Sunday, August 25, 2013

USA Pro Cycling Challenge

Stage 6 of the  USA Pro Cycling Challenge, the 2nd largest bicycle race in the world we're told, came through Estes Park yesterday! It was quite a deal - the Village has been preparing for quite a while. Parking barriers went up Friday morning. The main street was painted. The local paper was full of news of the race. The small downtown park was full of fun things. The party started Friday with all kinds of fun activities.

The cones were removed right before the racers came through.

We walked downtown about noon. It was fun to see all of the people and the party atmosphere. Eventually we found a spot on the curb and sat down to wait - we had a good spot and could see what was coming. Around 1 pm, police officers and volunteers began clearing the street - everyone had to be behind the curbs which were painted red. 

The Stage 6 race, the last King of the Mountain competition, came up the canyon from Loveland, going through Drake and Glen Haven. If you've ever been to Glen Haven, you know it is hard enough to drive a car up that road with its very steep grade and tight switchbacks - I can't imagine riding a bike up there! After coming through Estes Park, the route took the riders on a few mile loop south, and then back through Estes Park. Then the cyclists went down the Big Thompson Canyon and ended in Fort Collins.

Eventually an SUV with microphones came through and gave us information - who was in the lead, how fast the riders would pass us (whoosh!), and how fast their support cars would be traveling right behind them (like the Grand Prix!).  The announcer said there were two groups of riders and cars about 2 minutes apart, and we would see the racers right behind the Colorado State Patrol car. 

Then a vehicle came along and set up the signs for a sprint - right in front of us! The race director car passed, the route director car passed, a few other race vehicles went by.

The crowd was ready and the noise volume really went up when all of a sudden, a State Patrol car with lights going came into view.

Then came some State Troopers on motorcycles, more State Patrol cars and more motorcycles. And CYCLISTS! 
My hand!
The lead group had about 15 cyclists. They passed like a gust of wind - yes, we could feel the breeze!  After the support vehicles and more State Troopers in cars and motorcycles, the peloton arrived. Wow! 

Over 100 riders in a pack! It didn't take long for them to pass either. And all of their support vehicles. And more State Troopers. 

We then headed east about 2 blocks where they would pass in the opposite direction. We had a little trouble finding a spot and decided to go thru the McDonald's parking lot and up the hill. As we started to go thru the lot, that first State Patrol car came around the corner. We knew we had to find a spot fast. So we climbed and stood on a 3-4' wall on the back side of some bushes. It was perfect! We could see the bikes and cars come down St. Vrain as they turned onto Highway 34. 

The leaders
 They were MOVING. 
The Peloton
The Peloton from our other camera an instant later
Some of the support vehicles came around the corner in pairs - on a wide one lane turn lane! 

There were now 3 groups - a smaller leader group, the peloton, and a small group of 5 or so following. Somehow the support cars stay right behind the right group.

And just like that, it was over! I think it was about 2 pm. The riders rode almost 77 miles yesterday. Stage 7 is today in Denver and then this race is history.


  1. Bike riding is big deal in Denver. Glad you got to see one of the biggest races!

  2. Wow, I'll bet that was exciting! I'm so glad you got to see the race.



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