Kremmling, CO to Elk Springs, CO
"Race to Respond" Cyclists Traverse Rocky Mountains
"Race to Respond" cyclists and support team members (from left) Konstantin Kanelis, Michael Tsakalos, Kerry SanChirico, Zack Burkett, Jim Angelus, Lynn Angelus, Dan Christopulos and Alex Mazarakos, along with cyclist Constantine "Dino" Davlantis (at rear) celebrate reaching the summit of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. Angelus' twin sons, Nicholas (left) and Evan, help hold the IOCC banner.
Cyclist Constantine "Dino" Davlantis (left) and Konstantin Kanelis ascend Trail Ridge Road on Day 17 of the "Race to Respond."
"Race to Respond" cyclist Michael Tsakalos enjoy a moment at 12,005 feet above sea level in Colorado's Rocky Mountains near the summit of Trail Ridge Road on Monday, Aug. 19.
Constantine "Dino" Davlantis climbs Trail Ridge Road on Monday, Aug. 19.
"Race to Respond" cyclists (from left) Constantine "Dino" Davlantis, Alex Mazarakos, Jim Angelus, Konstantin Kanelis and Michael Tsakalos receive a proclamation from Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos during an event Aug. 19 at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Craig, Colo.
The "Race to Respond" cyclists gather with parishioners of St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Craig, Colo., for a midday event on Aug. 19.
The "Race to Respond" cycling and support teams conquer Trail Ridge.
Konstantin Kanelis rides up Trail Ridge Road on Day 17 of the "Race to Respond."
Constantine "Dino" Davlantis (left) and Konstantin Kanelis ascend Trail Ridge Road.
Konstantin Kanelis (left) and Constantine "Dino" Davlantis enjoy a moment in the breath-taking beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Estes Park, Colo. (IOCC) The five cyclists of the "Race to Respond" climbed a mountain on Monday, Aug. 19 - a reminder of the uphill struggle that people served by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) face every day.
The cyclists reached their goal to climb Trail Ridge Road, the highest paved road in the United States through a combination of hard work, teamwork and preparation.
"This is something I've been training for for two years," a jubilant Jim Angelus said upon reaching the Alpine Visitor Center in Rocky Mountain National Park, an elevation of 11,796 feet above sea level.
Angelus and the four other cyclists started up Trail Ridge early Monday morning, conquering it after only 3½ hours. The 25-mile climb took them past beautiful vistas of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, including Bighorn Mountain (11,463 feet), Sundance Mountain (12,466 feet) and the Fall River Pass.
"It was the most beautiful ride of my life," said cyclist Michael Tsakalos. "It was so exhilarating, especially when you looked back and saw how far you had come. It was cool getting above the tree line. You look and you realize, 'We're high: Even trees can't grow up here.' "
"It was just as beautiful as Jim and the others had said it would be," said cyclist Alex Mazarakos.
Despite all the build-up for Monday's 7,000-foot climb, the cyclists said the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania were more difficult.
"It wasn't as steep as we thought it would be (on Trail Ridge)," Mazarakos said. "I just took my time." The grade was about 5.4 percent, whereas the grade on some of the Pennsylvania mountains was 7 percent.
The cyclists said they felt the effects of the high altitude, especially at the subalpine and alpine zones, more than anything. "Slow and steady" was Angelus' advice as he prepared the riders for what was to come. Support vehicles stayed close to the cyclists for the entire climb.
After Trail Ridge, the cyclists continued their ride in the rugged ranch country of northwest Colorado. They stopped for an afternoon event at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Craig, Colo., where they were greeted by parishioners and the Very Rev. Makarios Mannos, parish pastor.
The Greek Orthodox community in Craig dates back to the turn of the century, when Greek immigrants traveled west to work in coal mines and sheep ranches, said parish council President Nick Charchalis.
After a meal, IOCC Development Officer Dan Christopulos gave a presentation on IOCC's humanitarian mission and how the "Race to Respond" serves that mission.
"These five guys turned their compassion into action," he said of the cyclists. "If we really love, as we're commanded by Jesus to do, then we're called to do something."
St. John's parishioner and Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos gave the cyclists a proclamation from the county. "It truly is an honor to have you here," she said.
As the cyclists "race" across the country, their mission is to highlight IOCC's own "race" to respond to the needs of people suffering from natural disaster, famine and civil unrest. The "Race to Respond" team hopes to raise $250,000, which will go to support programs assisting impoverished communities around the world.
To learn more about the "Race to Respond" or to make a donation in support of the cycling team, log on to www.racetorespond.org or visit the IOCC website at www.iocc.org.
The Race is presented by Advantage Plus Inc., a nutritional supplement company based in Tampa, Fla. Other sponsors include Light Street Cycles in Baltimore, Md., The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer newspaper, Marcus & Millichap, a real estate investment brokerage company, and Rocky Mountain Orthodox Christian Charities and Missions, Inc.
On Tuesday, Aug. 20, the cyclists are riding from Elk Springs, Colo., to Duchesne, Utah.