A rite of passage for road cyclists is completing a "century" - 100 miles in a day.
That opportunity has arrived locally with the inaugural Ride of the Ancients on Oct. 11.
The ride begins in Cortez, circumnavigates Canyons of the Ancients and Hovenweep National Monuments, then returns to town. It is all on paved roads, and there will be several aid stations with food and water.
It's not technically a Gran Fondo, said race director Ashley Carelock, because riders will have to obey all traffic laws. The ride's purpose is to benefit a local charity and showcase the area's national monuments.
"It is a good starter century because there is not a lot of elevation gain," Carelock said. "The route is really beautiful in fall, and there will be plenty of support for the riders."
Participants can go solo or form a team. For single riders, the cost is $100, and teams get a discount per person.
Proceeds will go to the Montelores Cancer Care fund and Southwest Colorado Canyons Alliance.
The care fund assists victims and their families with the non-medical costs of cancer treatment, such as paying for gas to appointments, transportation to cities for care, staying in hotels, and child care.
The SWCCA supports the monument and Anasazi Heritage Center with volunteers and archaeological stewardship.
"We're looking for sponsors and volunteers," said organizer Diana McBride of SWCCA. "We have all of our permits, and now are trying to get the word out."
The route travels around Totten Lake, south on U.S. 491, then down McElmo Road to Hovenweep National Monument. From there, it travels County Road 10 to County Road BB, then onto U.S. 491 and back to Cortez.
"The course is through two states, two counties, and along two reservations, and two national monuments," McBride said.
In addition to four aid stations and portable potties, there will be support vehicles, a well-signed route, and additional sheriff deputies for traffic control. The local Wal-Mart is one of the sponsors and will host an aid station. The visitor center bathrooms at Hovenweep National Monument will also be available to cyclists.
A beer and taco party is planned for the finish in Cortez.
"As far as training, the best thing to do is get out and ride often in the weeks before, with a couple of rides pushing the limit past 50 miles," Carelock said.
For more information on the race or to volunteer, go to: http://www.rideoftheancients.com/