Hundreds of people came to the community of York on Saturday morning, as organizers held the 17th annual York 38 Special mountain bike ride.
More than 200 people hit the roads. Most were taking part in the main event: a 38-mile course through the hills and canyons around York. The ride included several thousand feet of elevation gain, followed by a long descent back into town.
Ryan Thompson was riding the 38 Special for the first time. He came in from Whitehall, after hearing about the ride online.
“Awesome riding, beautiful country,” he said. “I like the mix of gravel and single-track, big climbs.”
He said he enjoyed being in a ride with so many other participants.
“The competition, and getting to hang out with a few more people after the race,” he said.
Thompson made the ride in just over 3 hours and 45 minutes, the fifth-fastest time for a rider who took the alternate route through Beartrap Gulch. This was the first year that Competitive Timing offered official timing services for the 38 Special.
There were rides for people of all ages and skill levels. Some riders took the 38-mile circuit twice – called the “Spirit of 76.” Others took part in the 13-mile “Lucky 13” Family Fun Ride, with a gentler slope.
9-year-old Bridger Cochrane and his mother Carly were among the riders on the Lucky 13.
“It was really fun,” Bridger said. “I was just cruising.”
This was the first time Bridger had done the ride himself, though Carly Cochrane said she once rode while pulling him in a stroller.
“I love the event, the people,” she said. “It’s always a lot of fun, a lot of people cheering you on along the way. And it’s just nice to be outside in York; it’s so beautiful.”
There were a few showers during the day, and some of the tracks were muddy from the previous day’s rain, but riders said, in general, the conditions were ideal for cycling.
Over the last 10 years, the 38 Special has raised about $100,000 for York Fire-Rescue. Leaders say that is a huge boost to a volunteer department with a relatively small tax base. It has helped them pay for things like additional equipment and training.
This year, the proceeds from the ride will go toward building a new fire station between York and Nelson, to serve the Eldorado Heights area. Leaders say having a station there would make it easier to respond to emergencies – especially in the winter, when the steep hill just north of York can be particularly dangerous.
York Fire-Rescue has already collected about $60,000 toward their goal of $275,000 for the new station. Leaders will hold a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday, Sept. 7, at 2 p.m.
After this year’s 38 Special was over, some riders were already looking forward to next year – and possibly to bigger challenges. Thompson plans to do the Spirit of 76 ride next year, and Bridger Cochrane said he wants to take on the full 38 Special.