IMG_1097 In many places in the US, road cycling is a cult. Members have Internet coaches, obsessive training schedules, matching branded Lycra biking uniforms and regularly organized group rides of ten or more riders.

In Telluride, it’s not like that. Folks are lone wolves; they’re not joiners. Cyclists here often ride alone or sometimes in groups of two or three on the weekends. If you are on STRAVA (an App in which cyclists can record their speed and routes and compare to each other), then you know the names of some of the area’s fastest riders (although many aren’t on STRAVA), but you still might not know what they look like.

In fact, road cyclists from other communities who move to Telluride often ask if a road cycling community even exists. “Wait until M2D,” I usually tell them, “then you’ll see them all.”

M2D (Mountains to Desert Bike Ride) just celebrated its tenth year on Saturday (September 21st). The 133-mile organized bike ride begins in the high mountains of Telluride, (usually in sub-50 degree weather) and takes riders to the red-cliff desert of Gateway (usually in 80-degree weather). At mile 103, the route begins a 15-mile climb and about a 2000 foot elevation gain, before it finishes at Summit Camp.

Note: Keep your head up. The finish line is characteristically down played (as there is no literal line) and I rode right through and passed it, consequently adding another four or five miles to my 133 mile day.

As promised, Telluride’s underground road cycling community came out to play on Saturday, appropriately clad in the sport’s characteristic spandex attire. The average M2D rider enters the event simply to ride the roads with friends, take advantage of the aid stations, enjoy the dramatic scenery and support the Just For Kids Foundation for which the event raises money.

However the M2D event also offers something rare to Telluride’s avid and competitive cyclists: a chance to ride in a peloton. For those of us who ride solo most of the time, the opportunity to ride in a peloton with motorcycle leads and the ability to take over the entire road is like being invited to batting practice with your favorite baseball team.

Most of us fully realize we’re frauds; we’re just hanging in the pack drafting off the real riders as long as we can. We’re watching for attacks and speed changes, rotating with the group to the front to pull for small lapses then drifting to the back of the group poised to move up again. We’re just hoping to hang on until mile 103 when the hill climb begins and we know the elite riders will drop us as they probably should have at mile 30.

In his request for donations to the Just For Kids Foundation for his efforts in M2D, local and avid cyclist Steve Cieciuch wrote:

Bike racing 133 miles is a difficult game, I know I’ll never win, I just try my hardest to hang with the fast guys for about 100 miles (until the brutal climb starts) and then hang on for dear life to the finish line, often a crumpled, cramping mess. The gratifying part is knowing I give it my all and that is really all one can do in life, try your best, keep your head high, whether you’re first, last or in the middle of the pack.

I remembered Cieciuch’s “crumpled and cramped” description and chuckled to myself as, after riding 133 miles (plus my few extra past the finish line), I opted to drive two blocks to pick up my family’s dinner at Rustico Saturday night.

1010025_600227360011701_1818918428_nBut, It is during these cumulative events like M2D (a long test toward the end of riding season) that you realize why you ride — for the head space, to get out on lonely roads  and to stay in good enough shape so you can play “bike racer” at least a few times a year. Besides raising money for a great cause, M2D allows Telluride’ non-cultish road cycling crew an opportunity to dress up, go out and take over the road.

Mountains to Desert has raised $83,000 which will be matched to by the Carstens Foundation and awarded to over 60 youth organizations and individuals in the San Miguel watershed including organizations in Paradox, Nucla, Norwood and Telluride. The goal is to raise $90,000. It’s not too late to give. Use this link to donate:









1 Comment
  • Kendall
    Posted at 12:06h, 25 September

    As always, great blog Jess. xx