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Subaru Elephant Rock Cycling festival

Cycling festival set to draw thousands to Castle Rock

Elephant Rock will be held at the Douglas County Fairgrounds June 4


When Scot Harris, event director of the Subaru Elephant Rock Cycling Festival, planned the first race roughly 30 years ago, he wasn’t expecting a big turnout.

Then, 1,200 people came.

This year, organizers expect 6,000 participants on June 4.

“We’ve had a lot of fun down there,” Harris said of the festival, which is held at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Castle Rock. “We’ve seen a lot of changes and a lot of growth in the event.”

This year for the 30th annual Elephant Rock, there will be five courses offered, Harris said, instead of the usual six. There’s an 8-mile, 27-mile, 40-mile, 62-mile and 100-mile race for cyclists to choose from.

“It’s a great ride,” Harris said.

The event used to feature an off-road course on a road that’s since been paved, Harris said, eliminating that course from the mix in 2017.

Cyclists finish their races at different times in the afternoon but there will be live music, food and a slew of vendors at the cycling festival to greet them afterward.

With the exception of its first two events, the festival has started and ended in Castle Rock every year.

“Castle Rock happens to be situated around lots of great cycling roads,” Harris said, naming Highway 105 and Highway 83 as two of his favorites.

The event began in 1987. Harris, who’s been event director for all 30 years, was working at a publication called Rocky Mountain Sports that wanted to hold a cycling event, and he was tasked with the planning and organizing.

“We knew that the community needed a spring cycling event. There just wasn’t anything at the time,” he said.

He’d never planned anything like it before, he said, nor had anyone else. Large-scale cycling races were just starting to gain popularity, he said, calling organizers at the time rookies.

“Nobody really knew how to manage an event,” he said. “We’ve all kind of grown up with it together. And so now, these Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Castle Rock Police and state patrol are absolute experts at pulling it off.”

This year, they’ll have a paid staff of 40 people, about 650 volunteers to assist riders and close to 70 officers working the festival, he said.

Jim Van Buskirk, of Highlands Ranch, has participated in 28 Elephant Rock races, including the very first event. Van Buskirk enjoys the 100-mile century race and the 62-mile metric century race.

He can recall the course that first year being a bit brutal, he said, although it’s since been adjusted to include fewer hills. Over the years, he says the event has become one he loves attending both as a cyclists and as someone who simply enjoys the festival activities.

“I’ll tell you, they’ve done a great job. It’s really amazing that a ride has lasted that long,” he said, noting the heightened family-friendly environment. “That’s just kind of fun to see that.”

Harris said registration for the event will stay open online through May 30, but people can still register the day of. And, he hopes they do.

“We just hope,” Harris said, “everyone will come ride with us.”


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