13 July 2014

On the path of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge - Golden

Visiting Golden, Colorado

I continue my scouting adventures (weekend reci road trips) along the planned route of the USA Pro Challenge. This post takes us to Golden, Colorado, a small city at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Famous for it's local Coors brewery and the Colorado School of Mines, it is also well-known for a short punchy hill climb called Lookout Mountain.

Golden is a fantastic city to attend an event. The town really knows how to welcome visitors and has a lively main street (Washington Street) with lots of businesses up and down the neighboring side streets. The town of Golden and the climb up Lookout Mountain will be featured midway in Stage 7 of this year's Colorado pro stage race.

Stage 7 will begin in downtown Boulder, Colorado, a cycling mecca. Spectators are sure to pack the streets of Boulder to get a glimpse of the stage start, but no local climbs will be used near Boulder, instead the racers will circle downtown and head straight south along the rolling main Highway 93 into Golden, eighteen miles away.

Although Stage 7 is titled Boulder - Denver, Golden is where the real racing will happen and a breakaway will stick or be caught by the time the riders complete what locals call the Lariat Loop. The climb up Lookout mountain is short and steep. The town of Golden is picturesque and welcoming and certainly will be a fun location on race day.

The wall mural of Mountain Toad Brewery in Golden

Chances are spectators will gather near the town closest to them, and will be clustered in Boulder, or Golden, or Denver. Stage 7 of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge finishes in the state capital of Denver, Colorado. The route around the city is the exact same as last year. Come race day, each of these three cities will focus on local events, restaurants, and breweries, with an emphasis on riding your bike to your chosen viewing location.

Circuit laps will complete Stage 7 in Denver, so no matter who crests the top of the climb up Lookout Mountain, look for an all-rounder sprinter to win the final stage of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge. The stage will add points to the final determination of the KOM, but likely the climbers classification will already have been determined at earlier stages of the race.

This is a day about getting out in your community and enjoying the atmosphere of race day. And seeing some of the best pro riders in the world!

The architecture of Golden (founded 1859, gold rush) reminds me of Durango (founded 1881, railroad)
Cowboy country

The city of Golden was founded in 1859 during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, a mining camp, it was originally named Golden City. If you are visiting Colorado and on your way up I-70 to visit the ski towns, hiking, fishing, or biking of the mountains - Golden makes an easy stop off the highway.

click to enlarge


STAGE 7 : 78 miles  Stage Map PDF   Stage Profile PDF
Boulder - Golden - Lookout Mountain - circuits in Denver

Race Begins: Approximately 12:30 p.m.
Race Ends: Approximately 3:50 p.m.
State Highways Impacted: SH 93, US 40, SH 391 (Kipling Street), SH 121 (Wadsworth), SH 95 (Sheridan), I-25.  (Route and Street Closure information)

Stage 7 Timetable.pdf

Lookout Mountain Closure Friday - Sunday
Lookout Mountain will be closed to all vehicle traffic between white pillars and Buffalo Bill's entrance. 3:00pm Friday 8/22/14 through 2:00pm Sunday 8/24/14.

* Please note that the route of the circuit laps in downtown Denver does not go down Speer Blvd or through Larimer Street this year. The race is concentrated around Civic Center Park, along 17th Street, and in City Park. The finish again is in front of the State Capital Building.

USA Pro Challenge in Boulder information: USAProBoulder.com
USA Pro Challenge in Golden information: Golden Visitors Bureau
On the path of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge - Golden, By Pedal Dancer®
On the path of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge - Denver, By Pedal Dancer®

zoomable map link of route through Golden

Photos along the route of Stage 7 - Golden

This is the view the riders will have as they approach downtown Golden. There is nothing flat about this town. All the corners are either up or down.

The pillars of Lookout Mountain mark the official start of the climb up Lariat trail and entrance to Lookout Mountain Park.
In good weather expect lots of cyclists.
For fans, the climb up Lookout will be a fun place to gather.
View of downtown Denver (center, top) from Lookout Mountain
This sign marks the official (post) top of Lookout Mountain climb, but the road continues going up from here to Genesee Park.
The long gradual descent down Hwy 40 (I-70 service road) back toward Golden.
The big road of Hwy 40 (and view north) back into Golden where the riders will do a fast loop around downtown Golden before racing east to the Colorado State Capital of Denver.

About the climb of Lookout Mountain

Length: 5.1 miles
Total elevation: 1,438 ft
Average Grade: 5.3% (7%) (steeper in the corners)
Lookout Mountain climb is called Pillar to Post for the landmarks at the start and finish.

Photos and a description of Lookout Mountain, by Pedal Dancer®: Photos of the Day - Lookout Mountain

The switchbacks of Lookout Mountain
The climb has a number of Colorado Corners - the grade is much steeper at the apex and then flattens out after the corner.

Local Bike Rides near Golden

Local Cycling Club Team Evergreen's suggested Lariat Loop cycling route which includes the climb of Lookout Mountain:
Route of the 2014 Golden Gran Fondo (June 28, 2014) - the toughest Gran Fondo in America also include Lookout Mountain.
Golden Gran Fondo route map link


Accommodations and Travel

There are some hotels in Golden (Golden City website recommendations for accommodations) (TripAdvisor ratings of hotels in Golden), but many more hotels in nearby Arvada, Lakewood, and Denver. All the big hotel chains can be found.

