Cycling buffs around America are giddy in anticipation of the 35th Annual Ride the Rockies bicycling classic June 13-18, starting in Durango with overnight stops in Cortez, Norwood and Ridgway. After 2020's covid cancellation, 2,000 expectant riders and their support teams reflect national, pent-up demand to pursue outdoor passions while still wary of pandemic.
Today, vacations lean toward more socially distanced, carefully managed experiences like RTR that mix in multiple activities including luxury glamping, off-road side trips, and astro tourism.
"Ride the Rockies is a great example of an affinity-focused event enhanced with specialized activities that families and groups can plan vacations around," said John Metzger, president of the Norwood Chamber. "RTR covers the bases with rigorous safety measures and unique experiences along the way like the Durango cycling culture and stargazing here in Norwood, an International Dark Sky Community that's helped establish our entire region as a dark sky destination."
"These cyclists devote a lot of time and energy into their passion," said Ryan Dutch, Outdoor Program Director at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. "When the pandemic forced everyone inside, many learned to look inside themselves, and to focus on what makes them happy. People realize just how important outdoor activities are to their mental health, and are increasing their expectations and adding more variety into their recreation."
Carefully planned, enthusiast-focused vacations are on the rise and often mixed in with additional hobbies and pastimes. People get the custom gear, and research remote locations that accommodate the special activities that allow for more social distancing than traditional vacations involving air travel, cruise ships, theme parks, festivals, crowded cities and big hotels.
Covid is clearly redefining tourism, and towns like those along this year's RTR route are using their natural resources, low traffic and unique characteristics to create their own cultures around what each place has to offer.
"People are re-learning how to be happy, and they're finding that the outdoors is the best classroom, and that nature is the best teacher," said Dutch. "After being inside for so long, people are finding new value in the outdoors, and new things to see and do in places they may never have even heard of before." Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.