End of the tour's second stage

Bikes fill the courts at the river park Monday after roughly 1,700 Ride the Rockies cyclists arrived in Buena Vista at the end of the tour’s second stage.

Buena Vista – Roughly 1,700 bicyclists turned off U.S. 24 down Main Street Monday afternoon and pedaled toward the river park, where a temporary tent village had been constructed.

There, the riders would take a much needed rest between the second and third formidable legs of the 2019 Ride the Rockies bike tour.

The cyclists were fresh from the tour’s second leg and its longest, with an 83.2-mile pedal from Gunnison over Monarch Pass and through the Upper Arkansas Valley.

Tuesday morning, cyclists headed north toward Independence Pass, the highest point on the circuit, on their way to Snowmass, a total ride of 73 miles.

Some riders began leaving as early as 6 a.m., with the sun still behind Midland Hill, while others ventured into town for breakfast.

Presented by the Denver Post and Flexential, Ride the Rockies awarded grants to a nonprofit organization in each of its eight host communities.

In Buena Vista, ElevateHER received a $3,000 grant.

Founded in 2017 by Executive Director Kristen van Norman, ElevateHER seeks to foster leadership skills in girls through outdoor adventure.

The organization was also a primary beneficiary of CKS PaddleFest last month.

Riders in the tour are raising money for causes important to them as well.

The Denver Post Community Foundation’s Two Wheels for Change campaign is raising funds through the tour for the Adaptive Sports Center, Bicycle Colorado, the Davis Phinney Foundation, Wish for Wheels and World Bicycle Relief.

“We have a team of 21 cyclists riding this year, four with Parkinson’s riding as well,” Polly Dawkins, executive director of the Davis Phinney Foundation, said in a news release.

“Ride the Rockies connects people to our mission, which is to help people with Parkinson’s live well today.”

Buena Vista was previously a host city on the ride in 2011, 2008, 2003, 2000 and 1987.

The Chaffee County Times in Buena Vista is published by Arkansas Valley Publishing Co., the parent company of The Mountain Mail.