Road biking has never been as cool as it is right now in Telluride. There are a few reasons for this, the most prominent being the arrival of the US Pro Cycling Tour in Telluride on August 20th.

The world’s best riders will be in Telluride, so that means that the rest of us need to ride flashy bikes and train all summer so we can look like serious cycling fans, line the local roadways in costume, drink mimosas, and scream like little girls at a Miley Cyrus concert as cycling superstars like Levi Leipheimer, Cadel Evans and the Schleck brothers flash by.

This phenomenon – when regular Joes suit up to mirror the world’s best athletes during an elite competitive event – is actually most evident during events like Wimbledon. Suddenly, friends you never knew played tennis, dust off their racquets, break out preppy, collared shirts (that you also never knew they had) and rush to the local courts to hit the ball a few times before settling into their couches, or a bar stool, to watch Wimbledon.

It’s a weird phenomenon —this far-fetched connection we try to make with our athletic heroes. But nonetheless, the opportunity to do so will be abundant for Colorado cyclists, and wannabes alike, in August.

But, there is another reason to get on a road bike this summer – to start training for the 9th annual, 100-mile, Mountains To Desert Ride (M2D) on September 22nd from Telluride to Gateway Canyons Resort. If you’re going to pose as a cyclist during the US Pro Cycling Tour, may as well actually start riding. And, so the reasoning goes, if you’re going to ride may as well train for something. M2D is the perfect event.

Riders of all abilities can ride M2D. The hardcore crew can start in Telluride, race more than the standard 100 miles to Gateway and continue to Summit Camp to add an additional 30-miles (out and back) and over 2000-feet of elevation gain  for a 135 mile ride. Or, participants can shorten the standard 100 by starting in Norwood and ending in Gateway for 71.5 miles on the day. Participants are encouraged to raise money through having friends and family sponsor them. All proceeds are matched by the Carstens Family Foundation and go to The Just For Kids Foundation to be distributed through a granting process to the area’s youth programs.

So, what are you waiting for? Get on that bike and start training for both events — to pose during the Tour and to crush M2D. As if that’s not enough, here are seven other reasons to get on your road bike.

7. Be Cool. See above.

6. Proudly wear Lycra and shave your legs. Cycling is one of the only sports in which  you will not only be accepted for wearing a matching Lycra outfit and shaving your legs, but encouraged to do so. My favorite Lycra shorts even come with suspenders — that’s hot.

5. Get rad legs. Cyclists have rad legs. Start riding.

4. Road Riding Will Improve Your Mountain Biking. Telluride folks like their trails. A common excuse I hear from friends who don’t ride the roads is because they want to focus on mountain biking. The fact is road riding complements, and will improve, your mountain biking. Friends who race at an elite level tell me they train 60% to 70% on their road bikes and 40% to 30% on their mountain bikes – including the time they put in on their road bikes during the shoulder seasons and winters.

3. Train on Telluride’s Scenic Roads. The stretches of road around Telluride are arguably some of the most scenic in the world. Start in Telluride or Placerville and ride to the top of Dallas Divide (big shoulder) or to Norwood. Start in Norwood and ride to Nucla. Or, ride up Lizard Head or continue to Rico. Start in Rico and ride to Dolores. Try different combinations to Ridgway, then over Red Mountain Pass to Silverton. The options, and scenery, are endless.

2. There is a Fun Party at the Finish. During the first six years of the Mountains to Desert ride the course went from Telluride to Moab. In 2010, organizers changed the route from Telluride to Gateway for a few different reasons, one of them being so that the post-party could be at the quaint Gateway Canyons  Resort. Suffice to say, it was a good call. Post-race, at the small, red-rock oasis, there is beer, dinner, a pool, camping, music and massage.

1. Contribute to a Great Cause. This year marks the 9th annual Mountains To Desert Ride. Each year, Just for Kids, gives between $90,000 and $140,000 (depending on how much M2D riders raise) to around 60 youth organizations, programs and individuals. It’s an incredible cause and great excuse to get rad legs (see number 5).

Summer Sunday is a weekly column by Jesse James McTigue and sponsored by Jagged Edge intended to deliver tips, news, musings and stories about the people, places, events and experiences that make the Telluride summer an epic adventure.

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