If you watch the Tour de France for the scenery, the US Pro Cycling Challenge is your kind of bike race. For seven days at the end of August, the same cyclists who ride Le Tour climb and descend the mountains of Colorado, and on Day 5, cameras will roll above and along with these riders from Breck to Colorado Springs.
Great Viewing Ideas for Day 5Just imagine a line of moving bicycles emphasizing the graceful bend in the Blue River as seen from the hill near Bekkedal. What will they look like from Rocky Point, up on Boreas Pass? Or near the Blue River Town Hall, and as they make that first switchback up the pass in Tordal Estates? As they crest the pass?
The road will be closed to traffic for a few minutes, so alternate routes like Boreas Pass Road, or Gold King on the west side will be good ways to get back from a good viewing spot. Hiking the Burro Trail, or Silver Queen Road from Warriors Mark may also be a pleasant way to find a vantage point.
The view of this race will be incredible from any of the real estate south of Breckenridge. Highway 9 is the major artery, and so it should not be hard to find a picnic spot in the neighborhood with just the angle you want. Hang out on the porch at Breck Associates - it's a prime location for the start.
History of the eventThis is the second year of the Pro Cycling Challenge, which drew thousands of cycling fans last year. The route is different this year - Breckenridge will host a start rather than a finish -
but will continue to cover fantastic landscapes: from Durango to Telluride over Lizard Head Pass, through red mountains and arid mountain parkland, finishing with a big looping time trail in the city of Denver. The dramatic climb up Hoosier Pass will be some of the steepest climbing.
Colorado has hosted several big bike races like the Red Zinger of the 1970s and the Saturn Series from 1999 to 2001. Filmmakers captured the scene in movies like American Flyer, and spectators come out on foot, in cars and on bikes to see these.
Once you’ve seen a race like this in person it makes the television coverage so much more interesting. ON DAY FIVE, if you want a view like LeTour in the Alps, pick any spot along the route from Breckenridge to Hoosier Pass; or south of the pass down into Fairplay if open mountain parks are your thing.
2012 Pro Cycling Challenge Route
August 20, 2012 – August 26, 2012
- Start in Durango and ride over Lizard Head Pass and descend into Telluride
- The next day, August 21, these pros ride across two picturesque summits skirting the chain of lakes between Montrose to Gunnison, past ranch lands and up into the alpine terrain of Crested Butte. A steep two mile finish between town and Mount Crested Butte was an exciting moment in the 2011 Challenge, when last year’s winner Levi Leipheimer took the lead.
- Third day, 130 miles and the two highest passes of any bike ride in the world – Gunnison to Aspen.
- On the fourth day, riders will again climb Independence Pass, descend by Twin Lakes – reversing the ride they will have done the day before – make the long steady stretch into 10,000 foot high Leadville. After a run through town, the riders will cross the Continental Divide at Tennessee Pass in the wide alpine valley that will get very curvy around Battle Mountain, Red Cliff and eventually descend into Minturn following along the Eagle River and down valley toward Avon, where they’ll take on the final short climb up Beaver Creek.
- THE FIFTH DAY BEGINS IN BRECKENRIDGE where riders take off up Hoosier Pass and another pass over the Continental Divide, and then the rolling hills of South Park and up Wilkerson Pass into Woodland Park, over Ute Pass, down into Colorado Springs with a finish in the Garden of the Gods.
- Golden to Boulder on Highway 93, up Boulder Canyon to Nederland along the Peak to Peak Highway to Lyons, back down to Boulder, up Left Hand Canyon and back into town.
- August 26th. Time Trial Finish from Downtown Denver to City Park and back.