundation and the dances they throw for adults with disabilities like my brother Tom. At one of the dances, I was recruited as an inaugural member of their new Dare to Ride team.
Four years later, Dare to Ride has come a long way. I saw a good mix of familiar faces and new ones. We organized a few training rides, sported team jerseys, and we were treated to a celebratory Dare to Ride BBQ dinner in Breckenridge after Day 1. Overachieving teams like the Cardiac Climbers and the Wheels of Justice still give us team envy. But we’ve got great leadership from Captain Connor and a lot of love from the Colorado Down syndrome community.
#2: The Personal Challenge
For a lot of riders, the Courage Classic is a feat of strength that pushes limits and sets new personal records. You’ll see riders of all ages and all ability levels out there fighting for the finish line. Whether they’re on the family route, the intermediate route, or the advanced route, they’re daring themselves in big ways.
My dad is one of those darers. When I recruited him to join me on the Dare to Ride team, he accepted it as a personal challenge. He was determined to finish the 78-mile advanced ride, even if it took him all day. And guess what. He did it! On his hybrid not-roadbike, everyday sneakers, and “old man socks”. He wasn’t even the last one! It was a proud moment.
#1: The Cause
Above all, the number one reason 2,000 riders and hundreds of volunteers do this each year is to benefit Children’s Hospital. In its 29th year, the Courage Classic has become an integral part of the hospital’s funding — bringing in around $3M each year.
Lots of organized rides are fundraiser rides that support a good cause, but this one takes it a step further. So many of the teams and riders have a stake in the work that Children’s Hospital is doing, either personally or professionally or both. Children’s is a nationally recognized hospital that does life-saving work, and you’ll see the faces of that all along the ride.
And now here’s the pitch. Each rider is required to do a minimum amount of individual fundraising, which I’ve done, but now I have five more days to pull at the heartstrings and help my team meet its much-bigger goal. If you can’t ride, you can always donate.