Denver Century Ride offers fun and approachable urban routes for all kinds of riders: Q&A with participant Eduardo Aguirre
The Denver Century Ride (DCR) on June 20 brings together bicyclists of all ages, experience levels and abilities to explore the city on five supported routes, from a family-friendly 10-mile route to the 100-mile “century.”
After the ride, participants are encouraged to stick around for a fabulous street party featuring music, food and an expo. If you want to learn more about this year’s course options, we have maps and route descriptions at the bottom of this story!
Eduardo Aguirre has participated in the 25-mile course at the DCR three times over the years. Due to a spinal cord injury and ankle fusion, he rides a hand cycle. Eduardo’s involvement with DCR began when he started working as a social media coordinator for them. When he first rode the route, however, he ended up loving the ride as well. He splits his time between Denver and Tucson, where he is currently training to take on the 50-mile course in the DCR for the first time.
Bicycle Colorado spoke with Eduardo to talk about his experiences as an adaptive cyclist and what he loves about Denver Century Ride. Hear what he has to say below!
BC: What would you say is unique about the Denver Century Ride?
It’s an amazing event organized by fantastic people. They have the experience to pull off a great event that people enjoy because it’s so very well organized. The routes, the stations, the registration process, the after-ride party, I mean, these people have done it so many times. This is the 11th [year], actually, that we’re going to have it. It’s very enjoyable because it’s very well put together. The people too, the volunteers, are a fantastic group of people. It’s just a prestigious event that has a great reputation and I’d recommend it highly.
BC: When you ride the Century Ride, do you discover things about Denver you didn’t know before?
Oh definitely. The rides go through great neighborhoods. You’re riding, you’re chatting, you’re mingling with people, but all of a sudden you’ll see things and sights that you never saw before, neighborhoods that you never drove by. I discovered a couple of parks that I had never been to, and I made a point to return. Definitely the DCR gives you the opportunity to discover some sights that you’ve never seen of your own city. That’s a really enjoyable part of the experience, just to see new buildings or new neighborhoods, new parks, new murals. It’s an opportunity to discover your own city.
BC: What would you say to people who are thinking of doing the Denver Century Ride but they aren’t sure if they have the right amount of experience or they don’t know how to get ready for it?
For people in Denver, the weather right now is not encouraging for people to get out and about and train, but spring is coming and people who like biking, I’m sure that they cannot wait for the sun to come out. The ride is June 20. They have plenty of time between the beginning of the spring to go out and about and to get some rides, even if it’s only on the weekends. I recommend for them to really set a goal and then start riding a few times, every weekend from now on, and they will be completely prepared to do the 25- or 50-mile [route]. To do 100 miles is a little more serious, [that’s for] people who already have the experience and they train a lot. I certainly recommend for people to look forward and to set goals, and the Denver Century Ride has some organized training groups to go out and start kind of getting trained for it.
BC: We hear that you’re planning to do the 50-mile ride this year.
You know, I’m going to challenge myself to do the 50 for the first time. I always have done the 25, and 50 will be a challenge but I look forward to it. I have some friends that I will encourage to do the 50 with me as well … The longest ride I have ever done in one single day is 54 miles here in Tucson. There is a city loop that is that length. But I will continue training, and I will be prepared to do the 50-mile this summer out there in Denver.
BC: How long have you been riding a bicycle or a hand cycle? Did you ride a bicycle before you took up hand cycling?
Well, [I rode a bicycle] a little bit when I was younger and in my college years, but not in rides, just to go to school, et cetera. Hand cycling, I have been doing for about six or seven years.
BC: What was it like learning to ride your hand cycle?
It was great. I have a disability. I used to play wheelchair tennis and just discovering [hand cycling] gave me the freedom to get out of the house and I started loving it. It was just really awesome to discover a new freedom to get to the outdoors. And I really enjoy it. It took a little while to figure out my hand cycle. [You have to] lean to steer. Then I was very grateful that Denver had a lot of bike trails because it’s nothing that I could really use in the streets. It’s not safe. So I rode a lot on the bike trails in Denver and I enjoyed it. I do it a lot on my own or I have some friends [with whom] I can go for rides.
BC: What are some experiences that you think are unique to bicyclists with disabilities, who use a hand cycle?
I hope that my participation encourages other people with disabilities and other hand cyclists to do it because I’ve been one of a handful, maybe two or three, [and] in one ride I thought I was the only one. A lot of people see me in the hand cycle and they see that it’s really cool, and they ask me how it works and they ask me how I enjoy it. It’s kind of educational for me to talk to people and describe to them my sport. A lot of people may think that [the ride] is only for stand-up bicycles, but this ride is for all kinds of hand cycles too. I encourage people to contact me if they want, people with disabilities, [to talk about] how to be part of this.
BC: Is there anything else that you want to say about your experience as an adaptive cyclist?
I sincerely can tell you that hand cycling and this sport has changed my life. It has given me the opportunity to get out and about, to compete, to get to know the city. I have taken my hand cycle to other cities, and I have discovered new places. I have made friendships through the world of hand cycling and adaptive sports. And a lot of times people think that people with a disability, they don’t have many opportunities to get out and about, but Denver provides a lot of great opportunities for adaptive sports and for rides like this, to feel part of the community. Just to feel the freedom of doing a sport and to be part of a big event with lots of other bicyclists.
BC: How can events and organizations better represent and serve bicyclists with disabilities?
Just to include us in different events. I see in a lot of photos of events that there is only strictly bicyclists. It would be nice to throw in there a couple of hand cyclists just to see that there’s inclusion and that they encourage the participation of people with adaptive bikes. There are not only hand cycles but there are [trikes], too … So maybe some more inclusion in social media or in posters or in flyers of events. Just to include some hand cycles just to make us feel that we are included and part of the event … when photographers take photos of highlights of events, just try to catch hand cyclists and include them, you know, to show that we are part of it and that other people will see that and will feel encouraged to be part of that and to join in events or just the use of the local trails in Denver.
BC: Any final thoughts?
I am very grateful to have done the Denver Century Ride three or four times before and I applaud the organization of this team that puts together a fantastic event for the whole city of Denver. It’s one of the highlights of the bicycle world in Denver. With their team, their staff, their team of volunteers, they do a fantastic job. And I congratulate them. I’m kind of part of the team on the side because I help them with social media and I’m very proud to be a part of this event.
Want to get in touch with Eduardo? Let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put you in touch!
Coldwell Banker Denver Century Ride is a Champion Event Member of Bicycle Colorado.
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