10 August 2013

USA Pro Challenge in Beaver Creek

Attending The Race - Race Day Planning in Beaver Creek

PEDAL DANCER FAN GUIDE - Stage 4 - USA Pro Challenge 2013

Today it is time to plan out the day at the race for Stage 4 finish into the ski resort of Beaver Creek. Now last year I had a great time at the USA Pro Challenge in Beaver Creek, in fact, I think it may have been my favorite stage of 2012. I liked the mood up the mountain; it was clear that anyone who had made their way this far was there to see a bike race. Of all the host cities, the fans seemed to be most playful and in good spirits in Beaver Creek.

This year I plan to go back, not only because they will be serving fresh hot cookies at 3:00pm - a tradition for the ski resort - but because I enjoyed riding the bus up the hill from the free public parking lot with the other fans. And because they had an awesome concert after the stage was over. The festival village was on grass in a nice setting at the base of the ski slope, plus anyone who was interested could see the podium presentation in plain view.

Jens Voigt and the Podium Girls after his stage win in Beaver Creek  ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer.com
Stage 4 is being called the Queen stage of this year's tour (also known as the big daddy stage) because it truly is the sole mountain top finish unless you want to count the individual time trial up Vail Pass the following day. The finish of this stage is at the top of Beaver Creek just past the Sky Way bridge over Village Road. After nearly reaching the area once, the riders will descend only to climb back up to the top. It looks hard.
Just look at all those fans waiting for Jens (and the other hundred or so riders) to arrive.
©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer.com
The day at the race in Beaver Creek truly felt like a special event last year. This year the town has more in store for spectators, read more at: Official local Beaver Creek Website for the USA Pro Challenge Stage 4 - 2013.
Location of Beaver Creek, Colorado
Stage Facts

Date: August 22, 2013
Start: 11:00am
KOM points at: top of State Bridge and Bachelor Gulch
Sprint points at: Oak Creek
Finish: 3:50pm (approximately)
Location: Beaver Creek Resort
Elevation: Beaver Creek 8,100ft
City Event Website
Official 2013 Spectator Guide
Stage Sponsor: United Healthcare
USA Pro Cycling: Official race  Website    Facebook    Twitter   YouTube

Stage 4 also wins for the best looking commemorative jersey of the Tour
Stage 4 commemorative jersey USA Pro 2013

Stage Description

The route of Stage 4 departs Steamboat Springs at 11:00am and heads south on highway 131 through McCoy connecting with the frontage road SH 6 at Wolcott. The riders head east through the city of Edwards to reach the base of the climb at Avon.

As expected the climbers ascend Village Rd, but before reaching the base of the Beaver Creek Ski Resort, the peloton will make a hard right turn onto South Holden Rd. From there they climb - Borders Rd. - Strawberry Park Rd. - Day Break Ridge. What follows next is a twisty descent into Bachelor Gulch reaching the bottom at Prater Rd and climbing all the way back up Village Road a second time, this time all the way to the finish line at the top.

The new climb of Bachelor Gulch is so steep it has a name - "The Brink." As in ... the brink of nowhere ... I am not sure, but I am told, this brink of civilization has an average slope of 10.3% and exceeds a 20% grade in sections. This climb is so appealing I plan to go ride it myself on my way to Aspen next week. I just gotta remember what 18% feels like.

Route and Profile
Details:  Stage 4:  Steamboat Springs to Beaver Creek – Thursday, Aug. 22
Miles: 102.9 (165.6km)
Climb: 11,627ft
Stage 4 Route Map
click on any map to enlarge
Stage 4 Route Profile
Approach into Avon
Right turn near the top of the climb will place the riders into Bachelor Gulch to descend back down to the bottom. Map by Pedal dancer. 
See the riders twice along this stretch of Village Rd. Map by Pedal dancer.
You will be able to see the riders pass by twice on Stage 4 if you are on Village Road between Prater Rd and S. Holden Rd. Spectators will be allowed at all points along this road (please respect private property).
Map of loop at top of Beaver Creek, Stage 4, USA Pro Challenge. Map by Pedal dancer.
Stage 4: Steamboat Springs to Beaver Creek – Thursday, Aug. 22

