(Opinion) by Rick Langenberg:
Despite generating record crowds for a sprint line and pass-through location and the fastest cycling speeds in known history, Woodland Park, Teller County and the entire Pikes Peak region have received the royal snub. And it was quite a rude jolt, thanks to news of the preliminary 2013 USA Pro Challenge race route, which won’t even venture near our area. But wait, you can probably purchase a $500 seat in Breckenridge or a $5,000 condo suite in Aspen.
So any plans for a week-long cycling party in August should be called off immediately. I say join our friends down the hill in boycotting the race and sending the snobby Pro Challenge organizers a message. Or maybe, we should orchestrate an alternative, event the same week, or even have a motorcade that goes the opposite direction. This is our thanks for all the amazing organization that went into the 2012 event in Teller County and throughout the Pikes Peak region. Just ask marketing consultant Mike Perini for what this event meant to our small burg and how much time many volunteers invested.
Preliminary estimates were that more people lined the streets of downtown Woodland than any other event in recent years. Towns like Woodland Park made the Challenge, with locals’ week-long enthusiasm, bevy of competitions, parades and more. We probably generated crowds of 5,000-plus for a segment of the race that took five minutes to streak through town. The cyclists themselves in the last two years have spoken highly of the Woodland Park, Montrose, Gunnison, Crested Butte, Buena Vista, and other small Colorado town experiences. Plus, the scenic assets of Teller County and the Springs, accompanied by the Garden of the Gods and shots of America’s most famous mountain, were a big hit with the fans and international viewers. Instead, the USA Pro Challenge Committee declared their obvious bias towards big-time Colorado resorts. Not only did they snub the entire Pikes Peak region, but they declared their obvious distaste for great outdoor hubs across the Western Slope, such as Grand Junction and the Colorado National Monument. They haven’t been included in the race so far despite having amazing cycling and hiking opportunities. And to not include the scenic biking havens around Boulder, which without question attracted the zaniest and rowdiest (definitely the drunkest) fans for the 2012 contest. Bad crazinesss. Or, maybe elite Challenge organizers were bought off by the snobs in Breckenridge, Vail and Aspen.
The Pro Challenge idiots seem to feel the cycling world revolves around these sacred institutions. It’s pretty obvious their final decision was influenced by promises of hordes of cash and enticements. Here is the preliminary schedule of what these biking clowns are referring to as a more compact race: Stage 1, August 19: Aspen circuit Stage 2, August 20: Aspen to Breckenridge Stage 3, August 21: Breckenridge to Steamboat Stage 4, August 22: Steamboat to Beaver Creek Stage 5, August 23: Vail time trial Stage 6, August 24: Loveland to Ft Collins Stage 7, August 25: Denver circuit Do we have time to yawn yet? Only two new towns have been added to the route that obviously doesn’t want to attract many new fans next year.
This has no longer become a race for the people of Colorado, and instead is reserved for big resort promoters. If the Pro Challenge idiots want to make needed changes, then scrap the closing finale in downtown Denver. Even the cyclists admit the grand finale has become somewhat uneventful. What is lacking is a rational explanation regarding what type of illegal drug the race organizers obviously consumed, when they came up with this route. In case, they haven’t heard the news, Lance Armstrong has been permanently removed from the sport, and completely disgraced. Even the savvy Michelob Light television ads, featuring Lance and his cycling buddies, have been taken off the air and replaced with ones that are quite repulsive. (I have to admit the ones with Lance Armstrong were much better.) So why the love affair with Aspen, Lance’s one-time strong hang-out. Or, maybe the race organizers took some advice from Colorado Governor Hickendoaper (who has a definite grudge against Teller County and the Springs) before he makes a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.
Hopefully, in forthcoming months, we will hear more explanations regarding the future pursuits of this event. Until then, maybe local sports officials may consider an alternative race to help fulfill the desires of those with cycling fever. Even many of our local business operators, who were quite skeptical of the Pro Challenge cycling mania, were ready to ride a bike the next day in celebration.