“I enjoy the solitude, but I also get a lot of encouragement when other people pass me, and I think there’s a lot of camaraderie seeing people out doing something good for their bodies.”
— Ruth Ann Hendershott
Pedaling west on U.S. Highway 40, the Santistevan family of Craig powered through the chilly climate that surrounded them Saturday morning.
Although the cool weather wasn’t quite what Tony, Sara and their son, Dustin, had expected for their big bicycling weekend, being able to ride together was well worth the unfavorable temperature.
Cold weather led to a low turnout for the 26th annual “Where the Hell’s Maybell?” bike ride.
Craig Parks and Recreation organizers said the turnout was less than half of the usual crowd of 150 they had expected to join in the 30-mile day trip across Moffat County from Craig to Maybell.
The wet weather from Friday night and the early morning gray skies may have impeded a large amount of riders from coming out, but many of the people who took to the road welcomed the briskness.
Third-year rider Misty Sanders said she enjoyed having the coolness to balance out her body temperature.
“Last year it was pretty hot, so I think it was a lot better this year,” she said. “I have a better bike this year, too, so that helped.”
Country music pumped through the earbuds of Sanders’ mp3 player as she rode, allowing her to focus on the rhythm of her wheels on the asphalt.
“You don’t really have to think about anything else when you’re out there,” she said.
Other riders found the cold a little more challenging.
Sara Santistevan said she hoped for nicer weather for her first year riding in the event with her husband and son.
“Last year, I got sick two days before this so I couldn’t go with them,” she said. “It was awesome being able to come with them this time.”
Sara, Tony and 5-year-old Dustin rode closely down the highway, with Dustin atop a Trail-A-Bike attachment from J & R Cyclery.
The three of them bike around town frequently, as well.
“Just being able to ride together as a family makes it go a lot faster,” Tony said.
The family was shivering by the time they pulled into the rendezvous point in Maybell Park, ready for the breakfast of pancakes, bacon, eggs and sausage provided by McDonald’s and Brother’s Custom Processing and served up by members of Bear River Young Life.
Craig Mayor Terry Carwile had the meal on his mind well before he reached the park.
“Pancakes are always something to look forward to,” he said.
Carwile said he has traveled to Maybell by bike three times already this year and has ridden seriously for about 20 years.
“Usually it’s just a nice, pleasant spring day, getting close to summer, it’s just green and quiet,” he said. “Even with the weather like this, I think people always enjoy it. I know I like to listen to the birds, watch the wildlife and just take in the peaceful day.”
A number of riders only stopped in Maybell briefly, getting right back on the road and heading to Meeker before returning to Craig.
“I’ve done that before, but not today,” Carwile said. “That’s about 110 miles in one day.”
Carwile said the event is good training for a bigger ride he’ll be doing this summer.
The Bicycle Tour of Colorado — which begins June 17 in Fort Collins — will come through Craig on June 20 on the way from Saratoga, Wyo., moving on to Steamboat Springs, Walden and back to Fort Collins.
Other riders took on the Maybell route for the very first time.
Ruth Ann Hendershott said joining in the journey was something she has wanted to do for years.
“Something has interfered for the last three years, and I’m just so happy I could do it this year,” she said.
Hendershott said she felt closer to God out on the highway as she took in the scenery of Northwest Colorado.
“I was listening to my praise music, going through Bible verses in my head and just thinking about all the things I’m thankful for and seeing all the beauty of nature,” she said.
Hendershott said the setup of the trip allowed for moments of alone time as well as the chance to join in with smaller groups of people from time to time depending on everyone’s needs.
“I enjoy the solitude, but I also get a lot of encouragement when other people pass me, and I think there’s a lot of camaraderie seeing people out doing something good for their bodies,” she said. “It’s a team effort, because my son oiled my bike, made sure I had air, picked me up because I stopped three miles outside of Maybell, so it does take more than just getting on your bike and leaving.”
Though she felt the soreness in her muscles kick in a little too soon, Hendershott said she hopes to finish the event in its entirety next time.
“I’ll definitely give it my best because I’m definitely coming back next year,” she said.
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