Last year, the Ride the Rockies bicycle race was supposed to come through Norwood, something many people were excited about because of the opportunity for promoting tourism and recreation on Wright’s Mesa. Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened, and the bike race was canceled. Norwood, along with other towns and cities on the race tour map, lost its opportunity last year. Now, though, in 2021, the bike race is back on, and Norwood community leaders are preparing for the town to serve as a destination spot on the tour.
More than 3,000 people are participating in Ride the Rockies, and according to John Metzger, president of the Norwood Chamber of Commerce, approximately 1,000 of them will stay in Norwood when they ride through on June 15.
Can Norwood lodge and feed 1,000 people when the race comes through? Absolutely, Metzger said, since because Ride the Rockies organizes its own camping and brings in a breakfast truck to support the race.
A camping company is organizing lodging, with the Norwood baseball field being used for the majority of the race participants, he said. Some yurts are also coming into town. Metzger added other participants will be shuttled to Placerville and Telluride to camp for the night.
“They are not counting on Norwood restaurants to feed everybody,” he told The Norwood Post on Monday.
The race begins just days before in Durango. June 15 is supposed to be the hardest day of travel, with cyclists coming from Cortez.
While Norwood will have to be prepared with dumpsters and required street closures, Metzger said Ride the Rockies is “incredibly self-contained and very efficient.” The chamber of commerce is not “tactically” involved, though the chamber is ordering a “Welcome to Norwood” banner to be flown at the entrance of town.
He said the majority of the required work is handled by town officials like town administrator Patti Grafmyer and new clerk Amanda Pierce, along with fairgrounds coordinator DeeAnna Burbridge and Norwood Fire and EMS Chief John Bockrath.
Though the financial impact may not be huge, Metzger said one of the biggest perks about Norwood being on the tour is that people who’ve never been to town get to come see it. Already, management from Ride the Rockies have contacted the chamber to ask about the “Dark Sky stuff.”
Metzger said race participants have been hearing about Norwood’s Dark Sky designation, and they’re interested. He said there won’t be telescopes set up or any official stargazing party on June 15, but there will be an International Dark Sky Association booth available in Norwood during the tour stop to give people information. Race participants will also be invited to “look up” and experience the night sky for themselves before retiring for the evening.
“People will get to see Norwood who haven’t been here before,” he said. “It’s almost the longest day of the year. … Some will see the Milky Way who’ve never seen it before.”
The morning after, on June 16, racers head to Ridgway, in what Metzger said will the easiest leg of the trip.
Weekly town meetings for the Ride the Rockies event’s Norwood stop are happening on Tuesdays at 9 a.m.