Downtown Denver is 15.3 miles from Golden (30-50 minutes depending on traffic). Denver International Airport (DIA) is 34.7 miles away (45 minutes to 1hr15m depending on traffic through Denver).
Table Mountain Inn in Golden

What to do near Golden

Coors Brewing Tour, MillerCoors is the second largest beer company in the America, free. Thurs-Mon 10-4pm, Sunday 12-4pm, closed Weds & Thurs.

Lookout Mountain Nature Center, 110 acre park. 910 Coloro Rd, Golden CO 80401.

Dinosauer Ridge, geological and paleontological outdoor museum. 18831 West Alameda Parkway, Morrison, CO 80401

Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, located at Lookout Mountain Park with a beautiful overlook. 987 Lookout Mountain Rd, Golden, CO 80401

Golden City Brewery, beer garden, tap-room, tours by appointment. 920 12th St, Golden, CO 80401

Golden Farmers' Market on Saturdays , June - September

BicycleTrails in Golden

Parking map of public parking lots in Golden, CO

Rock climbing, kayaking and mountain biking are also popular local sports.

The Coors Brewery and the Colorado School of Mines (red roofs) in Golden with Denver in the far distance.
You can take a tour of Coors Brewery and get free beer.

A suggested itinerary for race weekend, August 2014

By car, you can begin watching the stage in downtown Golden and make it into Denver in time to see the finish. If you want to do this, pay very close attention to where you park your car in each location, making sure you are not blocked by road closures. You will be able to see the start in Boulder and the finish in Denver. You will not be able to see the start in Boulder and get to Golden in time.

Riding your bike up Lookout Mountain is a great option. There should be good atmosphere along the climb. There is little room on the shoulder of the road, so you will need to place your bike in the woods off the pavement, while watching the race. You should should have time to descend by bike and see the peloton pass through town (the second time).

You could also ride the Lariat Loop route in the early morning, enjoy brunch/lunch and then catch the race as it comes through town, twice.

Or you can simply arrive and enjoy your time at a street side cafe or watch the race in Parfet Park. The city event organizers will be setting up a large screen TV (co-sponsored by GURU) for fans to view the stage. Stage Map PDF

If you are visiting from out of state, a weekend of seeing the finish in Breckenridge or Hoosier Pass (Friday), the individual time trial in Vail (Saturday, 2 hours away) and the two laps in Golden (Sunday) would make a great weekend.

Sign up to Volunteer to help at Stage 7 in Golden USA Pro

Fans can watch the race live on TV as the riders approach from Boulder or depart to Denver.

Restaurants, Bars, coffee shops and bakeries

This town is loaded with 'em. I believe the town of Golden is much better suited to host a midway stage, then the starts of recent years (2011, 2012). There wasn't enough space for fans to really see the action of the stage start, but Golden has tons of restaurants and a guaranteed great atmosphere on race day.

The race will enter town from the north to ascend Lookout, loop back into town again, and then depart to the east toward Denver.

Travel impact and road closures for the 2014 USA Pro Challenge in Golden

Road closure schedule of State Highways for Stage 7. Boulder - Hwy 93 - Golden - Lookout Mountain - Golden - Arvada - Denver. CDOT Colorado Department of Transportation advisory: USA Pro Challenge Road Closures 2014 Stage 7

Local road closures: Expect closures and detours downtown Golden. Check with the city of Golden for local impacts: procyclinggolden.com. Impacts are estimated between 12:00 and 2:30 p.m.

Lookout Mountain closed Friday - Sunday !
Lookout Mountain will be closed to all vehicle traffic between white pillars and Buffalo Bill's entrance. 3:00pm Friday 8/22/14 through 2:00pm Sunday 8/24/14.

What is the story of the pillars?

The stone pylon gateway was built and presented to the City of Denver in 1917, long before the area was heavily populated, by Finlay L. MacFarland, a prominent automobile dealer and member of the Denver Mountain Park's advisory commission. 

The rock pillars before the houses were built nearby.

There was an old observatory atop Lookout Mountain from 1885-1940 (before the wind blew the tin dome off the building).

Route of 2014 USA Pro Challenge

Stage 1: Monday, Aug. 18 – Aspen Circuit Race
Stage 2: Tuesday, Aug. 19 – Aspen to Mt. Crested Butte (long climbs mixed terrain)
Stage 3: Wednesday, Aug. 20 – Gunnison to Monarch Mountain (mountaintop finish)
Stage 4: Thursday, Aug. 21 – Colorado Springs Circuit Race
Stage 5: Friday, Aug. 22 – Woodland Park to Breckenridge (long road, climbing at end)
Stage 6: Saturday, Aug. 23 – Vail Individual Time Trial
Stage 7: Sunday, Aug. 24 – Boulder / Golden (Mtn climb) / Denver

More information at the Pedal Dancer® race guide page: USA PRO CHALLENGE

Also read:
On the path of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge - Aspen
On the path of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge - Colorado Springs
On the path of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge - Breckenridge
On the path of the USA Pro Challenge - Vail
On the path of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge - Denver

All photos in this post by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer® (except the historical images).

p.s., exactly who is this that I saw riding out of Golden up Lookout Mountain yesterday? I bet he heard I set a blistering pace and was out to best my time.