GrassMoots rider Dave Gensch checks in with a summary of the 26th Annual Courage Classic bike ride, a fund raiser for the Children’s hospital of Denver. A great person doing good things for others.
I had missed last year’s event due to elbow surgery, so it was nice to return to Copper Mountain for the 2017 Courage Classic. The event is put on with such enthusiasm, emotion, and success while earning over $2,000,000 annually and showcasing the central mountains of Colorado. Along with my father, I had brought along my friend Matt, who had never done the event or ridden three big days back to back.
The venue at the base village of Copper is ideal and the volunteer presence at check in is immeasurable. There is at least one volunteer for every two of the two thousand or more riders. At sign in, they ring a bell if you are one of the top 100 fundraisers and the packed room inevitably erupts with applause.
Day one delivers the infamous Copper Triangle and covers 81 miles and climbs 6,400 ft. of vertical with a max elevation of 11,331. The section from Leadville through the historic Camp Hale is quintessential Colorado valleys and mountains. The frolicking streams carry the snowmelt from the high peaks still splashed with the previous winters snow, feeding the ever-present wild flowers. Under a welcomed cool and cloudy morning, Matt did great and the roads were in pretty good shape. My dad, at 70 years old, opted for the condensed version back and forth over Vail Pass and had a great ride as well.
On Saturday after the ride, our team, the Wheels of Justice, had their banquet. The largest team in the event, 100% of our earnings go directly to the Childhood Blood Disorder and Cancer Treatment and Research Center of Children Hospital. Each year, this tear jerking event knocks my socks off. The stories from the doctors, the patients, and the parents and families involved, range vastly from celebratory to heart shattering. From the success stories, paired with work in progress stories, to the loss of loved ones, the impetus to rally together, as one big family, and raise money, becomes profoundly evident. It is always such a reality check on my many blessings and gratitude’s. They always do a group photo after the banquet, and this year they did a separate photo for all of the team members that have beaten cancer young or old. This one really hit home for me because my father was diagnosed with cancer just last year and is now cancer free.
Sundays ride is less mountainous but still covers some very scenic terrain. At 82 miles and only 4,700 ft. of climbing topping out at 9,790, the route is actually more stressful due to long sections of bigger roads where the speed limits are 45 mph or faster. Again, Matt did a great job and my dad enjoyed a shortened version. For the past couple of years, the event has gone from three days to two days so they have a great barbeque at the finish area Sunday afternoon as the bells continue to ring for the riders that are still coming in.
Matt and I wanted to continue our efforts, so on Monday; we rode home from Copper to my parent’s house in Snowmass. At 92 miles, 6,430 ft. of climbing, and topping out at 12,103 ft. on top of Independence pass, this route is stellar. Freemont Pass is a rough start to the day and we stopped in Leadville for a bagel and coffee as our morning legs were lethargic and our pace slow. After the fun and fast section through, “String Town” Headed South West out of Leadville, my body again found its place on the bike and we cruised through the valley to Twin Lakes. The climb up the backside of “Indy” is so amazing. The undulating topography, jaw dropping vistas, and meandering luscious mountain streams keep the mind fresh and the eyes clear. Right before the last climb, my dad found us on his drive home and we ditched the extra clothes for fresh water bottle, and rode on.
Each year I look forward to this event. I raised just over $3000 and our team just hit $411,000 as they keep the fund raising going until August 31st. The people that come together for this, from the pro-am team riders, to the family in blue jeans on bikes that haven’t seen chain lube in years, to the people who donate their time or money, and all in between, amplify the goodness in humanity and truly make a difference in so many peoples lives. Thanks to my donors and the many volunteers for which this event would not happen. Thanks to the courageous Doctors, Nurses, Patients and Families for whom we ride for. Thanks to Moots for letting me ride the Vamoots RSL, which was quite hard to give back. The bike is dream road machine that quickly answers to even your slightest whisper and kept me looking for a hidden motor, as the climbing acceleration was shocking. Also thanks to Stio for the great clothing for during and after the ride.