USA Pro Challenge brings out the best in its fans

Bicycle racing is more than just cycling. The atmosphere is always fun.

Why do spectators enjoy looking great at cycling raisesclip_image002

One of the great joys of watching the climbs on the grand European tours is the time we have to watch the outfits the spectators wear. That desire to be European fashion conscious has crossed the Atlantic and is growing in the US. The US Pro Challenge has seen an increase each year in the desire to be seen on the tour.


People in costumes always waive and love to have their picture taken.


Her sign says have you seen my friend. She must have known an orange cowboy hat and purple tights might make her friends hard to find.clip_image008

Do the riders have the time as they wiz by to see the outfits?

Some costumes are difficult to assign a category too, however at least he is riding a bike. That may or may not be good for cycling.


Some of the outfits can be as easy as a hat to makes you stand out in the crowd or a hair color so you loved ones can spot you…..and hide. When wearing a similar hat the pope always seems to smile.clip_image012


Do you think Jens saw him?

Then you see the group costumes where friends (or at least I hope they are friends) agree on a theme to wear to the raise. clip_image016


I’m not exactly sure the true nature of some of the themes. The relationship between Santa Clause and a Yeti in Vail still has me confused. The Wheaties box is just an afterthought….I hope.


It is bad when two people in a costume start to argue about it. It is always a hard to hear what the argument is about when both voices are coming from fur covered heads.


Age is not a limiting factor in costumes. No matter how small you may be getting dressed up is part of the excitement of the tour.clip_image024

Unless maybe you dad makes you wear the costume, in the heat. But at least no one can recognize you if it covers your face.clip_image026

There always the marketing gurus who send employees out to represent their products. Energy snacks, water bottles two perennial favorites.


The best are when friends know a rider in the tour and want to show their support. Although I’m not sure I would come out of the team RV to see my friends of a gold speedo was the costume of choice.clip_image032clip_image034

His face mask almost matches his tattoo.

Even the UCI gets into the race, maybe just a crown, but it is still more than a non-descript ball cap.clip_image036

What is curious is when a city gets into the act. The winner of the stage that ends in Breckenridge has the dubious honor of being photographed with a fur hat and shield. I thought winners were to be lauded, not punished?clip_image038

Even if you are not a big fan of bicycle racing (heaven forbid) you should at least stroll the start and finish near you to see the fans!



You work with the PR team of a professional cycling team to schedule a time to talk to a rider. You email back and forth frantically during the race, at night and stop by the team bus in the morning to stand around wearing a pleading puppy face.

You get a date so you start working on your questions. You research the rider you got the time to sit down with, and you know the person inside and out. You start out with general ones, softballs to set the ground work, to start the information flowing. Then you start working your way to the tougher questions.

Then the day arrives. You attend the race and jot notes about your rider’s race that day. You get back to your room early to clean up, and you arrive ten minutes before the scheduled time.  Not too early to look too eager, but never late. You find a place to talk, secure yet open so everyone feels good and information will flow. The rider comes down and sits down to talk. You exchange pleasantries, and you start with the easy questions to get things rolling.

But the rider throws back a curve, and your prepared questions gently fall to the floor as you grin and jump on the answer.

Buffets. What is your favorite thing about racing in the US? Buffets.

I had the opportunity to interview Richie Porte of Team Sky at the USA Pro Challenge. Every statement above is true. I did not want to sound like an amateur or an idiot and by the end of the interview, I did not care. When you ask a professional bicycle racer what his favorite thing about racing in a county, and he says the buffet’s it throws you for a laughing out loud loop from which you never recover.

After talking to professional cyclists for years, this was the last answer I expected, but it was the first thing out of the mouth of Richie Porte during the USA Pro Challenge. However, after listening to him compare the fare offered at the Tour de France or the rest of the European races I understood. Based on Richie’s comments, it was easy to maintain weight on the Tour de France because if you waited too long there was nothing to it. Even if you got to dinner early, it still was slim pickings.

Richie Porte, along with Chris Froome had been in the US for two weeks training and enjoying the country before the USA Pro Challenge even started. Once the race started, they raced. However, they thoroughly enjoyed the racing in the US, buffets included.

The next thing Richie said was the fans were fantastic. I’m sure after watching the three segments of the Tour de France through the IMG_3228UK, he might change his mind, but he said the US fans were fantastic. If you went off the back in France, the fans called you names, gave you grief and sometimes spit at you.

Here in the US, the fans cheered and clapped for everyone, even the last rider was encouraged to ride better. US fans are just happy to watch great athletes race.

Teams enjoy coming to the US for the USA Pro Challenge besides the food and the fans. The views along the race course are unmatched outside of Nepal. The crowds are not only enthusiastic, but they understand bicycle racing. The word peloton in Colorado does not get you a questioning express. Coloradans understand bicycle racing.

After spending an hour with Richie Porte, I had a great time, met a great person and obviously, a great cyclist. Richie still had a smile and a great sense of humor even after a hard day riding in the thin air.

This tough piece investigating a Team Sky rider reads like a chamber of commerce piece encouraging people to come to Colorado. Obviously, the riders enjoy racing in the US.

A Start

Stage 7 of USA Pro Challenge Decided: Boulder through Golden to Denver. 3 Bike Epicenters in 1 Day

Every stage is a story USA PRO CHALLENGE Aspen Snowmass Breckenridge steamboat springs beaver creek vail loveland fort collins denver
Final Stage of 2014 USA Pro Challenge facebook twitter rss
Final Stage of 2014 USA Pro Challenge will Take Riders Through
Iconic Parts of Colorado from Boulder through Golden to Denver
Fans Helped Shape Stage 7 of America’s Most Difficult Professional Cycling RaceDenver (Dec. 18, 2013) – The fans have spoken, and Stage 7 of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge professional cycling race will take riders from Boulder through Golden and over Lookout Mountain, finishing with three circuits around Downtown Denver. Just more than a month after the announcement of the first six stages and hearing the opinion of fans as to where Stage 7 should travel, the final day’s route has been determined.“The 2014 USA Pro Challenge is going to be the most exciting year yet,” said Rick Schaden, owner of the USA Pro Challenge. “Boulder, Golden and Denver have been such great hosts over the history of the race, so we decided to work them all into the final day of competition. These three iconic Colorado cycling locations are going to create one grand finale!”

Beginning in Boulder, which served as the Stage 6 finish in 2012, the race will travel through Golden, which saw record crowds as a start city in 2012, and finish with three laps around the State’s Capitol, which has served as the finish location every year of the race. The day also incorporates an incredibly challenging and fan-favorite climb on Lookout Mountain.

“Cycling fans are so passionate and such an important part of the sport, so we decided to give them a voice in the route selection process,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge. “We wanted to try something new this year and by incorporating fan feedback we have come up with what is going to be an incredible final day of racing.”

Taking place Aug. 18-24, the host cities and stages of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge include:
• Stage 1: Monday, Aug. 18 – Aspen and Snowmass Village Circuit Race
• Stage 2: Tuesday, Aug. 19 – Aspen to Mt. Crested Butte
• Stage 3: Wednesday, Aug. 20 – Gunnison to Monarch Mountain (mountaintop finish)
• Stage 4: Thursday, Aug. 21 – Colorado Springs Circuit Race
• Stage 5: Friday, Aug. 22 – Woodland Park to Breckenridge
• Stage 6: Saturday, Aug. 23 – Vail Individual Time Trial
• Stage 7: Sunday, Aug. 24 – Boulder to Denver

Additional details regarding the start and finish locations of the 2014 race, as well as the specific, detailed route will be announced in the spring.

2013 host cities get the gear Facebook