Official Comments: Stage 4 is the Queen Stage of the 2013 USA Pro Challenge. It features some previously used terrain, but with some added spice. One thing is for sure, the road to the final podium in Denver goes straight over Bachelor Gulch. A new start in Steamboat will send the race off onto new country roads around Routt County. This roller coaster of small hills gives way to a gentle route south until the racers have to climb up from the river bottom at State Bridge. That’s just the beginning, as the new approach to Beaver Creek will now send the racers up the new climb of Bachelor Gulch. It may not be the longest or most well-known climb, but it is quite possibly the toughest. The relentless grade with pitches up to 18 percent will do real damage and create the sort of epic racing for which the Pro Challenge is known. After Bachelor Gulch, the leaders still have to race down a technical descent and power up the final 2 km climb to Beaver Creek Village. By that time the winner may not even have the strength left for a victory salute.

Pedal Dancer® comments: Expect big changes on this day. Lots of race viewing options for fans, with a new varied course profile likely to spread the riders out creating time gaps and probably a surprise stage winner and maybe a change in the yellow jersey as well. A break will try to establish at some point by 20-miles outside of Steamboat, but it will be closely monitored. The most important aspect of this stage will be letting all riders know who is where and getting team cars and GC contenders tight in position because once the riders start the first climb up Beaver Creek they will loose sight of each other in the winding Bachelor Gulch before the second ascent and finish on this key mountain top stage. The stage winner will be smart and a good technical descender and climber.

Beaver Creek on race day in 2012. ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer.com
Spectators at the Festival in Beaver Creek. ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer.com

Official 2013 Spectator Guide

Race day timing

7:00 Shuttle bus begins
10:00 Village at Beaver Creek starts hopping
11:00 Bike Valet Opens
12:00 Village Rd closes to all vehicles
1:00 Festival Village (Expo) fully opens
2:00 Last shuttle bus to the top of Beaver Creek - don't miss the bus!
2:30 Course cleared & closed 
3:00 hot cookies served up fresh!
3:50 approximate finish in Beaver Creek / Awards ceremony at podium
4:30 Shuttle service resumes to take spectators back down the mountain
4:45 Village Road opens to vehicles
6:00 Bike Valet closes / Village Festival (Expo) closes
Event area at Beaver Creek. From the Official Spectator Guide
Enjoying the festival area in Beaver Creek in 2012  ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer.com
Road Closures
Full road closure details for Steamboat to Beaver Creek area: All Colorado Road Closures for the 2013 USA Pro Challenge Bike Race.

Hotel Accommodations
I would go straight to https://www.room77.com and look for the best deal in Beaver Creek, Avon, Edwards or Vail, Colorado, and you will be perfectly poised to enjoy Stage 5 and the Individual Time Trial up Vail Pass the next day.
The start of the climb to Bachelor Gulch, looking back at Beaver Creek Resort.  ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer.com

Tips on seeing the race

You can pick your place for this stage. Fans on Village Rd between Prater Rd and S. Holden Rd. will be able to see the riders pass by on the first and second climbs. It is a 2.3 mile hike up the hill from the welcome gate to the village at Beaver Creek.

There is a very nice bike path that parallels the road all the way to the Village. You can walk or ride (slowly). Also the road to Bachelor Gulch is typically gated, so this is an opportunity to ride your bike on a wickedly steep climb in Colorado. There are humungous gorgeous homes in the neighborhood.

You could easily hop a shuttle bus to the top, visit the Festival, grab a cold drink and walk back down the road a bit to watch the riders. The steepest part seemed to be below the turnoff to South Hoilden Rd. you can then walk to the base on your own accord after the race without waiting for the shuttle bus service to resume. Descending a mountain climb on race day is always festive.

Fans in Beaver Creek Village proper will be able to enjoy the Festival Village, music, shops, coffee shops (Yeti's Grind or Loaded Joe's), and see the final meters of the finish. Locate the awards stage to watch the podium presentations after the stage (usually 15-20 minutes after the riders complete the stage). Beaver Creek is a very easy location to watch this ceremony which we typically only see on TV.

