Mountains to Desert Ride Pedals for Kids

08/26/14 | By | More

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Former Pro-cyclists Jan Ullrich and Scott Mercier Will Join the Ride

TELLURIDE – This year, the Just for Kids Foundation’s (JFK) Mountains To Desert (M2D) Bike Ride is in the hands of a new ride director and organizer, Cindy Fusting, who hopes to increase ridership and participation, and grow the ride, by adding new route options and a kid’s ride and fair prior to the main event.

The M2D ride was created in 2004 and was organized and operated by JFK founding president Erik Fallenius and his wife, Josephine, until this year. In a recent interview, Fusting explains. “After a decade of organizing, funding and supporting the ride Erik and Josephine gifted the ride to JFK at the start of this year. They did an amazing job creating an event that has both spurred new interest in cycling throughout the Telluride area and funded an important resource for the area’s youth.”

Fusting believes that increased participation in the event can help JFK with their ultimate goal of making the M2D Ride self-supporting and sustainable, and will also help increase the number of active fundraisers for JFK, with more participants actively promoting the good works of JFK and actively seeking financial support to allow those good works to continue throughout the watershed, in Telluride, Norwood, Nucla, Naturita, Paradox and all points in between.

What will help make this year’s ride even more high profile is the participation of both Tour de France champion Jan Ullrich, and Olympian former pro-cyclist and Telluride High School graduate Scott Mercier who will ride this year to help raise money for JFK.

JFK’s self-stated mission is to “empower the youth of the San Miguel Watershed region and assist the organizations serving our youth through financial and developmental support.”

JFK , funded by an endowment, was established by Bill Carstens in 2000. JFK is managed by the Denver Foundation. According to Fusting, every dollar raised is matched 100 percent by the Carsten’s Family Fund at the Denver Fund, which provides an incredible opportunity to have individual donations make twice the impact.

“The very best thing about the M2D Ride is the impact its fundraising has on the children of the San Miguel Watershed through JFK,” Fusting adds, and although there is prize money for the top three men and women finishers, the spirit of the ride is not about winning or competing. “It is definitely a ride, not a race,” she says.

Adding to the fundraising efforts, each rider will receive a raffle ticket for every $100 they raise, to win a hand-crafted, titanium Moots road or mountain bike. Fusting’s husband was the top fundraiser in last year’s ride, and won the bike, something she says has changed her family’s life. “They are incredibly nice bikes,” she says of Moots, “and Rick’s [Moots] has kind of turned us into a cycling family and led us to be as heavily involved in the Just for Kids Foundation and Mountains to Desert Ride as we are today.”

Also contributing to the fundraising and awareness efforts will be the JFK Kid’s Ride and Fair the Friday before the ride. There will be a bike ride for kids ages 3-10 and a Kids Fair from 4-6 p.m. at Elks Park. “The reason for this addition,” Fusting explains, “is to help raise awareness about the connection between the M2D Ride and JFK. The fair will have fun activities, but will also showcase the many organizations that are supported by JFK. It is our hope that many riders and other community members will pass through and get a better idea of the great work that gets supported by the Just for Kids Foundation, and want to donate.”

Entry for the event will be free, and kids can get involved and raise money for JFK by selling raffle tickets to win a ski pass. For every ticket a child sells, he or she will get his or name placed in another raffle to win a bike, generously donated by Bootdoctors/Paragon Outdoors.

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Different Strokes For Different Folks

Aside from the tremendously positive impact the M2D has on JFK, Fusting’s next favorite thing about the ride is that the experience can be very different from person to person, all depending on what that person wants to get out of the ride. This is even more the case this year, with the added options for shorter or longer rides.

This Sept., M2D Riders can choose from the usual course lengths, or tack on extra miles to make the ride longer and more challenging. Fusting explains “All of the traditional course options remain available this year, and if participants choose those routes, there will not be much difference at all this year.The only changes to the ride are additional options.”

The main course has always had a forgiving century profile that trends downhill all the way to Gateway, which begins in Telluride, as well as the option to start in Norwood for a shorter ride. What is new, Fusting says, is “The opportunity to add a 17-mile loop through Nucla and the double century option.”

“The Telluride 200, she continues, “Will be a tough 200.8 mile course with the bulk of the 11,157 feet in elevation gain coming in the last 80 miles. The Telluride 200 group will leave at sunrise, 6:41am, and follow the traditional course with the addition of the Nucla loop, and then will pass Gateway and the traditional summit finish, going up and over the Unaweep Divide almost to Whitewater before turning around, going back up and over the Unaweep Divide to the finish line in Gateway.”

According to Fusting, not even the pros want to take on the full double-century, opting for more “mellow” routes: Ullrich will be riding 103 miles, and Mercier and his wife will be taking on 133 miles.

All rides, including the double-century, will culminate with a finish line party and feast complete with beer, ice cream and live music, at the Gateway Canyon Resort.

Although increased participation is one of JFK’s goals, Fusting says it is important to maintain the wonderful camaraderie that’s come to characterize the ride. “Even the riders who love the competition from Gateway to the 133-route summit also love the social feel of the ride,” she says, adding that the race limit has been raised from 250 to 300 participants, which is well on the way to filling up.

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