The popular Ride of the Ancients cycling event is back, and has been revamped into a gravel-grinder course from Dolores through the San Juan Mountains on June 26.
Riders can choose between a 95-mile or 30-mile loop course on a network of gravel roads in the Boggy Draw and Groundhog regions.
“It’s a fun, new community event for Dolores that features the beautiful scenery of the southern San Juan Mountains,” said organizer Diane McBride, assistant executive director of the SCCA, in an interview Friday.
After a two-year hiatus, the race is transitioning to a mountain gravel grinder from its roots as a 100-mile desert road ride around Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.
The switch was seen as ideal because of the rising popularity of gravel-road biking events, and the challenging, hilly terrain of the mountains north of Dolores. Another advantage of using gravel roads is they have much less vehicle traffic, and the cool mountain climate is also a plus for riders.
“Gravel-grinders are the new trend, and there are not many right around here, so we hope to fill that gap and attract a lot of riders. We have the perfect area for it,” said Susan Thomas, executive director for Trails of the Ancients Byway Association, in an interview on Friday.
The ride is casual-recreation style, McBride said, but will be timed for the competitive crowd. Awards will be presented to the top three riders in both race courses.
The race begins and ends in Dolores at the corner of Fourth Street and Central Avenue, where the Dolores River Brewery and the new Kokopelli Bike Shop are located. Festivities and live music are being planned for the race finish.
The 95-mile route leaves Dolores and follows the Boggy Draw Road and Dolores-Norwood Road to the Cottonwood Road and on to Dunton. It then climbs up to Black Mesa and passes by Groundhog Reservoir before reconnecting with the Dolores-Norwood Road and onto Dolores. It has an elevation gain of 7,363 feet.
The short course climbs out of Dolores and makes a 30-mile loop using the Dolores-Norwood Road and the Boggy Draw Road. It has an elevation gain of 2,196 feet.
Race courses were designed by local professional mountain biker Ashley Carelock.
There will be aid stations on both courses, which will be marked with volunteers guiding riders. Rider support includes emergency first responders, and the courses will be monitored by vehicle for anyone needing help.
Revenues from the fundraiser will support the conservation and tourism efforts of both organizations.
SCCA will use the funds to support a trail information program, archaeological site stewardship program, and wilderness study area monitoring efforts.
A priority for Trails of the Ancients National Byway Association is to upgrade its website so it can be used on mobile devices, and to continue to promote the tourism opportunities along the byway that features many archaeological attractions.
For more information and to register or the event, visit rideoftheancients.com