Posts Tagged ‘USA Pro Challenge’

Going round and round

August 22, 2014
The boyos round the corner leading to the final kilometer.

The boyos round the corner leading to the final kilometer.

The Race of Many Silly Names (Not the Tour of Colorado) came to Bibleburg yesterday, and though I thought it was by far the best course of the three we’ve had, the spectator turnout was about what one might expect for a one-car funeral, a Hillary Clinton pole dance, or a goat fuck on the lawn at Focus on the Family.

I rode the townie down to Colorado College for a bit of casual observation with friends and neighbors and the “crowd” was mostly not. Checking out the final lap online via Tour Tracker it seemed that most of what few spectators there were had decided to congregate in Bibleburg’s fabled Drinkin’ & Fightin’ District, a three-block stretch of South Tejon that includes a string of grog shops, alehouses and taverns, one U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters, and a bunch of small shops selling shit nobody needs*, including the “local” newspaper, The Anschutz Gazette.

Ah, well. School is already back in session, it was a workday, and the homeless, while numerous, just aren’t that interested in cycling as entertainment; to them, it’s transportation.

And anyway, I had a good time watching the circus come to town, especially because I wasn’t one of the poor saps who had to clean up after the elephants. It made for a nice break from negotiating with lenders, renters, Realtors®, roofers, landscapers and inspectors.

* The exceptions being Savory Spice Shop, Bingo Burger and Sparrow Hawk Gourmet Cookware.

Hell of the Northwest

December 19, 2012
The USA Pro Challenge peloton zips down Tejon Street in Bibleburg in the 2012 edition. Photo: Herself | Mad Dog Media

The USA Pro Challenge peloton zips down Tejon Street in Bibleburg in the 2012 edition. Photo: Herself | Mad Dog Media

The USA Pro Challenge (which is still a stupid name) has unveiled its route for 2013, and maybe it’s time to start calling the race the Tour of Colorado Ski Country USA (which is equally stupid, but at least tells you something about the event).

No Durango. No Colorado Springs. No Boulder. Yes to Aspen/Snowmass, Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs, Beaver Creek and Vail.

Loveland/Fort Collins made the cut, which is good, as Fort Collins has a rockin’ cycling scene. And Denver appears to be a mortal lock as the event’s Champs-Élysées; last year’s snoozer of a time trial is history in favor of a circuit race.

But it’s too bad that Southern Colorado gets shut out. There’s already bugger-all for lesser events south of the Palmer Divide — those tree-hugging sissies in Boulder are afeared that Jeebus and/or the NRA will git ’em if they dare to venture down this way to race they bicycles — and now anyone who wants to see The Big Show will have to crank up the idiot box or the family tank.

Ski areas have all the infrastructure (especially the green folding kind) that an event like this requires, of course. And it certainly doesn’t help that organizers have been known to pull enticing attendance figures right out of their asses, irking locals who found themselves coughing up big bucks for very little bang. Still, it would be neat to see the Stupidly Named Race visit less-heralded locations like Pueblo, Trinidad, Cuchara, Weirdcliffe or Function Junction.

I’d like to see a real weirdo stage that concluded up Phantom Canyon Road to Cripple Creek-Victor, or worked in Pass Creek Road and Old La Veta Pass. But I’m funny that way. Maybe not. Ain’t enough gold in them thar hills, I’m a-guessin’.

Figures lie, and. …

August 22, 2012
The 2011 prologue in Bibleburg

Last year saw crowds in the Garden of the Gods and crowds downtown, but not much in between. This year the city is hoping for 50,000 spectators.

The USA Pro Challenge, a.k.a. The Race of Many Names®, is under way, and so are the rumors that early attendance is not quite what organizers had expected.

