06 August 2014

On the path of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge - Breckenridge

Visiting Breckenridge

Breckenridge has become a tradition. This quaint mountain town has been a featured host city for all four years of the USA Pro Challenge. It is very easy to see why, Breckenridge has beautiful mountain scenery, plentiful accommodations, an attractive and active Main Street, plenty of family activities in winter or summer, great mountain biking and cycling, plus Breckenridge has that cowboy style that sells souvenirs and looks great on television.

Breckenridge is pure alpine beauty. All photos in this post by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

Hosting the finish of Stage 5 of the USA Pro Challenge in 2014, Breckenridge sits poised to begin an exciting weekend of racing in Summit and Eagle Counties. Friday night is the stage finish in Breckenridge and Saturday will be the individual time trial in Vail (On the path of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge - Vail).

Get to know Breckenridge

The first thing to know about Breckenridge is it is at altitude, if you sleep here you might notice it. Many people start feeling the affects of altitude at 9500+ feet. Only Crested Butte edges out Breckenridge as the highest place on this tour that you might lay your head upon a pillow. If you chased the entire USA Pro Challenge in 2014 - you would reach these heights.

Stage 1: Aspen 7908', Snowmass 8209'
Stage 2: Crested Butte 9898'
Stage 3: Gunnison 7703', Salida 7083'
Stage 4: Colorado Springs 6035'
Stage 5: Woodland Park 8465', Breckenridge 9603'
Stage 6: Vail 8150'
Stage 7: Boulder 5430', Golden 5675', Denver 5280'

The second thing to know about Breckenridge is there is a lot to do in this town (or within Summit County).

Road Rides: SummitBiking.org
Mountain Biking: The Mtb Project Trails, lots and lots of trails!
Shuttle van to Vail Pass and ride back: Alpine Sports (bike rental and shuttle van)
Wildflower hikes: 8 hikes near Breck
Alpine Super Slide ($18): Breck Summer Fun Park
Ride the gondola: From town to the base of Peak 8, Free in summer, 8:30-5:45pm
Ride a horse: Breckenridge Stables
Shop: over 200 shops
Bag a 14er: Quandary Peak 14, 265ft is nearby
Climb three fourteeners: you can climb Mt Lincoln, Democrat and Bross all in the same day!
Boat (canoe, kayak, sailboat rentals) on Lake Dillon: Frisco Marina
History Museum in Frisco: Historic Park and Museum

Also enjoy Breck Bike Week - August 20-24, 2014. Event organizers state, "Breck Bike Week will include high-end bike demos, led group rides, trail building, lectures, clinics, free bike tunes, kids’ races and more. The bonus is that most Breck Bike Week activities are FREE and open to everyone." Schedule of Events.

There are lots of bike rental places in Summit County
Alpine Sports will take you to Vail Pass and let you and your family ride back down.

The third thing to know is that Commentator Phil Liggett pronounces Hoosier Pass - Who-zee-air Pass, with a bit of a French twist. I like it, I catch myself using it, although locals pronounce it Who-zure Pass. And then there is Bore-A-us Pass (Boreas Pass).

The fourth thing to know is No DOGS. I know, sad, but Breckenridge Town does not allow dogs at any events and warm temperatures will not allow you to keep your dog safely in the car.

The fifth thing to know is Breckenridge is called Breck. Use the short name and you will be so local.

And finally some facts about Hoosier Pass:
  • Did you know there are two Hoosier Passes in Colorado? Yes, the second one is in Teller County near Cripple Creek. This is the real one - it is in Summit County.
  • Hoosier Pass sits on the Continental Divide, that is correct, the place where water is sorted to flow either to the Pacific or Atlantic oceans. I am sorry but the whole swirling direction of the water thing in the toilet or sink is a myth. Water exits in the same direction of its entering swirl.


FRIDAY, AUGUST 22, 2014 - STAGE 5: 104 miles Stage 5 Map PDF Stage 5 Profile PDF
Woodland Park to Breckenridge, traditional road stage with climbing and descending in the last miles.

Race Begins: Approximately 11:20 a.m.
Race Ends: Approximately 3:50 p.m.

Stage 5 Timetable.pdf

Breckenridge Festival and Events: usaprocyclingchallenge.com/stage-5-festival
State Highways Impacted: US 24, US 285, SH9

* Please note the route will go over Hoosier pass following Hwy 9 on both sides and not take the diversion onto the gravel roads on the north side of the pass. The official stage map is currently being updated.

