Bicycle Tour of Colorado avoids Black Hawk with shuttle service

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Organizers for the Bicycle Tour of Colorado say they're using a shuttle service so cyclists on the week-long bicycle tour won't have to risk breaking the law by riding their bicycles through Black Hawk.

The small, gambling-oriented tourist town west of Denver gained nationwide notoriety in the bicycle world last summer when police started issuing tickets to bicyclists who violated the town's ban on bicycling on city streets.

Since then, there have been court fights, rallies on the steps of the State Capitol,  legislation submitted to prevent towns from banning bicycling, and a call to boycott the city's merchants. See the Bicycle Colorado website for some developments.

Avoiding the town

Publicity for Bicycle Tour of Colorado says Day 1 of the bike tour goes from Central City to Estes Park, a route that would require 1,400 to 1,500 cyclists to walk their bikes along a road — Gregory Street — included in the bike ban. Organizers are avoiding this, however.

I contacted Bicycle Tour of Colorado after reading comments at a Facebook page — “Bicyclists and Tourists Boycott Black Hawk, Colorado” — from cyclists worried about getting tickets and/or patronizing Black Hawk businesses.

A tour spokeswoman, who declined to give her name, said tour organizers set up parking, registration and first night camping so cyclists can avoid Black Hawk.

“We really didn't do anything with Black Hawk. We didn't want to make things difficult. That's why we didn't go through Black Hawk.”

Shuttle service (see map below)

Check-in is scheduled on Saturday, June 18, with the bicycle tour starting the next morning. The spokeswoman said participants have been directed to drive directly to registration and tent camping at Gilpin County High School on Route 119, about 4 miles north of Black Hawk. They leave their bicycles and camping equipment at the high school, then drive to a parking area reserved for the tour participants in Central City, west of Black Hawk.

A shuttle bus that runs all day between the two locations will take the participants back to Gilpin County High School to avoid having to ride through Black Hawk.

The ride starts Sunday morning, rolling out of the high school toward Estes Park. The loop tour arrives back in Central City from Frisco, once again avoiding Black Hawk.

The spokeswoman said tour organizers are discouraging anyone from arriving on Sunday morning to start the tour. No parking is allowed at the school, and they would have to pass through Black Hawk with the bicycle to get back to Route 119 after parking their car in Central City. That means either walking or risking a ticket.

Black Hawk lodging

Some cyclists will be staying in Black Hawk, however.

Premier Delivery Service is handling hotel accommodations for cyclists who chose not to camp. Most of them are staying at the AmeriStar, which is in the city limits but located on Route 119, which is not subject to the bike ban. A few others are staying at the Isle of Capri on Main Street and will have to walk their bikes about a block to the highway.

Although it would be nice if Black Hawk could be boycotted, maybe city officials and merchants there will realize what a bonanza they are missing out on by not having all 1,500 cyclists staying in town. If the casino owners and city officials don't think it's safe for cyclists to ride their bikes on all city streets, the town should do the friendly thing of clearing a route or creating a bike path for cyclists.

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