In Telluride, The Daily Planet says that the hoped-for 20,000 spectators failed to materialize for the finish to stage one. And in Durango, where the race kicked off, The Durango Herald reported that “the number of tourists in town appeared to be far fewer than the 25,000 city officials had predicted,” adding that there was definitely room at the town’s many inns. The Montrose Daily Press seemed content with a thousand or so folks for the start of stage two. I’ve not looked into the stats for Crested Butte or Aspen*, having my back up against a number of paying chores.

Here in Bibleburg, the city fathers are hoping for 50,000 people to pack the downtown drinking-and-fighting ghetto for Friday’s conclusion to stage five. That would be about half of the throng organizers initially claimed they drew for last year’s prologue, and about five times the size of the crowd that actually showed up, based on estimates by a certain Irish-American cycling scribe of your acquaintance and the usually reliable sources.

Based on recent developments, I’d say they’re whistling past the graveyard. USA Cycling had to cancel a planned “Fun Ride” this past weekend (due to lack of interest, according to one source), and two other supporting events — the SRM Ride with Mario Cipollini and the Ride Stage 5 Criterium are said to be pulling disappointing numbers.

This is not surprising, as most folks who’ve promoted bike races in Bibleburg can tell you. Getting the Boulder-Denver crowd to cross the Palmer Divide is as easy as persuading Mitt Romney to speak the truth. They’re afraid we’ll make ’em go to church and then scrape the Obama stickers off their Subarus while they’re bubbling in the dunk tank, getting right with Jeebus.

When Team Mad Dog Media-Dogs At Large Velo was still running local cyclo-crosses, it took years to even approach the kind of numbers routinely seen at events up north. We eventually settled into a role of providing what amounted to an easy, early-season, transitional sort of event that let roadies ease back into the notion of getting off the bike now and then. Dudes are worse than cowboys in that regard, always wanting to stay on that horse.

And if you found yourself up against a competing event up north, well, then it was time to piss on the fire and call in the dogs, Hoss. That’s like bringing an old banana to a gunfight.

So, good luck to the grunts shoveling madly away behind the folks with the figures, working stiffs who as always have a tough row to hoe. It’d be nice if this town got a rep’ for something other than GOP asshats, junior-varsity Elmer Gantrys and dark streetlights.

* Late update: The Aspen Times reports fewer fun-lovers on Independence Pass, possibly thanks to an ill-considered ban on camping.

Let’s get ready to rumble. …

August 17, 2012

Rig for heavy weather, me hearties —the Vuelta a España starts Saturday, followed on Monday by the USA Pro Challenge, which in just one voyage has had more names than a Limey brigand in an Irish witness-protection program staffed entirely by informers.

I’ll be assisting Charles Pelkey with the former as he performs his magical Live Update Guy act for Red Kite Prayer, so if you’ve nothing better to do around 11 a.m. Bibleburg time tomorrow, drop on by and heckle us. We’ll be on duty throughout the entire three weeks. You’re welcome.

This year’s Vuelta sounds like a real bear. Our old colleague Andrew Hood says it’s even nastier than last year’s edition, which caused cycling scribes worldwide to cramp up, fall off their barstools and abandon the race in tears just watching the goddamned thing. There are only four Americans in the 2012 Vuelta, so nobody on this side of the pond will be paying the race any mind, which means more bandwidth for the rest of us.

Where are the Yanks? Why, in Colorado, of course. Matthew Beaudin at VeloNews and Liquigas-Cannondale pro Timmy Duggan both think this year’s edition could go right down to the final time trial in Denver. This would be a good deal more interesting than last year’s race, which started with a lame-o Chamber of Commerce prologue in Bibleburg and pretty much ended with the Vail time trial … on stage 3.

I like a time trial for a finale, especially if it’s going to decide the race, so let’s hope for a nail-biter, if only to distract ourselves from the Never-Ending Story that is the Big Tex investigation. I won’t even link to that endless game of One-Handed Spit-In-the-Carpet At $300 Per Hour, having had my fill of the cop shop in my brief tour of duty as a police reporter back in the late Seventies.