The set-up in Beaver Creek makes getting around the course slightly awkward for fans, so figure out where everything is located and where you want to be on the barricades, to watch the race, by coming early.

Last year it felt like I was placed on the ground about 1/2 mile behind the finish line (because there is a very curious pecking order to Photo Media), but I still managed to get this shot of Jens Voigt taking the stage win (by zooming in 200 times).

Enjoy the day, buy your tshirts in the large festival area, and don't forget warm cookies at 3:00pm!

Jens Voigt wins Stage 4 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in 2012.  ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer.com
Tejay van Garderen and Andreas Kloden cross the finish line in Beaver Creek. ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer.com

News from the Town of Beaver Creek on attending the race:

"There will be no in-resort parking in Beaver Creek Thursday, Aug. 22. Public parking for all bike race spectators will be available in the Traer Creek/Rodeo Lot in Avon and the Bear Lot at the base of the resort, with complimentary shuttles provided to bring guests to the base village"

Shuttle Service
"Complimentary shuttle service will run 7AM until 2PM prior to the race finish, and resume normal operation at approx. 4:30pm when all racers complete the stage. Dedicated shuttles will be running to the Vilar Performing Arts Center from the various parking locations: Bear Lot, Elk Lot, and the Rodeo/Trare Creek Lot."
Rodeo/Trare Creek Lot. Map by Pedal Dancer
Fans on the bus to Beaver Creek ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer.com
You can even bus up and ride down. ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer.com
Bike Valet
"A bike valet will be available at Creekside Park, located on the north side of Beaver Creek Village, providing a secure location for spectators to leave their bikes while enjoying the race and many activities in Beaver Creek. The bike valet will open at 11AM and all bikes should be picked up no later than 6PM."

Citizens Ride on the Day of the Race

Scout the Route - presented by the Vail Valley Foundation, Thursday, August 22 with a mass start at 10:30 a.m. at 4 Eagle Ranch just outside Wolcott. More info & Registration. Two route options:
"The Brink" Route: 10:30am start / 17.2mi / 1,700ft elevation gain 
The Moderate Route:  10:30am start /  27.4mi / 3,700ft elevation gain

Other PEDAL DANCER FAN GUIDES - USA Pro Challenge race day planning, travel guides, city special events, route maps and profiles, road closures, and stage start and finish times. (all links coming soon)

I have chased pro races for 13 years on the Continent and in Europe. I am now granted the thrill to be Media at some of the races but am always in touch with my roots as a fan. I share with you my inside tips on how to see and enjoy a professional cycling race. My love of travel, maps, photographs and human interest blend with the love of any bike and a good competition in sports. Welcome and enjoy the ride! (About Pedal Dancer®)

USA Pro Challenge in Aspen and Snowmass
USA Pro Challenge in Breckenridge (Part 1)
How & Where to Watch the USA Pro in Breckenridge (Part 2)
USA Pro Challenge in Steamboat Springs
USA Pro Challenge in Beaver Creek
USA Pro Challenge in Vail
USA Pro Challenge in Loveland
USA Pro Challenge in Fort Collins
USA Pro Challenge in Denver

For more information please visit the PEDAL DANCER GUIDE PAGE: USA PRO CHALLENGE

Riders in the 2013 USA Pro Challenge

Official website: http://www.usaprocyclingchallenge.com/

Monday, Aug. 19 - Stage 1: Aspen/Snowmass Circuit
Tuesday, Aug. 20 - Stage 2: Aspen/Snowmass - Breckenridge
Wednesday, Aug. 21 - Stage 3: Breckenridge - Steamboat Springs
Thursday, Aug. 22 - Stage 4: Steamboat Springs - Beaver Creek
Friday, Aug. 23 - Stage 5: Vail Time Trial
Saturday, Aug. 24 - Stage 6: Loveland - Fort Collins
Sunday, Aug. 25 - Stage 7: Denver Circuit