USA Pro Challenge
From Trains To Potholes, No Worry Too Small For NoCo Pro Cycling Organizers
Northern Colorado organizers with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge have been working overtime to prepare for Saturday’s race stage. How hard have they been working?
The fix-potholes-and-assuage-worried-wedding-parties kind of hard. For Northern Colorado Cycling Technical co-chair Chris Johnson it also means biking and visually inspecting key parts of the 115-mile race course.
“We really want to be careful in corners, especially this one,” Johnson said while examining the last turn cyclists will take in downtown Fort Collins near Mountain Avenue and Peterson Street [.pdf].
Why the close inspection? In a word, speed. Cyclists will be sprinting as fast as 35-miles per hour as they dash to the finish line at Mountain Avenue and College Street.
“The things we’re concerned about are the deeper things like potholes that will grab a wheel,” said Johnson, who worked with the city of Fort Collins to smooth areas with asphalt. “You can actually see a couple of spots where they’ve done some filling.”
For Bob Herrfeldt, co-chair of the overall organizing committee in Northern Colorado, no detail is too big or too small. This past week he’s spent most of his evenings driving sections of the course.
“I’m taking bits and pieces of the course, just driving them as time permits in the evenings to double check that we didn’t miss anything,” he said.
Stage 6 will have some of the most extensive road closures of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
Certain points like Mall Road in downtown Estes Park and the lower part of the Big Thompson Canyon in Loveland will see extended [.pdf] closures for at least 2 hours.
That’s where the hard work of assuaging wedding parties comes in.
The race route is taking racers up and down Highway 34 in the canyon, creating headaches for Ellis Ranch Event Center. They’re hosting two weddings Saturday afternoon.
Working around the race means owner Shawn Ellis will have to open his property earlier than normal to allow venders and wedding parties to set up.
“We’ll probably be starting at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning,” said Ellis.
The changes mean that Ellis is on the hook for paying his employees more. He’s also worried whether USA Pro Challenge spectator traffic will interfere with his intimate foothills setting.
“No wedding crashers,” jokes Ellis. “That was a funny movie, but we don’t need it here.”
In a field that plans years ahead of time, Ellis had hoped for more than just a few months of notice. With such a complicated route, USA Pro Cycling Challenge organizers didn’t finalize the course until April.
Local race co-chair Bob Herrfeldt acknowledges that there will be inconveniences Saturday, but he hopes residents will make the most of having a premiere sporting event in their own backyard.
“Now it’s just game time. Where are you going to go on the day of the event?” said Herrfeldt. “Start planning your day out. Realize that there are going to be some inconveniences. But make the best out of it.”
USA Pro Challenge