‘Breathtaking’ Tom Trinidad fulfills his dream of riding in Colorado
Growing up in the Negros Island region of the Philippines, 46-year-old Tom Trinidad dreamed of one day seeing Colorado.
Sunday during the first day of the Ride the Rockies, Trinidad’s dream came true, as he biked the 46-mile loop from Mesa State College over the Colorado National Monument.
“I had a dream when I was in the Philippines to see Colorado, and this is it,” Trinidad said with a laugh. “It was wonderful, breathtaking, I’ve never seen a ride like this before.”
Trinidad moved to the United States in 1992 and is an occupational therapist in Jackson, Tenn. He’s been road cycling seriously since 2007, and is in his first Ride the Rockies.
“I’ve been training for three months really hard in Tennessee,” Trinidad said. “But it’s flat there, so here you have to do it at your own pace, grind it out and try to make it to the top.”
When Trinidad finished his first trip down the Colorado National Monument, he looked over the Grand Valley and realized it isn’t much different from his homeland.
“There are a lot of mountains there, and (the Grand Valley) reminds me of back home,” Trinidad said “But it’s really nice here.”
Although Trinidad is in his first Ride the Rockies, many of the riders have taken the weeklong bike ride before.
Jerry Thiel and Ken Schenk of Fort Morgan both had at least five Ride the Rockies under their belts and said the monument is a good way to start the week.
“I took about a week off of training before getting here,” Schenk said. “So the (monument and Grand Mesa, today’s trip) is a good warm-up and gets your legs used to riding.”
All the riders have the first-day enthusiasm but realize there is a physically challenging week ahead of them.
Thiel said it’s important to not let it go by too quickly.
“You really have to take it all in,” Thiel said. “Once you get onto Red Mountain Pass and Wolf Creek Pass, it’s really awesome.”
The 2,000 riders who convened in Grand Junction will travel from Grand Junction to Salida this week. This is the fifth time Ride the Rockies has begun in Grand Junction, the first time since 2005.
“Grand Junction made a lot of sense this year because we started our race 25 years ago out of Grand Junction,” Ride the Rockies community relations coordinator Elizabeth Norris said. “Grand Junction has been phenomenal and always incredibly welcoming.”
The first Ride the Rockies started with a ride over the monument the first day.
Colorado National Monument Superintendent Joan Anzelmo said the park staff was looking forward to hosting the ride again.
“The cyclists talked about how great it is to come through this resource,” Anzelmo said. “We had over 1,000 cyclists stop at the welcome center and we had one of our busiest days physically.
“From my perspective, safety is always the highest priority and we were very meticulous in our planning. We had no significant injuries or accidents and the general reaction was, ‘Wow what a great place to start the ride.’ “
Norris said being able to stay in Grand Junction for two days has been helpful.
“The fact we actually get to stay here for two days is wonderful,” Norris said. “The cyclists love it because they get to set up camp and the staff enjoys it to be able to relax a little for these two exciting days before we move on.”
Ride the Rockies continues its journey today, traveling 90 miles from Grand Junction to Delta over Grand Mesa.
From there the riders head to Ouray, then face an Ouray-to-Durango route that takes them over Red Mountain Pass, Molas Divide and Coal Bank Pass.
The riders will make their way from Durango to Pagosa Springs, then to Alamosa and finish Saturday in Salida to complete the 532-mile tour.