USA Pro Cycling Challenge

Riders, fans, locals gather for big send-off

Pick any day of the year in Durango and you will find a beautiful, welcoming town with plenty to offer all varieties of interests. This week, that is truer than ever as the city prepares for the onslaught of cyclists, support crews and fans to kick off the start of the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge. We welcome the event and all those who have come to participate in it – either as athletes or observers.

To put the community’s best foot forward in anticipation of the uptick in spandex and shaved legs, trees have been trimmed, sidewalks scrubbed, beer coolers stocked, menus adjusted and houses cleaned and rented. It has been a communitywide effort to look its best for what some projections say will be 20,000 visitors associated with the race.

As the event kicks off today, there will plenty to take in for visitors and residents alike. A grand open house will take place on Main Avenue downtown where fans and professional and amateur cyclists can mingle. There will be several live performances of “The Bicycle Men,” a musical comedy of growing acclaim about an American cyclist who finds his way to a French village. Saturday morning will feature a mountain-bike and trail-run race at Twin Buttes, a kids’ bike rodeo and a start festival and a gala at Fort Lewis College. On Sunday, the 72.75-mile citizens race will depart from downtown Durango on an out-and-back ride to Durango Mountain Resort, finishing at the college.

The professional cyclists will head out Monday morning for the first of their seven-stage tour of Colorado. Monday’s ride will take them 125.6 miles to Telluride. On Tuesday, cyclists will ride from Montrose to Crested Butte. On Wednesday, they will go from Gunnison to Aspen, and from there to Beaver Creek on Thursday. Friday will bring cyclists from Breckenridge to Colorado Springs and Saturday’s ride will be a 103.3-mile route from Golden to Boulder. Sunday, the race finishes in downtown Denver with a time trial.

The tour will bring cyclists from around the world, along with their support crews and fans through the heart of Colorado’s finest alpine communities, with grueling climbs punctuated by stunning scenery. The event will challenge the riders who undertake it but reward them for their efforts, as well. Kicking it all off in Durango is a privilege for this community, where cycling is as much a part of our identity as the Animas River and the stunning peaks that surround us. Welcome to the cyclists, fans and crews here for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.