Saturday, September 1, 2012

US Pro Cycling Challenge

Last weekend was the final stages of the US Pro Cycling Challenge, which is essentially the Tour of Colorado bike race.  The riders rode from Durango up to Breckenridge, over to the Springs and up to Denver, with a few stops along the way, all over the course of a week. 

Julie and I decided we could hit the stage in Colorado Springs, and then our friend Brian talked us into going up to Boulder for the stage there the next day.  Turned out to be awesome! 

Unfortunately I was the only one who made it to the Colorado Springs stage on time.  The race got there about an hour earlier than the website said that they would.  This meant that Bill and Debbie, Julie and our friends Brian and Kim all missed the good parts.  It also meant that I didn't have time to get my camera ready, so all I have are some small cell phone pictures.  But I got to see them do their final couple laps in Colorado Springs, and I stood right next to the stage where they handed out the jerseys, it was awesome. 

The finish line with the TV camera

The race leader at the time, Tejay Van Garderen, getting his yellow jersey

The next day was Saturday, so that meant Julie and I were both off, so there would be no missing it this time!  We headed up to Boulder with a plan to get there for lunch, then find the cyclists in town when they came through.  Because the course that day had them riding through Boulder twice, we actually caught them in the morning right when we started lunch.  We heard them on the road right next to us, so we jumped out and caught the peloton right as they rode by.  It was so quick we didn't have time to get our cowbells or cameras out! 

After some debating, Julie talked me into going to the final climb of the day, called Flagstaff mountain.  We brought our bikes to Boulder to ride around on, which was a great choice, because we were able to make the 4 mile ride quite quickly, despite the fact that most of it was uphill.  At the bottom of the mountain, we actually ran into Brian and some of his friends, so we said hi and went to find a spot on the mountain.  We found one under a tree, with some shade, and waited for the riders to come back. 

Boy did they ever!  We chose a great spot because the riders rode right next to us, I could have reached out my hand and helped any of them change gears!  It was quite amazing!  The crowds only got better as the riders rode up the hill, making a wall of people and noise for about 3 miles.  Good job Colorado!  We had a blast, and we definitely plan on going again next year!

There were people streaming up for a few hours straight

Me helping Julie get her camera ready!

Jens Voigt screaming at his legs to get him up the hill!

Big George Hincapie leading the team BMC train up the hill

Tejay Van Garderen in yellow, he lost the lead on this stage

The hill got steep, some folks needed a push I guess

The slower cyclists had a chance to enjoy the crowd a bit

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