By any definition, Mark Gundlach is a fan of the outdoors.
An avid cyclist, skier and fisherman, Gundlach initially launched Day of the Tread as a way to get people – kids especially – moving.
“We wanted to start an event that would get kids excited,” Gundlach said. “They love music, and they love to dress up in costume around Halloween. That’s how the Day of the Tread was born, through an active group of us that wanted to connect youth and families with movement. When you move, you become more active, more healthy. Families ride bikes together. It’s been a special journey, that’s for sure.”
Now entering its 16th year, Day of the Tread is like a Halloween party on two wheels. Billed as an event for cyclists of all ages and skill levels, rides range from seven to 100 miles, and proceeds benefit the Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation’s Tread Setters Adaptive Cycling Program. This year’s event is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 23.
“When we first started out, we probably had six or seven kids (that) were coached through the Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation (program),” Gundlach said. “They were coached and the parents would ride with them. Now we’re probably up to 20-25 kids, with usually maybe 50-60 adults and children. We call them athletes that are part of the program that ride in our event every year.”
The rides begin on 20th Street NW in Albuquerque’s Sawmill District, with start times staggered by length. No individual event is timed – with the exception of the newly-added Hill Climb Challenge.
“All the other routes, we celebrate the fall, the end of the cycling season,” Gundlach said. “It’s not timed. It’s just a ride. It’s for fun and people stop along the way, take pictures.”
Different routes come with different attractions. Every ride hits the Bosque Trail at some point, which allows for viewing of the fall colors. There’s a 23-mile ride that ends at El Pinto restaurant, which comes complete with complimentary sopaipillas, or there’s a 12-mile trek to the Los Ranchos Rail Runner station, where cyclists return by train to the Downtown Rail Station and are escorted the final 1.9 miles back to the Sawmill District (This race is limited to the first 120 riders who register.)
There are recharge stations located approximately every 7-12 miles, where participants can rehydrate while enjoying snacks and live music. The closing ceremony is a post-event celebration known as Treadfest, which takes place at Sawmill Market. Additionally, those who don’t want to ride can participate in a 4K fun walk through Old Town and the Sawmill District.
Half the fun is seeing everyone dressed in various Halloween and Day of the Dead-themed costumes. About 30% of cyclists usually dress up, according to Gundlach. Those participating in longer rides are less likely to wear anything that might impede their vision or movement. Those with shorter distances to traverse can get quite creative, however.
“There’s one family (that dresses up as a) dragon. It’s amazing how realistic it looks,” Gundlach said. “The kids are behind the tandem bike and they’re in the trailer. They’re a part of it. There’s four family members that make up this significantly long dragon that’s 25 feet long.”
By any measure, Gundlach’s venture has proven to be a success. He estimates this year’s version of Day of the Tread will feature more than 2,000 participants from 30-plus states – along with over 300 volunteers.
“We have this amazing climate and amazing accessibility to the outdoors,” Gundlach said. “For us to have that many states represented, it says a lot about how people view New Mexico and their desire to come here.”