For updated information for the 2013 race - please transfer to: USA PRO CHALLENGE 2013
* Amateur Time Trial Date: August 22nd, 2011 Location: Colorado Springs. Prior to the Pros riding the same course. I am trying to find more information bout this event for amateur cyclists. Be one of the few to participate in a once in a lifetime experience and race head-to-head with the world's top professionals! Just before the professional peloton starts the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, a select number of amateur athletes will race over the official 5.18-mile prologue time trial course in Colorado Springs. Experience the same precise timing as the pros, the cheers of the crowds lining the course, and professional officiating by UCI officials for a chance to compare times against the professionals. Proceeds go to the Pikes Peak Cycling Society to help support the costs associated with attracting and hosting the Prologue of the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Space is very limited and tickets are $750. Less than 15 spots are left.
* Ride of Champions presented by SRM - Colorado Springs, August 19th, $495 Pikes Peak Cycling
Please also see What's happening around town - for a list of additional local races and special events in each host city in conjunction with the USAPro race.
Riding the Routes: If you want to ride a complete stage or other parts of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge race routes, you will need to make it happen for yourself. In studying the route I would make these suggestions:
Stage 1: ride from Salida up Monarch Pass. You can complete this entire stage route to Crested Butte by bicycle with sag support. Or ride from Gunnison to Monarch Pass. Or ride from the town of Crested Butte up to Mount Crested Butte (3 miles uphill) the only mountain top finish in the Tour!
Stage 2: ride up Cottonwood Pass, or ride up Independence Pass. Entire route discouraged, but possible for both very fast and experienced cyclists only.
Stage 3: ride up Vail Pass
Stage 4: you can complete this entire stage route by bicycle, with sag support. Or ride from Vail to Avon and back.
Stage 5: ride up Rabbit Ears Pass, or ride up Swan Mountain Rd near Frisco, or into the town of Breckenridge.
Stage 6: ride up Lookout mountain, or ride your cruiser bike to any other area along the route or into downtown Denver.
*Please note that race route roads will have rolling closures. Sag support vehicles may not be able to accompany their cyclists at every point on the stage. Mountain passes will experience full road closures hours before (Independence Pass) or even the night before (Cottonwood Pass) the race.
Think it through before you ride
Please read about road closures (and the comments) at this blog post: Camping and road closures for USA Pro Challenge
Weather in Colorado: Mountains - Cool nights (40-50s) colder on the high passes, crisp mornings, bright clear sunburn hot mid-day temperatures (70-80s), afternoon rain showers, great evenings. Denver (80s-90s) hot.
Stage 1: Salida to Crested Butte. Perhaps depart early from Salida and watch the race on Monarch Pass, then descend into Gunnison for food and water and then ride the remainder of the long hot ride into Crested Butte for a well deserved shower and dinner. Westbound US 50 closed at US 285 at 9:45-12:45. Rolling closures along US Hwy 50, east and west bound, 30 minute delays from 11:45am - 4:00 pm
It is not just road closures that will stop you in your tracks, it is simply that it takes a long time to ride these roads on a bike. According to CDOT:
Cottonwood Pass closed: August 23 at 3:00 pm until August 24 at 1:00 pm.
Independence Pass eastbound closed: August 24 11:00-4:00pm.
Independence Pass westbound closed: August 24 11:00-2:00pm.
According to USA Pro Cycling Fan Advisory the passes will be closed at noon. Cyclists will be able to continue to ride on the roads, but will should get off the road (and will be told to get over) as the race approaches.
If you departed Gunnison at 6:00am on bike, you could reach Twin Lakes (91 miles) between 11:30-1:00, just at or past road closure cutoff time to climb Independence Pass, you might be able to climb it, you might not. They will allow bicycles to ride on the road after it is closed to vehicles, but you will need to stop and get over as the race comes through. If you rode Gunnison to Buena Vista over Cottonwood Pass, you might arrive to a waiting car by 10:30. It is a 1/2 hour drive from Buena Vista to Twin Lakes, where again you will just make or miss the cut off time for Independence Pass by car. Sorry to be a party spoiler. But if you must ride the entire stage, I would suggest heading out very early in the morning, and trying to get as far as you can along the road before they close it for the race. Then ride the remainder after the race passes through.