All maps courtesy of USA Pro Challenge (with directional and viewing tips by Pedal Dancer)
2014 USA Pro Challenge - Stage 5 route map (route uses Hwy 9 over Hoosier Pass)
Recommended viewing Stage 5 from Woodland Park to Breckenridge across Park County
Recommended viewing on climb of Hoosier Pass
Route map of Stage 5 through Breckenridge
Profile of last miles of Stage 5 into Breckenridge
Recommended viewing areas of Stage 5 in Breckenridge USA Pro Challenge - highlighted
Map of final climbs in Breckenridge - Stage 5

Where to see Stage 5 as a fan?

Personally I would come into town early, walk through the expo area (always good in Breck) and then walk around town. Finally I would either bike or walk up Wellington Road, Royal Tiger Dr, High Point Dr or Moonstone Road to see the racers climb. It is tough to see much in town. If you do remain in town, you can see the final sprint down Main Street to the finish line.

See the riders twice in Breckenridge:
  • At the south end of Main Street to the Boreas Pass corner.
  • On Park Ave at Four O'Clock Rd, then walk through River Park to the Finish line area on Main Street.
  • At the corners of Ski Hill Rd and Main St, then walk the blocks back to the Finish line.
Ride your bicycle to the Festival:

Bicycle Colorado is hosting bike valet locations at each stage finish expo area. They will hold your bike safely for free (if you wish you may purchase an annual membership to Bicycle Colorado as a thank you). The Bike Valet Lots are being fully sponsored by Lexus a new race sponsor for 2014. Thank Lexus.

Cycling on race day out to the climbs:

Riding your bike up to Wellington Road, Royal Tiger Dr, High Point Dr or Moonstone Road from Main St in Breckenridge on race will be easy and fun. Also if you are in Fairplay, the road to Hoosier Pass (south side) will close at 2pm, making your ride to the summit much more quiet than usual.

Fans wait on Main Street for the stage finish in Breckenridge in 2013.
VIP tickets - VIP finish area tent in Breckenridge: $300 each, buy tickets. The VIP tent in Breck in past years has not been the best being narrow (along the street) and deep.

Local GOBreck advice on Where to Watch the USA Pro Challenge in Breckenridge

I think the small town of Jefferson might also be a good place as the riders make a big left turn onto Hwy 285 from Tarryall Road. Likewise there will be folks gathering along the road in both Fairplay and Alma en route to Hoosier Pass, another fun place to see the placement of riders first over the summit.

A fine view of the open plains in Jefferson, Colorado
Remember you can track all the action while out on the road with your TourTracker app.

The podium presentation is typically in the parking lot above Blue River Park about 30-minutes after the finish. Or this year they might set it up on Main St, find the podium when you arrive and plan your path to getting there after the race finish.

Lachlan Morton, Mathias Frank, Peter Sagan on the podium in Breckenridge 2013. Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®
Exciting firsts for Stage 5 route

This will be the first time Woodland Park has hosted a Stage Start. Also the first time Tarryall Road will be used in the Tour - the road was just paved last year. Riders will enjoy the wide open spaces on the long gradual climbs of Stage 5. This stage will definitely have a breakaway, which makes the use of a rather long stretch of US 285 a bit of a challenge as the break and peloton will hit the highway at differing times. Pro riders will have no problem with the 7-8% grades of Hoosier Pass, but with the last loop climb and descent around inner Breckenridge into the finish, I would definitely expect a rider from either the break or the chase to win Stage 5.

David Millar (Gramin-Sharp) signs autographs for fans in 2013 in Breckenridge.

Schedule of Activities:

Thursday: (evening) TBD - bike in movie
Friday: 12-5pm - Festival Expo at Blue River Park
Friday: 3:30pm (approximate) - Stage 5 Finish on Main Street
Friday: 4:00pm (approximate) - Podium presentation
Friday: 7:30pm - Big Head Todd and the Monsters free concert at River Walk

Local Breckenridge USA Pro Challenge pages: GoBreck, On Twitter: @BreckProCycling,  On Facebook: facebook.com/BreckenridgeProChallenge . Use hashtag #breckbecause to upload your photos and be featured on the jumbotrom during race day.

