New York City’s Lance Leener enjoys Rocky Mountain Bike Tour

After leaving Colorado National Monument, bicyclists pedal east Sunday along U.S. Highway 50 toward Hotchkiss on the first day of the Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour. The event is a fundraiser for the University of Colorado Hospital, and drew about 190 participants.

Living on New York City’s Upper West Side allows 51-year-old Lance Leener a chance to experience a lot of different things.

But in a city of skyscrapers, Leener occasionally needs to view a different type of scenery, and found that Sunday along Colorado’s Western Slope.

Leener was one of 200 cyclists participating in the six-day Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour, which started Sunday in Grand Junction and took the 62-mile journey to Hotchkiss.

“This was fantastic,” Leener said. “I grew up in Portland, Ore., and spent a lot of time outdoors and this reaffirms all those things that are important about that.”

Leener, a middle school teacher, is on the ride with his wife, Jamie Nicholson-Leener. The couple’s 11-year-old daughter is spending the week at an outdoor camp outside of Denver, and the elder Leeners were looking for their own way to experience Colorado.

“We had done some research to see what we’d do in Colorado while she’s at camp,” Leener said. “My wife and I are both cyclists and were looking for somewhere to ride and we discovered this event.”

Leener was one of the first riders to complete the initial day. Although there was some rolling hills along the route, the first day’s terrain wasn’t too challenging.

“We had ideal weather conditions,” Leener said. “And you can’t beat the scenery and road surface.”

Today’s second day sends the riders from Hotchkiss to Gunnison through the Black Canyon. It’s a 79-mile ride that has more climbing than the first day.

“Certainly to enjoy the great outdoors on a bike is divine,” Leener said. “I’ve enjoyed the experience of turning over the crank for miles and miles.”

The riders of the fifth annual CRMBT have 430 miles until they return to Grand Junction. The tour continues its loop on Aug. 9 from Gunnison to Buena Vista, before the longest ride, a 103-mile stretch from Buena Vista to Glenwood Springs.

The riders have a rest day in Glenwood followed by an 80-mile trek back to Hotchkiss. The tour ends Aug. 13 with the final day over Grand Mesa to Grand Junction.

“Our route can be trickier because it’s not a point to point,” Tour Director Peter Duffy said. “But safety is our number one thing. We want to make sure everyone gets back to Grand Junction in one piece.”

Duffy said the 200 riders is a lower number than it’s been in the past few years, but for the riders who made the journey to the Western Slope, it appears to be a great week of riding.

“It was perfect today and it’s supposed to be like this all week,” Duffy said. “It’s such a cool route.”


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