As you may know, Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the US and south western Colorado is spectacular when it comes to a place to cycle. One day at my local bike shop – Campus Cycles in Denver, www.campuscycles.com, I picked up a book called "Road Biking Colorado The Statewide Guide" www.roadbikingcolorado.com by Michael Seeberg. This is a great book and for anyone wanting the perfect guide for cycling in Colorado, I highly recommend it. In the book the rides are listed by level of difficulty – Easy –Moderate –Difficult – Very Difficult. Personally wanting to conquer the most difficult ride in Colorado, I found what is called the DEATH RIDE LOOP – page 232-233 – listed Very Difficult. This is a spectacular loop made up of several highways in southwestern Colorado called the San Juan Skyway including US Highway 550 known as the Million Dollar Highway which you will experience right away on Day One from Silverton to Ouray over Red Mountain Pass.
The book calls the DEATH RIDE LOOP one of the INSANE - one day rides and is listed as one of the finest in the country. Well I would agree, however, I am not insane so my idea was to make this a pleasurable tour – not an insane one day ride. Remember we are calling a three day tour, 235 mile ride over 5 mountain passes with 16,500 plus feet of climbing – a pleasurable tour. Anyone who has done this loop before knows just how pleasurable it was. Maybe rewarding – I just wouldn’t call it really pleasurable.
Death Ride Tour - Silverton to Silverton Loop - 235 Miles
So now this annual event is known as The DEATH RIDE Tour...Ride To Defeat ALS...For Those Who Care.
To make this tour even more worthwhile, I decided to make it a fund raiser in memory of my Mom, Rhoda Sopinsky who passed away suddenly at the age of 80 on November 16, 2008 and in memory of my Father, Irvin Sopinsky who died of ALS ( Lou Gehrig’s Disease) at the age of 45 when I was 13.
In 2009 to honor my parents, we planted flags in each city’s cemetery – Silverton, Telluride and Durango to honor their memory.
Original flag design from 2009 inaugural tour
Actual tombstones of my parents in Buffalo, NY with Deb, Brandon & Rachel
That year and ever year since then I carry one of those flags to the top of each pass to celebrate the achievement and again remember why I am here doing this event.
Every year I invite participants to sign the flag. Each signature represents a commitment to Ride Strong… Live Strong…And Give Back (Tzedakah) More Than You Get.
At the end of the 2011 event on Monday heading back from Silverton to Denver I received a phone call. My man said his name was Paul Beaber and he worked at the Hillside Cemetery. He had gotten my phone number from one of the riders he meet in town. Paul said that late in 2009 the flag at Hillside had fallen down and he raised it again. Then he said it happened again in 2010 – again Paul raised the flag. In 2011 he raised it again and secured it with rebar and rocks. He told me that day that the flag was in good shape and should be good for many more years to come. Well what a way to end a great event. Truly a story of Tzedakah – Giving Back. Thank-You Paul…Thank –You very much.
Well a couple of weeks before the 2012 event, the winds in Silverton got up over 70 miles an hour. Paul called me and informed me that our flag planted in Hilltop Cemetery had blown down and gotten ripped. I told Paul – no problem – I’ll print another and he said “you get it to me, and I’ll replant it. This time instead of using a mop handle as our flag pole, Paul said he had a sturdy piece of iron that he would use to make it even more secure. Again, Paul’s act of Tzedakah – giving back without wanting anything for himself continues to fuel my inspiration for this event. Thank you Paul; you are an Angel of Life.
In years past we have started the Tour at the Hillside Cemetery in Silverton to pay our respects for those we have lost in our lives. Since 2011 our group has gotten too big to do this at the cemetery so the Day One opening ceremony will take place on Greene Street with the presentations of the Angel of Life Awards.
2011 Angel of Life Award Recipients Victor Frandsen & Paul Hields.
|Barry Sopinsky & 2013 Angel of Life John Rehl||Barry Sopinsky & 2013 #1 Finisher & Angel of Life
|2013 Angel of Life – Barbara Hurd||2013 Angel of Life – Gary Horton|
|Kris Mann & Matt Dunn – Angel of Life and 2 of the Original Heavenly Eleven. Kris & Matt were there in 2009 for the first DEATH RIDE Tour.|
|2015 Angel of Life Recipients Noni & Andy Bacon|
|2015 Angel of Life - Robert Heyl||2015 Angel of Life – Deborah Sopinsky|
|In addition the following received Angel of Life status for the 2015 event: Brian & Teri Tapella, Mike Besser, David Janssen, Ron Cardwell, Jameson Ludiam, Terry Gorsuch and Ed Hoffman.|
The Angel of Life Award is presented to participants of the event you show or provide unselfish commitment to the mission and values of the DEATH RIDE Tour – Ride Strong…Live Strong …And Give Back (Tzedakah) More Than You Get
Past recipients: VeloSoul Cyclery,Campus Cycles, Rock Creek Associates, Starfiber, FlorStor.com, Charles Homer Cathcart III – CHC3, Gary Horton, David Fiore, Robert Vincent, Bryan & Teri Tapella, Rodger & Tana Wrublik, Shasta Nicolef, Larry Gruel, Chris Wheeler, Matt Lepore, Terry Gorsuch , Tim Miller, Steve Sparks, Deborah Sopinsky, Todd Gruenhagen, Rob Busch, David Janssen, Kirk McCarville, John Hawley, Joseph Brady, Rex Robichaux, John Rehl, Tim McCarthy, Maryjean Noland, Julie Stoligrosz, Nacy Hayer, Julie Toleson, Melissa Thompson and Barbara Hurd.
What kind of support is available?
2016 DEATH RIDE Tour Logistics Provider – Open Road Adventures a Division of Hermosa Tours
The DEATH RIDE Tour is happy to announce that Matt McFee and the team at Open Road Adventures a Division of Hermosa Tours from Durango will be the official Logistics Provider of the DEATH RDE Tour. Hermosa & Open Roads Adventures will be providing a full course of Aid Stations, SAG Support and Luggage Transfer. More logistical information supplied under FAQs and the Schedule of Events.
2016 DEATH RIDE Tour Medical Support Provider – Event Medical Solutions
We are your neighbors, friends, and family. We are the EMTs and paramedics that you have known and trusted for years. We are bikers, skiers, runners, snowboarders, climbers, and outdoors men/women just like you. We are experienced emergency medical professionals and event competitors who have seen, first hand, how an understaffed, unorganized or partially equipped event medical …
2016 DEATH Ride Tour Mechanical Support Provider – VeloSoul
Zach Hepher and his VeloSoul team will be providing excellent on site mechanical support. It is the responsibility of each participant to make sure your bicycle is in proper working condition. It is recommended that you take your bike to your local bike shop and have them completely go through it and tune it.
You should be prepared on a daily basis to fix flat tires and minor mechanical requirements. Zach and VeloSoul staff will be available in the evenings to check through your bicycle and provide minor tune ups. If something serious happens, VeloSoul, Hermosa Tours & the DEATH RIDE Tour will make every effort to get your bicycle repaired and you back on the road.
Velosoul owner Zach Hepner providing service at 2012 DEATH RIDE Tour IV
Zach & Barry at the end of 2012 DEATH RIDE Tour IV
Campus Cycles has been with the DEATH RIDE Tour since inception and provides Mechanical Support and also great moral support. Thanks very much to the entire staff and especially Steve Bell along with owners Mark Velat & Bobby Verenna.
Barry & Steve Bell – 2010 DEATH RIDE Tour
Nutriution Sponsor of the DEATH RIDE Tour
HISTORY OF HONEY STINGER