Photo by Paul Kumm.

The story of how YGR came to be.

When I moved to town in July of 1999, Fort Collins already had a very well-established cycling scene, hell, that’s why I moved here. The road racing and riding were world-renowned, the mountain bike trail system was rowdy, especially on a 26” aluminum hardtail and the town already had an extensive bike path and bike lane network. The issue was, like most cycling communities, the communication was a tad disconnected. If you weren’t on the right email list, rides, races and other events would happen without your knowledge. If you were out of the loop, you’d hear about a race series two weeks after it had ended. It was impossible to know when group rides were starting back up for the season, who was going and what the route was going to be if you didn’t get the email (if there even was an email). I remember missing the start of my very first Worlds because the only thing I knew about it was that it started “out by the Bud Plant at 5:00 pm”. Other important cycling news would come and go unnoticed. Chris Stockburger won Nationals again!? The city is shutting down trails at Pine Ridge Natural Area?! Wait, Meredith Miller lives in Fort Collins?! I considered myself fairly well connected and only found out about a weekly time trial series when I came upon it during a training ride. These issues persisted and even expanded for the better part of a decade. Finally, by 2008 I had grown frustrated enough, and internet blogs had become user-friendly enough that I decided to launch a site. Complaining about the problem and suggesting that others should start a Fort Collins cycling website wasn’t working.

So, with zero web design/development experience and while working full-time on federal background investigations in Loveland, I anonymously launched The Group Ride as a WordPress blog on Halloween of 2008. It took about 30 seconds for Rich Davis to out me as the admin on the forum hosted on the site. So much for being anonymous. Much like today’s site, the blog hosted group ride details, race flyers, local team information, local cycling news and so forth. It was militantly pro Oval and Wednesday Worlds and anti-everything else (I’ve softened on that a little). It had a blogroll and a forum, both have since been replaced by Facebook. When I launched the original site, I had no intention of monetizing it. I wasn’t planning on running events or charging for advertising. It was just a selfish community service grown out of my own frustration at the lack of centralized cycling information. I had a full-time job and even though I hated it, I wasn’t actively trying to start a business to get away from it. The blog proved to be pretty popular amongst local riders, so much so that I thought I might be able to sell some ads. I decided to turn the blog into an actual website with more options for things like classified sections, menu flexibility, robust plugins and even advertisers’ banners. In January of 2009, I posted an ad on Craigslist looking for someone to build a website for me. My only stipulation was that once it was done, I needed to be able to manage it myself. I didn’t want to have to email someone every time I wanted to add an advertiser banner or make a minor change to the site. Within 24 hours, I received dozens of bids ranging from a few hundred dollars to six grand. Most of the professionals were suggesting that the site be built using WordPress or Joomla software. The common theme for both of those platforms was once you figure it out, it’s easy to use. So, being the cheap bastard that I am, I pulled that ad down and posted one asking for someone to teach me how to use Joomla. I spent a day with a web designer from Greeley and six weeks building out the new Your Group Ride website. It launched on February 22, 2009. You’ll notice I changed the name, that’s because some guy on the Eastcoast owned the web address and the blog originally had a free WordPress URL. The guy wasn’t using the URL at the time but he also wasn’t replying to my requests to buy it from him. It’s now a podcast out of the PNW (I wonder how that came about) and it hasn’t been updated since 2018. Anyway, after I rolled out the new site traffic continued to increase and after a few months of building momentum, I started looking for advertisers. I hit up the usual suspects on the cycling scene; New Belgium, the Rio, Lee’s Cyclery and much to my surprise (and even more to my wife’s surprise) they were all on board. On July 1st, 2009, YGR was accepting paying advertisers. Over the years, many advertisers have come and gone but RioPat with the Rio, the New Belgium crew, Mike Weber- Keller Williams, Matt Skrdla-Spex, Dave and Pete with Yampa Sandwich and Lori Graves with Morning Fresh/Howling Cow have been around since the early days. VeloFix, VanMeveren Law, 1st City Mortgage, GroundScapes, Narrow Path Financial, Alpine Dental and Bike Sports have more recently filled the gaps as advertisers have come and gone. Regardless of how long they were involved, I sincerely appreciate the support of every advertiser that has ever had a banner flying on the site.

Over the next decade-plus, YGR became the primary source of cycling news for Northern Colorado. Although it had a reputation for being a roadie site, I never considered it to be one. I’ve worked hard to represent and support mountain bikers, ‘crossers, commuters, roadies and now gravel riders to the best of my ability. Why? Because I have each one of those bikes hanging in my garage and I ride and race them as often as I can.

YGR has hosted dozens of races, group rides (that ride to Denver to submit the USA Pro Cycling Challenge bid was sort of a big deal), fundraisers, clinics and it has brought attention to several local cycling advocacy initiatives. We’ve helped restructure, relocate and rejuvenate Wednesday Night Worlds (a few times) and other rides. While the primary focus was and is competitive cycling, we also cover issues that are important to local cyclists in general such as local elections, crimes against cyclists, cycling infrastructure, and trail issues. We’ve worked with the city to add a cyclocross skills course at Rossborough Park. We’ve worked to bring the USGP of Cyclocross and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge to town. Smaller adventures include locating two different stolen bikes and returning them to their rightful owners, getting into a minor turf war over a short section of bike path that I advocated for and am currently maintaining since a neighbor keeps covering it with snow and gravel (the city is working to fix this, by the way) and bringing awareness to the county about how bummed we all were when they closed the Better than the Road Trail. Thankfully, they reconsidered the closure.