Photos along the route All photos in this post by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

The newly paved Tarryall Rd (77) is a bit of a false flat.
The town of Jefferson where Tarryall Rd meets Hwy 285.
There is a post office in Jefferson.
And burgers and shakes. (If Jensie sees this place he'll make a quick pit-stop for a strawberry shake.)
The broad street through Fairplay.
Signs of mining and ranching and old architecture dot the landscape.
The next town is Alma where active mining is noticeable throughout the valley.
Before you know it, you are on the summit of Hoosier Pass (this sign marks the top as meters away and the switchbacks down the pass just over the summit).
You made the summit!
Although the road to the summit is fairly straight, there are some wicked 8% grade switchbacks on the north side of the pass into Breckenridge. (How do you like those blue skies? They are real!)
Once the riders descend into Breckenridge, they still have to climb the neighboring hills. This is the short steep Wellington Road.
Finally Main Street Breckenridge and the fast sprint finish to the line.
Traffic and Road Closures in and near Breckenridge

Allow extra time (+50-75 minutes) traveling to and from Denver to Breckenridge due to tunnel building near Idaho Springs.

Friday Road Closures for Stage 5 USA Pro Challenge on Highway 9 Fairplay - Hoosier Pass - Breckenridge: (It is a 20-minute drive from Breckenridge to Hoosier Pass):
  • Northbound SH 9 (Hoosier Pass) from Fairplay to Breckenridge - Vehicles traveling northbound on SH 9 towards Breckenridge can expect up to a 30 minute delay. Between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
  • Southbound SH 9 (Hoosier Pass) from Breckenridge to Fairplay - SH 9 will be closed between Breckenridge and Fairplay between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
The road from Frisco into Breckenridge will not be closed. 

Complete road closure schedule for State Highways Stage 5 Woodland Park - Terryall Rd - Jefferson, Hwy 285 - Fairplay - SH 9 - Alma - Hoosier Pass - Breckenridge. CDOT Colorado Department of Transportation advisory: USA Pro Challenge Road Closures 2014 - Stage 5


If you are visiting for the day on Friday, the city of Breckenridge advises, "The most convenient parking will be at the Satellite Lot to the north of town off of Highway 9 and Airport Road; there will be dedicated shuttles to bring you to the action. Also, those who park in the Satellite Lot will receive a free cowbell. Additional parking can also be found at: Gold Rush, Ice Rink, Klack Placer, Upper and Lower Exchange lots, Tonopah, Sawmill/Wellington, Court House, French St."


Free music on Friday evenings at the Island Grill at Friso Marina in Frisco.
Free concert on Friday, August 22, 7:30pm - Big Head Todd and the Monsters, free concert at River Walk in Breckenridge.

A great setting at the Frisco Marina
Cycling in the area near Breckenridge

Recommended road rides near Vail, Colorado Pedal Dancer Recommended Road Bike Rides near Breckenridge (in Summit County please adapt the rides starting from Breckenridge). The ride over Hoosier Pass is not a recommended ride (on usual days). The narrow space for bikes and high traffic are not ideal except when participating in a large event ride.

I would pedal from Breckenridge over Swan Mountain to Keystone and either (or both) the town of Montezuma or up Loveland Pass. Or ride from Breckenridge through Frisco and Copper Mountain to the top of Vail Pass, descending into Vail if you want more miles and to tour Vail Village, and then return.

Stage 5 Woodland Park-Breckeridge commemorative jersey
Visiting from out of town or out of State?

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

GoBreck deals

Restaurants - In Breckenridge, I like ...
Giampietros Italian, 100 N Main St.
Blue Moose Breakfast and lunch, 540 S Main St.
Empire Burger 500 S Main St
Crepes a la Carte (trailer in town) 307 S Main St
Breckenridge Brewery (outside) 600 S Main St
Relish (nice) 137 S Main St (on riverwalk*)

See also:

On the path of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge - a new bike travel series by Pedal Dancer for 2014:
Read more about the race and other stages on the Pedal Dancer Guide Page: USA PRO CHALLENGE

Related Posts by Pedal Dancer: Colorado Gold (photos of Boreas Pass) and USA Pro Challenge in Breckenridge 2013

Now after all this fun, I should say - I used to live in Breckenridge for two years. I was one of very few who returned to the big city. I do not miss wearing a down coat for six months of the year, I do miss the beauty.