Jun 25, 2011 7:38 PM by John Romero
It's that time of the year again when tourists and competitors alike take to the top of America's Mountain for the Annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Local merchants couldn't be any happier about it.
Eric Bala and his wife have been running the Rainbow Lodge near Manitou Springs for the past 12 years. He says Hill Climb week keeps all 40 of his rooms full during the race and sometimes even longer after that. "When you have 40 rooms filled with the motorcycle racers who stay for a week and sometimes even longer, there's a significant economical impact." he explains.
And it's not just the hotels. Just a mile or 2 down the road a brand new specialty shop is having a good summer too. "There's great foot traffic down here. It's everything to us." says Larry Sizemore with Mya Bella Cupcakes in Old Colorado City. The store has only been in its new location for 4 months, but is cracking out the sweet treats at a blistering pace thanks in part to tourism and events like the Hill Climb. "Territory Days was huge I think for this whole part of Old Colorado City." says Sizemore, "When you see things like the Hill Climb, it just adds to the whole atmosphere of what's going on down here."
But it's not just about the money. Staying at places like The Rainbow have become an institution and a yearly pilgrimage for many of the Hill Climb alums, making everyone's guests more than just people passing through. "This is like family time!" laughs Bala, "Like a family picnic or a family reunion every year. And sometimes you get new family members coming in but this is a family reunion at its best!"