Highlights in the History of the Santa Fe Century
The BeginningThe Santa Fe Century was started in 1985 by the Sangre de Cristo Bicycle Club as a way to raise money for racer uniforms and entry fees. After a few years, Willard Chilcott (1928-2018) took over the leadership of the Santa Fe Century, splitting off from the Sangre de Cristo Bicycle Club, and funds raised from the event went back into growing the ride.
The ride has always been held on the third Sunday in May because the weather is starting to warm up but is not yet too hot. It is one of the first century cycling events of the spring and attracts many riders from the north, such as Colorado, where the season has not yet started. Sunday was chosen with an aim to have the least amount of traffic on the route. In the early years, the ride started from the parking lot of what was then called Villa Linda Mall (now known as the Santa Fe Place Mall). The mall served as a great starting point with little traffic on Sundays as the stores were closed. In those days 50 - 70 riders participated and rode the 100 mile route.
At the beginning, cell service was unavailable on the route and communication with the food stops was difficult. The Century partnered with Richard St. John and the New Mexico Ham Operator Association. The Ham operators use the Century as a Ham exercise and add tremendous value for the Century. There is a Ham operator at every food stop and between food stops, to communicate with the venue. Even now that cell service covers most of the route, the Ham operators continue to be a part of the Century and facilitate communication on the route.
Around the 2nd or 3rd year, the ride moved to Capshaw Middle School because it offered parking as well as a kitchen and use of the facilities. As the ride grew to around 1,000 riders, it also outgrew the parking offered by Capshaw and began to spill over into the Albertson's parking lot which was already full of Sunday shoppers.
Brenda Whyman, of the St. Vincent Hospital Foundation and an avid bicyclist, suggested that the ride move to hospital parking lot which is virtually empty on Sundays. In 2018, the Century was held at the Santa Fe Community College for the first time. We are excited about the opportunities that this new location offers.
About 20 years into the ride, the 50 mile ride was added as an option. Initially the 50 mile ride required mountain bikes because six miles of the route was not paved. Around a decade ago, that final stretch of road on CR 42 between Highway 14 and Galisteo was paved. It is now a fabulous and beautiful road ride.
Celebrated 30 Years in 2015In 2015, the Santa Fe Century celebrated its 30th year (1985 - 2015)!
As part of the celebration, each rider was given a commemorative print.
Santa Fe Century DayIt is with great honor and pride that Sunday, May 17, 2015 was proclaimed Santa Fe Century Day by both Mayor Javier Gonzales of the City of Santa Fe and Governor Susana Martinez of the State of New Mexico.
Getting FormalSanta Fe Century Committee became a non-profit formal non-profit organization around 2005.
FondosIn 2013, the Gran Fondo was created by Michael McCalla in partnership with the Santa Fe Century. The Gran Fondo was initially run separately from the Century, but utilized the same route and food stops. In 2015, the Gran Fondo become fully incorporated into the Santa Fe Century. 2015 was also the first year to offer the Medio Fondo.
Passing the BatonIn 2013, the Century almost was cancelled when Willard became ill. At that time Charles Loesch stepped in to ensure the ride would continue. Charles was the Director of the Century until his passing in 2016. The 2017 Century was dedicated to his legacy. Charles asked Michael McCalla to take over for 2017 and 2018. Willard Chilcott remained as involved with the Century as he was able until his death in early 2018, and the 2018 Century was dedicated to his memory and his mission for the Century: to provide a low cost ride with beautiful scenery and as many services as possible, especially excellent food stops. The mission of the Santa Fe Century continues to be to promote cycling in New Mexico. For 2019, Mickey Fong and Susie DeLapp were named as co-directors of the Santa Fe Century. In 2020, Matt Piccarello took over the reins of this 35 year old New Mexico biking tradition.
Community InvolvementThe Santa Fe Century is thankful for the 130 volunteers that have continuously supported the ride over many years. These long-standing volunteers return year after year and make the ride possible. The Century also partners with many local organizations to deliver the ride services, including the New Mexico Ham Association, Century Bank, bicycle shops, massage therapists, and the Santa Fe Concert Band.
The Santa Fe Century donates to the Santa Fe Community College Foundation. The Santa Fe Century also sponsors the Santa Fe Public Library Reading program, donating 15-20 bikes every year to young students who achieve their reading goals.
In 2012, the Century saw its highest number of riders - about 2,900. Riders typically come from New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Arizona and California. Each year a number of riders also come across the US and abroad.