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Courage Classic Marathon

Howard Lewis, 60, of Brush, is riding his bicycle 50 miles a day. By the second week in July, he'll be up to 75 miles at a shot. Is he nuts? Nope just nuts for kids.

By Rebecca Dudley, News-Tribune Publisher/Editor

Calling themselves the pedalitritions, Lewis and a group of classmates from Fort Morgan High Schools class of 1963 get together every summer to take part in the Courage Classic, a three-day bicycle tour, to raise money for Childrens Hospital Foundation in Denver. Each rider commits to raising a minimum of $250 in donations. To date, the 16-year-old Courage Classic has raised more than $13.1 million for the hospitals programs and research.

Most of us are professional men, teachers, counselors, engineers We are all 60 or older, and we all feel we have a stake in Childrens Hospital, Lewis said.

Lewis rides in memory of his younger brother, who died of an aneurysm at Childrens 40 years ago at the age of 13.

And, of course, over the years Ive know a lot of kids who were rushed to Childrens for other reasons. So, I ride for their parents, too, he said.

This years tour will be held July 16-18, beginning in Leadville and going through Summit County and back, traversing seven mountain passes.

Known as one of Colorados premiere cycling events, the Courage Classic offers something for nearly everyone with a variety of options. Theres the traditional three-day, 157-mile cycling adventure, a new century option on the tours second day, and, in its second year, the one-day, Frontier Airlines A Taste of Courage option.

Lewis and his group opt for the 157-mile tour, training for 12 to 14 weeks before the ride, and arriving in Leadville four days early in order to acclimate to the 10,140 foot elevation.

We start at 10,000 feet, then we climb, Lewis laughed.

The tours route takes riders up Hwy 24 and passes Ski Cooper and the Continental Divide. It proceeds up Battle Mountain, a long descent into Minturn, then up again into Vail and over Vail Pass. The first days finish line is Copper Mountain Resort. On day two the easy day, with only Ute Pass to climb, Lewis said riders travel 56 miles from Copper Mountain to Frisco, to Keystone, to Breckenridge and to Lake Dillon. Day three brings the highest climb of the tour 11,318 feet over Fremont Pass goes around past Turquoise Lake and heads back to Leadville.

According to Lewis, the routes are dotted with first aid stations, bicycle mechanics and vehicles called sag wagons for those who just cant pedal another foot.

I havent had to ride the sag wagon yet, Lewis said, noting that the only time he was ever picked up by a vehicle was during a lightning storm on Vail Pass. Otherwise, we have ridden through rain, snow and hail. We always bring rain gear.

Lewiss wife, Alice, will drive the couples fifth wheel trailer up to the mountains, where she will walk, take in the scenery and just enjoy getting away from it all, joining her husband each evening. The tour organizers arrange for entertainment following dinner, including some big name bands.

According to information provided by Childrens Hospital Foundation, funds raised this year are earmarked to help Childrens build a state-of-the-art facility at Fitzsimons and continue to provide important programs throughout the community, including The Handicapped Sports Program, The Childrens Hospital Cancer Center, The Childrens Hospital Heart Institute and its Newborn Center, all of which are nationally lauded as among the best for kids.

For more event information about the event, visit www.couragetours.com To donate, call Lewis at 842-4320.

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