Range Riders follow long-ago tradition in taking route up Colorado Avenue
Accompanied by a rolling police barricade starting around 8 a.m., the riders embarked after the also-annual Street Breakfast in downtown Colorado Springs.
The entourage continued through Old Colorado City, then eventually into the Garden of the Gods, before ending up at the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site parking lot a little over two hours later. Their horse trailers were waiting in the lot to carry them and their steeds to a camp on the side of Pikes Peak.
After that, they were scheduled to begin a three-day trail ride/campout, stopping at towns in that area with the goal of publicizing the annual Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo (July 8-11 at the Norris-Penrose Event Center on Lower Gold Camp Road).
The riders consist mostly of area business people who own their horses. Rodeo profits go to the Pikes Peak or Bust Foundation, which supports military charities.
In its 67th year, the Range Ride is predominantly symbolic now, but dates back
This year's event marked only the second time in recent years that the post-breakfast ride has come up the avenue. However, according to Rachel Braaten, the rodeo's 2015 Girl of the West, that was always the route in the ride's early years when Colorado Avenue was still the main road up Ute Pass. “They didn't have trailers then,” she said in an interview. “They'd ride up the avenue and straight to their camp on Pikes Peak.”
The last time the avenue route was used (turning into Red Rock Canyon Open Space at 31st Street on that occasion) was 2011. “It's exciting for us to take the original route,” Braaten said. “We can relive their traditions. It's awesome to have that kind of history.”
She and Allison Mitchell, the 2015 Aide to the Girl of the West, both dismounted at Bancroft Park during the ride. In a joint effort of the Range Ride and the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group, the duo were scheduled for a “meet-and-greet” with the public in front of the park's
Dave Van Ness of the OCCA and Katherine Toman of the Range Riders both agreed (in separate interviews) that the meet-and-greet had not been promoted well enough. Toman was not sure if a similar effort would be tried again next year; she said the Pikes Peak Range Riders leadership will make that decision at a later date.
Overall, Braaten said that she and Mitchell will make about 150 appearances this year in promoting the rodeo.
The Girl of the West is chosen through judging by a volunteer rodeo committee based on horse-handling skills and an interview/speech process - although the way it actually works is that each year an Aide is selected to serve the following year, and then she becomes the Girl of the West for the year after that.
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