Booking it in Colorado will achieve 18-19 mph for an amateur (the fully supported pros average 24-26mph), standard cyclists will be 13-14 mph. You have the dirt climb of Cottonwood Pass (slower speeds), and then Independence Pass, which comes at 110 miles into the route of Stage 2. Allow 6 hours at booking it and 9 hrs at standard speed to get to this point, plus more time to gather water and food. Allowing for race and road closures you are looking at a 9-12 hour day and some stretches with no source for water. The sun will rise at 6:19am, and set at 7:41pm.
Mileage between towns on Stage 2:
Gunnison to Cottonwood Pass: 36.0 miles
Cottonwood Pass to Buena Vista: 32.2 miles
Buena Vista to Independence Pass: 42.8 miles
Independence Pass to Aspen: 19.8 miles
* Cell phone coverage in the mountains of Colorado can be spotty, it may be difficult to contact all members of your group throughout the day. Also fueling yourself at altitude for a 131 mile climb should not be taken lightly by flatlanders, unless you have acclimated and trained well for this type of riding. I would advise having checkpoints and a plan B for your sag support. And maybe make that sag wagon a sag truck.
The race organizers think it will take the (fully supported) Pros upwards of 5.5-6 hrs (23-24 mph) to ride Stage 2 (Ted King rode part of the route last week in 5 hours). The fact that the race begins at 9:45am, and the organizers estimate the finish time into Aspen to be between 3:00 and 4:15pm, means they have no idea how long this route will take the pros to race. I've never before seen an hour and fifteen minute window of estimated arrival before.
The good news is that they will be allowing roadside camping just as they do in Europe. The state highway police will have a 10 car and 10 motorcycle team traveling with each stage of the tour for the length of the Tour. It is believed they will be allowing camping along the roads as long as the cars and campers are safely off the road.
The active hard working people at Bicycle Colorado have provided good news about camping for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado. They bring the fans good news that roadside "European Tour Camping" will be allowed for this event. Please read more on the Bicycle Colorado website at: Camping for USA Pro Cycling Challenge Fans on race route, European-style Race Spectating comes to Colorado.
Stage 4: between Avon and Steamboat Springs has very little services or population in the miles between these two towns. If you plan to ride the stage you will definitely need sag support for water. It is best to leave early in the morning to begin your 82.8 mile ride to Steamboat Springs. After about 5 hours on your bike you could arrive into Steamboat in time to see the finish.
Stage 5: between Steamboat and Breckenridge. Most Colorado cyclists take 6-8hrs to ride a century. So whether you ride early or late you will be able to see the start or the finish. You have better, but still limited, chances for water supply along this road. Eastbound Rabbit Ears Pass closed at US 40 in Steamboat Springs. Motorists can use the alternative route on State Highway 9 to State Highway 134 or State Highway 141 via I-70, 10:30am -1:30pm
* VIP travel packages Travel Packages offered by VeloSport Vacations including three different 4-day, 3-night tour packages (Midweek Mountains, Final Weekend, Vail Time Trial). Packages range in price from $1995 - $2695 per person, with the Midweek Mountains package including a helicopter ride over Maroon Bells! These are VIP travel and viewing packages, including airport transfers, hotel, VIP access, buffets, gifts, TV in VIP suites at the start and finish areas, access to press conferences at the race and more. They are not cycling or riding tours.
USA Pro Cycling Challenge race dates
STAGE 1 : Tuesday, August 23 - Start in Salida, CO. Finish in Crested Butte, CO. 99.4 miles
STAGE 2 : Wednesday, August 24 - Start in Gunnison. Finish in Aspen, CO. 131.1 miles
STAGE 3 : Thursday, August 25 - Start and Finish in Vail, CO. (Individual Time Trial) 10 miles
STAGE 4 : Friday, August 26 - Start in Avon, CO. Finish in Steamboat Spring, CO. 82.8 miles
STAGE 5 : Saturday, August 27 - Start in Steamboat Spring, CO. Finish in Breckenridge, CO. 105.2 miles
STAGE 6 : Sunday, August 28 - Start in Golden, CO. Finish in Denver, CO. 73.79 miles
Either chase the tour everyday, or stay for 2 days in the same town watching a finish, start and taking in a bike ride. See more itinerary examples and suggested bike rides in the area near each stage of the tor on the PedalDancer.com race fan information page. Happy riding!
Also see all the events planned for the fans by each community (Gunnison and Crested Butte get a gold star!) What's happening around town?