SENT | Chris Giovagnoni | 719 Ride and Shield 616 Ride

August 24, 2018 | Written by Chris Giovagnoni

SENT is part of a new weekly series telling stories of people at Pulpit Rock living missionally in their unique contexts. We believe that all of us have been SENT into our neighborhoods, workplaces and city. Our hope is that you are encouraged and inspired to lean into the places God has called you. And then we’d like to tell your story. Because we know that the story of God’s people is the story of God. If you have a story you would like to share with us send it to

Recently you put on a community bike event, can you tell us about it? 

I call it an event, but it’s really more of an occasion. And by occasion, I mean it’s an excuse to a do a challenging bike ride. I call it the 719 Ride. It’s a 71.9 mile ride with more than 7,190’ of elevation gain that starts at 7:19 a.m. on July 19 in the 719 area code.

Hopefully, the ride will grow into a true event where people put it on their calendar and make it a priority to come out, whether they’re riding in it or cheering on someone who is. Several classic cycling events in Colorado and other states have started off with just a few friends doing something “crazy” or challenging and now those events have thousands of riders. Maybe the 719 Ride has a future like that.

For now, the 719 Ride simply aspires to event status. It aspires to be something that contributes to the culture and identity developing in Colorado Springs. It aspires to be a positive part of the city’s traditions.

The 719 Ride route is just shy of a 14-mile loop that a rider does over and over and over again. Plus, a couple more overs to get to the full 71.9 mile distance. I mapped out the course in this manner because laps are spectator friendly, and they make it easy for a rider to handle his or her own food and gear support.

Doing laps also adds to the challenge of the ride. Distance is difficult. Distance with lots of climbing is more difficult. And distance that requires you to climb the same hills repeatedly is harder still.

And because the ride is comprised of laps, it can be done by people of varying fitness levels.  The signature distance of 71.9 miles offers a pretty good challenge for more serious cyclists because it has nearly 9,000’ feet of climbing, but it’s not necessary to do the five laps in order to participate.

Most of the people who have participated the past three years have done between one and three laps.

Where did the idea for the 719 Ride start? 

The inspiration for the 719 Ride came from the 2-5-10 Century in Emmaus, PA. I read about it in Bicycling Magazine in 2016.

The 2-5-10 is always held on the second rest day of the Tour de France. It is 10 loops over the three toughest hills in Emmaus, and it comes with significantly more climbing than you’ll find in most one-day road ride cycling events in Colorado.

When I read the brief write-up about the Century, I had a few thoughts right away.

• I want to do something like that.
• I bet a few others might too.
• The second rest day this year (2016) is July 19.
• July 19. 7/19. COS is the 719. Hmmm. How about a 71.9 mile ride with 7,190’ of climbing? Oh! It could start at 7:19 a.m. 🙂

At the time I read about the 2-5-10, COS I Love You was being talked about extensively at Pulpit Rock. The conversations came on the heels of many messages about PRC being in the “heart of the city,” serving the city, etc. Messages which did resonate much with me because I didn’t really like our city.

I had moved to Colorado Springs for a job in 2007 and never really took to Colorado Springs. I hated it actually. But by 2016 the city had begun to change. It felt different. The government had a vision and plan for what the city should be. New businesses and cultural opportunities started to pop up. The city began to feel alive, and I realized I was excited about it.

God did a lot of work to get me to that point. He jammed his fingers into a lot of emotional stuff that had me depressed, angry, resentful, and a host of other not-so-nice or -fun emotions. My new opinion of the city was a by-product of a nine-year journey to greater maturity.

I started associating the 719 Ride idea in my mind with the COS I Love You initiative because I felt like the ride was a way to say that I did indeed love this city. The miracle of that is a result of God’s pressure in my life. In many ways, the 719 Ride is an altar to God — an offering of thanks and trust — for how he picked at my scabs and brought some pain and then some healing into my heart. I wasn’t really aware of the changes that had occurred in me until I realized that my view of Colorado Springs had changed.

What was a favorite memory from this year? 

I’ve been a bit hesitant in the past to talk about the ride because I’ve been afraid people will think it’s silly or dumb and by extension that I’m dumb. However, during this year’s ride, I received a lot of positive feedback about the idea, the course, the jersey and t-shirt I designed, the fictional backstory I wrote about the event, and pretty much every aspect of the idea. The feedback made me happy I hadn’t let my fear get me to give up on the idea, and the affirmation reinforced for me that God is in this thing.

I have no idea what God has in store for the 719 Ride, but at a minimum, He has already used it to show me that He remains active and involved with my life, despite any backsliding I do into anger, fear or shame. That alone means the 719 Ride is a success.

Another favorite memory is being at the finish line with my parents, my wife and my kids, with all the adults decked out in 719 Ride gear. Individually they don’t have the same relationship with cycling I do, but they’re each involved and supportive and that’s very affirming.

What is something you personally have seen or learned as you have begun to connect people through cycling?

For every challenging athletic event that can be imagined, no matter how crazy it may seem to one person, there’s a group of athletes the idea will resonate with and who won’t be able to resist measuring themselves by it.  Race Across America, IRONMAN, Leadville 100, Paris-Brest-Paris, the 1903 Tour de France, etc. They’re all crazy in their own way, and they’re all iconic events.

I understand you are doing a cycling event soon with Shield 616, can you tell us about that? Is there a way for others to be involved?

Yep. It’s a four-day ride through Colorado, from Wyoming to New Mexico. There’s 16 of us doing it, including members of the CSPD, CSFD and Adams County Sherrif’s Office.

We’re riding to raise funds and awareness for Shield 616 and the need for first responders to have the necessary gear to protect themselves in an active shooter situation. We’ll be covering 350 miles over the four days (Sep. 6-9) climbing a few mountain passes, riding through Kremmling, Buena Vista and Alamosa, staying in churches along the way, and presenting a few officers with the Shield 616 advanced active shooter gear. We’ll also be riding with the names of Colorado officers lost in the line of duty since 2015 on the back of our jerseys.

A great way to support what we’re doing is by either making a donation to Shield 616 to support the work they’re doing or picking a cyclist to pray for up to and through those four days.

Chris and his wife Becky have attended Pulpit Rock for ten years. When he’s not on the bike, he’s probably running or cheering on the Yankees.


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2 thoughts on “SENT | Chris Giovagnoni | 719 Ride and Shield 616 Ride”

  1. Awesome in so many ways! I appreciate reading a bit of your journey here. I think many transplants (myself included) have had a delayed bonding with this city. Finding a heart connection helps us love its people better.

    I’ve never heard of God picking at our scabs, but coming from a guy who has certainly had more than his share of Road Rash, it’s a great metaphor!

    Thankful for this post, the rides/events, and for finding your role in loving this city.

  2. Kudos Chris! You’re making a positive difference and being the change you want to see. Can’t wait to see what God has in store next!


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