(Last Updated On: August 19, 2011)
Unless you are a hermit, if you live in Colorado, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. What exactly is it? A cycling stage race that touts some of the world’s best cyclists. It’s our little bit of Tour de France, right on our home territory here in Colorado. In the course of seven consecutive days, 128 riders and 17 teams riders will cover about 600 miles of some of the most demanding road riding offered in our state. The race begins this Monday, August 22nd.
Here is a quick rundown:
Prologue– In Colorado Springs, riders will begin with a time trail to determine the start order for the next day
Stage 1– Salida to Crested Butte via Monarch Pass
Stage 2– Gunnison to Aspen via Cottonwood Pass
State 3– Vail time trial
Stage 4– Avon to Steamboat Springs via Wolcott and Oak Creek
Stage 5– Steamboat Springs to Breckenridge via Kremmling
Stage 6– Golden to Denver with two Golden loops in the mix before heading to 287 to reach Denver.
Crested Buttians are getting ever more ready and and excited for the first stage of the race, which also happens to be it’s only mountain-top finish. The race will begin at 11:45 am in Salida and will proceed up to Monarch Pass, taking riders to 11,315 feet above sea level. The riders will then descend toward Gunnison, and then ascend to Crested Butte. The racers will do a small loop in the town of Crested Butte before heading up the 3-mile road to their mountain top finish in Mount Crested Butte. Happily, this finish line is just a few minutes from our house :)Upon reaching Mount Crested Butte, riders will have traveled nearly 100 miles with a total climbing elevation of over 8,000 feet. Estimated finish times range between 3:15 and 4:15.
Here in Crested Butte, we cannot let an event like this go unnoticed. We have been instructed to bring out our best costumes, as well as our best behavior. I have found recent radio announcements to be amusing, “If you think anything will get in the way of a passing cyclist, leave it at home. This includes your dog, your kid, or your drunk boyfriend.”
Certainly, Buttians will be watching, among the chaos of news reporters and tourists. And there will be several other events going on throughout the day, including live music (both in town and on the mountain), a Townie Criterium, a Hand-Cycling Criterium, a beer garden, and even a kids race. For more detail about each of these events, visit the CBMR website. We have also been told that there will be Jumbotrons in the town of Crested Butte (at the beer garden) and on the mountain as well as in Gunnison.
The following day, the race will leave from Gunnison and will end in Aspen. To celebrate Stage 2, Crested Butte Mountain Guides is hosting “Chase the Race”, a guided tour that takes mountain bikers from Crested Butte over Pearl Pass to Aspen. The goal is to reach Aspen in time to see the racers finish there. For more info on this guided tour, see the CBMG website. If you don’t feel like Chasing the Race, then consider taking a Western State Shuttle to the top of Cottonwood Pass to watch the racers as they go by.
Here at 14erskiers.com we are particularly excited about witnessing some of the world’s best cyclists pass right in front of our own door. Expect a post-race blog next week 🙂