by Beth Dodd and Rick Langenberg:
There is more to the USA Pro Challenge than the world’s greatest cyclists streaking through the high country
In fact, a whole week of special events, which kicked off last Friday, will continue this week. Here are a few suggestions:
Join in the fun at the Mountain Top Cycling Club Cruisers Family Bike Ride starting at the Midland Pavilion at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, August 20. Another chance to roll with the excitement is the Team Telecycle Intermediate Level Mountain Bike Ride at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, August 21.
Young kids can get in on the pre-race excitement with story time at the Woodland Park Library on Wednesday, August 20 or Thursday, August 21 at 10:00 a.m. The story will be followed by a craft project.
For race day on Friday, August 22 a vast array of activities are planned. The crowd will roar when Stage 5 begins in front of the Midland Pavilion at 11:20 a.m. as the world’s fasters riders set off for Breckenridge. Plan to arrive early so you won’t miss the heart pounding focus of the festivities. After the racers depart you’ll want to stick around for the rest of the fun.
Your children will be thrilled by the Kids Zone, open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Kids Zone will include the Flying Carrot Bus, the Strider Cup Adventure Zone sponsored by Kids on Bikes, clowns with balloons, and face painting. You’ll also want to check out the CSCS Plyometrics Fitness Demo. Kids 10 and under can decorate their bikes from 9 to 11 a.m. and join in the excitement of the bike parade at noon. There will also be helmet fitting and a bike rodeo at the Joanie’s Deli parking lot, as well as the Signs for Life Bus.
Looking for more mature entertainment? Don’t worry. There is plenty for adults to enjoy as well. The Stunt Masters Impact Street Team will perform their BMX Demo at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m. on Grace Avenue. Team Telecycle will host their Entry Level Mountain Bike Ride at 1 p.m., followed by the Advance Level Mountain Bike Ride at 3:00 p.m. The Life is Good Youth Prevention Expo will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Ute Pass Cultural Center.
An eventful evening will wrap up the day with a concert at the Midland Pavilion at 5 p.m. For active night owls the Mountain Top Cycling Club Bike the Night Ride will start at 10:30 p.m. After the ride, you can enjoy breakfast at the Senior Center at midnight.
For more information on the USA Pro Challenge Stage 5 community events in Woodland Park visit www.woodlandparkchamber.com/visitor-center/calendar-ofevents.html.
Best race day viewing spots
But if finding a great spot for viewing the Stage 5 kick-off and grueling trek to Breckenridge is your main goal, then you will have plenty of local opportunities. In Woodland Park, ideal prospects abound for viewing the cyclists and their teams in a more personal way, prior to the official start. In addition, the downtown area will feature many public designated viewing areas and many local businesses are offering special vantage points.
Plus, the event is just not a Woodland Park affair. The Challenge offers some great panoramic views of the cyclists and their 16 or so teams from spots in Divide and Florissant.
Tarryall Reservoir, located off route 77, is probably the best strategic section to take in the action, without the huge crowds, according to the editors of VeloNews. This route takes the riders through a serene run through the Pike National Forest. It also offers the last section of relatively moderate terrain, until the cyclists hit Fairplay, and the real fun begins. Like Woodland Park did two years ago, Fairplay will sport a sprint competition.
If you are really ready for some serious cycling watching, then check out the 11,500-foot summit of Hoosier Pass and witness the last phase of a grinding climb. There is nothing quite like witnessing the best cyclists in the world toil up one of the more scenic mountain passes. This summit, though, is expected to draw heavy crowds. This pass could be used as “launching pad for late moves,” according to VeloNews, especially the descent to the base of “the nasty, 15 percent grade of Moonstone Road.”
Other good viewing areas, according to experts, include Red Hill Pass, just outside Fairplay, and Alma.