Stories abound, about cyclists who led the ride in drenching rain, bore down with perseverance, despite dramatic crashes that would have stopped a lesser man, or had victory snatched from their grip in the final moment. The Tour de France, now in its 101st edition, has influence that reaches far beyond its European borders. It builds dreams. It inspires. It feeds the imagination.
In fact, le Tour de France is so far-reaching that it has placed a big old thumbprint on the state of Colorado. Actually, on Colorado’s brewers and brewery owners, in what has been called the SkAvery Tour de BoulDurango, a 426 mile, five-day trek that stretches from Boulder to Durango, challenging bicyclists from six breweries throughout the state in a race to … um … finish. The question is, “Will they finish?”
From Monday, July 21, 2014 until Friday, July 25, 2014, brewers will be modeling themselves after the fine athletes in France’s ride of strength and endurance. If you are inclined to believe that “beer people” are fat, belching, and unhealthy, this grueling competition will change your mind. Six breweries hit the pedals in this 6th annual race: Avery Brewing of Boulder, Ska Brewing of Durango, Boulder Beer of (you guessed it!) Boulder, Great Divide Brewing Company of Denver, Left Hand Brewing Company of Longmont, and Oskar Blues Brewery of Longmont.
Some segments of the course will be a breeze, as the cyclists mash through the level city streets of Denver. But the challenge becomes as thick as English gruel as the riders rise through seven mountain passes during their five-day journey. The air gets thinner as elevation climbs, making this particularly difficult, even for the most adept athletes. Six of the seven mountain passes are greater than two miles above sea level.
The highest is Cottonwood Pass, at 12,126 feet. Loveland Pass is not far behind, at 11,992 feet, followed by Hoosier Pass at 11,542 feet; Red Mountain Pass at 11,008 feet; Molas Pass at 10,910 feet, and Coal Bank Pass at 10,640 feet. Cerro Pass is the lowest, at 7,958 feet.
A few years ago, David April and the Fishtown Beer Runners of Philadelphia brought attention to a study regarding hydration for athletes. It concluded, “Moderate consumption of beer can help maintain higher levels of plasma glucose and mitigate stress hormone responses.” Presented by Professor Castillo-Garzon, a doctor at the University of Granada in Spain, his study investigated the dehydration and rehydration of athletes, comparing the effectiveness of rehydration using water versus beer. Beer and water exceeded the effectiveness of water alone.
Insta-Mapper GPS tracking software assists the riders with the route, while allowing fans to join in the excitement, cheer on their favorites, and share in the glory and misery of each mile of the race.
The ride benefits Bicycle Colorado, which has been knighted by the League of America Bicyclists as the model organization for all 49 other states in America. Although you might be inclined to say profits should benefit sick children, abused dogs, or the unemployed, the impact that Bicycle Colorado has on the lives of the general public is more important than at first glance.
A look at statistics show that approximately 50,000 bicyclists are seriously injured each year in accidents, with over 730 resulting in death. Of that number, thirty percent are crashes with motor vehicles. Are they mostly kids? Not. The average age of the injured is 42, and 88 percent are male.
Bicycle Colorado promotes safety education, has won hundreds of miles of safer roads designed for bike safety, has changed laws to provide better conditions for bicycle riders, and protects and improves mountain trails. By mentoring Colorado and the strides they have made, other states can encourage their citizens to improve their overall health through bicycle commutes and safer riding conditions. Assistance from the Tour de BoulDurango is the kick-start needed to improve bicycle use and conditions across America.