Over the years, the content of YGR has expanded from basic news and event coverage and group ride updates to include features like 10 Tracks (almost 100 DJs and 1000 songs on Spotify), What Happened to..?, Ride Reviews, Gear Reviews (Thanks DesFit), 20-ish Questions, and user-generated articles. More recently, YGR has expanded and is now covering local history that is of interest to cyclists. Although we no longer have a forum on the site, our social media outreach includes Facebook, Instagram, Strava, YGR Radio on Spotify and the NoCo Cycling Facebook group. The website hosts the NoCo Cycling Calendar, the Cyclist Owned Business Database, and information on all local group rides, races and events. We display dozens of local road and gravel routes, mtb trails and cyclocross feature locations.

Thanks to YGR advertisers and supporters, over a decade ago I was able to go from full-time, to part-time to eventually quitting a cubical job that I hated. I had the unique opportunity to run YGR and stay home with all three of my kids before they started school as kindergartners. I am proud and grateful that I was able to support my wife as she worked full time as a teacher, completed her master’s degree in education and administration and most recently battled and beat breast cancer.

Since the site’s inception, there have been three or four iterations but with the exception of the transition from blog to a website, nothing compares to the complete page-by-page rebuild the site underwent during the winter of 2022. Justin VanAlstyne, of JMV Digital, did an amazing job. The YGR logo also got a complete makeover thanks to Rick Vanderleak. After years of kicking around the idea, the site started accepting NPR-style contributions from readers. The YGR Time Trials are also back after a two-year hiatus which is super neat.

Thirteen years and thousands or possibly millions of typos later (seriously, sorry about all those), YGR is still going strong and dare I say, better than ever. I’d like to give a sincere thank you to everyone who has visited the site, liked a post, been a sounding board for my crazy-ass ideas, lent their skills or expertise, came to an event, frequented a YGR advertiser and especially those YGR advertisers. YGR would not be here without each and every one of you. Most importantly, I would also like to thank my wife Sara for her support as I developed and continue to improve the site. I’m sure I could have made more money had I continued down the corporate path, but I wouldn’t be nearly as happy and our family wouldn’t have had as many fun adventures had I been tied to a desk job. Thankfully she understands the value the site brings to our community and to our family.

You can learn more about me here.

You can support the site here.

YGR Timeline:

  • 2008 The Group Ride blog launched on WordPress. Oct 31st
  • 2009 I go part-time at Kroll Government Solutions. The July before my first daughter was born.
  • 2009 New Belgium, Rio, Lee’s, Become Fit, and El Monte sign on as advertisers. New Belgium was the first onboard. July 1st, 2009.
  • 2009 Rio Swap (Oct 16th, 2009) (Moved to Feb so no swap in 2010 or 2021 or 2022 due to COVID)
  • 2009 Your Group Ride website launched on Joomla. Feb 22nd
  • 2010 Crazy Joe Cross, I took over from Joe Sap after he moved. I held it at what is now Twin Silo Park and got into trouble with the Parks Department. Moved to Bush Acres in 2011. No races 2019? 2020,2021.
  • 2010-Horsetooth Time Trial (no races in 2020 or 2021) (First race March 15th, 2010. Started with Jon Garcia as prep for Gila)
  • 2010 Taft Hill Time Trial Series (no races in 2020 or 2021) (first race May 25th, 2010) (Started as prep for State Time Trial Championships)
  • 2011 Double Damn Dams Time Trial Series (no races in 2020 or 2021) (First race July 12th 2011) Started as CX prep)
  • 2012 July -High Park Fire Fundraiser at Bush Acres- $4344.25 to the Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department.
  • 2012 LOC Member for US Pro Challenge
  • 2012 US Pro Cycling Challenge Bid Ride-November.
  • 2013 Volunteer Coordinator US Pro Cycling Challenge- August.
  • 2013 With Sully on the way and the babysitter retiring from childcare Dan goes full-time on YGR. Last day at Kroll Government Solutions was Oct 4th.
  • 2013- Sep 24th Big Thompson Flood Fundraiser at Bush Acres-$3200.00 to the American Red Cross.
  • 2014 Wounded Rider Program to support injured cyclists.
  • 2017 Rossborough Cyclocross Skills Course process started in earnest. The first email was sent in 2016.
  • 2019 Rossborough Cyclocross Skills Course Pilot Program was successful.
  • 2020 Rossborough Cyclocross Skills Course becomes seasonally permanent. Aug-Dec.
  • 2021 first of 80 3′ to Pass and Bikes May Use Full Lane signs installed in Larimer County. Worked with Bike Fort Collins, the Scott Ellis Memorial Fund- Gale Bernhardt, CDOT and Larimer County
  • .2021 New Format to Wednesday Night Worlds rolled out after 2020 COVD break. March.
  • 2022 website rebuilt and redesigned on WordPress. New logo and YGR branding. (add release date)
  • 2022 YGR started accepting financial contributions from supporters. Feb.

Website Versions:

  • Site Launch, Oct 31st 2008-V1- WordPress blog.
  • Rebuilt Feb 22nd, 2009-V2 Joomla.
  • Rebuilt 2013-V3 Joomla.
  • Rebuilt April/May 2016 V4 Joomla.
  • Rebuilt April 2022 V5 WordPress website.