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The Buffalo Bicycle Classic rides again Sunday -- as long as the Fourmile Fire smoke isn t too bad.
The Buffalo Bicycle Classic rides again Sunday — as long as the Fourmile Fire smoke isn t too bad.

When University of Colorado grad Marta Kostelny received a letter saying she’d been awarded a scholarship by the Buffalo Bicycle Classic, she was surprised since she hadn’t applied for one.

“When I got it, I questioned, did this go to the right person?” she asked.

As a student paying her way through work and loans, the scholarship — one of 102 awarded to arts and sciences students in need with good grades — was very helpful, she said.

“It helped me with school, because it took some of that stress off my mind so I could focus on my studies,” Kostelny said. She graduated in 2007 with a business degree.

“We have the pleasure of sending them a terrific letter that says, ‘Congratulations, let us support you through college,'” said Todd Gleeson, dean of CU’s College of Arts and Sciences and a founder of the ride. “And it’s one of the most rewarding things we do.”

If you go

What: Buffalo Bicycle Classic

When: Rider check-in starts at 6:30 a.m. Sunday

Where: Start/finish on CU campus at Colorado Avenue and Folsom Street

Organizers hope this Sunday’s Buffalo Bicycle Classic will draw 2,500 cyclists and about $200,000 for the scholarship fund the Classic supports. The ride is the largest single scholarship source for the College of Arts and Sciences, which doles out the money based on its students’ needs and academic performance.

And as such a large funding source, organizers are concerned about how the Fourmile Fire could effect this year’s ride — and thus the scholarships.

“There are students whose ability to remain at CU kind of depends on this” scholarship, said Clint Talbott, publications coordinator for the college.

Gleeson said organizers will make the call about whether the ride will be re-routed to avoid smoke and the firefighters staged at the Boulder Reservoir — or even be cancelled — some time today and post it on the ride’s website.

“As of today, the ride is on,” Gleeson said Wednesday.

The ride-for-scholarships idea behind the Buffalo Bicycle Classic was cooked up by Gleeson and 1962 CU grad Woody Eaton.

“Woody and I rode another charity event and started talking about the possibility of doing this as a scholarship fundraiser for the college,” Gleeson said.

The first Buffalo Bicycle Classic was in 2003.

“When we sat down and decided to do this, we figured we would lose money the first year and maybe the second year,” Gleeson said. “And we had 800 riders the first year and made $25,000 that year. So we were able to offer some scholarships right out of the gate.”

“The ride now has grown to 2,500 riders, and we support 102 students on scholarship.”

Gleeson said that if a student wins the scholarship as a freshman, the Classic provides a $9,000 windfall.

“I was able to pay my way through college working through the summer,” Gleeson said. “Students can’t do that anymore. So scholarships are terribly important.”

The ride starts on campus and has options ranging from the 14-mile “Little Buffalo” to a 100 miler that climbs to Carter Lake and beyond.

Cyclists who participate in the ride will get to meet scholarship recipients along the way — they volunteer during the event.

“The riders greatly appreciate this, because they get to meet who it is they’re riding for,” Gleeson said.

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