Firecracker 5k

We did it. All of us. After enduring the strangest (and arguably most challenging) year of our lifetimes, we’re back doing what we love — riding our bikes in beautiful places. After a one-year, pandemic induced hiatus, the 2021 Ride the Rockies returned Sunday with more than 2,000 cyclists taking on an ever-rolling loop that started and finished in Durango. In between was a 74-mile counter-clockwise ride with roughly 3,600 feet of elevation gain. And yes, it was hot…

Known locally as the Ignacio-Bayfield Loop, this ride included mellow country road spinning, a handful of short, but tough climbs, and miles of superb scenery. After rolling south out of Durango, the route traced the shores of the Animas River before turning east for the first real test of the day. After crossing US550, riders climbed onto the high desert plateau that’s home to the Southern Ute Reservation.

Following a half dozen miles on the flats, the route dropped into the town of Ignacio where riders topped off bottles, rested in the shade, and refueled. Then began the long gradual climb to the route’s high point near Lemon Reservoir. The toughest section came just after turning onto County Road 240 (around mile 55). There they faced a 2.5-mile grind that averages 5 percent and gains nearly 600 feet.

Once over the top, the road trended downhill for the next 8.5 miles, though there were a few short stingers along the way. The last of those pops brought RTR riders up to the Edgemont Ranch area around mile 67. From there it was a straight, fast downhill back into Durango and the finish at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. Here are some of the sights and scenes.